words: Mary Walsh
photos: Peter Morning, Kevin Westenbarger, and Mary Walsh
While we often like to pair things up and mash them together in hopes of an even better version of whatever we had before, there are few combinations that truly have staying power: peanut butter and chocolate, Mark Wahlberg and Ted in both Ted and Ted 2, Gore-tex and Northwestern snowstorms, tequila and lime. In those instances that we stumble upon a well-made collab, a match that really just works out perfectly, it’s the stuff of celebration.
On Saturday, February 27th at Mammoth Mountain, DC Snowboarding unveiled a collaboration between two of snowboarding's favorite things: banked turns and park hits. This is not to say that this concept hasn't been explored before, but few times has the banked slalom/slopestyle feat been executed so very well as it was this past weekend. High in the Eastern Sierras, running the entire length of Mammoth's South Park, TJ Dawoud and the Unbound Park Crew had laid out a contest course to rival all others for the first of three stops, DC Hit & Run.
In typical fashion, the Unbound crew had outdone themselves with the set up for Hit & Run, deftly working park hits in between perfectly laid out berms. The riders were judged on a combination of their fastest time (two tries, with best run pushing the top ten pro and open, and top three women into finals; one run during finals to determine top three in all categories), with seconds subtracted for tricks in three zones: halfpipe, rails, and jump. Each zone would be judged on a one to five scale, with the total point score determining how many seconds would be deducted from overall time. At the top of the run, riders dropped into the South Park halfpipe, gates set high on the walls for hits one and two, which would be judged for section 1. A few more turns through the pipe led to the rail section, with the option to hit either a down tube or double kink—section 2—before careering downhill through more berms. Section 3 was a mighty 50-footer with a landing that led into a sharp dogleg left-to-right. The course then wound through the trees and over hips and mini jumps on the way to the finish line. The fastest times would fall just under a minute and a half, no small feat if the course was merely made up of turns, but throwing ample hits within the line made things precarious, interesting, and of course, very fun to tear through. Everyone had to be on their heels as much as they were on their toes.With divisions for pros, an open category, and women, the roster was full, with nearly one hundred riders lining up at the drop in. Mammoth heavies like Scott Blum, Brandon Davis, Spencer Whiting, Stefi Luxton, Possum Torr, Ryan Linnert, Brian Pracht, Jeremy Page, Danika Duffy, and more were on hand—few contests draw a crowd like banked slaloms.
Not atypical for a February morning in the Eastern Sierras, it was overcast and windy as practice began. The snow was solid as marks began to etch into the sides of the halfpipe and through the bottom turns. By the time the first rider was in the gates ready to drop, the sun was peaking through the clouds and the snow was softening up, opening up to perfect Mammoth conditions: riding without jackets, and the snow is soft, yet still real fast. Basically, it was perfect.
The younger generation of Mammoth locs were greasing the course right away. Judd Henkes and Jake Langston have grown up riding Mammoth's Main Park proving ground and both their edge control and overhead air abilities propelled them to the forefront of the racers. The women's category was a tight competition between Possum, Stefi, and Danika, all of whom possess turning prowess as well as jump chops. Doug Bonneville showed up and made finals, though he looked suspiciously like Erik Leon. Erik arrived late and missed practice, so to feel out the jump, he threw a huge laid-out backflip. He sloughed the landing on his first attempt, but stomped it on his second run, clapping his hands high above his head as he went upside down. DC riders Jordan Morse and Brady Lem were on hand, sending it down the course. Brady showcased proper Minnesotan-bred air awareness as he floated a beauty of a frontside air over the first gate in the pipe and was hot on the heels of the podium before an errant and confused skier who had somehow wandered into the lower section of the course cut him off in the berms. Jordan, whose style is always pristinely proper, was one of the few riders to squeeze in a frontboard 270 out on the upper down tube going mach ten, losing no speed as he entered the next set of turns. Scott Blum put down a crowd pleaser on the jump when he over-rotated into a 540 and sent the first berm switch before a quick ollie revert into the adjacent turn. Proving that the office guys still have it very much on tap, Mammoth's Gabe Taylor sent a front seven over the jump and DC's Dave Appel and Bobby Meeks were sending 'er easy style. Teddy Rauh was prevented from corking due to a no doubles rule, but still got plenty of airtime. Ryan Linnert was crushing. Dusty Henrickson was on point. Brandon Davis and Spencer Whiting are always standouts and Buzz Holbrook and Bryan Pracht both put down real solid runs.
As the afternoon rolled on and the sun warmed the air more with every passing minute, springtime shredding occupied the atmosphere. The location of DC Hit & Run made for an easy afternoon, due to the fact that between timed runs, there was ample opportunity to cruise with buds. Laps qere quick, the turns were pretty damn perfect, and the parks surrounding the set up (including a flowy transition park that rips) were incredibly fun. So, while there was timing, scoring, and prize money all involved, Hit & Run felt very much like a day spent spring boarding with the crew. Suffice to say, DC nailed it with this one. If you missed it, you missed out.
Thanks to Bobby and Dave at DC, TJ, Ryan, and the entire Unbound crew, Molly, Lauren, Peter, and Kevin and the whole Mammoth crew, and everyone that came out to rip turns and send jumps, the stuff that makes snowboarding so dang fun.
First – Judd Henkes – 86.29
Second – Sean Neary – 86.37
Third – Matt Romanowitz – 87.15
First – Dusty Henricksen – 86.09
Second – Devin Tubbs – 87.07
Third – Cody Beavers – 89.22
First – Danika Duffy – 91.82
Second – Possum Torr – 94.53
Third – Stefi Luxton – 96.1