words: Justin Romano
photos: Ryan “Huggy” Hughes, Jeep Eddy and Sean Black
Once again we have come to that point in the year when every snowboarder in the Northern Hemisphere can think of just one thing: riding. But for most of us, shredding is still a little ways out, but for years now there has been one event that has been able to provide all a much needed fix to get by until winter shows its face: Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails at Bear Mountain in California. For over a decade, the crew at Bear have been concocting and welding jib monstrosities for HDHR to insure that the SoCal shred season is teased with a bang. It is the longest running and most prestigious rail jam on the planet and constantly raises the bar for others to follow. Riders from around the globe, including such far flung locales as Russia, Japan, Canada and Riverside make it a priority to be there and rise to the rep of Bear Mountains hallowed scene. With over sixty men and women invited, the field was stacked. This year Bear took it another step further beyond the setup by offering a two-day experience with a live concert venue right next to the contest arena. In town Dank Donuts offered their Film Festival Friday night at The Cave, featuring The Snowboarder Movie: Resolution, as well as a few other heavy jib films including SRD's Recreational Use and Jason Manning's Pay_The_Rent.
Saturday morning, the Southern California sun beat down, scorching unconsidered flesh. The Bear Mountain park crew with a little help from a few Mammoth Unbound ringers had been at work since dawn with over 170 tons of ice to chip and disperse across the expansive layout. This year’s rail setup included twelve features, each one more daunting than the next. There was a pole jam to down rail (with a healthy gap and drop) starting off the rider’s right side that lead to a down rail with a gap cut right in the middle of it, next to a double kink with a donkey dick at the end. The other line on rider’s right featured a classic Bear mountain c-rail leading to a tiered box rail/combo c-rail. The rider’s left was the burley looking one, featuring two giant ten-foot high rails emblazoned with the California flag. Fittingly called the California rails, it had a nice drop off giving the crowd a lot of excitement and carnage to witness from below. The bottom section consisted of a waterfall rail and a classic down bar for everyone to get tech. Finally, rounding it out was a giant tower elbow.
The snow was salted and raked and the riding began. With no practice, the contenders went right into it. Two hour-long jams provided plenty of time for all of the riders to show the judges that they really wanted the V. The judging panel was heavy: Jake OE, Scott Stevens, Dave Downing, Joe Sexton, and Chris Bradshaw. It took time for the competitors to feel out the course, but things heated up quickly along with the afternoon temps. Ryan Paul and Scott Vine were some of the first to take on the giant California Rails, greasing them on their first tries; others were not so lucky. Ryan Paul continued his terror all day going for big crowd pleasers, finally getting a front flip onto the down-gap-down-rail from the pole jam. Erik Leon and Lucas Magoon kept things stylish all day. Lucas was doing his signature forearm shiver on the tiered c-box/rail, while Erik, the master of grabs, was really giving everyone something to appreciate. One of the highlights of the contest early was Tim Humphreys boardsliding the waterfall rail with Christian Hobush hung up under it after a crash. Luckily, Tim greased it and didn't behead Hobush. Dylan Alito, Tyler Flanagan, Jesse Paul, Brandon Davis, and local boys Zak Hale and Drayden Gardner were relentless all day, doing proper slides and variations of spins on and off. Jaeger Bailey was up to his usual insane antics, getting upside down everywhere. He was really murdering the pole jam, backflipping it repeatedly with different grabs into some tech lines at the down rails below. Oliver Dixon was trying a one-footed frontboard on the California rail. He never did get it, but it was a sight to see. Ozzy Henning, Brady Lem, Brin Alexander, River Richer and Jordan Morse let their smooth and low-key, yet unique tech tricks showcase their real talent. The girls were out there, too, holding their own on the behemoth rails. Madison Blackley was up to her usual smooth operating, as Jill Perkins hiked non-stop all day, covering every area of the course.
As the second heat got underway some riders were getting burnt. But a few started to heat up even more. Jordan Morse pulled the trick of the day with a cab 270 on 270 off through the kinked rail. It was a sick and the crowd and announcers knew it was a highlight of the day. One rider who had been building on his momentum all day was Sam Taxwood; dude was killing it, properly sliding every rail on the course and showing his commitment untill the very end. Stax mixed tech with style and was putting on a real clinic. The Judges awarded Sam top honors, with Jaeger Bailey coming in second and Brandon Davis grabbing third. For the women, Madison Blackley won first place, Jill Perkins got second, and Darrah Reid-Mclean rounded out the winner’s circle in third. Jordan Morse's cab 270 on and off the kink rail took best trick.
HDHR 2016 was a wrap! Now, bring on winter! Thank you to Bear Mountain, Mammoth Mountain, and everyone on the Bear and Unbound park crews that made this happen.
1. Sam Taxwood
2. Jaeger bailey
3. Brandon Davis
1. Madison Blackley
2. Jill Perkins
3. Darrah Reid-Mclean
Best Trick – Jordan Morse, cab 270 on 270 out on the kink rail