words: Mary Walsh
Under Groundhog Day-esque bluebird conditions, snowboarding's youngest contingent arrived at day three of The Launch presented by Volcom and took to the Bear Mountain park with a passion reserved only for people too young to get into Murray's karaoke (a spot that readily serves late night cosmopolitans FYI).
Over the past six years, SNOWBOARDER Magazine has hand-selected cadres of up and coming riders and worked with some of the best park builders in the US to create playgrounds progressive enough to compliment the level of talent. Many young snowboarders have set the first flag of their snowboarding career within the run-ins and landings of The Launch parks. Mark McMorris, Tyler Flanagan, Garrett Warnick, Jamie Anderson, Sage Kotsenburg, Trevor Jacob, Greg Bretz, Sarka Pancochova, Johnny Lazz, Seb Toots, Forest Bailey, Zak Hale, Stale Sandbech, and more have all made turns at the Launch.
This year, as the Lick the Cat boys begin to infiltrate the airwaves, and spectators stand back in awe at the prowess of the Mindnichs, the Warbingtons, the Kotsenburgs, the Macks, and the Fergusons, The Launch continues to be the de facto space for snowboarding's youth to shine. The riders are provided with a creative park that allows them to push boundaries and log new tricks, not only due to the build itself, but because the atmosphere is devoid of rules, time limits, and prescribed lines. The riders are given the opportunity to showcase their skills in their preferred way and the success each year proves that having fun elicits the best snowboarding.
With two days completed at this year's event, the heritage of The Launch and the riders involved was evident today. The guys began to push their creativity further, trying new lines and attempting interesting variations on the features. When riders of this caliber start to pick apart jibs and transitions in the way that went down today, the results are incredibly impressive.
The soft snow caused a tranny-finder runway to melt its way into the hip, and every snowboarder in the park must have skimmed the top of the transition today. Blake Paul slashes like a madman--his precise turns on the hip exhibited his ability honed in powder conditions and they translated fluidly to the lines he was taking. During the morning, the gang from Volcom barreled down hill and took on the side of the hip a dozen deep. Seth Huot led the charge of youngsters as they pointed it at the wall. Griffin Siebert, who earlier had firecrackered the snow stairs on the hip's backside, gapped said stairs while the rest of the crew simultaneously slashed slush above his head. The mob almost took out T.Bird on one run, but he was able to keep his footing and get the shot, a true professional.
In the afternoon, a few quiet, yet intense riders headed to the rail zone. Jordan Small, whose jibbing talent seems to increase each time he's on snow, was hitting the wallride on rider's right. Hans Mindnich, Masato Toda, and Zach Normandin chose to tackle the big rail on the left and were on point. Zander Blackmon was stomping 270's on and off the rail. Zak Hale and Joss McAlpin hit the rail into the left wall transfer and held court.
The youngest snowboarders at The Launch sped through the park all day with boundless energy. Hour after hour, Cody Warble, Brock Crouch, Red Gerard, Toby Miller, and crew lapped the park in a tight collective, airing effortlessly out of the hip, sessioning the double rail on the smaller quarterpipe, and throwing snowballs at one another. These kids, half as tall as many of the other riders at The Launch, are next level. They boosted one-by-one over the bottom jump, a line of brightly-colored sweatshirts and black helmets, with style far beyond their years riding. If the abilities first wave of Launch groms are any indication of the future of this current crew, we’re more than excited to watch them grow up, and maybe blow up.
The last day of The Launch is tomorrow and the enders are going to be good. Follow #TheLaunch2013 on Instagram and check SNOWBOARDER Magazine's Facebook page for updates. Thanks to Volcom, Bear, Giro, and Red Bull.