Monster Energy Airbag Extravaganza in Park City Weekend Recap
Roughly a decade ago, when freeskiing was in its infancy and the 2001 Winter X Games was around the corner, training consisted of competing at the US Open events. What Tanner Hall did on the slopes of Vail, you'd most likely see on the slopes of Aspen. And that trend continued for a number of years. However times have changed.
The size of the talent pool has ballooned in size. The talent pool is deeper than ever. The stakes are higher and the pressure is that much more palpable. So what is a competitor to do? How will he or she build up that last minute confidence? How will they learn that one trick that might be the difference between 25K and an early trip to the viewing corral? Well, for a number of Monster Energy athletes, the guesswork has been taken out, you're in Park City.
For the past four days (as reported earlier) seven of the athletes have been hunkered down in the Wasatch resort hitting an airbag supplied by the beverage company. After a couple days of utilizing quarterpipe-like transitions for the pipe skiers, they could then take their newfound confidence a couple of runs over to the world-class 22-footer at Park City.
Jossi Wells gets blunted at Park City
Mornings full of sun and afternoons washed with gray have been the program each day. A measure of experimentation, old fashioned shovel 'n' rake work and guinea-ing is needed on an airbag the same way it's needed on any jump or pipe. But with a little elbow grease, fine tuning the "blowupfullness" (Colby's word) of the bag and sacking up and trying new shit, progress can be made in leaps and bounds. While the QPs are meant for the pipe skiers, Jacob Wester and Alex Schlopy sessioned, unfazed.
Jacob swings for the fences
With any session, there is down time. And that time has to be filled. Juggling contests, interviews with the media circus, tackling the airbag, Wheat Thin ninja stars, snow-baseball, Jossi's artsy photography, video reviews and Cobra Dog runs. The jump may have been into an airbag, but the session still felt authentic.
Good to go. Alex Schlopy.
If the success of the transition sessions on the airbag was a high point, then the number of unforeseen complications that were encountered turning the bag into a normal kicker would be a lower point. Now, you'd think, "Just hit a jump and you land on a bag of air, it's easy," right? Wrong. Angle of the jump, angle of the airbag, density of the airbag, dead drop distance to the bag, gap size and a number of other variables all come into play. The success of the quarterpipes left a bitter taste in the mouth of the straight jump. But the Park City crew, led by Jeremy Cooper, is hard at work, as I type, in making the necessary adjustments so further progress can be carried out. But being the trooper that he is, Jacob Wester lined up a couple floaty Superman front flips.
While the gray weather doesn't hinder airbag sessions like it shuts down normal parks, the human body does need a down day. Most of the team will spend the day resting up for another session tomorrow, and for the busy schedule that lies in the near future. Winter Dew Tour later this week, X Games the next and so on and so forth. Monster Energy's Airbag session in Park City isn't even over yet and the mission of progression has been accomplished. All we can do now is wish these competitors — and all the others out there — good luck this season.
Check out all the video clips and photos from the weekend. Full recap edit to drop soon.
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About the author:
Shay Williams is former Managing Editor of Freeskier Magazine. He now works with Monster Energy.