The Launch 2019 at Bear Mountain Presented by O'Neill: Day 2 Photo Highlights
words: Mark Clavin/Mary Walsh
photos: Mike Yoshida, Mary Walsh, E-Stone, Chris Wellhausen, and Mark Clavin
Predicted to be a cloudy weather day, Bear Mountain came through yet again with sunny laps for the Souther California installment of The Launch 2019 presented by O’Neill. Opting to strap into their bindings instead of filling out their brackets, the second day of The Launch was the only type of March Madness these riders needed.
Starting high up in the trees, Xander Raith, Wesley Muresan, Lucas Foster, Trevor Otterson, and plenty more tapped, stalled, and aired through the rhythm section up top. A bit lower, Keegan Hosefros and Jack Wiley started what became a two hour session with over twenty riders pointing it over the gap-to-down rail hidden in the Ponderosa pines.
As the rail session pushed on, a handful of riders started to hike the quarterpipe in near-perfect conditions. Xander Raith was once again up in the mix, along with Brandon Davis, Blake Axelson, Morris Gifford, and more. They timed their drops in the heavily condensed dream park to allow Justin Phipps, Derrek Comte, Jake Canter, Denver Orr, and Kolman Lecroy to gap the channel from where they were dropping and air the rollers opening up into the bottom section. Joey Fava threw up some one foots on the volcanos, while Gab Gosselin greased the down bar just left of the session.
On rider’s right along the edge of the park, a battle-ready up-flat-up c-rail lines the edge of some transition offering the opportunity for redirects. In the morning, Josh Nucci and Luke Lund started sessioning the rail. They returned to the scene a few hours later and a crowd assembled to tackle the technical kink. Derek Conti, Tommy Olivas, Alex Schoff, Miles Fallon, Alphonse Esposito, Joey Fava, and more dropped in to make it to the end.
While the quarterpipe was prepared for a late-day session, Luke Winkelmann and Josh Nucci pressed through the stair set with Hollis Dupree and Storm Rowe. Then, as the light changed, so did Rowe’s focus. Clouds rolled in, and Storm must have felt right at home. Boosting huge airs, riders from all over the park either joined or watched, and the finale for day 2 was on. Miles Fallon went with a fast plant, Justin Phipps pulled Andrechts, Brandon Davis went Lein, and plenty more threw their best stuff in front the crowd. We caught up with Justin Phipps after the session for a quick interview.
For those that don’t know, Copper Mountain local Justin Phipps has been a regular at The Launch for the past five years. Frequently seen soaring high above the horizon kicking out proper methods, he is a welcomed site in any session. Now a junior in high school, Phipps has gone from Launch grom to elder snowboarding statesman, annually rising higher from each jump he sends. Ever since his first time at The Launch, Phipps has brought a resolute and classic style to new school tricks and this year at Bear is no different. We caught up with Phipps in the Bear lodge after day 2 had wrapped and Justin had landed a new trick on the quarter right before the buzzer.
We just got down from day 2 at The Launch. You've been coming to this event for years—what number Launch is this for you?
This is my sixth, I've gone since 2013.
The park that Bear created this year is pretty unique. What is your take on it?
This one is sick because there's so much transition, it's all really flowy. There are less rails, which is kind of what I like to see, but a lot of transition where you can just get creative. It's sick.
What features have you been stoked on so far?
I've been super stoked on the gap over the transfer, that one's super sick. The quarterpipe is tight and when they put the gravestone on it today, that was sick. I was hyped.
What was the Andrecht variation you did at the end of the day on the QP?
It was like an Andrecht pretzel 180, I guess. I've never done it before but it worked perfectly because there's this space between the tranny and the tombstone, so you had like extra time to get into it.
And what about the transfer? You guys had a pretty heavy transfer session going on.
Oh, the transfer was rad. I saw one kid do it earlier today when I was eyeing it up and that kind of gave me the idea that it was actually doable. The run in was like kind of icy, so it was little bit sketchy, but the transition was really fun.
The weather has been a bit variable with the sun and the cold and stuff. These are unusual conditions for Bear.
Yeah, it's crazy. The weather comes in and engulfs the mountain in mist. It's crazy to watch.
So you've been at enough Launches where you've experienced being on the younger side and now you're attending as one of the older kids here now. What is it like to go from Launch rookie to veteran over the past couple of years?
It is pretty sick because when I came my first one-to-two years of The Launch, I always looked up to those kids. I thought they were super sick, so it was kind of the thought in my head like, "I wonder if I'm ever going to be like that one day." So now it's kind of like I'm experiencing that and just getting way more shots than I used to and having a lot more fun I feel like. It's sick.
What riders influence your riding? Whether style, trick selection, etc?
I'm influenced by a lot of riders, but my one-footed tricks are inspired by Scott Stevens. Jump influence definitely comes from Blake Paul. His part in Landline. had some of the best backcountry jumps I've ever seen. I'm also super psyched on Cole Navin; he's got some of the best style in snowboarding.
What else you been up to this season?
A lot of school, actually. I went to Vermont earlier this year for The Bush Project. That was super fun.
Going into day 3 and 4, do you have a list of things you're eyeing or just planning on flowing around and seeing what you feel like each day?
I want to get another session on that jump that goes over the trees again. That was super fun. And then I also want to see a session go down on the the tree jump to the landing of the quarterpipe. That would be insane, but somebody needs to guinea pig that first. (laughs)
Stay tuned to @snowboardermag and follow #TheLaunch2019 for updates direct from Bear Mountain as the next generation continues to send it at The Launch presented by O'Neill North America.