Mammoth Mountain, California April 27 – May 3, 2008
The American Association of Snowboard Instructors chooses it’s National Team for the 2008 to 2012 Term.
From the drive out to the last days at Mammoth, the trip was super-fun. I made the team! Having a great time on this trip helped me to perform at my best and get on the team. It was awesome riding with that group of people – from the selectors representing a history of snowboarding to the candidates, all amazing riders and teachers. I wouldn’t have wanted to be a selector; they had a hard job.
April 23, 2008. My half-birthday. I arrived at Mammoth around 1pm, called Cam and Oliver on the way up the hill, ate my last travel sandwich out of the cooler, got my boots on and walked up to the Broadway lift. I had already bought my $10 lift tickets for the pre-selection days Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Cam and D.O. were already on the hill, just finishing lunch. The sun was out and the snow was soft. Rider Rally was going on, so I knew I’d see some friends I haven’t seen in a while. National Team members KC Gandee, Chad Frost, and coach J. Randy Price were on my list of friends to see. I knew they were all on the hill.
The “Breck House,” as it came to be called, was one of the best perks of the trip. It was invaluable to have a house to keep stuff, store food, and provided a base camp that helped us to remain focused during tryouts. We were able to connect around some common ground: all being from Breck. John came and stayed also, and his parents, Louie and Dina were there over the weekend before tryouts. Thanks John, and especially Louie and Dina, for allowing us to use your place for free during the week. The house was just right at the bottom of the hill, a five minute drive from the mountain.
I shot my first video clip with my little camera on the lift ride. “Here’s the first video” I said to the camera as I rolled up the Broadway lift to meet Oliver and Cam. The weather was sunny and beautiful, maybe 50 degrees, the snow soft and springlike. The air smelled like pine and the mountains were shining and jutting in the sun. From Mammoth, you can almost always see the Minarets, and Banner and Ritter Peaks, to the north towards Yopsemite National Park. They are dramatic, rugged and pointy peaks among the sharp Sierras. These mountains are certainly newer in their evolution than Colorado Mountains. They’re just not as worn down and rounded as a lot of mountains in the Rockies. Especially the Tenmile Range around Breck, which is pretty rounded off – there’s been more time for the weather to erode them.
We met with our riding groups for the next day, and the selectors rotated to each group to discuss the plans and schedule for the first riding day. It was three groups riding with two selectors each, for one-hour slots, three in the morning and three in the afternoon. The groups would repeat their three “stations” in the same order from morning to afternoon. The riding stations were Park & Pipe, On-Piste (groomed terrain, tasks), and Off-Piste (steeps, ungroomed). Each rider would get to show their skills during two different times of the day. This meant that each piece of terrain would have very different snow conditions from morning to afternoon. The snow ranged from frozen coral, and slippery groom, to mashed potatoes a foot deep in the late afternoon, with everything in between.
On monday morning the “Cutters” (my group) grouped at the top of the Broadway lift on their way to Park & Pipe to start the day. Since the park and pipe were rock-hard for our first hour, we were glad to know that we would get the park section first thing after lunch, when it was just softening up but fast and not too deep yet.
The second riding day it was our crew in two groups alternating tasks on the upper mountain in the morning, and the park and pipe after lunch. The mountain closed early because of high winds and we missed our last run in the park and pipe. We did get two warm up, unscored runs after lunch though. We were lucky to get our morning runs finished using the gondola, which could have stranded or delayed us with the high winds the entire day. We ended the day a little early and looked towards the cut that evening.
Doug Radefeld, John Casson and I went to the skatepark to roll around and skate for a couple hours; it was a really fun session. I think there are a few pics at MySnowPro.com/greggdavis.