Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge 2018

In surfing, strong storms often bring about the biggest waves. In snowboarding, they bring out our community’s most resilient riders. That’s who we saw at the 2018 Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge at Mt. Bachelor, OR this past weekend: a steadfast group of snowboarders who weren’t going to let high winds and low visibility stop them from shredding a course of snow-sculpted “waves” made specially for the event. And as the clouds cleared for competition day of the Big Wave Challenge, the snow softened up and the riding really popped off.

Everyone snowboarded the same course, but no one rode it quite like the next—therein lies the beauty of this gathering. Since its start, the Big Wave Challenge has always emphasized the importance of overall run fluidity over single trick ferocity, and judges score competitors differently than they would in most other snowboard contests. The most important thing for Big Wave participants to remember is that style reigns supreme. A perfectly executed layback can earn riders a higher score than a sloppily thrown backside 900, despite the amplitude and difficulty of the latter trick. A spin-it-to-win-it mentality alone can’t get the job done at this event, as the judges are far more focused on control and aesthetics than degrees rotated.

Each year the course is emblematic of the event’s host mountain and the kind of riding it inspires. Between the flowing berms and endless transitions it offered, this year’s course was no exception. While Mt. Bachelor may not be the steepest resort around, the freestyle opportunities within its boundaries are truly unlimited. It evokes equal parts creativity and technicality from those who ride it, and the mountain’s wind lips, tree jibs and other natural terrain have helped produce some of the most well-rounded riders to ever come out of the Pacific Northwest: Josh Dirksen, Ben Ferguson, Max & Gus Warbington, to name a few.

Considering the surf savvy nature of the event hosted by renowned surf legend Gerry Lopez (a.k.a. Mr. Pipeline), the sun breaking for finals felt a fitting touch. Young groms, pro surfers and seasoned snowboarders alike gathered in the lineup atop the course, dropping in jam style succession throughout the warming morning hours. By lunchtime Bill Keale was jamming luau tunes at the Hawaaiin barbeque in Mt. Bachelor’s base lodge, and the men’s division was getting underway. During it we saw some of the day’s biggest airs, deepest laybacks and, fortunately, no major slams.

Following the men’s final few laps and a party wave to wrap up the riding, everyone gathered in the lodge for awards (of which there were many–as it should be at an event that celebrates snowboarding’s diverse riding styles and its connection to surfing). It was there that Gerry reminded us of an important lesson to ride by, a lesson he says is the foundation of his time in the water. He said, “The old beach boys of Waikiki used to say, ‘The best surfer is the one having the most fun.’” Considering everyone had a lot of that during the Big Wave Challenge, we all won in our only little ways just for showing up. It’s that all-inclusive, loving vibe that’ll keep us coming back, strapping up and dropping in at this event for years to come, enjoying life no matter what the weather brings.


Kane Division (Mens)

1.      Randal Seaton

2.      Max Warbington

3.      Phil Hansen

Wahine Division (Womens)

1.      Livia Molodyh

2.      Erika Vikander

3.      Marie France-Roy

Keiki Division (Kids 16 and under)

1.      Alder Butsch

2.      Austin Benton

3.      Elijah Pile

Makule Division (40+)

1.      Hayato “Bubbles” Maruyama

2.      Jason Shurtz

3.      Kensuke Numano

Best Method Morgan Hebert 

Best Trick Veronika Perfilyeva

Best Carve (Top Turn/Off Top) Brooklyn DePriest

Best Carve (Bottom Turn) Jamie O’Brien

Best Line Mike Ravelson

Best Wipeout Marlo MacMillan

Best 360 Degree Carve Wajima Hidehiko

Best Slash Kevin Porterfield

Best Spin Justin Schoonover

Best/Biggest Air Gus Warbington

Best Lay-back Kai Huggins

Best Flip Jonny Sischo

Most Critical Move Jay Hergert

Most Aloha Spirit Ayla Cummins

Most Fun Annie Fast

Mahalo Gerry, Nina Zess & the Mt. Bachelor crew, Andy Goggins & the 10 Barrel crew, Patagonia, the judges, builders, riders, and everyone else who made the 2018 Big Wave Challenge one to remember. We’ll see you in the lineup again next April.


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