Saturday, Jan. 12 at Park City Mountain Resort was snowy, colder than a popsicle-eating yeti and it was also the first stop for Monster Energy and Hookit.com’s Winter Recon Tour. With the death of The Gatorade Free Flow Tour last year came near extinction of slopestyle contests that are designed to help up-and-coming athletes get their names out in the world. This economy-driven cutback would have left the young, talented and unknown looking to make something of themselves, in the boonies. That’s when Chris Stumbles of the Monster Army and Scott Tilton from Hookit stepped in. “Our main goal is to take care of the athletes and to make sure they can continue to have a platform to advance themselves,” Tilton says. This is what The Monster Army and Hookit are all about.
The Monster Recon tour began as a traveling BMX freestyle competition that takes up a good chunk of summer. It’s competitions like these that allow serious young athletes to come out and show that they have what it takes to be the next best at whatever their sport is. Because BMX is a summer-only action sport, the winter months, “definitely had a big void needing filling,” says Stumbles. Park City is the first stop on the tour, followed by Mt. High, with finals at Mammoth Mountain in California. At stake for First Place in the open division is: $1,500 and a one-year travel contract with The Monster Army; while winners at the other stops will win $500, $200 and $300 for first, second and third place, respectively, with an automatic entry into finals at Mammoth.
The two-day event kicked off with 55 amateur skiers taking the first round of sunlight, or lack thereof, as they shot for a best run out of three. The course setup included a flat rail or box line followed by a ball or tube tap, all leading into three sets of jumps, with the last checking in as a good ol’ 45-foot popper. Park City gave these national competitors an awesome park to do battle on, but the weather was out of their hands. Right after the open division finished their heat, Mother Nature’s slushy tears moved in, making for one low and slow Utah January on hill. However, that didn’t stop PC local, coach and Recon Tour rider Ryan Wyble from checking out Dylan Sondrup as he stomped his double cork 12. They toughed through the dirtiest parts of the storm with determination. By the end of the day no energy juice in the world would have the power to make the losers win. In the open class, Ryan Wyble, the man, took first place, with Ian Hamilton from Montana taking second and Steve Stepp close behind in third.
Day Two, Sunday the 13th, the thermometer read negative five degrees for most of the day, but the snowboarders definitely got lucky, because sun was out and the air was crystal. DJ Matty Mo popped in his beats and the Recon Tour’s 51 shredders of all ages took to the freshly raked course. This time around, the snow was astro-slick, which got riders to start sending it deep. One of the first bangers of the day came from rider Justin Aday, who got twice under with his backside double rodeo on the 45-footer. Judges Ben Bilodeau and Jeff Perry, on the other hand, said that their favorite trick of the day was a frontside seven mute and tail grab, all grabbed at the same time by one nameless phantom ghost rider. With the snowboarders, it took a broken nose, wrist, and one or two concussions to find the baddest asses of the farm, but they came through! Jack Herald snatched up first place, followed by Ryan Flaska in second, and Gabe Ferguson from Oregon nipping at their heels in third.