Normally snowboarding prides itself on its distance from being a team sport. A departure from the structure and rules of competitive games. But every once and a while, it’s fun to make snowboarding a game. Games are a palpable dance of strategy, skill, and luck. Games can create narratives of heroes as well as villains. It's a space where you can test your mettle, and revel in the thrill of victory. It’s also a place where one can feel the sweet sting of defeat.
Last weekend at Big Bear, California we set the stage for all of the above, as we moved the showdown from New Jersey to the west coast. The main departure from last year’s event aside from the venue would be our striking of the round of 16. Instead we opened up the invites to a much wider field and allowed the open to jam to serve as the playing field for 8 men and women to move on to the second day of head to head competition. Making the list of names proved to be the utmost challenging as so many riders showed up ready to play. Luke Winkelmann, last year's champion, has been nursing an injury and still threw down countless hammers in the opening jam. Other notable riders who didn’t move on where Zak Hale, Dimitri Bales, Denis Bonus, Lenny Mazzotiti battling a back 20 on a kink rail and a couple of poachers I kept referring to as various nicknames. The one that stung the most seemed to be when I called Koleman Lecroy, “Pat Fava’s Cousin.”
And while I got the feedback that maybe some of my commentary was a little, intense, there was much less time for chatter on the competition day. It’s probably worth explaining here about the T-person mega bracket that took place between Grace Warner, Egan Wint and Lex Roland. You see, I accidentally announced 9 female competitors into the tournament and made a quick audible that the last three names picked for the women’s bracket entered into “the super Bracket” I claimed at that time that the winner of that triangle would probably take the cake, but we’ll get there.
In the men’s quarter finals each battle was a heavy match-up, Canada’s only contender, Marty vachon took out Pata Fava, and unseating one of the winter’s winningest rail jam riders. WATCH MATCH!
Between Austin Visitainer and Riley Nickerson, It was Viz that would advance despite Riley’s textbook style. Though Viz had the upper hand for the first section of the game, Riley fought back to tie the game at SNO to SNO, but it would be a Frontboard through the kink that would ultimately advance Viz. It is worth mentioning we only gave riders a second try on “w” in the finals to keep the day moving. WATCH MATCH!
To the local’s dismay. Sam Klein would advance over Drayden Gardner, who put up a valiant effort, and Phil Jansen fell to Garrett McKenzie, who’s trick list is nothing short of staggering, especially in the realm of complicated tricks. WATCH MATCH!
In women’s quarter finals Danyale Patterson was the first to end her game against Lolo Derminio, and would set a trend of her putting down trick after trick to push her to finals. WATCH MATCH!
Between Emily O'Connor and local Audrey Doan - persistence would be the key for Audrey to move on. Jenise Spiteri and Anny Vongsavanh would be a short battle after Anny took a hard slam on a backside 180 switch 5050 which pushed Jenise automatically through to Semi Finals. WATCH MATCH!
As for the three-person mega face off between Warner, Wint and Roland, it was WInt who would gather all four letters first, leaving a head to head between last year’s champion Roland, Versus Grace Warner. The final trick that pushed Grace into Semi’s against Jenise. WATCH MATCH!
Marty Vachon Versus Austin Vizz was where we saw Vizz’ clear run for finals as he swept Marty with Four letters, ending the game on a hardway frontside 270 gap on the kink rail. WATCH MATCH!
In the battle of Sam Klein Versus Garrett McKenzie, Sam Set first and was able to get a letter on Garett before the switch over of sets. From that time on, Garret went on a spree, but still was not able to finish off Sam after Klein impressively matched a backside 450 boardslide to fakie. Sam was given another opportunity to set tricks, getting Garrett to S.N. But would ultimately be knocked from the tournament after Garrett Reset and landed a seamless backside 180 to switch nosepress. WATCH MATCH!
Danyale Patterson Versus Audrey Doan held some surprise as Audrey heated up in the second match, boardsliding through the kink at a crucial moment, but ultimately it would be Danyale Patterson whose consistency throughout the day did not go unnoticed, landing trick after trick. WATCH MATCH!
Grace Warner Versus Jenise Spiteri was another entertaining match up, but it was Grace that would advance to finals with just an S from the semi finals despite Jenise trying some impressive tricks like back 270 to boardslide. WATCH MATCH!
Austin Vizz Versus Garret Mckenzie was a match for the ages. Vizz, who is at the top of his game right now, and Garrett Mckenzie who has so many tricks on lock that few riders have. Tricks like gap backside 360 to 5-0. The match up was so good in fact that the two riders stayed tied at S-N-O for some time until Garret finally stomped back 450 to fakie and Vizz couldn’t match. WATCH MATCH!
Grace Warner Versus Danyale Patterson was an equally impressive final, Grace warner would stick to her mantra in Semi finals and only get an S, despite Danyale’s prowess throughout the day. WATCH MATCH!
After an awards ceremony where Sam Klein and Audrey Doan were granted the Nixon Best Time Award, we all drank some water and made our way to AV club for some much needed libations. Garrett Mckenzie FOR sure upheld the 10% rule, and Katie Kennedy didn’t even make it out to party. Just like the Game of SNOW, you win some and you lose some.
Check all the videos out for a better look at the day’s action.