Words by Jeff Schmuck
Photos by John Vandervalk & Felix Rioux
The World Skiing Invitational continued yesterday at the World Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler, BC with the always infamous Orage Masters.
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last six or so years, the Masters, also known as the Anti-Comp, features teams of four athletes from eight ski companies battling head-to-head in a slopestyle jam format. The other teams judge their opponents, making it the truest rider-judged contest in skiing, and each company is given a scaffolding tower for them to theme-out as they please. Oh, and all the teams are encouraged to dress in silly costumes.
Basically, it’s the most awesome way possible for all the hard-working athletes in skiing to finish off their competition season, because as one would expect, a whole lot of silliness tends to ensue at the event, much to the delight of the extremely fun and hard-working event organizers at Orage (namely Cody Lynge and Mike Nick. Props boys!).
Unfortunately this year’s Anti-Comp could have been renamed the Anti-Sun, as thick fog rolled on and off the course throughout the day, making it easy for the other teams to watch and judge the runs one moment, and then impossible the next.
However Mother Nature didn’t have a hope in hell of ruining the good vibe yesterday, as despite the weather absolutely everyone was in a fantastic mood all day long (I personally couldn’t stop smiling the whole time). The contest began with a round robin style format that saw the eight teams paired into two’s to battle it out against eachother in hopes of moving onto the next rounds.
who ya goin call?
The first pairing saw Surface square off against last year’s second place finisher Dynastar. Surface had a great Ghostbusters theme going on while Dynastar was holding it down equally hard as 70’s basketball players, with Trennon Paynter doing one hell of a job pretending to be the angry coach.
The Coach: Trennon Paynter
Despite Surface’s best efforts, especially from the likes of Banks Gilberti, Blake Nyman and Jordan Seldin (who were backflipping to flat off the lips next to the box at the bottom), Dynastar advanced.
Next up was Armada vs Line in an extremely intense battle between Line’s muscle men (which saw the boys wearing tall tees with cartoon muscular bodies in thongs on them…which Max Hill and Joe Schuster of course drew pubes on) and Armada as the cast from Trailer Park boys, which was too amazing for words.
Joe Schuster & LJ Strenio
Line’s Joe Schuster and LJ Strenio were throwing tandem style jumps which were complemented by the badass rail trickery you’d come to expect from Max Hill, but it wasn’t enough to take down Ricky (Phil Casabon), Julian (Cam Schuster) and others from the Trailer Park Boys. Armada advanced.
4FRNT, who’s team was dressed as legendary old school freeskiers including Glen Plake, Scott Schmidt, Wayne Wong and others, then took on Volkl, who were dressed as boy scouts. 4FRNT's Finn Anderson and Even Sigstad were absolutely given’er on all three of their runs, but the boy scouts (Ahmet Dadali, Tim Russell, Matt Philippi and Anna Borgman) had some tricks up their sleeve and eventually Volkl advanced.
Glen Plake? Nope, it's Even Sigstad!
And the first round's last pairing saw last year’s hungry and wild-eyed champions K2, who were dressed as the cast from Hot Dog: The Movie, go up against CoreUPT. Unfortunately, yesterday wasn’t team captain’s TJ Schiller’s day initially, as on top of ringing his bell twice during the previous night’s big air and having to grin and bare it to come up and compete, his planned theme and costumes (Saucer Boy…a tribute to Shane McConkey) fell through at the last minute, and as the contest began, his teammates Colby West and Gus Kenworthy were nowhere to be found (Gus’ ski boots were locked in his friend’s car and Colby was running a bit late). Seeing the stress and disappointment in TJ’s eyes, we knew it was time for action, and we couldn’t leave our boy hanging…so Rip Curl team manager Myles Ricketts, NS’ el presidente Doug Bishop and myself strapped on our skis and joined team CoreUPT to help TJ take down K2.
one of team CoreUPT's last second replacements, Myles Ricketts...ignore the fact that he's on K2's
And although we didn’t exactly accomplish that feat, we had a ton of fun shredding with TJ and Colby, who flew onto the course like skiing’s Superman just as we were dropping in for our first run. Our mogul flips, spread eagles and pole flips weren’t enough to take out K2 though, who moved onto the next round.
TJ Schiller...mid-mogul flip
It was then time for the semi-finals, which saw Dynastar vs Armada and Volkl vs K2. Dynastar’s Mike Riddle, Tanner Rainville, McRae Williams and Dania Assaly performed a host of silly stunts that was highlighted by Mike Riddle hitting the course with a basketball in his hand which he would pass back and forth between his teammates.
But it was during this round that Armada’s Trailer Park Boys would turn up with the heat…with road flares that is. At the bottom of the course Armada’s Alex Sharp placed flares next to the last box, which Phil Casabon, Cam Schuster and Sean Logan jumped over and/or lied down next to for the sake of pouring beer all over eachother. Armada moved onto the finals.
Team K2: team manager Mike Powell (aka Hot Dog), Sean Decker (aka Dan O'Callahan), Sean Pettit (aka Harkin Banks), Anna Segal (aka Sunny) and Tatsuya Tayagaki (aka Kendo Yamamoto)
The next pairing was last year’s champions K2 against the previous year’s winner Volkl. K2, with Sean Pettit as Harkin Banks, Sean Decker as Dan O'Callahan, Anna Segal as Sunny and Tatsuya Tayagaki as (of course) Kendo Yamamoto, really turned up the party level with more backflips than you could shake a stick at (I now think that Tatsuya can backflip anything), team manager Mike Powell dressed in a sweet hot dog suit, Sean Decker faking an injury and having K2’s Mike Gutt bring him down in a sled filled with beer, and of course, many a breaking of bottles.
However K2’s antics weren’t enough to bring down Team Volkl, who had been skiing the most consistently all day courtesy of rodeo 9’s and 450 on’s, 270’s off from Ahmet Dadali, front flips over the box at the bottom from Tim Russell, Matt Philippi making it damn near to the very top of the ‘log of love,’ and Anna Borgman greasing the rails like it was no big thing. Volkl moved onto the finals against Armada.
It then came down to the last hurrah, with Armada going first and getting real gnarly, with a sick tree tap from Cam Schuster and some switch 7's and 9's on top from his teammaters, and of course, more Trailer Park Boys-style antics at the end of their run, including an impromtu hockey game using their skis at sticks and beer cans as pucks.
Sean Logan & Cam Schuster
In the end though, it was Volkl’s day. Philippi achieved his goal of tapping the very top of the log of love, Russell stepped up his front flip over the box to a front flip 180, and Ahmet and Anna continued to straight crushed it, which they all capped off by making a mock boy scouts' fire at the bottom using their poles to attempt to the start the fire and their skis as kindling.
The other teams briefly deliberated before giving the decisive win to Team Volkl, who began celebrating wildly after Luke Van Valin and Orage International Team and Events Manager Cody Lynge said a few words and thanked everyone in attendance for coming out.
Orage's Cody Lynge & Luke Van Valin
Congratulations to Volkl along with all the other teams (everyone’s costumes were awesome!) and a huge, huge thanks to Orage for putting on the most fun, entertaining and carefree contest of the year.
Stay tuned to NS for continued coverage on WSI at the Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival. Superpipe qualifiers are going down today and we’ll have an update on that tonight followed by coverage on tomorrow’s finals, along with the NS/Voleurz/Rip Curl party tomorrow night at Buffalo Bills, which will feature the first ever live performance of ‘My Friend is a Pro’ by John Symms and Colby James West (check out http://www.myfriendisapro.com for more details). So if you’re within striking distance of Whistler...don't miss it!