Author: Jamie Stott

Photo: Scott Frederick

If road racing had sex with mountain biking, their love child would be cyclocross. OK, now stop thinking about bikes doing it—that’s weird. Cyclocross is a hybrid type of biking that involves racing on a one to two-mile-long course over pavement, grass, dirt and various obstacles. Races are typically an hour long, and it’s all about how many laps you can pack in. Sound grueling? Yeah, it is. And what gives cyclocross its edge is that the season starts in early autumn and pushes into winter. So slap some wind, rain, snow and even hail on top of it all, and these riders aren’t fussed in the least. According to local cyclocross team Los Playboys Internacionales, that’s what makes the sport great.

“Being rainy and muddy is just a given,” says Playboy Jeff Juip. The other two Playboys, Tony Church and Nikos Sawyer, nod in agreement. “Early races can almost feel silly because it’s sunny and everyone’s in shorts, and it’s just like a road race or a mountain bike race,” says Sawyer. “The cross racers definitely start to get pumped as the weather gets worse. The racing becomes more dangerous and just more competitive.” Sawyer then goes on to explain that as the course changes, so does the race, giving good bike handlers a chance to move into the lead—whereas up until this point, perhaps only the strong riders would’ve been ahead. Church chimes in to say, “I’ll check the weather all week before a race and get excited when it says 80-percent chance of rain.” Where other sports live in fear of inclement weather, cyclocross basks in it—the muddier, the better.

When I asked the guys if they bring water bottles or use Camelbaks, they sort of laughed at me. “There’s no time to drink,” says Church. “If there is any flat part or downhill section, it’s usually so bumpy that if you’re not pedaling, you’re trying not to crash.” And it’s not just the weather and the gnarly course that the riders have to watch out for—it’s the spectators, too. “Unlike a road race where, once the peloton goes by and you might not see them for the rest of the day, with cyclocross, people are coming around every eight minutes,” says Church. “People will try to distract you when you’re racing by handing out dollar bills, bacon, donuts, beer … There’s also a lot of cruel heckling, too. Heckling is a big part of cyclocross.” From the tone of his voice, however, I can tell that it’s a loved—not loathed—aspect of the sport. What’s unique about cyclocross, according to Sawyer, is that “… all the aggression is on the course,” he says. “It’s a friendly sport—no attitude. You can show up for your first race and feel like you’ve got friends.”

Originating in Europe in the early 1900s, cyclocross evolved from road racing as a way to keep riders in shape once their racing season was over. When asked how the sport found its way to Utah, Sawyer joked, “I think it came here on a Mormon handcart.” It might not be a handcart, but cyclocross racers are skilled in hauling, hoisting and carrying their bikes over various obstacles. Although you’re welcome to race any bike you like, most cross racers invest in a cyclocross-specific bike. “It’s skinnier than a mountain bike but fatter than a road bike,” says Church. Juip goes on to describe a bike with a higher bottom bracket and knobbier tires.

If you’re lucky enough to be on the Los Playboys Internacionales team, you’ll get to wear matching lycra jerseys. The team is sponsored by a slew of local vendors, including We Like Small, Red Rock Brewery, Wasatch/Squatters Brewing, The Green Ant, Signed & Numbered, Blue Plate Diner, SLUG Magazine, Excel Sports, Cane Creek and Sawyer & Church Woodworks. Los Playboys are composed of 12 to 14 racers, both men and women, all of whom are subject to a strict hazing policy. When asked about said hazing policy, Church says, jokingly, “It involves a lot of bourbon.” Juip laughs at this and tells me recruitment for the team is organic: “We just kind of run into people who are interested,” he says. While there are several racing teams throughout Salt Lake City, Los Playboys Internacionales is one of the only teams that specifically focuses on cyclocross.

The team name came from Church, who saw it a long time ago on the back of a T-shirt. He says, “The back of the shirt said ‘Los Playboys Internacionales,’ and it was just a cool-sounding name. I thought it was funny, since I’m not really international or a playboy.” According to Sawyer, the race announcers love the name, too—probably because it rolls off the tongue like butter.

If you feel like cheering for Los Playboys Internacionales, you can find the team’s racing schedules by checking out race2wheels.com or ptowncross.athlete360.com. You can also find them on Facebook. If you’re feeling spicy and want to give cyclocross a try, Juip suggests contacting your local bike shop or signing up for a cyclocross clinic. Just remember that it’s a dirty sport—but somebody’s got to do it.

Bar Rescue: Toughest Rescues

Comedy Central
Street: 05.19

Chances are that if you’ve turned on a TV with cable anytime in the last four years, you’ve probably stumbled across an episode of Bar Rescue. Host Jon Taffer, a food/beverage/nightlife business whiz, features failing bars from across the country in individual rescue episodes. Taffer reviews their weaknesses and ultimately comes up with a plan to revamp the failing bars. In theory, if you are a failing bar owner losing thousands of dollars every month and you get the chance to consult with an industry expert like Taffer, you’d kiss the ground he walks on, but that’s not always the case. Bar Rescue: Toughest Rescues is a compilation of the most ridiculous bar owners in America. From being mentally checked out to blatantly drunk at work to operating the most disgusting kitchens you can imagine, these bar owners put Taffer through the wringer. Watching these segments is voyeurism at its best. There is yelling, cursing and sometimes fighting, and you can’t help but get sucked in. The transformations that occur are intriguing to witness, and Taffer makes it apparent that managing and operating a bar really is a science. You’ll walk away from Bar Rescue: Toughest Rescues pulling for the reformed dickhead owners, hoping that they can finally succeed. –Jamie Stott

On Wednesday, November 20, Brewvies hosted a sold-out screening of Brian Olliver’s canyoneering documentary, Gorging. Aside from being a visual feast, Gorging provides a thrilling glimpse into this exciting and somewhat unknown sport.

Canyoneering, for those of you aren’t in the know, is a means of exploring canyons by a combination of climbing, rappelling and swimming, aka hiking on steroids. The sport first appeared in the 1970s and gained notoriety in the mid 1990s with a series of unfortunate accidents. Remember Aron Ralston?

The documentary focuses on explaining canyoneering through the various perspectives of Dennis Turville, Michael Kelsey, Rich Carlson and Steven Cabourne. While all four men each share a love of canyoneering, they differ greatly in the roles they play with respect to the sport.

Canyoneering pioneer Turville highlights the early days, and does an amazing job at explaining the initial passion and thrill for exploring remote canyons along the Colorado Plateau. Guidebook author Kelsey explains his passion for sharing the locations of previously unknown canyons throughout the Four Corners region. Although his books are immensely informative, they have also caused controversy among various groups for their popularization of (for lack of a better word) “secret” spots.

As a result of media coverage, the Internet, and Kelsey’s books, more people became interested in canyoneering than ever before. Recognizing the need for training and safety in the sport, Carlson founded the American Canyoneering Academy (formerly the American Canyoneering Association). Throughout the film, Carlson promotes safety, self-reliance and ethics through education. And lastly, there is California recreationalist Cabourne. The purpose of his story in the documentary is to bring everything full circle. Cabourne represents the emerging enthusiasm spawned into canyoneering through influences like Turville and Kelsey, trained by Carlson.

This engaging documentary is sure to ignite a new wave of interest in the sport, as well as start a discussion among the community with regard to canyon preservation and canyoneering ethics.

Photos:

Torah Bright rides Half-pipe with a demeanor like she’s just shredding with her buddies! Photo: Alli Sports

She’s from Australia, she lives in Utah and she rips with the best of them. Torah Bright is one of the best chicks in the snowboarding game, and SLUG was lucky enough to steal some of her time to chat all things snow.

SLUG: This week, you’re prepping to compete in the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge. How’s Colorado been treating you?
Torah Bright: Colorado has been great. It was bitterly cold when I first arrived, but it has been warming up every day since. The Half-pipe is built really well, the jump line and slopestyle course are amazing. I’m having a great time just riding outside of the contest.
SLUG: What kind of training or prep do you go through for a competition like this?
Bright: The first day of training, I take a few runs just to feel the transition out, and each run, I add a little bit more speed, get a little bit more comfortable, and then start working in different tricks, and then after that, trying to just put different combos in and work on the comp run. Even though the Half-pipe looks the same at every event I go to, it isn’t. So it takes just a little bit of time to feel it out until I’m comfortable enough to know how to ride and what hits and tricks will work where.
SLUG: According to the roster, it looks like you’ll be competing in the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle Final on Friday and Women’s Snowboard Superpipe Final on Saturday. What motivated you to enter both events?
Bright: We had qualifiers on Tuesday, and I’ll only be in the Half-pipe finals. I was on the mountain from 8 a.m. till 3 p.m., attempting to qualify in both. I had a wonderful time riding in the practice for Slopestyle, and then for the qualifying on my first run, I got hung up on the rail and couldn’t get off switch, which kind of messed up my whole run … and then, on the second run, the sun went down and the course was so shady that into the first jump, I couldn’t tell how fast I was going and I knuckled the jump … so that was my run. I didn’t qualify for Slopestyle, but that’s OK.
SLUG: Tell me about your board setup. Do you have one snowboard that you use the entire time or different set ups for, say, Superpipe and Slopestyle?
Bright: The boards that I ride for Half-pipe and Slopestyle are the same. They are my Roxy Bright Edition Eminence. The only difference between the boards are: In the Slopestyle, you’re hitting rails as well as jumps and the edges are detuned differently, and in the Half-pipe, the edges need to be a lot sharper to get up the icy walls.
SLUG: For you, what’s the best part about competing?
Bright: I don’t snowboard because I love to compete—I snowboard because I love to snowboard. Competing is just kind of what I’ve always done. I’m good at it. Because I didn’t compete for a while, I didn’t realize how tiring they are emotionally, mentally and physically. It just takes so much out of you. Whether it goes good or bad, I feel such relief that it’s over, every time. Win, lose or draw, I’m pretty pumped if I just do what I say what I wanted to do.
SLUG: You’ve got two Dew Tour Gold Medals under your belt. Does this make you feel more confident heading into the competition or make you feel like you’ve got more to prove?
Bright: These days, I just snowboard the way I want to. If my best is the best, then that’s awesome, but these days, I’m going into a contest and I’m gonna ride it the way I have the most fun riding it. So yeah, I guess I have confidence in my ability on my snowboard. I just want to be able to put on a good show and share my love of snowboarding.
SLUG: Aside from the winning aspect of the competition, what goals do you set for yourself?
Bright: I try and bring it back to a normal day riding, so that I’m not sitting up there a nervous wreck. I try and be playful as if I’m just riding with my buddies and just go do what I know how to do best.
SLUG: This winter, you’ll be in Sochi, Russia, competing in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. While it’s not your first Olympic rodeo, it is the first time that not just you, but anyone, will be attempt to qualify for three events: the Half-pipe, Snowboard Cross and Slopestyle. How does it feel to do something like this?
Bright: I will be ecstatic if I am able to qualify for all three events. Right now, Half-pipe and Slopestyle are good to go, but Boardercross is the challenging one. It’s always been the challenging one because it’s new to me and it’s a new technique with my snowboard that I need to figure out and master, and then there’s the race aspect. When I’m in Half-pipe and Slopestyle, it’s just me and the mountain, but with Boardercross, it’s me and five other girls and the mountain. It’s a totally different mental game and I’m learning a lot about myself. When I’m riding Half-pipe and Slopestyle, I try to be playful … that’s how I get the most out of myself, but when I’m in Boardercross, I need to pull out fierce Torah, not fun Torah. It’s a challenge for sure.
SLUG: Do the Olympic Games have a different vibe from other competitions?
Bright: It has got a totally different vibe. It happens once every four years—it’s the biggest world stage that snowboarding has. Pre Olympics, everybody is a little on edge … It’s more stressful. If I was to give advice to anybody who hasn’t been to the Olympic Games, I’d say just treat like any other event. Enjoy the experience—realize it’s no different than any other snowboard event.
SLUG: You hold a 2010 Olympic Gold Medal, an Aussie Medal of Honor, an ESPN ESPY Award, two X-Games Golds, two World Titles, six Global Open Series Golds, three World Superpipe Championship Golds and two Dew Tour Golds. Did you ever imagine as a kid that you’d be where you are today?
Bright: Not at all. Not one bit. I never dreamt of being in the Olympics or even knew that I could have a career being a professional snowboarder. I was given really cool opportunities and my family helped me take those opportunities and roll with them. My parents always told me and my siblings that if you’re gonna do something, you do it to your best ability. So that’s what I’m doing. I was given these opportunities, and I went wholeheartedly with it and turned it into something beautiful. Thirteen years later, and I’m still going—loving it more than ever too.
To watch Torah Bright throw it down in the Women’s Snowboard Superpipe Final on Saturday, tune into NBC or NBC Sports Network, or stream it live at dewtour.com.
Photos:

Levi Black and other snowboarders walk back to the top of the course. Photo: Paul Johns

On the cloudy and not-so-chilly Saturday after Valentine’s Day, folks flocked by the dozens to the wintry slopes of Brighton Resort for the 2014 SLUG Games Goes Postal Presented by Scion. Held at the base of the Milly lift, colorful sponsor tents flapped in the morning breeze as SLUG staffers and the Brighton Park Crew put the finishing touches on the course.

Designed as an open jam session, contestants had the choice of hitting a tube, down box, down rail (more cleverly referred to as a donkey dick by some of the more seasoned riders), close-out mailboxes to a dumpster, wall ride and a quarter-pipe with a mailbox—all of which was overseen by the bright orange SLUG sign that was lovingly crammed at the top of the course.

Registration kicked off in the Milly Chalet at 10 a.m., and within minutes, the line was out the door. Outside, DJ Matty Mo started spinning throwback beats and getting everyone in the groove. The contest was divided into five divisions: 17 and Under Snowboarding, 17 and Under Ski, Women’s Open Snowboard, Men’s Open Snowboard, and Men’s/Women’s Open Ski. There was a good turnout for all divisions, but the interest in Men’s Open Snowboard was insane. By the time everyone was processed, 131 shredders had signed up for the contest.

SLUG nabbed eight of the greats to head up the judges panel, with Willis Grigsby, Whitney Favrok, Cale Zima and Cody Lee on snowboarding, and Marisa Marten, Garret Bright, Damien Garcia and Dan Sammons on skiing. Their mission? To judge riders on three main criteria: creativity, style and technicality.

Warm-ups on the course were entertaining to say the least, and definitely foreshadowed the tone of the competition. The first heat to open was the 17 and Under Snowboard and Ski. The features were mobbed by skiers and boarders anxious to stand out to the judges. With one rider chucking a front 6 and another airing a backflip over the tube, the 17 and Under heat definitely brought their A-game. Judges selected five finalists from both Snowboard and Ski to advance to the finals.

The second heat to kick off was the Men’s/Women’s Open Ski. As the riders took to the slopes, a spontaneous dance party erupted in the sponsor village. With DJ Matty Mo laying down the tracks, spectators were treated to snow breakdancing and some unique moves by the ’80s neon Pit Viper twins.

Tyler Shores stuck out with his innovative style, and Alec Nelson was clean and consistent. We saw some amazing talent from other riders who threw down one-footers over the tube, and spread over the gap tube to the down rail. Although the judges were only supposed to pick the top five competitors to advance to finals, there were too many skilled riders to choose from. In the end, judges selected seven male finalists and three female finalists for the Men’s/Women’s Open Ski.

The third qualifying heat started at 1 p.m. for the Men’s/Women’s Open Snowboard. Waves of contestants spilled down the slopes, with three to four riders hitting the course at the same time. In short—it was chaos. After the initial surge, things calmed down enough for the judges to do their job. Riders favored the tube, hucking back 360s and cab 270s. Judge Favrok was impressed with the clean style the women brought to the comp, signaling contestant Isabella Borrielo as someone to watch. The heat concluded with eight male finalists and six female finalists for the Men’s/Women’s Open Snowboard.

As the Brighton Park Crew cleaned up the course for the finals, we hit the sponsor village to see what they thought of the contest. Eli Larkin from Jaybird Sport said, “This competition is rad. There’s so much more action on the hill and in the village than we’ve ever seen.” Gina Duffy from SheShreds loved the energy of the comp: “I’m impressed with how people are throwing down,” she said. The ski finals opened with a bang. These guys knew the awesome prizes up for grabs and were going big. Judges were impressed with unique moves on the tube, like the hand drag and the nose butter 270 on pretzel 270 out. Quinn Wolferman nabbed some serious style points with his hand-grab ski slide on the wall hit, and Tyler Shores killed it with his switch tail butter 270 onto the wall hit with a pretzel 450 out.

By 2:30 p.m. the snowboard finals were underway. Riders were definitely showing signs of fatigue, but that didn’t stop them from slaying it. The spectating crowd swelled in size with folks piling in to see the best of the best. Judge Zima said contestant Jeff Hopkins had “sick style” with his front 270 on the down-rail donkey. Tricks were over the top with front 3s off the wall hit, cab 270s on the down-rail donkey and even a frontside 3 off the dumpster closeout.

Deliberation was intense, with the judges going back and forth. Once the winners were selected, everyone gathered at the base of the course near the podium to hear the announcements. For 17 and Under Ski, Quinn Wolferman took First, with Jake Lewis in Second and Sasha Johnstone bringing up the rear in Third. In 17 and Under Snowboard, Jack Stevens nabbed First, followed by Cyrus Mogensen in Second, and Nickolas Slade in Third.

Tara Woodward was the single winner for Women’s Open Ski. In Women’s Open Snowboard, First Place went to Isabella Borriello, with Hailee Mattingley in Second, and Kelly Underwood holding down Third with her all-around great style.

Men’s Open Ski was dominated with Alec Nelson in First, and Tyler Shores in Second. Judges were impressed with Sam Hurst’s steeze, earning him Third place. Best Trick for Men’s Open Ski was presented to Chris Dakoulas for his 630 transfer from tube to box. Men’s Open Snowboard belonged to the lad rocking the Jazz hoodie, Alex Lockwood. His trick variety and unique style nabbed him First place. Holding down Second was Christian Hobush, and in Third was Jeff Hopkins. Best Trick for Men’s Open Snowboard went to Dillon Guenther, who nailed it with a gap backflip box to tube—seemingly the hardest line selection of the day.

Winners walked away with some amazing prizes and serious cash money. Special thanks to the following sponsors who made it all possible: Brighton Resort, iNi Cooperative, Milo Sport and Milo Sport Orem, Scion, Raja Attire, Snogression, Zoo York Snowboards, SheShreds.co, Stage Ideas, Kitten Factory, Jaybird Sport, Discrete Clothing, Board of Provo, Luna Blanca Taqueria, Outlaw Union, Ramp Sports, OFF.SET. Apparel, Barebones Outdoor, Yelp SLC, Saga Outerwear, Goal Zero, Pit Viper, Dale Boot, Salty Peaks Board Shop, and the One Love Ski and Snowboard Club. Shout out to everyone who participated in the 2014 SLUG Games Goes Postal Presented by Scion: you delivered!

Check out our photo gallery here.

Photos:
Really Gotta Wanna
Really Gotta Wanna
Really Gotta Wanna shows the challenges faced by real snowboarders throughout the world.

We’ve all seen our fair share of snowboarding movies, from low-budget films shot by guys on their home mountain to mega buck productions that involve tits, cinematography and epic riding. What they all do is basically the same—show a handful of riders with snowtastic skills throwing it down. Created by Seth Hill, a professional snowboarder hailing from Keystone Colo., Really Gotta Wanna tries to step outside of the standard snowboard movie mold and show the real side of snowboarding. It tries to show why riders go to such insane lengths for a video or magazine shot. Hill almost succeeds in his endeavor, delving into how kids start snowboarding, then hitting how important competition is in securing a name for yourself as a rider. Watching the footage, it becomes apparent that snowboarding as a sport is becoming saturated with riders desperate to find a way to stand out. Markku Koski, a professional rider from Finland, said it best when he remarked, “Snowboarding is going in the way where the trick matters so much that the style doesn’t matter anymore.” For those lucky enough to have made it into the professional circuit, Really Gotta Wanna highlights how difficult it is to stay relevant, whether it’s through new tricks or hitting the backcountry for that “wow” factor. The film lulls in its second half and loses its original momentum, slipping into a generic set of scenes that remind me of films past. With all the buildup in the beginning and then such a blasé finish, I feel like I’ve been dickteased.

Photos:

The sponsor village tents surrounded the course at Brighton Resort. Photo: cezaryna

On Saturday, Feb. 15, folks flocked by the dozens to the wintry slopes of Brighton Resort for the 2014 SLUG Games Goes Postal Presented by Scion. Held at the base of the Milly lift, colorful sponsor tents flapped in the morning breeze as SLUG staffers and the Brighton Park Crew put the finishing touches on the course. By the time everyone was processed, 131 shredders had signed up for the contest. Designed as an open jam session, contestants had the choice of hitting a massive tube, down box, donkey dick, close-out mailboxes to a dumpster, wall ride and a quarter-pipe with a mailbox—all of which were overseen by the bright orange SLUG sign that was lovingly crammed at the top of the course. Read details on what went down that epic day on the slopes here, see a full photo gallery here, and watch the video recap here.