words: Mary Walsh
Day two at The Launch presented by Volcom opened up on a classic Bear Mountain spring day, full of blue skies, tons of sun, and facemasked snowboarders trying to keep from getting sunburned. The Bear Mountain Park staff did an excellent job maintaining the features and while the rest of the mountain melted in the Southern California heat, The Launch park treated the underage crew to fast laps in the pristine setup.
Of course, the riders were happy to take advantage of the good conditions, lighting up each and every feature in front of them. In the morning, Scott Moline again kicked off a jump session alongside Zach Normandin, Kyle Mack, and Emil Ulsletten. Emil, who almost landed a new variation of Cab triple cork—he's still got two days to land it before the event is over.
The hip continued to be a favorite of both the grom patrol and Launch veterans. Sam Taxwood sent it big each and every hit as he pinned it toward the towering transition. Staxwood is a boss, further reinforced by a huge tuck-knee that he stomped effortlessly. Garrett Warnick and Jaeger Bailey dropped doubles on rider's right–they had to ride precariously close to each other's edges as they dropped in, which made the run in almost as exciting as when they left the lip and Warnick aired past a handplanting Jaeger's.
The massive jib features in the middle of the park saw a heavy session as the afternoon wore on. On rider's left, Ritchie Conkland was redirecting off the right side of the big rail, while the Max and Gus Warbington were making laps, gapping on and off the butterpad with Big Jerm in tow on the follow cam. On rider's right, Jordan Small staked claim on the double shotgun rails with a frontboard 270 out. Both jib builds highlight large Volcom wallrides, which were painted by Calvin Saxton, otherwise known as Kid Creature, a thirteen year-old from Newport Beach whose art has become a mainstay in Volcom creative. Ezra Racine put down on of the heaviest gaps of the day over the entire feature to the wallride on the right. Hunter Wood, Griffin Seibert, and Hans Mindnich were determined to make their own marks in the wall on the left, where Hunter laid out a nosegrab lipslide in his own form of performance art.
As the day came to a close, the Bear Park Crew raked and salted the bottom jump to perfection, and as the sun began to set and the temperature began to drop, a dedicated group of riders headed up the lift. Atop a snowless embankment next to the booter, a crowd gathered to watch their peers as they hucked themselves clear into the evening air, and the riders didn't disappoint. Brock Crouch, Hans Mindnich, Alex Rodway, and Garrett Warnick threw down. Zach Normandin was going huge. Sam Taxwood stomped a hefty switch back one. Tyler Flanagan was hitting it, grabing nose and tail in order. Nils Mindnich pulled one out of his back pocket and spun a front seven bloody Dracula. The kids are on fire.
Day three is tomorrow, and at the rate things have been going, there's lots more to come from The Launch at Bear Mountain.