words and photos: Mark Clavin
According to the Weather Channel's yearly average, March 28th should have topped out at a pleasant 53 degrees in southwest Pennsylvania. Instead, as riders from all over descended upon Seven Springs for the inaugural Oakley Minipipe Challenge, the temps dropped to 16 degrees, and snow fell until right after awards were handed out.
The false hope of spring conditions did not deter the large pack of riders that made the trip. They hiked to stay warm and creatively took to the pipe for the two-hour free-for-all that had as many ups as it did downs, literally. The thirteen-foot walls boasted a hip option for entry on the riders left, followed by a channel gap, wall ride, and flat rail option on ensuing hits.
When the sun peaked through or wind died down, maximum air was reached and methods flowed like the Monongahela. With basically no rules on the pipe, one hitters, handplants, and a Kazu-style victory lap were all seen. The event was one for the books and if it is up to the riders that showed up, the Oakley Minipipe Challenge will definitely be back next year.
Best Method went to Sean Brenchley and the Monumental Moment went to Chris "Cheese" Jordan for being the only one to go upside down. The overall winner went to the rider that kept everyone on their toes every time he dropped in, and it was no shock that Paul Horning took home the trophy. With huge frontside airs on entry into the pipe and a consistent set of tricks from top to bottom. I forget what he told me he did for a day job but he should quit so he can do this full time. Other huge standouts go to MC James "Hammy" Coffman for becoming a feature during the competitionand Chris Zandron for massive handplants.
Huge thanks to Jordan Soohy and the rest of the Seven Springs park crew for building the pipe and Oakley, Crab Grab, SNOWBOARDER Mag, Monument Snowboards and Shred Soles for making it happen. See you all back at Seven Springs soon for Superpark!
Overall Winner, Oakley Mini Pipe Challenge Global Champion: Paul Horning
Spirit of Tom Sims Award: Zack Yourd
Best Method: Sean Brenchley
DaeWon Song Mini ramp champ: Noah Vincent
Female Ripper: Hayley Paronish
Grom King: Sam Myerly
Monumental Moment: Chris Jordan
Most Blood Spilled: Jordan Soohy
Frequent Flyer: Jon Kramer
Best Hand Plant: Chris Zandron
Bombs over Swagdad award: Vincent (From Indiana)
Wizard Staff Standout: Cristian Manhard