Words & Photos:  ckoStratton Vermont hosted the fourth and final stop on the Siver Young Gun tour this past Saturday. The event ran just as all the others have, with four heats of 25 riders plus a girls heat, to decide who would be the final Young Gun to be added to the team that will ride for Line, Siver, Level and Scott at the Orage Masters and gain coaching jobs at COC this summer. On top of that, this stop was host to the super-final, where the four previous winners battled it out for the ultimate prize of pre-qualified and pre-registered trips to the US Open, VT Open, and WSI for the 06/07 season.

The course was located in the Byrne Side park at the base of Stratton and consisted of: a large flat-down, a slightly up-rail with large landing area, three medium-sized kickers and a couple more rail/box options.
Much to the elation of event organizers, who’ve had to battle through some less than ideal conditions at previous stops, the weather was spectacular with mixed skies in the morning turning sunny in the afternoon. The course held up well despite the warm weather with the help of the Stratton park crew and the competitors running slipping laps between heats.
Stratton was probably the most well rounded event of the four when it came to the talent level. Not only were competitors throwing down on the jump line, but there were also a handful that were able to slay the rails and leave no doubt in the minds of the judges that they would indeed be up for the challenge of riding with the top athletes in the sport at this years Masters.
In the finals it was Brittney Ballantyne edging out Heather Thomas and Audrey Almy to take the girls division with smooth spins and solid rails. The men’s division came down to a battle between Shea Flynn and Quebecer David Beaulieu for first, while a slew of riders battled in a close race for third. In the end Shea was able to put down solid overall runs to take the title with David slaying the rails up top taking second. Alex Schlopy, a top three finisher from the Copper event placed third to round out the top three.
As if that weren’t enough, the first three Young Guns (Matt Walker, Joe Schuster, and Lil’ John Strenio) presented Shea with his white super-finals jersey while sleds revved up for the final 30 minute jam session to decide the overall Young Gun winner.
In what must have been a tiring half-hour after a full day of competition, the four Young Guns threw down non-stop while the crowd cheered them on from the sidelines. Matt Walker ended up taking the prize due to his super consistent runs that were full of variety and creativity. Congrats Matt, you killed it. And that wraps up the Siver Young Gun tour for 2006. We’ll be seeing the team take on the best in the world at Mammoth in May so stay tuned to see how they’ll stack up.