A classic nor'easter rolled into the White Mountains just in time for stop two of the Burton Qualifiers amateur contest series at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire. With the contest scheduled for New Year's Eve and 14 inches of fresh snow on the ground, locals had every reason to come out and ride like the state's motto suggests: Live Free or Die.
The park staff has yet to build their superpipe, so they put the course right in the flat bottom and left the banked walls untouched. The 15 & Under division strapped in first, and immediately saw the potential for side hits. This set the trend, and riders strayed away from the steel to play in the powder throughout the two jam sessions.
Alex Atno lead the charge for the 15 & under division, spinning a backside 360 onto the taller of the down rails in the first five minutes. He also braved the gap from the lip of the flat rail over to the down rail, landing him in first place. Grey Katko was a close contender for first, answering Alex's tricks with a flurry of hammers across the course, and proper execution all around. TJ Fitzgerald stayed consistent and busted out the big guns, gapping a tuck knee to 50/50 on the down rail setup for third.
The sun dipped behind the mountain just in time for the Open Division to strap in. With Loon's renowned status as a hub for East Coast talent, expectations of a heated contest were met with pure fire.
The day went to River Richer, executing all over the course with calm, calculated style, and so many switch tricks the judges questioned whether he was goofy or regular. He walked away with a fat check for $800. In second place, it was no surprise to see Nate Haust, coming in hot after a win at Killington's Rails 2 Riches. Nate was gunning for a follow up, and his precise combo of technicality and style earned him a neat $400. Jed Sky won last year's Qualifiers event at loon, and it seemed to be his New Year's resolution to follow it up at this one, too. He made jaws drop by sending a huge gap to switch back lip, and ended the jam sitting pretty in third.
It took hard consideration to pick winners, but in the end the top six from each division earned themselves a spot at the Burton Qualifiers finals event at Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. For full tour info head to BurtonQualifiers.com.