From the parks to the streets
While Colorado is traditionally overrun in December with pros training for, and competing in, the season's first contests, this year's Olympic qualifying events drew more snowboarders than ever. But early-season parks and pipes aren't the only playgrounds Colorado has to offer. When the winter's first storms roll in, local snowboarders also like to head to the streets. Here's a full picture of what snowboarding in the Rocky Mountain state is really like in December. We'll begin with Brendan Gerard, who -- with a little help from his friends -- laid down this front blunt to start the street sessions off this month in Denver.
Local Colorado hero Eric Willett, who is always a contender for the X Games podium, was heavily favored to make the U.S. Olympic slopestyle team this year. Unfortunately a crash during practice at the Grand Prix in Copper ended with a compression fracture of his T-7 vertebra, which will keep him off snow for two months and end his Sochi bid. He was looking solid early in the Breckenridge park, as you can see here.
Meanwhile, down in Denver, Ian Boll was attempting to lip slide this double-kink closeout rail when a Denver sheriff abruptly ended the session. He claimed snowboarding isn't allowed in Denver parks, but we know better. Risking a run-in with a grumpy law enforcement official is just one of the many variables that come into play when you're trying to film a video part in a place where people aren't used to seeing people ride.
Reigning X Games Aspen slopestyle champion Mark McMorris practices a double backflip in the Breckenridge park -- merely a warm-up on his way to winning the first major contest of the season on the 2013 Dew Tour.
"Shoveling and building features is a great way to warm up to a spot," says Kyle Hay, who feels the most confident when he's the one hitting a new feature first. "Once we're done building, I like to test the feature with my 'safe trick' and step up the difficulty from there."
Though the Grand Prix in Copper was one of five contests being used to pick the U.S. Olympic snowboard team, its World Cup status drew competitors from all over the world. Stle Sandbech didn't need to compete, as he's already on the Norwegian team, but he showed up and won the slope contest anyway. Here he is warming up in the Breckenridge park early season. Sandbech wasn't invited to shred rails with the local Denver boys, but maybe he should have been, because he's equally as good at street snowboarding as he is at riding park.