December 19, 1999
If you were Jonny Moseley, and you could get your friends together in one of the most awesome resorts on the West Coast and have a great party, including mouse-racing, free cocktails, beautiful blue skies and awesome jumps for the TV cameras, what could be better aside from winning it?
The weekend's competition, in an open, round-robin format, came down to Moseley and Evan "Gangster" Raps going head-to-head in one final big air on the road-gap jump. Moseley clinched it with a "dinner roll 900" for the $20,000 grand prize.
Raps, who finished second in all the skiercross heats except the finals and won two big air heats, saved it up for the end. In the big air, Raps needed to beat Shane McConkey and Evan Dybvig to advance into one of the two spots for the finals. With a misty flip over the road gap, he did it.
After three rounds of skiercross and three rounds of big air in a round-robin format, McConkey, Dybvig, Moseley and Raps moved into the finals. First came the skiercross where Shane McConkey beat the pack. He pulled ahead early and held on to a narrow lead. "I looked over my left shoulder and saw Dybvig behind me and I thought, cool. But then I saw Moseley right there coming up on my right side," McConkey said. The pack was tight all the way to the last jump feeding in to the finish and McConkey won it. However, the final big air was the ultimate determining factor.
In the big air semi-finals, it was head-to-head competition: Moseley vs. Dybvig (last year's winner), and McConkey vs. Raps. Moseley stuck a rodeo 720, while Dybvig went for it with a 1080 but barely made his landing. McConkey went for a switch backflip with a half twist (landing forwards), sailing through the air but not quite sticking the landing. Raps pulled into the finals, an impressive feat for the 20-year-old in his second season living in Squaw Valley. Raps and Moseley went head-to-head in the finals, and Moseley won it.
Everybody went off. CR Johnson, 16, got the crowd amped with a 360 screaming seaman. Vinny Dorion, from Quebec, went cork screw crazy. Shannon Schad, from Breckenridge, nailed a 720 with a tail grab. Kent Kreitler, always going big, nailed his last radical spinning trick (I have no idea what it's called). Evan Dybvig went all out with numerous 1080s. And with Skogan Sprang's spread eagle, there was a whole range of eye candy for the crowd of 7,000 spectators.
The judging was based on an open format. According to head judge, Glen Plake, it was not based on strict criteria but more on overall impression. "All of us came from growing up competing one way or another and we saw that all of a sudden criteria picked the winner as opposed to performance. I think it's going to go back to the old days a little bit; the most exciting run or jump wins period. That's what it's all about.
"We didn't have really any criteria because we didn't want to be set in stone. Actually, we started with numbers yesterday, but by the end of the competition we went down to: very poor, poor, good, very good, excellent. We didn't even want to have numbers to look at. Too many things have turned into too complicated of a judging system, so we just completely got rid of all that and we just picked the best jumps."
"We chopped it up, and nobody got hurt today," Plake said. "We saw some crashes right on the knoll and I'll guarantee that had that chopping effort not taken place those boys wouldn't be ready to go party tonight."
For day two of skiercross competition, Shaun "I am the X Games" Palmer foreran the course. Was he jonesing to be out there?
"I just kind of sat at the bottom and got kind of irritated watching. I wish I could have entered it but I had to go to Oregon yesterday for a signing for Palmer snowboards, and to do this event, you had to do both events. When the finals were going on in the skiercross I was definitely irritated. I wanted to definitely be out there."
Many of the top skiers who participated this weekend come from different backgrounds, and their combined energy was amazing. McConkey, who won all the skiercross heats he competed in, said that skiing is about being an athletic sport, but it's also about the creativity of what you're doing.
"Young skiers are sick of following a certain structure in order to go to the Olympics and they can't express themselves," McConkey said. "We're all pretty much skiers who like to push ourselves in ways that are new and creative and lately, in the last few years, that's all been sort of along the same lines, which is big air stuff. I have a racing background, some guys don't, some guys do. Some guys come from a mogul skiing background only, but we're all pretty similar in what we're up there doing."
Michelle Quigley, wagering on mice for MountainZone.com