Teeny-bopper bops competition on the head

By Lee Bogle

Ha ha, suckers! You thought summer was upon us and winter snow gear would soon trade places with camping paraphernalia and swim attire in the nether regions of your closet. Shame on you pessimists–I was glad to see Jack frosting you in an ironic gesture.

To celebrate the extended season Old Man Winter has bestowed, numerous snowboarders descended on the annual festival of riding known as the Rogers Wireless Campus Classic Sat., Mar. 19. With over $4,000 in prizes, the ability to spin as many times as possible in the air was tested thoroughly.

Situated in the, ahem, world-class venue of Mount Norquay, riders competed in several categories of slidestick mayhem. The big money was in the slopestyle, where riders hit jumps and rails that would cause most riders to either defecate themselves or test the hill’s paramedic response capabilities.

For those without the ability to compete–or in need of a little liquid encouragement–Big Rock Beer set up a beer garden in the lodge.

The talent level of this comp should not be understated. The bottom of the pack were still spinning 540s and making giant kinked rails look easy. And the females were stomping moves just as big as the men, sending me to an afternoon of drinking and watching in envy of their skills, hiding behind a façade of chauvinistic logic that just didn’t seem to work.

After a gorgeous morning of preliminary trick stomping, the weather socked in for the finals. While flat light and cold temperatures sent most of us to the lodge for a few bevies, the riders still managed to kick it up a notch to compete for the honour of Sultan of Shred.

And how is such a king/queen of the mountain crowned? By the riders themselves, who doubled as judges. While this may sound like a popularity contest with fiscal consequences, it actually provides a much more balanced event.

There were front flips off rails and some stylish 720s for good measure. But in the end, it was a frontside 900 from 16-year-old Dustin Craven that caught the most attention and first place tributes in the men’s division.

Let me explain the depths of my loathing for acts such as these: kids are beating riders a decade older than them and making it look easy. This was no fluke; Craven just won an event at Canada Olympic Park Mar. 12.

I have a hard time doing what they do in real life in my pathetic video games. Any amount of pride I once had in myself is shredded due to some punk ass kid’s shredding abilities. I’ll just have to accept the fact that no matter what I do, there are 1,000 little bastards who are already better than me, and they know it.

They heckle, but it’s deserved, as all I can do on my snowboard is make them look better. The only solace I can take from these kinds of encounters is knowing that they still need me to boot for them. And heck yeah I’m keeping the change!

But they can afford it. Craven scored $1,000 and a prelude to brain cancer (read: new cell phone). Ryan Hall and Jeff Pepperdine rounded out the rest of the men’s top three.

In the ladies division, serious battles were fought, but Robyn VanGynn proved victorious. For her efforts she was similarly awarded a cool $1,000 while her next closest competitor, Breanna Strangeland, picked up half that. Chairman Ironside placed a very respectable third place in this display of jibbing supremacy.

But there was more in store for the competitors, as a few surprises had been created specifically for this competition. Principally, from the depths of the legendary Crow’s twisted mind, came a giant 30-foot rail without support on the last seven feet. Translation: it flicks you off the end however it wants to.

Those best able to negotiate this instrument of potential pain were rewarded handsomely. Hall won for the men, with Adam Firus finishing second. On the ladies side it was Strangeland scoring first, with Sarah Kapinya earning second place.

All-in-all it was a great weekend to drink half-frozen slush beer from your backpack and watch some serious talent shred the gnar’ harder than I could ever dream. Kudos to the competitors and sponsors, I can’t wait for next year.