The Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge: Aloha Season

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If the Dirksen Derby, with its tight berms and timed format, is the unofficial kickoff party of the coming season for the Mt Bachelor, OR snowboard tribe, then the Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge and Luau is the celebratory spring finale.

After the massive amplitude of Superpark 16, Mt. Bachelor brought the chill island vibe to the hill as shaper Pat Malendowski and crew created Gerry’s vision: an amazing soul surfer’s slopestyle paradise complete with multiple hips, deep pits, and quarterpipe hits, all linked together with snakerun berms made for the power slash. Gerry named each section of the course for his favorite surf spots in the world: G-Land, Ala Moana, Ulumatu, Mavericks, Sunset, and of course, at the bottom, a 20 foot overhanging bowl called Pipeline. A snowboard-only event, riders would be judged from upper and lower judges’ areas based on speed, power, creativity, air, and style; and when it came to style, there were no shortage of of lei’s, loud Hawaiian shirts, straw hats, and zinc oxide-d noses.

Pulling out of the starting gate, riders split left and right, paddling into the first section to either hit the left side quarterpipe or to boost the G-Land hip right in front of the upper judges. While most simply slashed the Mavericks double-hip, stronger riders and sun-baked Superpark holdovers gapped the whole damn thing–riders like Curtis and Martin Cizsek, Alex Lopez (Gerry’s son), and Jake Price. Dirksen and Bjorn Leines put down solid runs, boosting all the hits while spraying it high in the berm sections. Russell Winfield tweaked out a few nice methods, Wes Makepeace snarled at the course, and Snowboarder Editor Pat Bridges simply smoked his cig and slop-jibbed the course, slumdog style. But In the end, nobody could keep up with Bend local Gus Warbington, as he laid down the heaviest line and won the day (not to mention a Gerry Lopez surfboard, Patagonia wetsuit, and a week at the Volcom house in Hawaii). Ashley Thornton, Desiree Melancon, and Jess Kimura wrapped up the ladies division, boosting and slashing bigger than most of the guys.

After two runs, the course opened up to an afternoon feeding frenzy, hot laps and corn kernels spraying everywhere as pros and ams alike downed adult malted beverages to Hawaiian slack key guitar maestro, Bill Keale–maybe the true reason for the gathering, anyways. Lifts ran till 5 pm, and as the Coppertone and Zardoz melted through the still-deep Oregon snowpack, a natural spirit of aloha radiated from the tribe of shred.


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