Jumpers cut loose at Huckfest
Workers used shovels to break the hard pack snow into chunks and hopefully soften the steep landing.
The back-breaking labor was for Huckfest, a ski and snowboard jump contest held at Heavenly Sunday afternoon.
Entrants “hucked” themselves off three big-air jumps executing tricks that left spectators wishing they were as daring.
And, as the noon sun slowly worked its magic, the chunky snow began to soften and in turn increased the confidence of the competing skiers and snowboarders.
“It just for them to show off their stuff . . . be themselves for a day,” said Rick Buxton, events manager for the Heavenly Race Department. “They can do legal jumps in an enclosed environment – it’s their own little jump area. We picked up the event a couple of years ago from an ASC (American Ski Company) resort back east.”
The Huckfest is held four weekends in March and April. Prizes such as a Palmer snowboard or a top-the-line helmet are awarded to winners of each fest and to those who win the event overall by accumulating the most points.
Anyone can enter the contest as long as they have $5, a helmet and are willing to sign a waiver.
Buxton said the five people judging the contest are not expert skiers or boarders, but rather evaluate jumps by the feeling they get in their gut.
“They go by the ‘Oohs and ahs,’ whatever they feel,” he said. “Like ‘Oh that one was awesome.’ “
Huckers get three chances to show their stuff. The only thing not allowed are inverted tricks.
Sunday about 20 guys came out to compete. Colton Dopson, an 8-year-old from South Lake Tahoe, took a rough spill after one practice jump but still was optimistic about the event.
“It’s pretty fun,” he said, oblivious to a splotch of blood above his lip. “A lot of my friends are out here doing it.”
Marshall Stokes, who in the past has won an individual Huckfest title, planned to pull a front side rodeo seven, a trick that involves two complete rotations.
“The jumps are pretty good, the landing is starting to soften but parts are still really chunky,” Stokes said. “It’s a local thing. We’re just having fun, there’s not a lot money on the line.”
Sunday’s contest was the first of four to be held at Heavenly’s Launchpad. The series will continue on March 23 and April 1, with the finale scheduled for April 15.
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After a period of dry, warm weather, winter returns this week to Lake Tahoe.