This year I got the opportunity to participate in the Gatorade Free Flow Tour Finals at Snowbasin Resort in Utah. Every year Gatorade does this, they fly out all the athletes who won there stops, put them up in a hotel for the weekend, and gives them the first class treatment. Gatorade did an amazing job this year and I had the time of my life.
My journey started off Thursday when I was flown down to Utah. After a chill flight and a quick layover in Oakland I arrived in Salt Lake where after being scared for a second that someone lost my bag I was already off to my hotel. Gatorade put all of the athletes up in the Comfort Suites in Ogden. After arriving I tried to hit up some friends and ending up going to dinner with a few friends from Schweitzer and Tahoe. Went to a really cool restaurant called Prairie Schooner that gave you the feeling you were living in the old west. After that I got to go hang out with some friends from Monster Energy, and introduced me to some pretty cool people in the skiing industry.
The next day was the competition. Definitely one of the more interesting days I've had on snow in a long time. It was my first time back on snow in a two weeks and the whole time I kept thinking, DO NOT LAND ON THE SHOULDER. This turned out to be a much harder task then I anticipated. The first challenge happened after I was leaving the Snowbasin baby park on my way to the chairlift. While I was calmly heading towards the chair I did not realize someone was heading towards me at full speed and when I finally saw him there was nothing I could do. He took me out and sent all of our gear flying. As I laid on my back gasping for air I tried to think, "did I really just get taken out by a gaper?" Always funny when Ski Patrol gets mad at Park Skiers for going "fast" when it's usually skiers like the man who ran me over that make the big mistakes like that. After I finally got air back in my lungs I checked to make sure nothing else was harmed and thanked God nothing was. For the rest of the time before practice I just chilled with some friends before practice started. For practice on the course we had around two hours to get our tricks down, and within those two hours I felt like I got a full ski day and then some. This was definitely the best slopestyle course I've ever gotten to hit. It featured 3 rail/box features and two jumps. I had an absolute blast hitting both sections, but my favorite was probably the cannon box because it was so smooth for doing flips off.
During practice I was trying to get my speed dialed for switch on the last jump when my ski caught slush going off the lip. From this I slammed to my back, but still had enough speed to go off the lip and land in the middle of the deck again on my back. This was now the second time that day I was gasping for air. Finding it hard to breathe and a sharp pain in my chest made things difficult for a bit. After that crash I didn’t ride for the rest of practice and just wasn’t too stoked on riding that day, but I still wanted to at least try to put a run down. When the competition began I went and tried to have some fun, and sure enough I did. On the top rails I landed my run solid, and ended up landing my jumps as well. Even though they were by far the worst looking jumps I’ve done in competition all year. The strangest part about them was when I was doing my rotations I felt my ribs pop multiple times which left me with some pain and discomfort. On my second run I wanted to just clean everything up a little, but right after I landed my second rail trick there was an instant surge of pain going through me, which stopped me from hitting anything else on the course. When I got to the bottom the only thing I wanted to do was lay down because everything thing I did even breathing sent pain throughout my body. The medical crew at the event was so on point that they helped me out immediately and took me to the Medical trailer to get checked out. Still not exactly sure what the full diagnosis is, but we narrowed it down to either a cracked, bruised, or separated rib. Found out afterwards that I ended up getting 5th place and I was definitely happy with that.
On Saturday I just chilled and watched all the events. Especially stoked on the pipe comps, with Louie Vito throwing it down for the snowboarders, and at night watching the skiers hold it down in there pipe finals, going massive on every hit! Watching them definitely makes me want to work on my pipe game a little bit. Definitely not looking to ever compete in pipe, but it looks really fun to be able to boost out of the pipe and do a few fun tricks.
The final day of events on Sunday was surreal. My good friend Dash from Idaho stomped his first run in Snowboard slopestyle finals and ended up taking 2nd place! So stoked for him, he definitely deserved it! Then after snowboarders were done I got to watch some of my skier friends throw down, and they did not disappoint. So many crazy tricks were thrown down it’s hard to keep track of, but it did make for one crazy show.
I just got back to Spokane where I plan to take it easy till my shoulder and ribs feel a little bit better before heading back to Colorado or California. Got to sleep in the Salt Lake airport last night and surprising am well rested thanks to my ski bag. Right now I’m really looking forward to being able to start throwing some bigger tricks and see where it takes me. Hopefully finish off the season strong with at least one more slopestyle and then start filming with TSP ASAP.
Overall this trip was truly amazing for me. I got to meet so many cool people and got a bunch of good memories to go along with it. Hopefully i'll heal up fast and can get back to shredding hard and having some fun!