The Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge 2017

A Basic Truth

It’s cloudy and cold for April in Oregon. High force winds make the waves a bit choppier than we’d expected they’d be. But these heavy gusts won’t deter us, nor the few hundred snow surfers who have amassed on Mt. Bachelor for the seventh annual Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge. The surf inspired event attracts riders from the world over to descend a series of snow sculpted “waves” in a contest that focuses more on speed, flow and innovation than spin count.  Sans sun on the horizon, we join our fellows in the lineup.

Riding Mt. Bachelor is a bit like surfing at Trestles, one of Southern California’s premiere breaks. Lower Trestles rolls in four to 10-foot swells and its cobblestone bottom helps to form beautiful, consistent A-frame waves that break both left and right. While Trestles isn’t as powerful as a place like Pipeline, its high-performance nature makes it a breeding ground for trick-savvy surfers; a perfectly curling canvas that inspires style, control, ingenuity and grace. Mt. Bachelor holds the same kind of vibe. While Bachelor isn’t as steep of a mountain as Jackson Hole or Mt. Baker, it’s well-known for its wind lips, natural hits and the smooth, freestyle-oriented approach of the local riders. And that’s what makes it the ideal mountain to host a competition that stresses aesthetics over amplitude.

Another thing the Big Wave Challenge encourages: fun. Before the gathering, Gerry sent out a special message reminding this year’s competitors to have as much of it as possible. “I grew up surfing in Waikiki, where the beach boys taught all us youngsters that the best surfer was the one having the most fun. That was the foundation of my surfing, and then surfing became my life,” Gerry wrote. “Sometimes things can get in the way of that fact but ultimately, when we clear away all the ‘other stuff,’ it will always come back to this basic truth.”

And this year, to further inspire the swell of good times, the event went to a jam format rather than any kind of limited drops—it led to more runs, more flow, and more opportunity to feed the collective stoke.

Awards are given away at the Big Wave Challenge, but the event is about so much more than winning. It’s about our community, and the wellbeing of those who make up our sideways society. As we surf the sea, the streets, the mountains and life itself, we must always keep in mind this basic truth. It’s about having fun. High winds might keep us at bay sometimes, but there’s always calm in the future. Gatherings like the Big Wave Challenge help remind us to smile through it all, and keep our eyes on the horizon.

Saturday’s Awards:

Best Wipe Out: 
Adam Short
Frankie Bilello

Best Lay Back:
Josh Dirksen
Takanori Nagata

Plumbers Crack Award:
Dane Gudauskas

Best Skate Style:
Nora Beck
Elijah Pyle

Best Slash:
Jaden Freitas

Marissa Krawczak

Best Carve:
Naoya Wada

Alex Yoder

Best Spin:
Randal Seaton
Kent Callister

Best 360 Carve:
David Marx
Tanya Zarling

Biggest Air:
Jared Eliston
Guy Young
Tucker Andrews

Backdoor Pipeline:

Forest DeVore

Best Surf Style:
Barrett Christy Cummins

Yoneyama Katsunori
Kazushi Yamauchi (a.k.a. Orangeman)

Most Creative Line:
Brock Crouch
Jonny Sischo

Most Aloha:
Hayden Mccallister

Most Fun:
Allison Allen


1. Max Warbington
2. Phil Hansen
3. Scotty James

1. Colleen Quigley
2. Marie France Roy
3. Erica Vikander

1. Allister Schultz
2. Gabe Triplette
3. Jason Surtz

1. Alder Butsch
2. Jack Guthrie
3. Cole Valles

1. Chris Christenson
2. Jason Murry
3. Joe Curren

Gerry Lopez Award:
1. Hidehiko Wajima
2. Yo Amagai
3. Chandler Lee Kane

Pat Malendoski Award:
Todd Kirby

Mahalo Gerry, Pat Melendoski, Anne Jackson, the Patagonia crew and the judges, builders and riders. We’ll see you in the lineup again next year.


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