Last Night: Thrills and spills at Denver Big Air

Armada Skis team.jpg
Photo by Kate Levy
The Armada Skis team (left to right: Spencer Milbocker, Alex Bellmare, Ben Moxham) wins the Nature Valley Big Air Challenge on the Denver Big Air ramp
Let's face it: If you build a 106-foot launch tower and then send competitors -- some of them as young as 14 -- careening down the face of it on skis towards a big-ass kicker for a competition like last night's Nature Valley Big Air Challenge in Civic Center Park then, well... let's just say it's a good thing kids these days don't mind wearing helmets.

The bloodthirsty crowds (the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association's report estimates the number at about 10,000) who came out for the first of two Denver Big Air competitions got what they came for: Grisly agony-of-defeat style wrecks, and plenty of them, punctuating the picture-perfect tricks with stomped landings.

Denver Big Air fans.jpg
Photo by Kate Levy
Denver Big Air fans cheer for guts, glory, and gory

John Spriggs.jpg
Photo by Kate Levy
Vail's John Spriggs: Man, or yeti?
The only sound louder than the roar for Best Trick winner John Spriggs, a 6'5 yeti of a Vail local with thick dreadlocks who wowed the crowd with a double cork 1260 degree spin with a mute grab? The collective gasp every time someone went down hard, like Mitch Gilman's brutal Semi-Finals slam that left his Line Skis team with just two competitors heading into Finals. That's what we came for, right? As with any Evel Knievel-style spectacle, big air fans like to get well acquainted with exactly how dangerous these sports can be.

Brendan Wall.jpg
Photo by Kate Levy
Houston, we have a problem. Head Skis team rider Brendal Wall, heels over head above the Denver Big Air ramp

The Armada Skis team -- Spencer Milbocker, Alex Bellemare, and Breckenridge transplant Ben Moxham -- managed to stay mostly on their feet throughout the competition, claiming the night in the event's Battle of the Brands format after staying in front of the Full Tilt Boots team in Semi-Finals and beating out the Line Skis crew in Finals. A total of 14 teams competed in the event, which served as the kickoff for Mile High Snow Week and the SIA Snowshow, SnowSports Industries America's annual trade show at the Colorado Convention Center.

Denver Big Air podium.jpg
Photo by Kate Levy
Armada Skis teammates Spencer Milbocker, Alex Bellemare, and Ben Moxham celebrate on the podium at the Nature Valley Big Air Challenge

And wait, there's more! Tonight the Denver Big Air ramp will host an LG FIS Snowboard World Cup event, part of the Fédération Internationale de Ski's tour series. Snowboards don't fly off on impact quite as spectacularly as skis sometimes do, but there should be plenty of yard sale action all the same: Watch for riders like Canada's Sebastien Toutant, the current leader in the World Cup Big Air series, and local heroes Bret Esser (Breckenridge, CO), Broc Waring (Vail, CO) and Jake LaRue (Lord, CO), and try not to hoot and holler too loud when they get the comeuppance they've got coming to them for daring to go big. Keep it classy, Denver: The world is watching.


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3 comments
shut up, i live here
shut up, i live here

The sound from this event's crappy music tonight penetrated into basement apartments a mile away. This raises serious concerns that not only the privacy, but the health and safety of the residents of Capitol Hill was endangered by sound levels far beyond what is prohibited by ordinance. The City owes it to the people who live here to disclose what sound levels were measured, and what risk to the health of the residents of this community they might have posed.

charles
charles

Alex Bellemar Is the BEst !!! $$$$$$

OLJW00
OLJW00

You must be a sad person well on their way to being an old curmudgeon...

NOTE: When living in a metropolitan area you have to occasionally put up with crowds and noise. If you don't like it, you can move to a rural community.

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