Friday, April 21, 2006
By ADAM LAPIERRE
News staff writer
April 5, 2006
A thick, ghostly white fog drifted around the slopes of Mount Hood for most of Sunday, with visibility at times like the vertigo of looking at clouds through an airplane window at 40,000 feet.
The hardest part of skiing and snowboarding in such conditions is the inability to distinguish snow from fog, and air from ground. Depth perception and contours fade away and riders have to rely on the sense of feel more than sight.
The Mt. Hood Meadows Vegetate big-air course was smack dab in the middle of the rolling fog Sunday afternoon. With bright blue Cool-Aid sprayed on the most important parts of the course, namely the takeoffs and landings, competitors dared the conditions for what would end in an impressive show of massive air and acrobatics.
Conditions were better on Saturday, for the halfpipe segment of the two-day, 11th annual event. With more than ample snow pack to work with, Meadows groomers used their new Zaugg 18-foot Pipe Monster to shape the superpipe into what mountain directors have called the best pipe conditions in the history of the ski area.
The Superpipe drew in 49 competitors for the jam-format event, separated into six divisions: under-18 skiers, under-18 snowboarders, 18-and-over men’s and women’s skiers and 18-and-over men’s and women’s snowboarders. Competitors were scored based on 50-percent rider ballot and 50-percent judge evaluation, which brought validity to the results because riders and judges combined to come up with the top in each division.
On Sunday, some 56 Big-air competitors climbed the back of the takeoff ramp, which was a snow pile as tall as a 10-story building. The snow was slow and the hits gargantuan, so competitors had to be sling-shot down the steep hill toward the first of two features in the event: a 65-foot tabletop.
The key to the course was hitting the downslope of the tabletop’s landing and carrying enough speed to air off the 30-foot-high quarterpipe at the bottom of the course. When done on-the-money, competitors hucked something big off the tabletop, buttered the landing and tucked up and launched off the three-story quarterpipe feature at the hang-out center of the weekend’s festivities. The jam format gave each rider about two trips down the course, with the top two competitors in each division holding a place on the leader board until someone else could land a bigger score.
“We were very impressed by the overall quality of talent in all the divisions,” said event director Dave Tragethon. “The jump was spectacular — the only real issue was the speed of the snow at the beginning of the jam, but things sped up allowing the competitors to throw some huge tricks. Our groomers, Jason, Jake and Ike, did a phenomenal job with the pipe and features, and our park crew and the entire mountain staff did a great job with the venue.”
Most of the competitors were from the Mount Hood Area, with a handful from the north side of the hill. Representing Hood River in the halfpipe were, among others, Jeremy Page, Benny Connors and Heidi Adamson. Page took the under 18 snowboard division and Connors took top honors in the 18 and over snowboard class.
After helping build Sunday’s big air course as one of the mountain’s top groomers, Dee native Ike Smith entered the 18 and over ski division. Smith held a brief number-two spot on the leader board after his first run but was bumped off by the eventual first and second place finishers from Gresham and Linwood.
Hood River’s Summit Snowboard Team coach Paul Rovianek threw down as well, coming up short of the top-two with a massive back aerial on the tabletop during his second run.
Other Hood River locals competed but complete rider information was not available.
Vegetate began 11 years ago as a means to raise money for and awareness of Mt. Hood Meadows’ native wildflower re-vegetation program. In the first six years, the event raised about $75,000 for the cause. Tragethon explains that the event is no longer a means of fund-raising for wildflowers because the program is now considered a regular expense for the resort.
And in all 11 years running, the event’s headline sponsor has been Hood River’s famous local brewing company, Full Sail Brewing.
Under 18 skiers:
1st — John Ware, Portland
2nd — Justin Bleich, Portland
3rd — Alec England, Bend
Under 18 snowboarders:
1st — Jeremy Page, Hood River
2nd — Andrew Stern, Shoreline
3rd — Tanner Salsman,
Over 18 women skiers:
Tie 1st — Jill Sweeny, Bend
Tie 1st — Sally Butler, Sandy
3rd — Heidi Adamson,
Over 18 women snowboarders:
1st — Tara Zwink,
2nd — Kayln Benaroya, Sandy
3rd — Jessie Haungs, Portland
Over 18 men skiers:
1st — Griffin Cummings,
Tie 2nd — Grant Domer,
Tie 2nd — Chris Eggleston,
Over 18 men snowboarders:
1st — Ben Connors, Hood River
2nd — Chris Blattner, Salem
3rd — Zack Owen, G. Camp
Big air results:
1st — Dustin Anderson,
2nd — Chris Blattner, Salem
1st — Rory Silva, Gresham
2nd — Grant Domer, Lynnwood
Dustin Anderson, Portland
Joel Fuquay, Welches
Tanner Salsman, Vancouver
Honorable Mention —
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