We live in a world plagued by threats of global warming. The uncertainties of a make-or-break snow season in Utah are a real concept to wrap one’s head around for those trying to rip the hills we’ve come to love. Instead of praying, however, it turns out that booking SLUG Games: Brighton Banks for their yearly amateur ski and snowboard contest is a surefire way to get the perfect storm, followed by the best bluebird day of the season.
A wise Jim Morrison once said, “If you book them, they will come.” Well, that happened, and all of their friends came, too, for the 18th Annual SLUG Games: Brighton Banks, at Brighton Resort, of course. Early on Saturday morning, March 10, the SLUG team finished packing prize bags full of good things from this year’s sponsors. While the SLUG team waited for the first contestants of the day, Brighton’s Park crew was putting the finishing touches on the course, which nodded to the famed Southport Banks Skatepark. Main features to the park this year included a banked launch rail to down box, a skate-style bench followed by shotgun rail, dancefloor to skate bench and a doghouse to down rail. Siiiick …
The heats to come followed a straightforward jam format, including 17 & Under Men’s and Women’s Ski and Snow, and Open Men’s and Women’s Ski and Snow, with the Open divisions featuring the day’s best riders. After warmups and rider meeting, DJ Serge started spinning beats, while a drone strike from the SLUG video crew got ready to capture the madness about to unleash. This is around when the 17 & Under kids started throwing down. There’s nothing like a 17 & Under division in 2018 to make a person feel old, because these homies showed up with game faces on. For the first heat, however, Henry Hawkins won judges’ hearts with his ability to front flip off of pretty much anything with a lip on it.
The skill of the Men’s and Women’s Open Ski was nothing but expected as well, knowing the levels of talent coming out of Brighton throughout the years. Big hitters for this heat included Sam Horton, throwing monster Misty Flips off the launch rail, clearing the down box entirely. Throwing some oozy style into the mix was Bayard Baker, using the launch bank as a manny pad and transitioning into the shotgun. Also, who could forget John K.’s blind swap, pretzel 270 off of the launch rail to down. What a world we live in, folks. The best was not necessarily saved for last, as freestyle skiing is one of the best sports to watch on Planet Earth.
It was finally time to let the snowboarders take the fire. It’s unbelievable how much finesse and style these guys can squeeze out of their sweaty boots, because damn … Take Jeff Hopkins, for instance, who spent his entire afternoon like it was a tribute to the Chris Bradshaw Technine heydays. This kid spins to win, reverting and tapping everything in sight, while simultaneously putting himself as high in the air as possible. While the launch bank to down box was by far the favored feature of the day by everyone, the rules state that you gotta hit everything at least once. That gave Sam Wittke no other option but to do just that, all in one run. Doing some trippy bench swivel at the top, transitioning into the bank side of the launch rail, Wittke couldn’t stop and reverted onto the dancefloor, up and over the side bench, saving just enough time to hit the down rail of the doghouse. What a gentleman.
Looking back over it all, there was never really a contest. Sure, there’s prizes and a heightened sense of people performing at the top of their game. The takeaway for this one is the instance you take your eyes off the course and start watching the people. Once this happens, you see the same people competing against each other, only they’re all hanging out, laughing and cheering their friends on. That’s what it’s all about!
Women’s 17 & Under Snow: 1st Place Gwynnie Park, 2nd Place Lou Park
Men’s 17 & Under Snow: 1st Place Henry Hawkins, 2nd Place Ashton Davis, 3rd Place Greyson Hawkins
Men’s 17 & Under Ski: 1st Place Carter Wessman, 2nd Place Luke Mallen, 3rd Place Alex Mallen
Women’s Open Snow: 1st Place Sam Hobush, 2nd Place Jess Kelly, 3rd Place Chloe Desdames
Men’s Open Snow: 1st Place Pat Fava, 2nd Place Treyson Allen, 3rd Place Jeff Hopkins
Men’s Open Ski: 1st Place Tucker FitzSimons, 2nd Place Kevin Bane, 3rd Place Bayard Baker
Best Trick Ski: Samuel Horton – Switch lip slide 450 out
Best Trick Snow: Paxton Alexander – 180 switch backside 540
Best Crash: Isaac Harkness 500,000,000,000 feet in the air to flat
A huge thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s event and to all SLUG Games sponsors: Blue Copper Coffee, Brighton Resort, Graywhale, Izm Apparel, Line Skis, Milosport, Pig & A Jelly Jar, Porcupine Pub & Grille, Saga Outerwear, Ski Utah, SLUG Magazine, Stage Ideas and Yelp!