Slopestyle PreviewJan 12 2007 / Los Angeles, CA
Style Masters- The Lat34 2007 Slopestyle Preview
Over the past few seasons, the most progression in the sport of snowboarding has been seen in the park. And in competitive terms, park refers to slopestyle.
“The big push in snowboarding is with slopestyle, double cork 1260s and stuff. What Travis Rice and David Benedek are doing is really elevating the sport,” veteran pipe competitor and regular slopestyle spectator Kier Dillon said.
When the International Olympic Committee announced that boardercross would be the snowboard event in the Olympics, rather than slopestyle, the industry gasped. Every one inside snowboarding knew boardercross was a thing of the past, and most of the competitors were nearing retirement. Slopestyle on the other hand, is what all the kids are into. But for the IOC, boardercross made sense. There’s no “style” to judge and picking the winner is simple: who ever crosses the finish line first, wins.
Slopestyle, on the other hand, is all about style. It’s not just what tricks you do, but how you do them, and how you link them together in their run. One amazing trick on the last jump doesn’t win the contest, rather how you use the course and every trick you do is what counts. So for the purists, the regimented judging system of the Olympics would hinder the progression of the discipline. And its omission from the games may actually allow it to progress even more in the coming seasons.
The 2007 contest schedule is stocked with big events such as the Vail Session, the Winter X Games and the US Open, each with huge cash prizes and the biggest names in attendance. Here are a few riders to watch out for:
In 2006, Shaun White dominated the slopestyle discipline. The only way other riders topped the podium was if Shaun didn’t show up. He took the X Games, the US Open and the Session slopestyle events (and threw in wins in the halfpipe and rail jams for good measure.)
For 2007, Shaun is enjoying a mellower competition schedule in order to film a video part, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down. His average slopestyle run includes three variations on the 1080, and a 900 thrown in, just cause. So when he does show up at the biggest events of the year, you can be sure the other riders will have to step up their game.
The purveyor of such tricks at the double barrel roll (two backflips and 1080 degrees), and a frequent visitor to the top of the slopestyle podium, Travis is single handedly making other riders get better. Though Travis isn’t known for his contest riding as much as his video parts, when he does show up to an event, he is a rider to watch. Not only does he have a highly impressive trick repertoire, but the balls and consistency to throw his hardest tricks in his competition run. Travis’s skills extend beyond giant kickers, he is also a technical rail master and can put both together in a slopestyle run that makes the judges (and the ladies) swoon.
Slopestyle is all about style (it’s even in the name) and Jussi Oksanen oozes style from every pore on his body. His spinning or rail maneuvers are impressively technical, but also they just look better than anybody else. And since slopestyle judging takes that into account, Jussi has been a frequent visitor to the podium. He took first in slopestyle at this summer’s Abominable Snow Jam, and thirds at both the Nokia Air & Style and the US Open slopestyle. Although he spends all season filming and doesn’t compete in every event, Jussi is one to watch whenever he shows up.
If you look up consistency in the snowboarding lexicon, there is a picture of Andreas Wiig. Slopestyle athletes have managed to escape being called “jocks” (pipe riders are often referred to as “pipe jocks”) but Andreas Wiig possesses all the positive characteristics associated with the name. On an average day he will ride the park from when the lifts open, until the lifts close, perfecting every trick he knows. What does this mean for slopestyle contests? Andreas not only can do every trick, but he can do them every time, almost always landing on his feet. Combine that with his smooth spinning and tricks like a backside 720 rodeo and you have a run that could easily top every slopestyle podium this season.
While the previous riders possess years of experience in pro competitions, Pat Moore was new to the scene last year. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to him. In fact, slopestyle is one of the quickest changing rosters in snowboarding. The chance of injury is high, and so youth is often as valuable as experience. And Pat Moore uses his young knees to ride just about anything. Growing up on the east coast, where landings are made of ice and not powder, Pat learned to stick everything with precision. His versatility and consistency make him a serious threat on the slopestyle course, and 2007 he is poised to break out.