words: Pat Bridges
photos: Jeff Baker
While the points chasers and contest jocks were still reeling over the debacle that was the canceled World Championships ff Snowboarding halfpipe competition in Yabuli, China, a much less ambitious event was taking shape under the spring Sierra sun at Mammoth Mountain, California. Though the dimensions of the Oakley Minipipe Challenge pipe are dwarfed by those deemed "world class" by sanctimonious sanctioning bodies, the show that went down on Saturday, March 19, 2016 was a heck of a lot more compelling, entertaining and inspiring than anything you'll see at an event with an acronym attached to it. Furthermore, I always felt it was interesting that communists would embrace competition with requisite victors and losers when equality is a basic tenet of their ideology. Despite a flag-waving rendition of our national anthem by Chloe Kim and Shaun White to commence the competition, one could actually paint the Oakley Minipipe Challenge with a red brush because everyone who made their way down Mammoth's Forrest Trail to either drop into or merely get a glimpse of the impressive, albeit unintimidating transitions on tap at the Minipipe Challenge emerged a winner. It was a fitting way to close out the festivities of Oakley Week at Mammoth Mountain.
By scaling down the traditional halfpipe dimensions, minipipes in effect level the playing field. This means that Joe Public can drop in alongside Shaun White and not feel out of their element. This was evident every time half-pints like Logan Janowitz-Leggete and John Connolly charged into the minipipe. The same could be said for local heroes Frank Knaab, Jeff Harvey, Jeremy Page, Jacob Fulton, Devin Tubbs, Jaeger Bailey and Mitch Richmond who held their own alongside notables including Eero Ettala, Sven Thorgren, Chloe Kim, Jamie Anderson and Sebastian Toutant. With amplitude replaced by Andrechts and disaster slides usurping double corks, the trickery on hand at the Minipipe Challenge may be more style than stunt, but it was also infinitely more appealing.
Alas, this was still a contest and as such prizes were handed out by Mr. Shaun White himself to the following individuals:
Tiny Dancer (Grom) – John Connolly
Method Master – Frank Knabb
Lady Killer – Logan Janowitz-Leggete
Botanist (Handplanter) – Alex Leblanc
Champion – Jeff Harvey
SNOWBOARDER wishes to extend a big thanks to everyone who helped to make the West Coast debut of the Oakley Minipipe Challenge such a success including Oakley, Mammoth Mountain, Unbound and all of the participants and spectators.