Monday, 10/20 Update
Jon checks in with a video-blog entry from Icer Air. Thanks to jon-olsson.com for the video.
Icer Air- 2008
The athletes put on a great show at Icer Air in San Francisco today. Jacob Wester ultimately walked with the trick of the comp – corked 9 tail – in an interesting day of firsts including the use of “The Catapult.”
Rainville prepares to be catapulted into the hip jump.
The event came together in the face of some unforeseen challenges. Among the challenges: some sponsorship issues in the midst of an economic crisis, a picketing line of union organizers and some warm weather beating down on a limited supply of snow. But along with the fierce determination of the best skiers in the world, the Icer Air event organizers and some great sponsors (Folks like Esurance, Playstation, Virgin, Skull Candy, Head, Whistler, Heavenly and of course – Freeskier magazine), things came together today in San Francisco for a great show. Music, skiing, snowboarding, BMX and motocross and a sunny day by the bay in California… Who can complain?!
BMX, Moto, Ski, Snowboard… All good baby.
To be honest, there was apprehension among the athletes headed into this event. With the departure from the 2007 format that used a multi-story scaffolding big air that provided one of the most unique comps in recent memory – people were skeptical. Some hiccups in the funding forced the Icer Air organizers to make some hard decisions in the last few weeks. They opted to forge forward with a new format and jumping innovation called “The Catapult,” that would allow for them to move forward with the event, keep the prize money and athlete amenities in place – and unveil a totally new contraption that has people talking about the future and feasibility of city competitions.
The “Catapult” was essentially a high speed rope tow that literally catapulted the athletes from a standstill along a 10-foot wide ribbon of snow and into the transition of a the right-side hip. It required holding onto a rope with both hands, a necessity that had some of the athletes dropping their poles to facilitate the grip. Just another oddity in a day of firsts.
Skiers and snowboarders wait in line to be catapulted
What started out with people shaking their heads like they were witnessing the birth of the bearded-lady’s two-headed baby ended with everyone talking about the potential that an improved derivation of the catapult, along with a better shaped hip, could have for skiing. Some athletes were brutal about the jump – “disgraceful and awful,” were two descriptions I heard from a few of the boys – but even those who started out disparaging invariably gave props to Icer Air for sticking with the event and pushing through to put on a great show. The crowd of city-goers, unknowing for the most part what makes a good hip or doesn’t, was fully entertained and the tip of the hat must go to the athletes, both snowboarders and skiers, for putting their bodies and careers on the line to make something positive out of what could have been a disaster.
The view of the hip from the crowd’s perspective.
After the initial preliminary round of jumping, the athletes decided to split the purse evenly (around $2200 for each) and give the best trick of the day a $5,000 payday. This prize went to Jacob Wester (following his Freestyle.ch win last month) for a smooth corked-nine tail grab – a very impressive trick for this day…where some were basically struggling to get off a good straight air.
Sammy Carlson, a tan pimp.
“I mean, with everything that was going on and some general hesitation for some of us, it went pretty well. The catapult has potential. More time, more snow, it could be a lot better. It could open up a lot of stuff for in-city comps,” said perennial pro Simon Dumont.
The always reserved and positive Tanner Rainville concurred with The Dumont, “I thought it was pretty good considering everything.”
T-Rains almost jumps over the bridge, OMG.
All in all, the day was a success. The jump itself was clearly not in the same league as previous Icer Air showings – but everyone made the best of it and the photos and video will tell the tale of what happened here in McCovey cove this crisp Fall day in October.
We live in interesting times. There’s a war on, there’s an election coming down the pipeline and we are all holding our breath about the global economy – oh, and the Red Sox continue to astound non-believers!
But I think we saw how the skiing community can make lemonade from lemons today and the attitude was predominantly positive.
This will not be the last time we see “The Catapult.” For the record: it happened here, at Icer Air, first.
Look for “The Catapult” to be installed inside the Freeskier Magazine offices so the interns can get to the phones quicker.