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Ride Shakedown 2010: U.S. or Bust!

The inaugural U.S. stop of the Quebexican Ride Shakedown went down this past weekend at Summit West. And, while not a Northwest-bred contest (which was apparent by the unfamiliar flat voice replacing Jesse Burtner’s hilarity over the mic), the Northwest welcomed the contest with a generous dumping of snowfall, which has been elusive most of this winter. Unfortunately, after a morning tease of a peek-a-boo sun, the flurries came during the (3-hour) semi-finals making for tough start to an already uniquely challenging contest: Big air-to-rail jam. But with $35,000 up for grabs, riders did their best with the sticky snow and sketchy landing.

The two-day event saw a rail jam Friday night and a packed day Saturday that was supposed to include a skateboard half-time show and see 16 men and five women compete in the jam-style finals with a night-time party vibe. Eric and I didn’t catch the rail jam; we rode Central park Friday night. But it was again Austin Hironaka who garnered first place–following his Holy Oly crowning–as the rail jam champ, going home with$5,000. Izzy Lalive reined as queen of the fancy-footers, scoring a check for $3,000.

Saturday, after a bluebird Alpental sesh, we arrived at West to the snow showers putting a damper on the semi-finals. The skateboard “half-time show” (is this foozball?) was canceled due to the mositure laden rails–probably a good thing. The interim time allowed spectators the chance to warm the fingers and toes inside the lodge before the finals kicked off.

As the cloak of darkness wrapped itself about the mountain, the skies opened up to a beautiful winter night and the finals–and with them loyal and undeniable excitement–filled the close-knit crowd tucked in and around the setup. Friends and family cheered on the likes of Eman Anderson, Alex Cantin, Austin Hironaka and Forrest Bailey, Hana Beaman and Megan Whiteside. And the riders turned what could have been an anti-climatic grande finale (in the wake of all the hype) into an expo that actually got the crowd pumped and ready to party.

The riders had an hour to throw down. But only two of their runs (they determined which) would be judged, and before those runs, they were to call out the trick. Unfortunately the weather conditions made the run-in incredibly slow and many hardly made it past the landing’s knuckle which was some 50 feet from the lip. More crashes ensued than landings. But while in the air…the riders and their tricks were impressive–some double corks came down; still none of them were stomped.

The jibbery at the bottom forced the riders to draw on their urban skill set as well. The above stacked cable spools were a crowd pleaser, and is what Hironaka employeed to win the rail jam. In the judge’s booth sat Peter Line and Pat McCarthy, scrutinizing over tricks, or, more likely, imbibing hill sodies. It was a relaxed scene as the Northwest calls for, but out-of-town riders were all too aware that the conditions were also customary Northwest, and home-court advantage played into the podium results–at least for the girls, as local rider Megan Ginter walked away with the women’s top prize of $5,000. Matts Kulisek took first for men’s and is now $12,000 richer. He had tough competition with Manual Diaz, a Chilean am who earned his way into the finals and all the way up to second place. Eman Anderson took 3rd for men’s, and Hana Beaman and Megan Whiteside went 2nd and 3rd, respectively, for the ladies.

The long-awaited, “biggest” contest of the year, bro, had finally gone off at our local hill. Did it put Summit-at-Snoqualimie on the map? Who knows. Some would say Krush did that long ago, but not with outside contests coming in and trying to promote the hell out of our little neck of the woods. He did it with building highly-anticipated, Northwest-grown, small-time-turned-big, backyard comps. But isn’t that the way the Northwest has always done it? DIY?

Now, who wants to ride?

All pictures courtesy of Eric Schofhauser

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