U.S. Open Mountainboarding Championship returns | AspenTimes.com

U.S. Open Mountainboarding Championship returns

Nate Peterson

Dirt boardercross racers, including Akoni Kama of Oahu, Hawaii, right, zoom down the course during the 2004 U.S. Open Mountainboarding Championships at Snowmass Village last August. The Open returns for the third consecutive year Thursday through Saturday.Aspen Times photo.

Dirt does hurt. Just ask Akoni Kama. One of the bigger names in the world of mountainboarding, Kama, 31, a native of Oahu, Hawaii, won’t be competing in this year’s U.S. Open Mountainboarding Championship Thursday through Saturday at Snowmass Village. Two broken bones in his arm from a fall in Sydney, Australia six weeks ago assured that. He also nearly broke his back and his ribs from the fall he took on the final night of the Crusty Demons of Dirt Tour, spending three days in the hospital, followed by four in a hotel room with a constant morphine drip.”Every show, I’d get towed onto a ramp from a dirt bike,” Kama said. “I got a little too amped up that final show. I flew about 25 feet high and 40 feet across in the air and came down right on my back.”

Kama, still wearing a cast on his arm, made the trip back to Colorado this week, despite not competing, because he said the Open – now in its third year at Snowmass Village – is an event in a class all its own. He wanted to help out with the two-day mountainboarding camp put on by Camp Snowmass. He wanted to see the new Snowmass SkateJam, which will be held Saturday and Sunday at the end of the Snowmass Village Mall. His board sponsor said it would pay for the trip, so Kama booked the flight. “This is such a great event,” said Kama, who competes in about 40 mountainboarding competitions every year around the globe. “It’s such a blast. The people here are really cool. Every year, Jeremy Leaf and I do a camp with the kids and the kids get so stoked on it. This is one of my favorite spots to come.”While the Open isn’t Winter X, it is the biggest mountainboarding event in the United States, and will bring out its own list of stars. Leaf – the reigning Open freestyle champion – will be joined by Colorado Springs’ Jason Lee, who has won the boardercross at the Open for the past eight years.There will also be a long list of amateurs of all ages, both male and female, vying for the opportunity to make names for themselves while going up against the sport’s established pros.”It’s kind of a culmination of the season,” Lee, 37, said. “Most of the top pros in the state are going to be there. It’s probably the hardest one to win, in the pro class at least. It’s also a lot of fun. It’s a lot of people getting together who you haven’t seen in a year.”

The event is free to spectators, with time trials in boardercross starting Thursday at 10 a.m. Thursday’s heats will be followed by a free concert at the Fanny Hill amphitheater by New Orleans’ The Subdudes at 6 p.m. and a pro big air demonstration at 7 p.m. On Friday, following more boardercross heats from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Fanny Hill, slopestyle prelims will begin at 3 p.m. and run until 6 p.m. The finals for both events will take place in the same time slots Saturday, followed by more live music and an awards ceremony.The skate jam also kicks off Saturday, with pro and amateur demonstrations on a 16-foot-wide ramp that is five feet tall. The demonstrations begin at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Top professional Pat Channita is flying in from Hawaii to headline the pro skate demonstrations along with team Emage from Denver.On Sunday, a public skate competition for skaters of all ages and abilities will start at noon. Skaters can register at the Snowmass Ticket Pavilion on Sunday morning between 9:30-11 a.m.

With the new skate jam, event director Mitch Stegall expects this year’s Open to trump its two predecessors at Snowmass Village. “Snowmass is the leader in mountainboarding with this championship,” Stegall said. “It’s the leading resort in developing mountainboarding parks, rentals and lifts for mountainboarders and this is by far the nation’s largest mountainboarding event with the world’s best riders competing head to head.”Added Lee, “The sport has grown so much in the last 10 years. The equipment has gotten so much better. Because of that, the tricks and the level of riding have evolved so much. It’s amazing to see where it’s come from.”For more information check out the Web site at http://www.usopenmountainboarding.com.Nate Peterson can be contacted at npeterson@aspentimes.comThe dirt: Dirt Boardercross consists of heats of four riders charging head to head down the mountain on wheeled snowboard-like equipment outfitted with brakes. The course is similar to the boardercross track used in snowboard races only its dirt instead of snow. Riders fly down the mountainside over rollers, through bermed turns and blast over jumps to the finish line. In big air/slopestyle, riders launch off multiple dirt jumps and throw down huge aerial maneuvers. Slopestyle adds the challenge of railslides and a quarterpipe.

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