Words & photos by Josh Anderson

Video by Trent Palmer & Scott Nikkel

I've been feeling the magnificent literary work of Karl the Gnarl lately. Say what you will, but sometimes you've just got to let loose, feel those positive vibes and throw out some high fives. It's just my luck there is already a non-profit organization based in Tahoe doing just that. High Fives Non-Profit Foundation is run by James Preston, a former Red Bull marketer, and Roy Tuscany, Smith rep and Truckee's Mountain Forge manager. Tuscany sustained a serious injury riding at Mammoth a few years ago and is partially paralyzed below the waist in an incident that has inspired the creation of High Fives. The organization is similar to Stand Strong Again with a Tahoe focus, helping athletes to recover from those dreaded career enders. This year's funds and awareness raising competition, following up on last year's highly successful High Fives event, was TRAINS: Presented by High Fives. It went down last weekend at Sugar Bowl and it was even more fun than My Friend is a Pro. Volkl rep Jamie Lavalle summed it up, "Young kids are going to see each other doing crazy stuff and want to one up each other, and 20 somethings are gonna stand around and drink beer, why wouldn't you want to be here?"

The event consisted of a multi-part competition on a multi-option jump to a barrel jib (there were multiple barrels stacked on top of each other) with five teams of five competing for multiple prizes to be judged by multiple judges. There was a lot going on. There were a lot of people on hand to witness. And, there were a lot of sizzling hot wings grilled up by Volkl's Lavalle. A break in the skiing action was even called for so a wing eating contest could go down. I most definitely did not (aka did) compete in that portion of the festivities. The course, on the other hand was built just by the man, JP Martin.

Wings deep

Sean Carey judges

Course options with train tracks

Both Preston and Tuscany were a part of the judging team, which included a still kickin Mike Laroche, and called out the best Male, Female, Trick, 540, High Five, Train and Team. The calls themselves were made by Tuscany, thuggin it up as MC for the day, quite possibly his true calling. The event was begun by having the five ladies in attendance pick their four other teammates and receive bandanas demarcating team colors. When the teams were picked, red team took to the mini-box in front of the judging tent claiming, "We're building team unity... no homo," then broken grinded. Irony? The first two hours were a free-for-all of tricking, high fiving and mini-trains as the individual awards were earned in anti-comp style. A break was taken to mangle the hot wings and then the team trains event went down and the stoke index rallied. There were flying backflip high fives, front-flip-barrell-pass high fives, roaming knuckle high fives, you name it.

The trains kept the action hot with double flips going on with three people in the air, side by side double backs, trains of spreads...to quote Freeze...there was Hot Ski Action! There was even a 12-year-old leading the charge for his team. And it all went down under warm blue skies and reggae beats from the DJ booth. Collie Budz and Cali buds. The warm weather did whip up some afterbang snakes, however. As I noted down this fact after a slip run, David Sousa came in hot and whipped his head into the ground about as hard as you can.

DJ One.Truest and King of Hearts

Hot Ski Action!

Double doubles, not even from In N' Out

Near death photo train smiles


This guy wins real big comps, like Freeskiing Worlds

So fun was had, prizes were won, and High Fives made some friends. Check out the organization's site here, http://www.highfivesfoundation.org. And last but not least, here are the results:

Best Male: Matt Nelson

Best Female: Kress Durfee

Best 540: Sean Collin 

Best Trick: Parker White

Best High Five: Sean Carey, Matt Nelson, Sean Collin

Best Train: Red Team  (Jed Kravitz, Jimy Greenleaf, Casey Krueger, Chris Logan, Courtney Royce)

Best Team Overall:  Blue Team (Sean Carey, Matt Nelson, Sean Collin, Becca Babicz, Tyler Homen)

Check out the event if you're in the Tahoe area next spring as it's sure to go off just as hot next year.