I will come right out and say that contests are not my arena of expertise. I have a hard time deciphering which tricks are what, especially when: 1. They are so often veiled behind some fashion twist that leaves me more than a bit distracted, and 2. These guys are so damn good that many of the trick variations they throw down have only ever been done a handful of times before, if ever, leaving old schoolers like me lost in a hazy mathematical grey area reserved exclusively for the dude from A Beautiful Mind. (After 900 you just lose track of the spins.)
That being said, this year's West Coast Invitational, presented by Mammoth Mountain, was entertaining if anything else.
Friday's event, The Eddie Wall Ride, named in honor of legendary jibber Eddie Wall, was met with typical Sierra sunshine and high temps -- a perfect environment for a spring session, or in my case a nice pan-fried brain sizzle. Johnny Lazz forgot to take his spaz pills and bounced up and down the course like an epileptic orangutan, hanging from the chain link fence one minute, flying off the top of the wall ride the next. Forest Bailey impressed with a supreme level of jibbery despite the fact he was wearing that creepy dude's priest hat from Poltergeist II.
Meanwhile, vets Peter Line and Eddie Wall himself patiently and with great control showed the younger generation the meaning of style with flow that only comes with years of experience.
In the end though Arbor's Scott Vine's one-footed wall rides and inverts on the ten-foot chain link fence earned him the win. Adhering to the "ten percent rule" imposed on contest winners, Vine donated a portion of his winnings to fund the delinquency that went down later that evening at the after party held at Hyde Lounge in the Village.
I wish I could say that Saturday's affair was as mellow as the wall ride but Mother Nature changed moods and the rail jam went down under cold, gusty wind conditions -- a minor deterrent to the twenty hungry riders vying for the winner take all ten grand, yet somewhat less compelling for the author whose five year old slip on Vans didn't hold up on the frozen mud slurpy that blanketed the ground. Because of the frostbite incurred my account here is biased account of agony due to the twisted judgment that intense pain can conjure.
While much of the event went down in typical fashion with a portion of the pool succumbing to injury or just plain inferiority up against heavy hitters like Zak Hale and Chas Guldemond, the majority delighted the crowd. With two different drop zones this year the action was quicker and more dangerous than years past, making for a decidedly more exciting event. Compound fractures and collisions aside, riders like Cody Boan, Jeremy Coultier and Scotty Vine had stand out performances putting it all on the line for the amusement of hundreds of onlookers.
Meanwhile snowboarding legend Jamie Lynn worked above everyone on a scaffolding painting a mural depicting Mammoth Mtn and its favorite son, Jeff Anderson. I AM...
Last year's winner Ryan Paul backflipped to 5-0 on the planter box while Chas Guldemond appeared to be deliberately trying to destroy his Rockstar snowboard with giant backside 360 smashers. Mammoth local Scott Blum rode like it was a derby course, opting to hit four or more features in on run, while Forest Bailey (sans creepy Amish hat) set a rail melting pace with his switch tricks.
In the end it was Volcom and 32 team rider Dylan Alito -- someone so at home on the frozen steel one would think in his perfect world everything would be made of metal flanked by thin strips of snow -- who took the prize. Alito put the wild weekend in to perspective with poetry reserved for the ages: "The best place is NOW! The best time is HERE!"
Powerful stuff -- enough to make your toes tingle.