Aspen’s Patterson pegs a career-best 3rd at Van’s event |

Aspen’s Patterson pegs a career-best 3rd at Van’s event

Up-and-coming Aspen snowboarder Chris Patterson staged a break-out performance last Thursday at the Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding competition at Sierra at Tahoe, California.

The 18-year-old Patterson, who graduated from Aspen High last spring, captured third place in slopestyle snowboarding, his best career result by far. Meanwhile, Snowmass Village’s Gretchen Bleiler, 20, another AHS graduate, aired into second place in the women’s halfpipe competition at the same event, the third and final installment of the Van’s Triple Crown series.

For Patterson, his bronze medal finish came as a bit of a surprise. In fact, it surprised a lot of people, judging from an article by Chris Coyle posted on Transworld Snowboarding’s Web site.

“All day long people found themselves looking at their start sheets, asking themselves, ‘Who the hell was that?'” Coyle wrote. “As a matter of fact, almost all the names in the top-10 I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard before. … I don’t know Chris Patterson from a hole in the ground, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do huge backside 5s and switch frontside 3s that’ll land him in third place.”

Patterson added: “Third sorta surprised me too. I didn’t expect it, there’s so many good riders.”

Perhaps it’s all in the company he keeps. This winter, Patterson moved to Mammoth, Calif., – home to most of the top new-school riders in the nation – and got an apartment with Jackson Hole’s Travis Rice, the 19-year-old who came from nowhere to win the X Games slopestyle in Aspen earlier this winter.

“This is the first winter we’ve spent in Mammoth,” Patterson said. “It has the best park, pretty much, and the best pipes – just tons of effort devoted to the park – that’s probably why all the top riders are coming from here.

“But we’re just a bunch of younger guys who are trying to make it,” he added.

Patterson finished behind Josh Feliciano in first and Jimi Tomer in second. He bested Winter X Games silver-medalist Shaun White, who finished eighth. Meanwhile, Bleiler finished second to Tricia Byrnes, the woman who beat her out for the third and final spot of the U.S. Olympic Snowboard Team in January.

In the Van’s Triple Crown halfpipe event, Patterson suffered a shoulder injury, forcing him to withdraw from the halfpipe event as well as the big air competition, and effectively ending his season.

“It’s been a really good winter,” Patterson said. “I was supposed to come home [to Aspen] and do some contests, but now I’m done. I’ll pretty much rehab all summer and get ready for next season.”

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