The U.S. Snowboard team has just finished a two-and-a-half week summer halfpipe camp at Timberline Resort on Oregon's Mount Hood. Most of the riders will now head to their respective homes to take a month off and spend time working on strength coach Brad Jones' summer conditioning program. Then it's off to New Zealand August 18 - September 7 for the second half of summer training, an FIS World Cup contest and a week of freeriding. Some riders will arrive early to compete in the Burton New Zealand Open held in Cardrona August 11-15.
"New Zealand is not the place to progress," says halfpipe coach Ricky Bower. "It was a zoo down there before the last Olympics. This year will be even worse." The New Zealand session will be used to perfect tricks learned in Hood and lock in the contest runs riders will use during the Grand Prix qualifying season, which begins Dec. 11 at Copper Mountain, Colo. But the time in Hood was all about progression.
Kelly Clark and Gretchen Bleiler got their 900 grooves back and Elena Hight added inverted corked 720s to her trick list. "Every guy on our team can do 1080s both ways," Bower says. "That's pretty awesome."
Newcomer Greg Bretz was working switch backside 900s and frontside 1260s. Ellery Hollingsworth was working (and landing) cab 1080s, but tweaked her foot at the end of the first session of camp and spent the past couple weeks throwing "mellow" back-to-back sevens and cab 900s. "She'll have cab 10s back before she leaves," Bower says. In other words: This is not the Summer Pre-Turin 2006.
But with all the progression at this session, the trick generating the most excitement this week was Louie Vito's double cork frontside 1080. At a camp in Aspen, Colo., earlier this year, Vito studied his friend Luke Mitrani's version of the trick (he throws a double cork cab 10) and felt confident he could land the trick frontside. Before heading to Hood, Vito stopped at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team's new Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah, and spent trampoline time with the U.S. Ski Team's aerials coach Matt Christensen.
Once in Hood, Vito spent a few days working the trick over a straight jump into an airbag, which was set up specifically for the camp. "Then we had four days off and Louie had time to think about the trick," Bower says. First day back, he told Bower he was ready to go for it in the pipe. "First try, he came around to his feet," Bower says. "Second try, he landed. It was amazing."
By mid-week, Vito was landing the trick with 70 percent success and was able to ride out of the trick and throw a cab 1080 on his next hit. "He has a ton of control and can do a nice, big hit afterwards," Bower says. "It's like a 720 for him now." Since Vito landed the trick, youngster Matt Ladley joined in the fun, and landed the trick a couple times on Wednesday afternoon. The next few months are going to be a lot of funfor us spectators, anyway.