‘Bright’ day at Northstar
TRUCKEE – As if forces beyond Vans Cup organizers were at hand, the first snowflake to settle on Northstar-at-Tahoe’s superpipe Sunday came just after the best snowboarders in the world finished dazzling the crowd.
Then, with the second annual Vans Cup at Tahoe and its three days of competition in the bag, the skies opened to the forecasted snow.
“This is awesome. I’m so happy we beat the storm,” said Australian snowboarder Torah Bright, who edged Americans Gretchen Bleiler and Molly Aguirre for the $17,000 check awarded to the first-place finisher in the women’s superpipe. “I love the format, with the jam session. These events, they’re always kind of stress free.”
Bright wasn’t the only snowboarder who enjoyed the jam session format, which allowed each competitor as many runs through the superpipe as possible in the allotted, storm-shortened hour.
“It was so much fun,” said Finland’s Antti Autti, who took the $20,000 check for winning the men’s superpipe contest over American Louie Vito and Kazuirho Kokubo of Japan. “It was so laid back. It’s so much more fun just riding with friends and pushing each other.”
Round Hill’s Elena Hight finished fourth, while Olympic gold medalists Shaun White and Hannah Teter of Meyers didn’t compete as expected.
Danny Kass, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist out of Mammoth who took the top spot in superpipe at last year’s Vans Cup, placed in the top 10.
“The Vans Cup rules,” said Kass, who wowed the hundreds of spectators in attendance with huge stomped airs mixed with a few big wrecks. “It couldn’t get any more fun than this.
“The pipe was really good. The weather came in right at the end there, but the pipe was in good shape.”
When it came to big spills in Sunday’s superpipe competition, none topped American Mason Aguirre’s.
The 2006 Olympian silenced the crowd early in the contest when he boosted high above the superpipe wall only to come down flat on the icy deck, flat on his back.
Aguirre rolled onto his right side, remaining frighteningly still, with his right arm extended under his head. Medical personnel rushed to his side, as did his sister Molly.
“It was a horrible feeling,” Molly Aguirre said of watching her brother’s crash landing. “I don’t think I’ve ever reacted that fast, running up to see how he was. When I see him get hurt, it’s like I get hurt.
“We’re tough, though. The Aguirres are tough.”
Mason Aguirre slowly rose to his feet with help from others after about 15 minutes on the snow. After being taken away on a stretcher, he later returned to accept his check for fifth place.
Mike Casanova and Leanne Pelosi earned the weekend’s first two titles in the Rail Jam competition. Judged on overall performance during the 45-minute jam, Casanova creatively attacked all the rail features while throwing in a variety of tricks, including a switch frontside boardslide through the kink to backside 180 to switch 50-50 to 180 out and walked away with a cool $15,000.
Darrell Mathes took home $8,000 and Lucas Magoon won $4,000 in the jam.
In the women’s jam, Pelosi defended her 2005 Vans Cup title with a best that included a half cab to front boardslide to fakie off to win $2,000.
Superpipe final – Sunday
1. Antti Autti $20,000
2. Louie Vito $12,000
3. Kazuirho Kokubo $7,000
1. Torah Bright $17,000
2. Gretchen Bleiler $8,000
3. Molly Aguirre $3,000
Slopestyle – Saturday
1. Nate Sheehan $22,000
2. Mason Aguirre $14,000
3. Chaz Guldemond $7,000
1. Jamie Anderson $17,000
2. Izumi Amaike $8,500
3. Tara Dakides $3,000
Rail Jam – Friday
1. Mike Casanova $15,000
2. Darrell Mathes $8,000
3. Lucas Magoon $4,000
1. Leanne Pelosi $2,000
The Vans Cup at Tahoe will air on Fox Sports Net in two parts at 3 p.m. April 28 and May 5 with re-broadcasts on May 12 and May 19.
South Lake Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson, 15, captured the biggest title of her young career, along with a $17,000 check, in Saturday’s slopestyle competition. Anderson, who’s older sister Joannie competed in superpipe on Sunday, beat out Japan’s Izumi Amaike, who led after qualifiers, and Tara Dakides.
Nate Sheehan, of Salt Lake City, won the slopestyle on the men’s side while Mason Aguirre came in second and Chaz Guldemond of Laconia, N.H. placed third.
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