Words, photos & video by: Josh Anderson
This was the best TRAINS ever. Roy Tuscany, founder of High Fives Non-Profit, the event's organizer, announced to all of Alpine Meadows that this article would start with that sentence. I may have been standing next to him professing just those sentiments when he said so, but I had just thought I might start this by telling you all that this past Saturday, under the warmest spring sunshine Tahoe could produce, a slew of stunt-monkeys descended upon Alpine Meadows for the 3rd annual TRAINS slopestyle competition. The format includes a morning jam session with the entire field of riders doing laps on two course features which included medium and large jumps, barrel bonks and an elevated box setup. Following an hour break for some feasting on 125 pounds of Jamie Lavalle's (Volkl/Marker) famous chicken wings prepared by Truckee's Full Belly Deli, everyone teamed up for the trains portion, and nothing says you're on your game (and trust your teammates) like back-to-back-to-back-to-back double flips. All the while, DJ One.Truest was spinning reggae jams while Roy was keeping the stoke high on the mic. It's a the standard recipe for a good time: skiing shenanigans, sick tricks, schwag, friends, plentiful high fives, beers, wings, beats, and the occasional impromptu contest offer. For instance, in the middle of a final free-for-all, everyone-at-once train Sean Collin earned himself a Discrete Headwear sponsorship by doing a quad-spread-eagle. Official prizes are given out for best trick, best male, best female, best team high five and best team train. Those accolades were determined by a judging panel made up of Ralph Backstrom for the snowboarders, Jen Hudak, Julian Carr, self-proclaimed old-wash-up Tim Russell, Andy Spotts and Landon McGauley. Prizes or none, everyone came for a good time, and if they didn't have one, they must be Negatron.
Full Belly Deli's staff cooked up 125 pounds of saucy chicken wings to a hungry and sometimes impatient horde. Props to them.
High Fives co-founder James Preston with Niel "I'm having way more fun than you" Kasper. Photo: Greg Lindsay.
To make sure eveyone knew how much fun we were all having, a veritable battaleon of media goons crept over and around every feature. One definitley out-shone the rest though. Everyone meet Mitch. Mitch lives in an old stable, likes to party and appreciates Black Rock City. Mitch was winning, maybe even bi-winning, seeing as everyone was doing at least a little winning.
Chimps, scribblers, schemers.
Girls, meet Mitch, Mitch is winning. He even won a t-shirt from Aelix.
Flatspin, backflip, flatspin.
Then there's this guy, missing the shot of this cork 5, screamin seamen, high uncrossed mute. Crazy.
One aspect of the contest, besides an amazingly designed set of features, that really helped elevate the whole experience was the variety of competitors invovled. There were freeskiing superstars like Grete Eliassen, a full team of snowboarders (a first for the event), jibbers from near and far and some pint-sized groms like Aspen Spora. Everyone threw down and no one got hurt, despite plentiful double flips, a whole lot of screamin' seamens, and some solid high five attempts. The winning trick went to snowboarder Brandon Reis for his double cork 10. It sounded like maybe he didn't know his prize was mostly payable in karma, but he and the other winners did all get to take home some pretty sweet goody-bags full of GoPros and cheese. The locals team, team grey, scored the best high-five for their three-man, one on a barrel, two front-flipping-by-while-high-fiving display. They managed to score best team as well with some magnificently planned and coordinated train trickery. To round out the kudos, Grete Eliassen was the best lady around and Parker White the finest gent. I've gotta say though, Michelle Parker has a real fine looking shifty 5, purple team threw down all day and "Man of The Day" Billy Mann tried a switch double back, which was awesome.
Snowboarders do Methods.
Groms are small.
And skiers just like to hang-out awkwardly closely with other guys.
Prize money for the winners was given to a charity of their choice in their names. Grey team members Peter Kukesh, Sean Collin, Andy McDowell, Davis Souza and Austin Simonpietre gave $500 of their loot to the Shane McConkey Foundation and $500 to the Alpine Meadows Ski Foundation. Grete gave her $500 to the NeuroRecovery Network, Parker White to Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports, and Reis to Ski Duck.
White and Eliassen
If there had been a wing eating contest, Dane Shannon probably thinks he would've won.
If you find yourself in Tahoe next spring be sure to make time for TRAINS. It's one of the highlights of the spring in Tahoe and you're pretty well guaranteed to leave feeling good. In the mean time, give a high five, take care of your friends, make some new friends, go skiing, push the boundaries but try not to go over them and maybe follow High Fives on Facebook to see how they're helping people get back on their feet. Here is some action from the rest of the day, including a few shots from what was meant to be a sunset shoot with the Copter Kids until some persistent clouds rolled in. No sunset, but some cool shots of Grete, Matt Philippi, Dan Marion and Nick Goepper came about anyway. Pardon the hand-held shots in the video edit.
Collin and McDowell
Not a sequence.