30 Days in the Valley: A Snowboard Odyssey

Posted February 5, 2010 in
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Big Air!

Over the last month Utah was been the hot spot for events especially those of the snow persuasion. Not only did we have the Winter Dew Tour rolling through for the first time ever, we also held the final Grand Prix of Snowboarding contest to determine who would be heading to Vancouver to respect Team America (fuck yeah!), played host to the X-Dance film festival for it’s 10th anniversary and also received about 8 ft. of snow in a week making for some last minute photo shoots and epic riding conditions in an otherwise lack luster early season. Fortunately (and unfortunately) I was there to observe it all for you!

First Stop: Snowbasin.
This year Snowbasin housed the 2nd stop of Winter Dew Tour Challenge. Sponsored by Wendy’s and Toyota, this tour is one of the fastest growing competitive series we’ve seen in years. Most big name riders were a part of the contest which includes Superpipe and Slopestyle events. Those of you familiar with the summer tour will automatically see the similarities here: festival village, demos, free stuff an smorgasbord of adolescent activities to distract even those with the most severe cases of ADD. Being the lazy man I am, I only made it there for two days.

On Saturday I watched the superpipe finals. Many of the rider’s struggled to hold their runs together and in the end Danny Davis who landed the only clean double cork (more on this later) took home top honors. On a side note, Davis a practical shoe-in for the Olympic team was injured after the event in Park City. For those of you living under rocks that makes two, yes two hopefuls knocked out of the Olympics. Kevin Pearce was also injured in PC while training. Get better dudes!

The slopestyle competition was held on Sunday. Due to a trigger happy snooze finger, I arrived just in time to see Chas Guldemond and local rider Sage Kotensburg receive their first and 2nd place prizes. Turns out that I didn’t have a photographer anyway so after scrounging up a lift ticket, I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the mountain (little did I know I could’ve received a four day pass, but apparently is was like pulling teeth for them to fork over a day pass so I could get a run or two in). If you don’t know about Snowbasin, the terrain is excellent and they are home to the country’s best lodge restrooms. Their porcelain thrones would suffice even Queen Elizabeth’s standards.

Next Up, Powder!
Over the next week leading up to the Grand Prix we were hit with a series of storms that rocked the West Coast. With reports ranging from inches to feet, we all prayed for some much deserved snow. Turns out someone upstairs listened to the call as we were blessed with over 7 feet of snow. The timing couldn’t have been any better, with some many rider’s in town looking to score photos and some of the greatest snow on earth. One of those spots with the greatest snow was Powder Mountain (well they didn’t get the most but…). This place is quite the hidden gem, rarely crowded, and not easily accessible (the roads are steep and snowy) it offers some of the best powder in Utah. Over the week this place saw some of the industries’ best ripping turns and dropping cliffs.

PC Invasion.
After, ripping up every resort within reached it was time to venture west, into Park City for the Grand Prix, and the last contest to determine the Olympic Snowboard Team. Unfortunately, the contest was held during Sundance, this made for an unbearable air around town. Paparazzi snapping photos of semi- famous stars, hipsters, whores, tourists, atheists, protagonist, terrorists, were all hustling and bustling down the streets in some sort of hyperactive state either dodging the spotlight or trying to dive into it. Unbeknownst to me, the organizers of the Grand Prix event really hooked up those representing media outlets. I was treated like a King! Free food and good food at that, check! Free pass for 8 days, check! Reserved spot at the base of the pipe, Check! Free beer, Check!

After, almost getting my pass clipped first run for poaching some powder turns, I headed over to the contest. You could tell that this contest meant something to the rider’s because they went bonkers! Double corks (the new black) were thrown every which way, frontside, backside, cab, back to back, now this was a contest. In the end, everyone’s most beloved and hated rider Shaun White walked away with the win and the top Olympic qualifier spot, with Scotty Lago and Luke Mitrani behind him. All three would make the Olympic team essentially however there was a three way tie for the fourth spot between Mitrani, JJ Thomas, and Greg Bretz whom eventually was given the nod. Louie Vito claimed a position on the team as well with a 4th place finish. On the women’s side, Kelly Clark (who eerily resembles my friend Trainor, sorry bud) took the win and solidified her spot on the Olympic team alongside Gretchen Bleiler, Hannah Teter and Elena Height.

After, the killer contest and cold beers, a free concert was available to the public where 30 Seconds to Mars played to a less then full crowd. I’m sure teenagers love the music but I have a more sophisticated taste, thank you, therefore I opted to try to drive my van with bald tires home to no avail. Thanks to the film fest I couldn’t even find a room anywhere. I was lucky enough to find a small couch available at a friend of a friends condo (thanks Joe Carter, shameless plug time “snowrev.com”).

Is it over yet!
Finally, I made my way to the X-Dance film festival to catch the premiere of Shaun White’s Project X video and the closing party. The video was received well and led me to a couple of conclusions after watching the last week’s contests. First, Shaun is one lucky basatard! I’m not going to take anything away from here because love him or hate him, his skills speak for themselves, but when you have the support to have your own private superpipe and foam pit built for you in the backcountry well then your either the man, or one lucky son of a gun. This also gave me a new respect for the rest of the kids out there throwing double corks out there, because frankly they had to learn these tricks without safety features and the consequences are immense (as witnessed by the KP accident). There’s new doubt that the sport of snowboarding has been pushed by this new ticks and who knows what’s next but I’m sure Shaun White will be at the front of it especially with the backing of some huge companies that are willing to invest into his dreams.

Tuesday concluded the film festival and my crazy month. The awards show was held at Club Elevate in downtown Salt Lake. The venue, smaller then last year’s, provided the perfect setting for an award show and concert. I don’t want to go too much into it here, basically because my fingers hurt at this point from typing so much (yeah I’m a four finger typer so deal with it!) To recap quickly, Warren Miller was honored with the lifetime achievement award, Taylor Steele’s documentary “The Drifter” won for best Director, and Nick Wagoneer won for best up and coming director. Although many of the recipients were on hand, one was not. Mr. Miller was hospitalized after a skiing accident in which the 85 yr old broke his back! The night ended in party mode, with Mike Relm and Del the Funky Homosapien putting on a great show. Somehow, I happened to ring up a $160 tab with $4 Pacifico’s so it turns out the party was in my pants! Never mind. Til next month…

Big Air! Sweet Grab! X-Dance Awards Ceremony Shaun White sighting!