In a year where much of the talk in freeskiing revolves around the 2014 Winter Olympics—and thereby Grand Prix events, World Cups, etc—it’s important to take a step back and reflect on why we’re all here: to have a darn good time in the mountains with your friends. In an effort to bring this idea to the forefront, Sammy Carlson once again hosted the Sammy Carlson Invitational (SCI)—a fun-filled, jam-style, no-pressure event.
Two runs to stomp your best tricks? Forget it. A panel of judges scrutinizing your every move? Not a chance. Strategizing with coaches? No way.
For the second straight year, Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor Resort played host to Sammy’s invitational. Again, the setup consisted of a single jump into a wallride. Though this year, the wall stole the show: A 25-foot-tall, 80-foot-wide, curved structure. It was, without a doubt, the largest wallride I’d ever seen. Beginning at noon today, skiers had two hours—split between a couple of one-hour jam sessions—to throw down. There would be no podium, nor gold medals. This was a chance for riders to perform for an enthusiastic crowd and to push their skiing to new limits, all in the name of fun.
Athletes on-site included Candide Thovex, Phil Casabon, Henrik Harlaut, Sammy Carlson, Tanner Hall, Pat Goodnough, Maks Gorham, B Devine, B Paul, Alex Schopy, Torin Yater-Wallace, Will Berman, Ben Moxham, Willie Borm, Taylor Seaton, Patrick Baskins, Reed Lewis, Hudson Knoll, McRae Williams, John Spriggs, Nicky Keefer and many more. Snowboard pro Sage Kotsenburg also made a cameo appearance. The collective level of talent was mighty high.
From start to finish, we were witness to an ultra impressive show, featuring smooth, stylish tricks over the jump; insanely technical buttering maneuvers on the table’s knuckle; and, of course, sheer madness across the wall. A sizable crowd gathered along the sidelines to cheer on the antics, while others tuned in across the globe via live stream. As aforementioned, it was the gargantuan wallride that truly captivated spectators. The excitement surrounding the wall was reflected by the athletes.
“It was the sickest wallride I’ve ever hit in my life,” said Pat Goodnough. “And the illest crew I’ve ever skied with, too.”
Henrik Harlaut explained, “The wall was even sicker than last year, even though I didn’t think [creating a better wallride] was possible. This year, with the new PVC coping up top, and the whole thing being bowled out… it’s insane. This is the biggest wallride I’ve ever hit.”
“The [wall] really gets the creative juices flowing,” added Nicky Keefer. “There are so many options available… So many ways you can think about hitting it. I’ve never seen or hit anything like this before.”
Henrik Harlaut lays back.
Sammy expressed big thanks to the Mt. Bachelor park crew for assisting in the build. “The park crew has been amazing in putting this course together,” he said. “My boy Alex, this event wouldn’t have happened without him crushing it in the cat. And the rest of the crew… last night they didn’t even go to bed. I was here myself until 3:00 a.m. getting everything dialed.”
Asked specifically about the wallride, Sammy explained the difficulty of bringing the idea to life. “The engineering… the construction work behind the wall… it was a big challenge. It’s not like you can just build something like this. There’s a lot of thought behind it. It’s a real team effort, for sure. I couldn’t be more stoked on how it turned out. This is exactly how I imagined it would go down.”
Your host: Sammy C.
Another individual who particularly appreciated today’s gathering was Mr. Tanner Hall. Hall, who hosted his own invitational in March of this year, advocates the importance of stepping back from the competition scene. “The best thing about these events? The vibe,” he said. “We just want to show people that it doesn’t have to be serious… that skiing is fun, first and foremost. These are the kind of comps that bring that feeling back.”
At the end of the day—despite the event’s “anti-comp” designation—a few awards were dished out to the day’s top performers. A $2,500 prize was allotted for each award, providing a bit of a special bonus to those who embodied and embraced the spirit of the contest.
Taking home “Best Trick on the Wall” was Hudson Knoll, whose standout stunts included a lofty alley-oop flatspin 5 onto the wall, in addition to a hair-raising jump all the way to the top—where he nearly fell off the backside to certain doom.
The “Kamikaze Pilot” award went to Reed Lewis, who charged hard all day long—sending wild airs over the table, and bagging countless tricks across the wallride, including a solid rock to fakie. And that’s a long way to float down backwards, folks.
The “Wise Guy” and “Best Style” awards both went to Phil Casabon. Phil took a creative approach to the wall—utilizing some lines than many others ignored. He also stomped a switch butter cork 10 off the knuckle of the jump.
And the final award, the “Overall Champ,” went to none other than the host himself. Sammy wowed all on-site by pressing his way across the coping at the top of the wall time, and time, and time again. After expending so much energy building the course, one certainly can’t blame him for wanting to maximize his time putting the features to good use. “It felt so good to hit it,” Sammy exclaimed. “Last year, I didn’t get to hit the wall at all. It rode so good today.”
Sammy expressed great surprise when it was announced that his peers had voted him Overall Champ. “Just bringing skiing back to Oregon… that’s the goal of this event,” he said. “I just want to bring it back to where I grew up, and to share it with the people here. I’m stoked on the crew that came out… big thanks to all of you.”
The local crowd was indeed ecstatic about the ongoings. Countless youngsters ran to and fro in search of autographs and Instagrams, while parents also went out of their way to thank the athletes for making the trek to Bachelor. When it was all said and done, McRae Williams probably spoke on behalf of all the riders when he stated, “I wish we had more time to hit [the course].”
And with that, the 2013 SCI is in the books. And I didn’t even touch on the condo parties, the strip club outings in downtown Bend, the massive group dinner at Zydeco, the action-packed autograph signing session at Skjersaa’s Sport Shop, etc. At the May 25 mark, this event was a great way to celebrate a winter gone by, and simultaneously, a reminder that a long summer awaits—full of many fun sessions from Mt. Hood, to Whistler, to South America, to New Zealand and beyond. Wherever you may roam, just remember to keep it fun.
Big thanks go out to APO Snow—the presenting sponsor this year—in addition to Rockstar Energy, Nike, Oakley, Dakine and Mt. Bachelor.
[This Week] Ask a Pro: Send your questions to Sammy Carlson