words: Pat Bridges
photos: Kevin Westenbarger
On February 17, 2006 the snowboarding world's passive appreciation of boardercross turned into a full-blown punchline as Olympic hopeful Lindsey Jacobellis soared off the final step-down of the firm, serpentine course. The odds-on favorite had built a seemingly insurmountable lead that day in Torino, Italy and in a gesture of pre-celebration Lindsey attempted a method air less than 100 yards before the finish. As if to put an exclamation point on the adage that boardercrossers were predominantly a bunch of latent freestylers, Lindsey landed heavy on her heals causing her board to be swept out from below. Freestyle champion turned NBC color commentator, Todd Richards, was as shocked as anyone as he excitedly proclaimed "Jacobellis goes down, JACOBELLIS GOES DOWN!" Lindsey would have to settle for a Silver that day, yet her "showboating" ways may someday paint her as a pioneer who was ironically way ahead of the pack.
With slopestyle events having largely turned into styleless "spin to win" spectacles and banked slaloms losing their exotic luster due to their ubiquity, the DC Hit & Run combines these two common formats to create something that could, and should become the next big thing in contests. Conceived by DC's Snow Marketing Director Bobby Meeks, The Hit & Run combines the timed elements of a traditional banked slalom with judged jumps and rails to provide a platform for more well rounded riders to excel. How the concept works is a course is created that incorporates banks and berms as well as airtime and jib elements. Judges are placed throughout the run keeping an eye on the freestyle sections and in turn dolling out scores on a 1-5 point basis. Each point equates to a one-second deduction from a competitors time. So while taking the fastest line from the start to the finish is still crucial a couple stomped hammers can move a slightly slower contender well up the ranks.
On Saturday February 25, fifty riders found themselves on the start sheet for the first stop of the 2017 DC Hit & Run Tour at Mammoth Mountain, CA. With over 500" of accumulation this season, the Mammoth Unbound park staff put this abundance of material to good use in creating a venue that was as formidable as it was fast. A tight chicane greeted the racers right out of the start leading to a two-story step down followed by another sweeping bank to roller. A series of S-turns thru the glades beneath Mammoth's Chair 20 fed into a triple set of ten-foot tall, ten-foot long true tables that were too short and poppy to take with speed. The second judged section was a rainbow box leading to a rising flatbar. Beyond these jibs was a sweeping wall which, redirected riders back under Chair 20 to another series of turns and small pump aspects. The final judged feature was a vader-style step over providing the last chance to score points and shave seconds before the finish line.
Fifteen-year-old Caleb Bonneville made the trek south from Lake Tahoe to best the Open Class field with a time of 64.97. Caleb's combined trick points of 10 put him on the boards with a 54.96 seating him well ahead of Open Class second place finisher Pedro Bidegain, 59.64, and Jason Hyde, 60.07, for third. The Women's Pro category was an international affair with Kiwi's and Aussie's challenging a strong showing of local ladies. Amanda Hankison jetted her way down South Park for a combined score of 64.70 and third place. New Zealand's Rebecca "Possum" Torr podiumed in second with a 57.50. Seventeen-year-old Tess Coady, from Australia, tied Possum in the speed department with a 62.50 second stunner, but her trick total of 8 shaved 3 more seconds than Torr's 5, giving the teenager the top spot on the Women's Pro podium earning her $1000.
The main event of the 2017 DC Hit & Run was the Men's Pro division. Jeremy Page put down a time of 64.87 and his bs 720 tailgrab on the step down, frontside 180 switch 50-50 backside 180 off the rainbow, 50-50 fs360 out on the up bar and frontside 720 off the bottom step over added up to 12 points for a tabulated score of 52.87 and third place. Australia's Joss Mcalpin started his run with a backside 720 leading to a front lip on the rainbow rail followed by a backside 360 off the up bar, culminating with a frontside 720 for 11 points. Though Joss' trick score was less than Jeremy's Mcalpin outpaced Page with a time of 62.91 giving him the combined tally of 51.91 and second place. After a multi-year hiatus from the podium, Mammoth's own Tyler Flanagan once again rose above the rest at the 2017 Hit & Run. Tyler's effortless 720's and 270's onto the rainbow box were unmatched and seemingly did little to slow him down as he posted the fastest times and top trick scores for first place. On Tylers second finals run he scored 14 freestyle points and a time of 62.80. The combined efforts put him at 48.80 making Flanagan the only rider with a sub 50 result.
Adding the speed factor to a freestyle event injects visceral element into the mix, while bringing trickery to a timed arena makes it a much more strategic showdown than simply who can pair the best wax with the right line. As a spectator it seemed like there were no bad spots to stand at the 2017 DC Hit & Run. Either a rider was railing around a bank on the edge of control or throwing a stylish trick in hopes of passing the rest of the pack in the post finish calculations. And as for Jacobellis, though I wouldn't have scored her method attempt as a perfect 5 I would have at least rewarded her with a 1, which by my estimation may have improved her time just enough to land that Gold back in 2006.