Sammy Carlson Invitational
The 3rd Sammy Carlson Invitational went down this past spring at Mt. Bachelor Resort in Oregon. This was my first time participating in an invitational event. I was honored to be able to ride with some of the best freeskiers in the world. In attendance where legendary French freeskier Candide Thovex, the Inspired Media Crew, which included one of my idols, Tanner Hall, US Olympic team members Torin Yater-Wallace, Alex Schlopy and of course Sammy Carlson. The event also brought out local legends like Tommy Ellingson and Ari Delashmutt who have been big influences in my progression throughout the years here in the North West.
Practice for the event was canceled due to weather that ended up blowing down a portion of the massive wallride feature that was the center piece of the event. I always gain a lot from practice, especially when it is my first time skiing on such a unique and extreme feature like the massive wallride. No practice meant that I was going to have to adapt to the new features quickly, which in the past had been a challenge for me.
On the day of the event, the sun came out and all was well. Everyone was excited to finally get a crack at the insane set up that crews had been working on non-stop for days. This event felt nothing like a competition. We were each others judges, which meant there was no pressure to impress some person in a booth. Everyone was there for the love of skiing and joy of being surrounded by extremely talented friends. There were five awards to be handed out to the riders at the end of the day. The awards were for "Best Wallride, Best Style, Best Creativity, Kamikaze Pilot and Best Overall Rider." This allowed every rider the freedom to perform as they pleased. There was no specific criterial that would win this event, except good vibes and great skiing.
As warm ups commenced the stoke level just continued to grow. It was really cool to have the ability to make hot laps with private access to the chair lift right next to the features followed by snowmobile tows up to the start gate. Before I knew it the throw down session had begun. People were reaching the top of the wall, doing stylish nose butters on the knuckle of the 50 foot jump and making it all look so easy. I chose to spend my time getting the speed down for clearing the jump and getting used to the wallride.
The event got underway in the afternoon. The crowd packed in on the hillside and at the base of the wallride. The webcast went live and the famous commentary of Luke Van Valin was blasting to everyone. It was go time. I unleashed an array of tricks off of the jump and climbed higher and higher onto the wallride. One of my favorite runs consisted of throwing down a massive christ air superman front flip and a flare off of the wallride. Some of my best tricks during the event were a huge double flat spin 720 tail grab, a double underflip 900 lead safety grab and a rock'n roll on the top coping of the wallride to switch (that was a long way down to switch!). There was one trick that eluded me the entire event. I must have tried 4 or 5 times to gap to the top of the wall ride and then flare off. I did everything but land the trick. Instead, I jammed my fists, arms and face into the wall, slipped out before flipping, and of course crashed onto the snow. Yet every time I failed, I was that much more determined to get back up to the top and throw it down again. I love to go hard, especially when I'm around so many of my friends that are killing it. I vibe off of everyones energy.
Wrapping up the event, all of the riders got together and voted on the who they thought should win the awards. Everyone noticed how hard I was skiing all day and I was honored to receive the Kamikaze Pilot award. It was a crazy feeling to know that all of these amazing skiers appreciated my effort and drive to go as hard as I could. Also that they thought I did some of the craziest tricks all day. I learned a lot about myself during the Sammy Carlson Invitational. I always knew that I worked hard at whatever I put my mind to but it is extremely encouraging to know that the best skiers in the world can see it, too. By the end of that weekend, my mind was in the right place for an extremely productive summer.