VAIL - Garrett Robertson was a picture of determination on Feb. 9 at the Winter Mountain Games' culminating event, and it paid off.
The big mountain cyclist tried a "lawn dart" forward flip three times off the enormous snow-covered jump, under-rotating once, over-rotating once and hurting his wrist along the way.
After falling on the third attempt, he took a minute in the finish corral to talk to me.
"It's going to be even harder to hold on now," he said, holding his wrist.
I asked him if he had a different trick in mind, something safer that would help get him into the money.
"I'm going for the lawn dart again," he told me. "If you're not going to go your biggest, why even show up?"
When he finally landed it on his fourth attempt, the crowd exploded as he glided down the landing in perfect form. He took a minute to soak it up in the finish corral, then came over to talk to me.
"It looked perfect," I said.
"It was terrifying," he responded.
In his previous attempts, his hand was coming off the handlebars on the landing, preventing him from holding the front wheel straight, which is extremely important on a snow-covered landing. He was grabbing his back brake in the air, a standard practice, but it was keeping his hand from securing the front wheel.
"That time I just went off and held on no brakes, and I didn't know if I would make it around or not, but I thought 'I'm holding on to the handlebars this time,'" he told me. "I've never done it on something this big, and I've never tried it on snow ... there's just nothing like this."
Normally, freeride cyclists like Robertson would do jumps like Feb. 9's lawn dart on a 30-foot jump. The Winter Mountain Games' jump was 45 feet. Robertson will take home take home $5,000 for the win.
"It feels amazing," he said. "I'm really happy right now."
The bikers were alternating tricks off the jumps with telemark skiers, who were double flipping off the same jump.
The big air competition was a jam format, with tele-skiers and cyclists trying to get as many jumps in as they could in one hour. Last year's telemark big air winner, Chris Ewert, was the first to hit the jump, and kicked off the jam with the same trick that ended it last year - a double forward flip which earned Ewert the win in 2012.
"I wanted to set the mood, set up people to go bigger than just the one (flip)," he said. "I hadn't tried it since last year's competition, since this is really the only competition to bust it out in."
But what was good enough for last year's winning trick didn't earn Ewert a podium spot this year. He was trying to go bigger, but to no avail.
"I kept trying the dub misty 12 but just couldn't land it," he said.
Top honors on the telemark side went to Andreas Sjobeck, of Sweden, with his double cork 1080.
"One of my best nights ever tonight," he said.
Vail native Kjell Ellefson took second with a switch 720 mute grab and Ty Dayberry took third with a cork 9 mute grab.