Set beneath the brightest full moon of the year, Mammoth Mountain hosted the West Coast Invitational (WCI) on Saturday night. With an entirely new format, this year's event pitted randomly chosen pairs of snowboarders and skiers against one another in a single elimination bracket. Not surprisingly, it was the duo of snowboarder Chas Guldemond and skier Parker White who laid waste to the competition's 90-foot big air jump.
The mixed sport, side-by-side action was not the only change that the WCI saw. "We moved the event from the Village up to Canyon Lodge this year to accommodate a new format," said Mammoth's Brand Content Manager Eric Meyers. "The Unbound Terrain Park crew has been moving snow for almost two weeks building a massive transfer kicker and jib park." No insignificant task considering the fifty percent below average snow pack the Sierra received this season.
The first of the evening's festivities to go down was the Eddie Wall Ride, a contest envisioned by the local Legend of the same name. The event was a true session with about thirty riders including Chris Grenier, Sam Taxwood and Scott Blum working handplants and lip tricks on the fairly intimidating set up.
"The difference this year is that the wall ride was quite a bit gnarlier than in year's past," said Wall, "so the guys who did show up really threw down some gnarly stuff." In the end it was the inventiveness of Jaeger Bailey who took the title as this year's wall ride king, edging out Taxwood who placed second.
As the evening progressed, the temps may have dropped but the real action was getting heated, with some of the world's best skiers and snowboarders going head to head against each other on the transfer gap. Riders such as local Lonnie Kauk paired with British skier James Woods, while young Norwegian ripper Ole Christian Hagen linked up with Joss Christensen.
Some teams opted for a tandem approach, each hitting one side of the jump as the other launched off the opposite blasting off in either direction. Whether this scored high with the judges is debatable but it certainly made for interesting viewing. Although by the time the finals had aligned, it was a more conventional approach of the calculated contest killer Chas Guldemond and the young Parker White who simply couldn't be stopped. With White alternating tricks like switch 1080 blunts and gigantic zero spins, and Guldemond whipping switch 10 frontside grabs before slowing it down with timeless switch backside 180s -- it was a combination of tech and style that did so well for the duo.
"Chas definitely knows a lot more about these kinds of contests than me," said White of his partner, "so I just listened to his idea of what might work well for us -- go style, go hard and I think it paid off."
An appreciative Guldemond also noted, "You can't just chuck your face off the entire time in a jam format like this," before giving props to the organizers for pulling off such an atypical contest. "This whole thing was a shot in the dark but it was really fun to see both sports get together and push each other the way we did tonight."
1st Guldemond/White $10,000 (winner take all)
Best Trick Snowboarding: Sage Kotsenberg $2500
Best trick Ski: Parker White $2500