Words: Mary Walsh
When the Red Bull Butter Cup crew arrived at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire on Saturday, they were met with an excited mob of New England riders bearing down on the registration table. Apparently, Loon's notoriety for having one of the best parks on the East, combined with Red Bull Butter Cup's reputation for being one of the most fun-having snowboarding contests, had caused much anticipation.
The throng of snowboarders didn't lose any of their energy as they evacuated the registration area and headed to the course. The esteemed Loon Park Crew had created a picture-perfect Butter Cup set up, complete with a brand new Red Bull close-out rail feature at the bottom of the course.
Maybe it was the way the Loon crew built and groomed the course, maybe it was because kids are getting better at snowboarding with each passing winter, or maybe it was because there was no party at 14 Pleasant in Plymouth the night before. Whatever the reason, the level of riding was exponentially high on Saturday. The judges were put to task and after each heat, were left scratching their heads trying to figure out who really was riding the best in the impressive group.
The Ams started things off, forecasting their future roles as members of the Pro Division with their solid snowboarding. Chris DePaula was on fire, Sam Gildea was getting technical, and the crew from Nashoba was working together, helping each other get as many runs as possible by triple-teaming the binding-strapping process. This "pit crew" strategy worked, as Nic Hudson used his extra tricks to win second place.
The Pro Division had as many buttery hammers being dropped as that level in Super Mario Bros 3 where the little turtles throw hammers and Mario is trying to get that special treasure box. While no one walked away with a flute that enabled level transporting, everyone at Red Bull Butter Cup was blown away at the tricks being put down. Loon saw, hands-down, the best riding at a Red Bull Butter Cup all year.
Good friends and constant-contest-competitors, Mike Ravelson, Tanner McCarty, and Brendon Rego were hitting tripods on every feature, which was as entertaining to watch as I'm sure it was to do. This, of course, was in addition to the locked presses and dialed spins that the three were already stomping, which was the perfect illustration of the fun/tech combination that is present at this contest.
Johnny O'Connor, new upstart in the New Hampshire scene, was a standout, gapping from feature to feature, an aspect of the butter pad set up that had never been fully utilized until Johnny started dropping in. Dylan Dragotta, no stranger to the Butter Cup podium, was landing 450s off the picnic table and generally buttering his technical style all over the course. Mark Martinez, Cole St. Martin, Parker Szumowski, and others rounded out the Pro Division, making deciding the winners incredibly difficult for the judges.
In the end, Mike Ravelson took the win and 600 dollars for the pros, while Justin Healey earned first for the Ams. Kaleigh Price won the Women's Division and the Grom Award went to Tim McConnell.
A BIG thanks to Jay, Brian, Noah, Jordan, and everyone at Loon, Reid and Mark at Oakley, Jeff at Forum, Nike 6.0, Neff, Magical Go-Go, Snowboarder Magazine, and everyone that came out to ride/hang out on Saturday.
Next up is a Friday night event at Big Boulder, PA on February 18. For more info www.redbullusa.com/buttercup
1st – Justin Healey
2nd – Nic Hudson
3rd – Alex Cole
1st – Mike Ravelson
2nd – Travis Neuenhaus
3rd – Johnny O'Connor
1st – Kaleigh Price
2nd – Chuckie Carbone
3rd – Jordan Parks