Words & photos: David Peacock
It is undeniable that freeskiing competitions are becoming increasingly intense; big mountain, slopestyle, halfpipe and rail jams are all being transformed through the efforts of newschool skiers. Regardless of the size of the competition in question, the element of an event that I often find most noticeable is the “fun factor”. Many contests carry with them an intense vibe that can intimidate people or put a lot of pressure on athletes. This is not to say that pressure is a bad thing, but the Showdown Throwdown Hoedown at Silver Star is one of the funnest (yes, I refuse to use the phrase “most fun”) and most relaxed slopestyle events I’ve ever been to. Between beer gardens, burger bars and the infectious smiles of everyone in attendance it truly is the best way to spend a weekend. Now that the obligatory discussion of the event’s atmosphere has concluded, I present to you the results. Call it anti-climactic, call it stupid, but that’s just how we roll…live life on the edge, right?
Men’s Open Ski
1) Mike Mertion
2) Mike Brush
3) Noah Morrison
4) Ben Ogilvie
5) Colin Vaykovich
Men’s Am Ski
1) Zach Opheim
2) Cody Ponting
3) Parker Blackstock
4) Bryce Barker
5) Connor Reeves
1) Cassie Sharp
2) Keltie Hansen
3) Tianna Frank
Following this daring departure from the description-results format to which we are so accustomed, here are some “deets”. Held at Silver Star Mountain Resort over the weekend of March 28th, the 5th Annual Showdown Throwdown Hoedown not only claims the title for longest event name ever, but also blurs the line between local event and big name showcase. An Open category and an Am division made for varying degrees of trickage and some entertaining, although at times terrifying, crashes...
Crashes happen, and the less glamorous side of competition rears its behind from time to time. photo: Royce Sihlis
The format was spread over two days of competition, four runs to each skier and the top five in Open moved onto a one run super-final. One of the few obstacles that had to be negotiated by competitors was speed. Between 40 centimetres (or 15’ish inches for our American and Burmese readers) of fresh snow prior to qualifying and sun reigning viciously down upon the in-runs, the course had its share of technical difficulties. Fortunately there were two sizes of jumps from which the riders could choose and a bevy of rail features mixed in throughout; huge thanks and props are in order for the Silver Star park crew, who kept everything in apple-pie order despite Mother Nature’s best efforts. She wasn’t perfect to us, but she did provide low winds for the majority of the contest and plenty of sunshine to permit righteous goggle tans!
Odd poles and amazing airs, typical hot lap fun at Showdown.
The beginning rail feature was skipped by many, but a few dedicated riders laid down tricks on the intimidating down-bar.
Hand Drag 180 during a free lap. photo: Royce Sihlis
Standout skiers from the weekend included Noah Morrison, Alex Berg, Mike Mertion, Mike Shaw and Kieran Nikula; standout tricks from the weekend included lots of sterling backies, double flats, switch 10s and Mike Mertion’s zero spins. Mike Shaw brought with him an interesting take on a kangaroo flip, taken deep and landed impeccably. Doubles were less omnipresent than they are at X Games or Dew Tour, but there were a few, and the consensus among those educated in the ways of freeskiing always points to the importance of style. In particular, Mertion, Shaw, and Albertan Rob Heule proved to have plenty of it.
Rob Heule form Alberta doing the trick of the weekend: Flat 5.
Every event gets its "photo kid", Kieran Nikula fit the bill this weekend.
We just couldn't get enough of Cole Melin's flips and steeze.
When he wasn’t b-flipping the big line, Cole Melin threw an alluring Dumont alluding double front; meanwhile, Noah Morrison unloaded double flats time and again only to land perfectly and in control. Having mentioned speed issues, it was remarkable to see Noah, yet another young rider out of Vernon, greasing the trannies (take that how you will) as though he weighed 200 pounds. I don’t know if the kid had rocks in his pockets but he killed it all weekend and will be doing so for a while to come, as he’s only 16.
Flatspin 9 mute from Noah Morrison, next generation Vernonian shredder.
Another rider who spent the whole weekend having nothing but a good time, at the beer gardens and on the jumps, was Alex Berg. Notorious for overshooting jumps (see this years Canadian Freeski Champs at Red Mountain for more on that) “Turbo” had no troubles with speed and his flat 9 critical was one of the nicest tricks of the weekend.
Red Mountain local Alex Berg destroying a flat 9 critical. photo: Royce Sihlis
Mertion ended up the victor, after more hot laps than anyone else and performing an almost perfect run in the super finals, Michael Brush slid coolly into second place thanks in large part to his dialed double, and the wonderkid himself Noah Morrison placed third. In the ladies category, Cassie Sharp, having executed massive backflips on the course’s biggest jumps, placed first. Despite the fact that there were only three female competitors, there were a lot of ladies in attendance; hopefully this is a sign of potential entrants for future events!
Mike Mertion with a cork 7 nose...
...aaaaand spinning to winning.
Silver Star did an amazing job on the course, building stepovers, stepdowns, and log jibs; it was among the most beheld courses ever for Showdown. Their park crew does an incredible job all year keeping features in shape, and Showdown is the best example of this. Congratulations to Mertion on the win and everyone who competed, and thanks to the Voleurz boys for providing product tosses all weekend!
Judges and Darren: Voleurz' Darren Rayner lines up a shot while the judges deliberate over which girl they want to throw free stuff to....
Next year’s edition of Showdown Throwdown Hoedown is definitely going to continue to push the funvelope, attendance is henceforth mandatory for Newschoolers!