words: Pat Bridges
photos: Oli Gagnon and Aaron Blatt
Any time you have a fifth and two quarters, you know you are in for a good time and the fifth annual Bode Merrill Double Quarterpipe Invitational, held at High Cascade Snowboard Camp on July 20th, 2016 was no exception. Half a decade ago, Bode Merrill decided to incite an off-season gathering of friends, influencers and small tranny stalwarts. What started as a decidedly low key affair has grown to become the pinnacle of the aummer snowboarding contest circuit attracting Olympians, X Games champions and Rider of the Year contenders, as well as video part players and bonafide legends alike. Scanning the drop in atop the High Cascade Camp zone is surreal as Louif Paradis and Frank April strap in next to Lane Knaack and Josh Dirksen, while Alex Sherman and Harrison Gordon contemplate each of their next hits. Hikers halt their gait and stand slack-jawed, marveling at Max Warbington, Mike Rav and Scott Stevens contorting next level tech trickery from wall to wall. Occasionally the lineup parts as Ralph Kucharek and John Murphy accelerate, then side-drop en route to sky high tweaks and contortions. Meanwhile JD Dennis and Ben Ferguson say, "Fuck it," and throw caution and limbs to the wind trying to outsize the abridged dimensions of the venue with double overhead McTwists and cripplers, both paying the price by pancaking on the deck multiple times. This isn't your primetime, made-for0TV halfpipe spectacle, this is something soooo much more.
Rather than celebrating the kook-pleasing, jocked out, double cork saturated redundant routines that fester "legitimate" contests, the Merrill Double Quarterpipe Invitational puts on display a spontaneous celebration of style, creativity, and board control. This more palatable and relatable distinction is the product of both the all-in jam format and rider-judged aspects of this contest. Having a jam means the contenders can excel at their own pace and refine their repertoire over a few hours as opposed to being given a handful of attempts to make their mark. Furthermore the rider-judged attribute ensures that the Merrill Double Quarterpipe Invitational isn't awarding contenders for lowest common denominator factors like most degrees spun in a single run or who can more perfectly (i.e. robotically) execute a trick that should probably have been done on a trampoline, not a transition. Though decidedly different riders individually, as a whole letting their opinions be known, consensus occurs and winners emerge.
With support from High Cascade Snowboard Camp, Salomon Snowboards, Billabong Outerwear and anon Optics, Bode was able to put together an impressive awards purse to reward those whose peers deemed them worthy of having their stoke and smiles further subsidized. It was at a riotous after party at Charlie's Bar and Grill in downtown Government Camp that the following acknowledgements were bestowed and glory reaped:
Best Handplant: Danny Davis
Best Bail: Ben Ferguson
Highest Air: Gabe Ferguson
Best Flip: JD Dennis
Best Grab: Ralph Kucharek
Top Female Talent: Amanda Hankison
1st Overall ($3000 Prize): Max Warbington
2nd Overall ($2000 Prize): Mike Ravelson
3rd Overall ($1000 Prize): Danny Davis
Special thanks to Bode Merrill, High Cascade Snowboard Camp, Big Mike Gonsalves, DJ Matty Mo, the HCSC Diggers, and the sponsors.