A few weeks ago the director of The Australian Slopestyle Tour called me up asking if I could help out with some media services for both The Mile High by Carlton Dry at Perisher and Stylewars at Falls Creek. He had me at hello …. beer!
It was great being back in the epicentre of the snow scene, with the best snowboarders and skiers in the world congregating on Jindabyne for their off-season, and our winter. Charles Beckinsale, had helped fashion an epic and inventive slopestyle course in Perisher’s Front Valley, and with all the big dawgs in town, the level of snowboarding (and skiing) was way beyond what has ever been witnessed in this land. I was primarily employed by Rich Hegarty to help write the press releases and add to social media, but of course I couldn’t be surrounded by all this snow-shredding awesomeness without giving my new-ish Canon EOS 1D Mk IV a work out.
Perisher’s slopestyle course is always a bit tricky to shoot, and I certainly took my best photos at the ol’ stomping ground of Falls Creek’s Ruined Castle terrain park during Stylewars. But it was a nice change to be able to act as a second shooter, alongside ANZ Snowboarding Magazine’s Alex Roberts, in order to cover all the action across the park. And it was a pleasant surprise to see The World Snowboard Tour use my shot of winner Kyle Mack for their news article.
A great two weeks filled with fun and friends … and quite a bit of that free Carlton Dry. It was so good to be back!
For a closer look, click on the photos to open them up in a gallery…
Kyle Mack spinning over Perisher’s last jump for The Mile High.
View of The Mile High slopestyle course.
Freeskier double nose grab – The Mile High, Perisher
Billy Morgan at The Mile High.
The Mile High action avoided the worst of the weather coming in…
Allie Coates, Stylewars 2014
Kyle Mack styling. Stylewars 2014.
Ryan Linnert, Stylewars 2014
Jeremy Page says that Carlton Dry gives you wings…
Will Mayo front board.
Darcy Sharpe high in the sky.
Aussie Tim Laidlaw. Steezy!
Asher Humphreys launches the gap.
Kyle Mack’s Stylewars Grandmaster-winning run. Super stylish frontside 720 off the toes.
Mats Kulisek in front of a moody sky.
Kyle Mack launching.
Black and white gap…
Logan Short wowed by the appearance of double rainbows.
Kyle Mack frontside 720 on day one of Stylewars on World Snowboard Tour’s website. Photo and press release text by Sean Radich.
Last week the yearly installment of Stylewars rollicked drunkenly up through the snow-laden streets of Falls Creek to the Snowdrift Lodge, and I was fortunate enough to secure a berth in the party house. Stylewars is not quite the same since the glory years in at Silverski, and this year it was dealt even harsher cards with Thredbo’s MTV SnowJam cutting it two days shorter, and then four days of whiteouts and blizzards. Reuben and Matto had built some excellent and photogenic features over on Ruined Castle: a 70 foot step-down jump into an 80 foot true-table/step-down jump, alongside the big wall-ride, 40 foot down rail, and raised gap-to-butter box. Take a look at the photos that were snapped on Sunday here. There was perhaps a slight, short weather-window late Monday afternoon, but for basically the whole event window the low clouds swirled and the snow fell…hard.
So no competition could be held out in Ruined Castle, and the only snowboarding action for Stylewars was a two-hour rail jam practice session, and then the short Wednesday night “28 Stairs” rail jam held under puking, dumping snow.
So with the weather not cooperating, take a guess as to what 50 or so pro-riders, photographers, videographers, journalists, judges and organisers did for four days cooped up in a hotel? I think Ryan Tiene’s Facebook status said it best : “big week in falls did 4 runs in 4 days and drank way 2 much!”
The lazy days were spent forlornly looking at the falling snow which cancelled the comp, then amping up to take some free pow laps through the trees on slow-running, wind-affected chairlifts, then coming back inside when your face became too frozen and getting into the swing of the nightly music and parties…and maybe finishing it off with a sneaky late-night spa. A lot of the crew entered the Room of Doom where feverish games of the Devil’s Dice were running continuously, forcing the unlucky roller to smash down shots of some sort of evil spirit or another. Before even many of the crew had arrived on the Sunday night, the Devil’s Dice had taken its toll, forcing the eviction of several drunken riders from the pub, leaving one knocked out when his head was used to open the front door, and another with a police warning for smashing a beer bottle and threatening to use it on the offending meat-head bouncer. Demon drink indeed! Others got off more lightly, but still paid the price for choosing alcohol over snowboarding. Tuesday night was Dane Tiene’s 21st birthday, and we all threw in some money to get a special show from Albury. We all waited patiently in the Snowdrift’s lounge while the boys played dice, but while the wait was too much for some, eventually the devilish weather even put a stop to these extra-curricular shenanigans, closing the road from Albury with too much snow! So it was off to the pub again…
Fortunately, as an elder statesmen, I took it a little easier, but still managed to get into trouble, ollie-ing over a snow bank on the home trail and failing to notice a branch up above, smashing my head and requiring 5 stitches down in the medical centre. Feeling a little dazed, and with the craziest snowfalls I have ever seen in Australia falling on Wednesday, I gave the 28 Stairs rail jam a miss. Officially, 54cm of snow fell at Falls that Wednesday, the biggest since 1993, and when I went to get my car out Thursday it was almost totally buried by the more-than-a-metre of fresh that had fallen since Sunday. It took over two hours to dig my car out and get chains on – not great when you’ve been told to keep your stitches dry and to not exert yourself too much.
But all was salvaged when I returned to Falls Creek for the weekend for a perfectly sunny couple of days to shoot the re-opened big jumps with the local park crew rippers, NSW’s Clint Allan and Jye Kearney, and skiers Russ Henshaw and Johnno Lipsker. It was five hours of shooting out in the park, getting multiple angles for photos to be saved for magazine publication. The chopper even hovered over the park for a while with snapper Alex Roberts poking out the door, making it seem like the Stylewars of old: sunny skies, music blaring and the boys throwing down on big jumps while the rotor-wash of the heli whipped snow off the jump. I can’t wait till next year…