SLUG Games: Night Riders

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Huge tuck knee over the gondolas. All photo: davebrewerphoto.com

Park City Mountain Resort is synonymous with world-class terrain parks and world-class talent, and fortunately for us, it’s right here in our backyard.  On Jan. 8, PCMR hosted the first stop of the 2011 SLUG Games amateur ski and snowboard contest known as Night Riders. Not only would it go down in the books as the first contest to be held in Park City’s newly redesigned night park, but also as one of the greatest SLUG Games events during the course of its eleven year legacy.

Park City’s notorious terrain park crew, lead by Jeremy Cooper, built an exclusive course that blew competitors’ minds.  Being that SLUG Magazine is the freshest thing in Salt Lake, we felt it would only be fitting to build the freshest terrain park setup for this event. From the top-secret design labs in the SLUG Headquarters an idea was born: a full on skate park-style setup that would give athletes the opportunity to really reach deep in their bags of tech tricks.  We wanted to build something different than your average hit-a-jump, then a rail, now you’re done deal.  We wanted something that would make the competitors excited to compete­—that is who the contest is ultimately for, isn’t it? With our designs and Cooper’s know how, the course was built beyond our wildest imagination.  Featuring jibs on four gondola cars, a plethora of boxes and an amazing up-and-back feature that let riders hit the same features up one way and down another.  The general consensus of the riders’ interest went beyond words.  As soon as the registration table was set up and manned by our team of beautiful SLUG ladies, the madness began. Skiers and snowboarders bombarded the table, filling up registration within the first hour.  Competitors were foaming at the mouth watching behind fences as the PCMR park crew raked all of the lips one more time so it would be extra perfect for the jibulation that was about to go down.

As riders checked out the masterpiece built by the Park City park crew, the sponsor village was filling up with curious minds and thirsty spectators. The Salt Lake snow community was in full effect in what appeared to be a nomadic village full of colorful tents and product galore.  Vitamin Water was on site keeping spectators and athletes hydrated as they hiked up and down the course. 4Frnt Skis were there letting people try out their new skis and Daleboot was showing how they make the most comfortable ski boots in the world right here in the Salt Lake Valley, even giving out a free pair. City Weekly was in the house, Demon United showed all of the athletes how to play it safe with their new line of protective gear and DJ Goobers was rocking the wheels of steel with fresh beats all night in the Siege Audio tent.  We can’t forget the lovely ladies holding it down for SheJumps.Org, the War Regime guys flossing their fresh prints and the Scion guys for letting the kids play with their RC cars.

By the time everyone had downed their Vitamin Water, moisturized their lips with all of the free chapstick and tied on their bibs, the course was engulfed with young jibbers doing what they do best. The event was held in a full-on jam format separated into heats by category.  Young groms kicked off the night in true Park City style, tall tees below the knees and goggle tans that rivaled members of Jersey Shore.  I’m not really sure if skiing and snowboarding has just gotten easier throughout the years, but damn, young kids are good these days. We saw rodeos over the first gondola feature, kids spinning across the boxes like tops and style for days.  I had to do double takes and ask people next to me, “How old are these kids again? Did he really just do that?” It was exciting to see the future of the sport evolving before my eyes. In the end, James Saarela took the first place podium for the men under-17 division of skiers, followed by Andy Partridge in second and Christian Thorn in third.  In the under-17 snowboarder division, Shaw Irwin landed the first place spot on the podium, followed by Heston Beacco in second and Jeremy Thornburg in third.

As the night went on, the young riders that were nose pressing their way through puberty had to take the bench and let the big boys and girls move onto the course.  Both the women’s ski and snowboard divisions had a strong presence, as the ladies wanted everyone to know they were a force to be reckoned with.  Favoring the picnic table box, Veronica Kelly took first place in the women’s ski open division with her 270’s off and on the boxes.  Trailing right behind in second place was Blake Peterson, followed by Haley Kanaskie in third. In the women’s snowboard open division, Stephanie Feld pressed her way into first place, walking away with a fresh board courtesy of Signal snowboards. In second place came Taylor Elliot and Erika Vikander in third.  The competition between the men’s divisions was tight in both skier and snowboard categories.  Big airs over the gondola jib, massive spins over the trapezoid box and countless switch-ups on the lower features, made for a solid display of local talent. Even though many of the riders claimed they felt like they had run a marathon from hiking the venue so many times, they would not stop.  Riders were chomping at the bit to get back up to the top and drop in again. By the end of the night the persistence was dying off and only the strong continued to ride. Scott Nelson took the first place podium spot for the men skiers with stylish airs over the gondolas and textbook switch-ups on the down-flat-down rail.  In second was Zak Cedarholm followed by Sean Kennedy in third place for the men’s ski open division.  Park City shredder Ozzy Henning sealed the first place spot in the men’s open snowboarding, walking away with a years supply of Vitamin Water for his efforts. Andrew Emery took second place and Aaron Tobler cleaned up with a third place spot to finish the night.

See what happens at the next stop of the 2011 SLUG Games, the Construction to Destruction Jam at Brighton Resort on March 5. For now, check out videos and photos of the event at TheSLUGGames.com

SLUG would like to thank everyone who braved the cold night to check out the event, and especially a huge thanks to all of the sponsors for making it all happen—Vitamin Water and Scion for presenting, Wasatch Beers, Squatters, Smith Optics, Signal Snowboards, Siege Audio, 4Frnt Skis, War Regime, X96, Demon United, Discrete Headwear, Daleboot, City Weekly, Shogo Clothing, Blindside, Epic Boards, Salty Peaks and Milo Sport. and DJ Goobers.

Photos:
Huge tuck knee over the gondolas.  All photo: davebrewerphoto.com The trapezoid box was a contestant favorite. Photo: davebrewerphoto.com Textbook stalefish. Photo: davebrewerphoto.com DJ Goobers. Photo: davebrewerphoto.com