Mountainboarding contests take hold of Snowmass |

Mountainboarding contests take hold of Snowmass

Steve Benson
Dirt boardercross racers, including Akoni Kama of Oahu, Hawaii, right, zoom down the course during the U.S. Open Mountainboarding Championships Saturday on Fanny Hill at Snowmass. Aspen Times photo/Devon Meyers.

The world’s best mountainboarders descended on the Snowmass Ski Area for the U.S. Open Mountainboarding Championships over the weekend, with the overall winners crowned on Saturday.The nation’s largest mountainboarding competition of the year, the Open drew close to 100 competitors, who matched wits in the dirt boardercross and big air events. Riders ranged in age from under 7 years old to over 35, with numerous age and ability classes.Jason Lee of Colorado Springs was the overall winner of the men’s pro division, with pro Carolyn Kunkel earning the women’s overall championship. Overall winners were determined by their cumulative scores from the boardercross and big air contests. “It was a superb weekend, the competition was amazing,” said Dan Dworkin, the event’s master of ceremonies and co-organizer. “The dirt boardercross was incredibly tight, and the big air was absolutely incredible.”

Despite becoming only the second mountainboarder in the world to land a double back flip in big air competition, Jason Small finished second in the men’s pro division behind Jereme Leafe of New Hampshire.”He’s definitely one of the best big air mountainboarders in the world,” Dworkin said of Leafe.Chris Farmer of California took third in the men’s pro division of the big air.Tiffany Eckert won the pro women’s big air, followed by Kunkel and Julianne Lewis, who won silver and bronze, respectively.Dworkin said the level of competition in the Open continues to grow yearly as the sport gains popularity.

In the big air, riders were sticking tricks normally reserved to snowboarders and skateboarders – sports that most mountainboarders have roots in – like flips and inverted airs.Small also impressed in the pro men’s boardercross, taking third behind a pair of brothers, with Joel Lee in second and Jason Lee winning gold.Kunkel won the women’s pro division of the boardercross, followed by silver-medalist Nancy Eng and Julianne Lewis, who finished third.Mountainboarding is gaining popularity worldwide, with competitions springing up in the United Kingdom, Poland, Italy, France, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Dworkin attributes a share of the sport’s success to Snowmass, which hosted the Open for a second consecutive year.

“Every competition keeps growing,” Dworkin said. “It’s getting bigger because of the exposure of the sport on a national and international level, and [the competitions in] Snowmass.”We’re very fortunate to have Snowmass embrace the sport – they’ve set a standard for what can be done.”Earlier last week, pros like Leafe and Akoni Kama, from Oahu, Hawaii, helped teach a two-day mountainboarding camp in Snowmass for local kids.The U.S. Open Mountainboarding Championships will return to Snowmass again next year.

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