words and photos: Mary Walsh
There are few mountains that lay claim to both infamous in bounds freeride terrain and prolific parks. Alpine locations that catalyze migration for both backcountry kings and park phenoms, providing ample ground for both pursuits. Whistler Blackcomb is one of these rare resorts and due to its sprawling topography, Whistler breeds some of the world's most all-around talented snowboarders. With this in mind, it was more than fitting that this British Columbia mountain was the site for the third and final installment of DC Snowboarding's Hit and Run, a banked slalom-slash-slopestyle event that mandates competitors posses top of the line board control. Hit and Run is the full package, the culmination of each aspect of snowboarding that we appreciate when riding resort: proficient turning skills as well as air awareness and ample style for in-line jumps, rails and halfpipe hits. The aggregate of skills in one event fits perfectly into the current contest environment, in which the multi-axis spins of the major slopestyle circuit are paralleled by a proliferation of banked slalom events peppered throughout the year. DC Hit and Run hits the bull's eye in this spectrum, mandating a showcase of the park skills that we all hold dear in between navigating the fine line of going as fast as possible without blowing out. With a meticulously maintained park system, hairy tree-filled trails, and a roster of riders whose collective skills are off the charts, Whistler was the perfect location to close out the season of Hit and Run.
The premise of DC Hit and Run is simple. Go as fast as possible down through the snaking turns to get the best time. Four sections, a jump, a rainbow tube, a hip, and two hits in the halfpipe are judged on a scale of 1-5. The better the trick on the feature, the higher the score you get--with the number representing the amount of seconds that are taken off your gross time at the end. Proper tricks can result in up to twenty second drops in the final time. For the final Hit and Run stop, the Whistler Parks Crew created a massive snaking course rider's right of the Choker Park on Blackcomb. The tone was set right away with a mandatory bomb drop at the start gate and a thirty-foot jump before the turns even began. Berms and rollers opened up to a rainbow tube and multiple end-berms--turns that were cut out as a gap to roller--before a towering rider's left hip and a perfectly-cut halfpipe closed out the run. Even for the fastest riders, it was still nearly a minute-and-a-half of pointing it downhill.
On Saturday, as clouds rolled lazily overhead, nearly seventy snowboarders lined up in the start gates to set times in the course in preparation for Sunday's main event. The snow was fast, but as the day went on the clouds dipped lower, visibility went in and out, but in further testament to the Whistler locals, there was no slowing down the send. Fast Finn Iikka Backstrom was setting speed alongside fellow backcountry aces Austin Smith, Dustin Craven, Devun Walsh, Anto Chamberland, and Torstein Horgmo. Seasoned Whistler locs Ryan Manning, Scot Brown, Jordan Phillips, and Beau Bishop were maching down the course side by side with up and comers Jadyn Chomlack, Windham Miller, Darren Smith, Caleb Chomlack, and more. By 3pm, the course was etched with high lines around the berms. Methods had been sent over the hip, speed was dialed on the jump. The Whistler crew broke out their rakes to get everything ready for Sunday.
It's been a heck of a winter in Whistler; snow has continued into early spring and the sun has shied away from coming out. For finals day of the DC Hit and Run, Mother Nature put on a decidedly bi-polar show with temperature drops, a mini hailstorm that left a few centimeters of fresh on the ground, and finally some late day sun. Riders got two drops in order to net the best time, navigating the changes conditions nearly effortlessly. The snowboarding community in Whistler is, of course, known for their overload of abilities both when navigating steep lines, tight trees, and winding trails as well as sending it smoothly over massive jumps, so the field was loaded with talent. Backcountry vets lined up next to up and coming park rats, the long and winding playing field the de facto equalizer for the weekend, the unique format providing opportunity for anyone to rise as the best all-around destroyer and clench the top spot. On Sunday, it was young gun Mikey Ciccarelli, whose jump chops and board control earned him a time of 1:25.70 as well as best trick for a cab 9 on the top kicker. Mikey was just a hair ahead of second place finisher Derek Livingstone, who clocked a 1:25.83. Ryan Manning rounded out the top three with a 1:30.01. On the ladies side, Brooke Voigt led the pack with a 1:41.99, followed by Gillian Andrewshenko with a 1:45.51 and Mutsumi Ido finishing with a 1:57.89.
The 16-and-over am division was stacked with Whistler's rising generation. Jadyn Chomlack, whose season has been on fire clocked in with the lowest time, a 1:31.03, and took the Hit and Run win. Darren Smith came in second at 1:39.25 and Rodney James rounded out the podium with a 01:41.98. The youngest riders making up the 15-and-under class kept speed with their older peers. Tosh Krauskopf clocked a screaming 01:38.06 and was followed by Zakk Harman in second with a 01:41.18 and Brendan Kueling in third at 1:43.51.
Showcase's Co Gougeon, who had been on the mic all day, gathered the crew of riders at the bottom of the halfpipe to announce the results. As racers stood atop the podium and collected oversized checks, the crew congratulated one another, slapping fives that they had made it down the course with time in check. The three-stop DC Hit and Run tour was a wrap. Thank you to Bobby, Kristen, Sam, Martin and the DC crew, Brian, Seb, Steve and the entire park staff and events crew at Whistler, and of course, all the riders that came out to rip down the run. See you next year!
Check out more even photos in the recap on DC Snowboarding’s site and be sure to scroll through the goods on Instagram: #DCHitandRun.