By Andrew Mitchell
The first Park Rider Session event of the season took place in the Habitat Terrain Park on Whistler this past Sunday, with a solid field of over 50 athletes competing in a jam on a series of rails and boxes.
The riders and skiers kicked off the day with a session on the C-box, moved a little downhill to session a down rail and down-flat-down box, and wrapped up the day with a session on an up-box.
The jibbing was impressive, building from where the progression left off last year. From aggressive gaps and spins onto rails to attempts to flip off the end of the up-box, the entire field impressed the judges at every stage.
According to Colin Duncan the format was designed to push the progression.
“Basically these (Park Sessions) events are all about fun, it’s about the kids coming out and hanging out. It’s a contest, but we want an atmosphere where everyone can learn,” he said.
“We always call the kinds of tricks we want to see, and we like to see the kids try their best. That’s not to say if you don’t do something you’re not going to win, but if we can get someone to try something they’ve never tried before or do something with a little more style, then we’re helping the riders to progress.”
When marking runs, the judges are looking to make sure the rider or skier is smooth and in control, that they’re fluid on the obstacle, and add some style to the mix. Landing is also important, but you still get points for a brave attempt.
“Runs that score well are the ones that look like they were easy to do, but are actually quite difficult,” said Duncan.
The atmosphere works. The athletes encourage each other, while trying the same trick over and over until they get it down. When an athlete comes through with something, all the other skiers and riders show their appreciation.
“(The progression) is why it’s fun for all of us,” said Duncan. “We get to hang out here with a microphone, and when we see kids doing something we announce it. If we say ‘try this’, a lot of kids try it, but there’s no pressure. At the end of the day you hope kids learn something new.”
In the Snowboard Boys 13 and Under, Brin Alexander and Calvin Chamberlain went trick for trick, following each other on every run. In the end it was Alexander, who had the smoothest run on the down-flat-down box and tried a flip off the up-box, who took the win, although Chamberlain wasn’t far behind. Oscar Kirkwood was third with his slow nose-presses and blunt slides, and for being game enough to try all the tricks that were called.