4th Annual Oakley Minipipe Challenge at Seven Springs—Highlights and Recap
words: Josh Zerkel
The fourth annual Oakley Minipipe Challenge charged ahead this past weekend despite old man winter feeling the call of senioritis and ditching western Pennsylvania half-way through the season. This low tide scenario was nothing that Joe Genovese and the dedicated crew at Seven Springs hadn't dealt with before. A week-long, all hands on deck, snow farming effort left a transition island oasis on the closed face of the mountain. Hundreds of riders hiked down the dirt trail to the hybrid hip/pipe combo to the sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd and generators humming.
At high-noon, it was on. The Kiss rendition of the National Anthem roared and color guard, Noah Vincent, waved old glory down the pipe in the traditional Minipipe Challenge opening ceremony. An onslaught of new and familiar faces took to the transition with little regard for the high winds and hard brick landings. Local up-and-comer Jason Anderson grabbed everyone's attention by sending several XXL hits on the hip earning him the Method Man title while hall-of-famer Kevin Kobasa kept his hands in the sand and his feet in sky earning the Botanist Hand Planter Award despite a nasty rotator cuff injury. Greenhorn Mason Kennedy doubled the laps of riders twice his age landing himself the Tiny Dancer Award while a young Alania Fantaski stepped up and stole the show for the girls as The Lady Killer.
As the pipe walls deteriorated and the hiking slowed, it was Pennsylvania native Nolan McMullen that simply could not be stopped. The trend of Minipipe Challenge champions learning tricks during the "contest" continued in 2018 when McMullen unleashed his first ever Michaelchuck on the hip followed up by a high-speed crippler on the following pipe wall. The deal was unanimously sealed at this moment, but the inverts and plants continued. The WVU alumni emerged a king.
Intentionally chaotic, inevitably inviting; the Oakley Minipipe Challenge formula continues to be one of the most anticipated events of the season and couldn't have been made possible without the help of the team at Seven Springs and the support of Crab Grab, Willis, Shred Soles, and Snowboarder Magazine. Thank you to all who joined us in Pennsylvania, and we look forward to taking the show on the road to Loon Mountain (March 15) and Mammoth Mountain (April 14)!