By Adam Gray
As the morning clouds parted ways to reveal a deep blue canvas sky, Suntanner sat patiently awaiting its adoring fans, the 2014 VT Open Competitors. A massive 26-turn banked slalom snaking on rider’s right, a big air jump fit for giants halfway up on rider’s left, followed immediately by a freshly cut halfpipe — AND a 5 feature rail garden just below that. Suntanner was an arena fit for snowboarding’s kings and queens!
Friday, March 7th kicked off the VT Open with an insane rail jam. The parks crew pulled out all the stops crafting up an outstanding rail garden where athletes pushed themselves and one another. With over 100 competitors signed up for the rail jam, competition was fierce. Spectators mobbed the hill, trying to catch a glimpse of the many talented riders. Grizzly’s deck was lined with those hoping for a view. Max Lyons and Ashley Bekah set the bar high from their first drop and as a result found themselves spots on the podium.
The excitement grew as the next event approached – halfpipe. Once again the sun shone, smells of BBQ wafted through the air and music vibrated with the cheering crowd. You could see the excitement building within the athletes. It was obvious that these athletes were going to put on an amazing show. Riders were going big out of the pipe, clearly putting their best foot forward. Competition was tough, but at the end of the event Ross Powers and Anna Valentine took first in Men and Women’s Pro Class. The Snurfer Challenge followed and put athletes and spectators alike in great spirits as attention shifted to the evening.
Lifts stopped spinning, the sun went down and the lights went up. There’s something magical about a mountain after hours, especially during the Vermont Open. A whole new energy settled itself on Suntanner, infecting all who hiked up to the Big Air jump. One by one the competitors dropped while the announcer competed with the cheering crowd. Jeremy Ellenburg and Elin Tortorice took first in Men’s and Woman Pro Class.
When the sun rose on the second day of competition, everyone showed up prepared to perform at their best. The 26 turn banked slalom course looked inviting and frightening at the same time. The competitors couldn’t wait to fly through the turns. Athletes gathered at the top of the race course mentally and physically prepared as the crowd gathered at the bottom, some watching from Grizzly’s deck. While each competitor dropped into the course, the crowd cheered over the music and announcer. The camaraderie of the athletes was refreshing and infectious. Once again, Ross Powers and Anna Valentine took first in Men and Women’s Pro Class in the event.
Though the VT Open is still young (at only 2 years old), it’s growing fast; in fact the Roots Package and Banked Slalom were sold out before the event even began. Kudos to all those who per-registered and landed a spot. Thanks again to all who participated from athletes to sponsors, already looking forward to next year.