words, photos and captions: T. Bird
Ultimately, the main objective in snowboarding contests is to get a leg up on your fellow competitors. Well, in the case of high Ollie contests, the main objective is to get two legs up on your fellow competitors. In all seriousness, the ollie is the stepping stone to many a snowboarding trick, and as a basic fundamental to much of flatground and park riding, the higher you can snap, the better off your are. While not quite as necessary as it may be in skateboarding due to the binding agreement one has with their board, it's still a single trick that can enhance the snowboarding experience for many a recreational rider.
That's exactly why SNOWBOARDER Magazine and adidas partnered on the first-ever Over/Under event at Okemo on Saturday, March 12th. It's arguable that your standard three rail, three jump slopestyle setup is becoming less-than mundane to both the core and mainstream audience, while halfpipe riding seems to have peaked during the first winter that the standard 22-foot superpipe was introduced years ago, while more relatable and inclusive events like banked slaloms have recently become more popular as the demand for triple corks and double overhead airs rapidly diminishes with snowboarding's spectators.
The beauty of a high ollie contest is that everyone can partake in the action and the basic tenet of snowboard contests in that when the event comes to a close, the best snowboarder will more than likely win that day. Together with one of the east coast's most esteemed mountain, SNOWBOARDER and adidas partnered for the Over/Under after after throwing a few grassroots events ideas in the hat, but there was a twist to this contest, as it wasn't simply a high ollie. Instead, it was decided that there would be two bars within the confines of the setup at the base of Okemo's pipe. The men were given two tries--and the women three--to ollie up and over the first bar with the reward reaped by the rider who leapt it at the highest height but they were also tasked with ducking under the second bar in a one-hour jam "freestyle" session that followed about half an hour after the high ollie event commenced.
When the riders registered, they were assigned a card from a regular deck and that served as their bib number, and throughout the day, one could hear SNOWBOARDER Magazine Creative Director and Over/Under emcee Pat Bridges calling for "The Clubs" or "The Spades" to gather at the top and get ready to take their run. Throughout the day, the crowd gathered along the fence line and cheered along as the east coast elite like Ralph Kucharek, Shaun Murphy, Christian Connors and Tim Major lapped alongside the likes of everyday kids who simply wanted the chance to test their mettle on the ollie bar and win some free adidas gear. It was a really unique event in the sense that although there weren't high-flying acrobatic maneuvers being flung throughout a jump line, there were still much more relatable moments in which a rider would go to battle with a hippie hop for a few tries and when they landed it, the spectators would cheer wildly, fully understanding that it didn't come easily for the youngster but he rode away with a heightened sense of appreciation from learning that trick, and ultimately, if we're talking retaining riders who head to the hill a handful of weekends every year, that aforementioned instance is exactly what we need more of.
The one-hour freestyle session at the end of the day got heated very quickly, as the field began unstrapping, finger flipping and fastplanting over the first bar and then immediately euro carving and buttering under the second. The atmosphere was fun, energetic, electric and most importantly, genuine. As the onlookers stood in the sun and soaked it all in, the riders rushed back to the top of the setup to get a few last-minute runs in before we headed down the hill to Darkside Snowboards for the awards and some "Darkside Dogs" topped with "Billy's Chili" to cap off an amazing day and a great event. Taking the highest honors for the ollie bar was none other than Vermont's own Ralph Kucharek (after tying with Casey Savage and taking the win in a switch high ollie) for the men and Anna Valentine for the women. The freestyle event was awarded to Green Mountain state living legend Shaun Murphy while Anna made it a clean sweep at the Over/Under with another first place finish. Plainly put, the adidas Over/Under at Okemo was a low-risk, high-energy event that put fun at the forefront of a key grassroots scene and as this event grows--as well as others like it--kids across the country that get hyped to strap in will better understand that snowboarding isn't all about airtime. Instead, it's about meeting up with your buddies and simply having fun outside and ultimately, that's what we're all in this together for.
SNOWBOARDER Magazine would like to thank Okemo, adidas, Darkside Snowboard Shop, Snowpark Technologies, Evan LeFebvre, Mitch Reynolds, Mark Fiori, Bruce Schmidt, Dennis Brady, Dave Kulis, Jason Bayne, Kirk Boridaeff, Eb Kinney, Bill Langlands, Kathering Langlands, Avert Guldemond and all the riders for coming out for this event.
1. Ralph Kucharek 3'6"
2. Anna Valentine 2'6"
1. Shaun Murphy
2. Rory Bruder
3. Tim Major
4. John Murphy
5. Casey Savage
6. Cooper Whittier
7. Steven Lauder
8. Jake Fournier
1. Anna Valentine