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Berms, Jumps, Rails & Rollers: Monster Boarderstyle 2016 at Whistler Blackcomb

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Did you know that in 1991 Whistler Blackcomb hosted the first-ever boardercross event? While riding the Solar Express Chair, look right and you can see the course’s steep banks, berms and rollers. Just beyond it stands the behemoth booters and a myriad of hips, bonks and jibs in the Nintendo terrain park. This past weekend the racetrack and park fluidly merged to create a course that was equal parts boardercross and freestyle — the 2016 Monster Boarderstyle at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

Boarderstyle is exactly what it sounds like: Half boardercross, half slopestyle. It is also precisely as badass as it sounds. Four riders go head-to-head down a course littered with mandatory rails and jumps. On the final jump, the rules dictate riders must spin a minimum of a 360 to avoid disqualification, and if a rider in second place throws a way heavier trick than the rider who crossed the finish line first, judges can award the win to that rider (i.e. a second place finish with a switch backside 900 on the final jump can beat out a rider who finished with a faster time but only spun a 360). Barreling mach speed off a jump already presents a fair number of challenges, but spinning off it with two others requires a whole new level of commitment.

To the racers’ relief, the clouds lifted slightly before the quarterfinals started on the afternoon of Saturday, April 16, and visibility was fair. The skies were all but bluebird, but it was a huge improvement to the near whiteout conditions lingering around the mountain the day prior. All of the nearly 40 competitors mingled around the start shack, waxing and scraping their boards, hanging with friends old and new. Some riders wore wigs, others dawned neon outerwear, and everyone was exchanging daps, laughs and smiles. It was reminiscent of the Legendary Banked Slalom or Dirksen Derby – A gathering of goggle-, binding-strapped hooligans in the name of fast-paced fun.

From the start shack, riders got a good look at the first obstacles that lay in their respective paths: a small wooden spine, an up-rail, a flat rail and a flat tube all placed next to the other. The racer with the fastest time in each bracket would choose which lane to start in, second-fastest got second dibs, and so on and so forth. Riders had to hit the first feature in their assigned lane, but after that they could choose what to jib. Following that first hit, it went a little something like this: Banked turn, jib, berm, step-up through trees, drop, bank left, jump, roller, berm right, roller, and then the final jump. As expected, the course prompted a great number of slams, but luckily no one came away with any serious injuries. “Oh man, he’s going to be pissed,” and consequent chuckles were typically the most concerned reactions to the falls. In the end, Stephanie Haines blasted a back three out in front of Darrah Reid and Alexa Welgan to win it for the women’s division. Quebec’s Felix Dallaire led the pack in the men’s final heat. He crossed the finish line switch for a first place finish after stomping out a backside 540 despite Derek Livingston coming in hot on his tail.

Felix admitted competing in the 2016 Monster Boarderstyle was more than just a bit scary, but was all smiles in describing his winning experience. “When you’re in first, you get into that mindset of just going so fast,” he said. “But if you’re second or third and have to throw a bigger trick, you’ve got to really hope you make it.”

Felix said the course’s feel ran mostly like a boardercross race, but because of the mandatory jibs and spins, it deterred boardercross regulars from competing in the event and opened the speed-scene up to the freestyle crowd. When asked if he’d be returning for next year’s event, Felix smiled and answered the almost rhetorical question: “F—k yeah.” No surprise there.Module: gallery_album
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A special thanks to Chelsea Moen, the terrain park staff and ski patrol, and the rest of the Whistler Blackcomb and World Ski and Snowboard Festival crews for putting together yet another fun, exciting event to be enjoyed by boarders and spectators alike.

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