words: Jeep Eddy
photos: Ryan “Huggy” Hughes, Jeep Eddy and Chris Moran
“Why was the LA Coliseum and Expo Center chosen for the Shaun White Air & Style?” some of you might be asking. Well, maybe this well help. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum opened 1923 and since then has been home field for the USC Trojans. It has also hosted numerous historical events, including two Olympic Games, two Super Bowls, and one World Series. The Expo Center opened later, in 1959. Together, the L.A. Coliseum and Expo Center have hosted games played by the Rams, Dodgers, Lakers, Raiders, Chargers, Clippers, UCLA basketball UCLA football, and more. Another interesting fact about the LA Coliseum, it holds the world record for the largest attendance for a baseball game, 115,300 people set by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox. While so many world-class athletes have set foot on the fields and courts of these hallowed sporting centers, Shaun White was the first to bring a roster of the most talented snowboarders to the Southern California venue to stake their own claim, building on the first Air & Style LA held in 2015 at the Rose Bowl. This time around, the scaffold would be significantly closer to the city.
This year's Air & Style unfortunately was not held inside either center, but instead filled the vicinity of the parking lot surrounding the Expo Center. The drop-in for the ramp stood as tall as a few of the skyscrapers in downtown LA; it was hard not to notice this monster being constructed right off of the 110 freeway for the last week or two before the event. It’s not exactly something many people see in downtown LA. With the sheer size of the insane structure standing on its own against the Los Angeles skyline was Air & Style's way of putting its own stamp in the history book of this sports complex.
Once the scaffolding was finished, the snow was set and the jump was raked, it was time for the show. The AOn February 20th and 21st, 44,000 people came through the gates to watch some of the best snowboarders in the world duke it out for the title of Air & Style LA as well as the all around Air & Style Championship. Oh yeah, there was also also a crazy amount of talented musical artists like J. Cole, Action Bronson, Kaskade and Incubus playing on he mainstage. There was a free snowboarding zone for the public to test their balance out before actually going to a real hill, and of course a bunch of things like a Stoli Vodka garden and a PBRcade, all hopefully contributing to getting people who may be less familiar with snowboarding in the door–ideally they left with a better understanding and hopefully a vested interest in taking a few lessons at Bear or Mammoth. For the mainstream public, it was an approachable event, watching snowboarding on a massive jump, then in between rounds of riding musical artists would come, bouncing all day from one stage to the next.
Day one of the contest itself started with the riders strapping in at 4:30PM, bringing a new definition of snowboarding to Los Angeles. The throng of specators was hyped to see the riders flying down the massive structure, chucking their meat for the both the crowd’s entertainment, their own personal pride, and hopefully some prize money, too. As day one came to an end at late that night, it was Yuki Kadono with a backside triple cork 1620 mute, Mark McMorris with a backside triple 1440 mute, and Stale Sandwich with a backside triple cork 1440 indy in the top three spots. The sixteen riders with the highest scores moved on to day two on Sunday.
As the riders unstrapped and shook the day one slush off their boards, Saturday’s event was far from over. The bands kicked up their instruments and started blowing out the ears of everyone in the crowd with no discrimination. Action Bronson and J.Cole headlined the night. Action Bronson was the one artist I wanted to see the most because he has the sound that reminds me of Non-Phixion and Jedi Mind Tricks (some of you may remember them from John Jackson’s part in Draw the Line). Bronson was performing with Alchemist from Dilated Peoples, a truly great hip hop DJ. Bronson's set was pretty rad, then all of a sudden he decided to jump in the crowd mid-set. Everyone else kept going while he went out for a taco break. Something only Bronson could pull, proceeding to finish his set and his tacos. My mind was blown having seen that performance so close. J. Cole was also a very popular show that everyone wanted to see, just about every lady in the house was there to watch that one.
On day two, the gates of the event opened back up at 1PM. Bands start playing and riders start practicing. At 3:45, the riders started dropping for the start of the first heat in round two. From the start, all of the riders were pulling out their biggest tricks, attempting to prove why they deserved to win the last stop in of the triple-event Air & Style series. Sven Thorgren earned enough points to be crowned Overall Air & Style Tour Champion in round three after beating Antoine Truchon and making his way into the Super Finals. Yuki Kadono was set on going back-to-back in LA; he is no stranger to landing big crazy spins on big crazy jumps and made his way into the top four spots with relative ease. Kyle Mack and and Roope Tonteri also proved why they should be in those top spots and made it into the Super Final as well. One very unfortunate thing is Mark McMorris had an absolutely brutal accident coming down the landing in round two, breaking his femer. From everyone at SNOWBOARDER, we wish him the best and quickest healing. It’s worth noting that he was in the lead prior to this point and was the only other rider in addition to Yuki attempting a triple 16.
Super Finals took place under the lights and with possibly 44,000 pair of eyes on the riders hucking themselves for it all. Roope Tonteri gave up the opportunity to possibly bump Sven from the third spot when he sent an absolutely perfect method for the crowd. He ended up in fourth, but it was an absolutely beautiful sight to see. Sven landed a backside 1440 stalefish, earning the third place spot. Kyle Mack landed a frontside double cork 1440 tail to take second. 2015 Air & Style LA winner, Yuki Kadono dominated the whole finals and earned the top spot with a frontside triple cork 1440 Mute. Awards followed and then the bands kicked back up, blowing eardrums once again. Incubus closed out the night and the final Air & Style of 2016 came to an end. While the scaffolding would be taken down in the days following the event and the LA skyline would return to its beachy normalcy, yet another impressive competition was added to the legacy of the LA Coliseum and Expo Center.
1st – Yuki Kadono – 187.33
2nd – Kyle Mack – 180.66
3rd – Sven Thorgren -163.99
4th – Roope Tonteri – 85.66
2016 Air & Style Tour Champion – Sven Thorgren