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Words: Eric Meyers
Photos: Kevin Westenbarger
There are very few things a snowboarder loves more than fun features and partying. That is precisely what the Nike Chosen brought to slopes all over the world this winter. The North American tour hit a handful of resorts, in addition to the handrail hall of fame that is Salt Lake City before wrapping the circuit up at Mammoth Mountain over the weekend.
Since the night’s champion would be jetting over to Austria to take on the winners of the European tour— held largely on jumps— the stop at Mammoth started with a session on Main Park’s famous bottom jump. The heats kicked off in the afternoon, with a little weather blowing in, but that didn’t stop the more than fifty competitors from putting on a show that was far beyond what anyone expected from an “amateur” contest. The funny thing about the jump session at Mammoth, is that it seemed like a majority of the field had a double cork to work with, not something you can even yet say about many professional contests. With that many doubles and four-digit spins, the crowds that had come to Mammoth to kick off the holiday weekend were thoroughly entertained, and in the end Jeremy Page came out with the best trick— frontside double cork 1080.
When the jumping ended, the party on the sundeck really kicked off, as people watched the dancefloor lighting illuminate the custom rail garden created by the Mammoth Unbound park staff. The same field of well-rounded riders easily made the switch to the rails, and it was evident even from practice that this would prove to be a sight to see. The closeout rail caught a few who weren’t on top of their technical game, while a giant down box next to it provided an easy warm-up to the most Evel Knievel obstacle, a 30-foot down lift tower with no room for errors or early-offs. Rounding out the course were back-to-back stair sets, which were close enough to force riders to carefully plan out the landing of the first trick to perfectly set them up for the next, and all of the features sent competitors to the quarterpipe-framed wallride below.
Being that is was nighttime, there were no serious agendas and nearly all of the competitors were laid-back and enjoying riding under the lights. Only one of the riders brought a coach, but plenty of them made stops to chug beer with their spectating friends along the fences mid-hike. When it was all said and done Michael Gray earned himself best trick, with a 270 onto the closeout, 450 out and Melissa Evans came out atop the ladies division. The late-night hour belonged to Jaeger Bailey, as the Mammoth local took home top honors and a trip to Austria to take on the world.
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