by CONOR CHRISTOFFERSON
A mob of snowboarders and various industry folk invaded Western Washington late last week for the inaugural U.S edition of the Ride Shakedown. The contest, which has been a Canadian mainstay for nearly a decade, planted its flag at the Summit at Snoqualmie on Friday for a two day snowboarding extravaganza.
The event brought in dozens of the world’s top pro and amateur shredders, all of whom were eager to huck themselves off a mega booter and down a kinked handrail for a chance to get their grubby mitts on a $35,000 prize purse. I won’t get into a blow-by-blow of who did what on which obstacle because, frankly, it was snowing and foggy and I spent a good portion of the weekend at the beer garden.
Here are the highlights:
• Given the roughly 6,000 miles that separate Snoqualmie Pass from his home in Santiago, Chile, Manuel Diaz had a disproportionately large rooting section at the contest. The Diaz delegation, which seemed to number in the dozens, carried Chilean flags and generally went apeshit whenever their boy dropped in. The 27-year-old shredder rewarded their enthusiasm with a couple of solid runs and a multitude of double backside rodeo attempts. He ended up in second place and will fly home $3,000 richer. That’s 1,544,999 Chilean Pesos, in case you were curious
• All three of the top spots in the men’s main event went to non-Americans. In addition to Diaz’s strong second place showing, first and third place awards were given to Canadians K2 rider Matt Kulisek and E-Man Anderson, respectively. Bottom line: Step your game up Americans!
• Diaz was the sentimental favorite, but Washington’s own Austin Hironaka was also getting love from the crowd. Hironaka took the top spot at Friday night’s Rail Jam contest, and the win was doubly impressive considering he didn’t bother hitting the rail. Instead, the University Palace native got creative on a section of the course that sent riders up and over a ten-foot tall spool/totem pole. While most riders were content to throw a nose bonk or straight air over the spool, Hironaka upped the ante with a Miller flip tail grab. The trick earned young Austin five grand, most of which was undoubtedly spent celebrating at the after party at the Hard Rock in Seattle.
• Speaking of the Hard Rock, the mega company can justifiably lay claim to being the real winner of the weekend. The newly-built restaurant and bar played host to Friday and Saturday night after parties, and the booze was flowing freely. Of the 35 grand handed out to winners, I’d bet at least 60 percent of that money is now resting comfortably inside the Hard Rock’s cash registers.
• I hope the good people behind the Ride Shakedown decide to make the Snoqualmie contest an annual event, but if they do I would suggest they consider dropping Muscle Milk as a sponsor. Besides having an unfortunate name that sounds like a euphemism for a certain male bodily fluid, Muscle Milk has the consistency of runny pancake batter and tastes like medicine. I did catch K2 team manager Kevin Winkel chugging a bottle of the stuff, so maybe it’s not all bad.
1. Matts Kulisek (K2 Snowboarding)
2. Manuel Diaz
3. E-Man Anderson
1. Megan Ginter
2. Hana Beaman
3. Megan Whiteside