Start with an array of airborne snow-riding superstars.Put them in the most progressive snow park in the world.Sprinkle in a few nighttime comps (under the lights, no less), and then add fire.Yea, that’s right: fire.Here comes the Honda Session the king event in Vail’s snowboarding lineup, primed to light up Golden Peak Jan 13 16.This isn’t your average snowboarding event. From the ample pyrotechnics aimed at the competitors to the all-star line-up (who suffer the flames) The Session is the kind of fiery event that gets burrito-munching, caffeine-chugging, Taurine-addicted snowboard fans to put down their Playstations and line the hillsides of Vail.Yes, this IS an athletic event.But it’s also a party. A great, big party, and everyone’s invited (that means YOU, dude).It just so happens that some of the sport’s biggest stars will be on hand to party alongside everyone else, right after they dodge flames, and ride rails, and huck meat for your viewing enjoyment.A photo shoot of the stars kicks off the Honda Session on Jan 13 from 1 3 p.m. This is the kind of event that wannabes dream about they can see the professional glamour of shooting sessions in action (read: wait, wait, wait, stand, smile, look cool, wait, look cooler, BLINDING FLASH, OK let’s do it again) and they can check out their favorite athletes in an informal setting.Big name riders like Shaun White, Chad Otterstorom, Danny Kass, Hana Beaman, Tora Bright, Janna Meyen and local riders Rob Bach and Rachael Nelson will all be there. If you don’t recognize these names, obviously you haven’t seen enough of Sal Masekela on ESPN2 and you don’t chill on the couch with Taco Bell in one hand and a Mountain Dew in the other.(Just so you know, neither do these dudes and dudettes not that they mind the big money sponsorships these corporations bring but let’s just say that, maybe, just maybe, the reason they’re hard core and you’re watching from the bleachers has something to do with the extra guac you heaped onto that last burrito).The actual comps rock Gold Peak on Jan. 14 and 15, where all the hype stands aside, and truly impressive moves take over.There also happens to be $118,000 in prize money available (not for you, dummy, for them).The Salomon men’s rail competition is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on the 14th, on a course that looks more like a skate-park than a snow-park. The women’s rail competition happens the next day, on the 15th, from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. and the Bud Light Men’s Super Slopestyle drops from 7 to 8:30 p.m. These events should be a smorgasbord of visual tastiness for riders and spectators, with the popular flame-thrower feature returning from last year.But enough about that The best events are those that involve laymen like us and, of course, the free stuff.A Jam Session Post-Rail Party on the 14th at 9 p.m. at Garfinkel’s is sure to be a car-flipping good time where pros and regular people are invited to mingle with a DJ and gorge on drink specials.Also, corporate sponsors and the public can unite at the Honda Base Camp, open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the 14th, 15th, and 16th. Air hockey, video games, board waxing and DJ sessions will abound at this interactive center for freestyle education and excitement. There will, of course, be giveaways through the weekend with all kinds of hip stuff, like iPods, gear, hot cocoa and s’mores, being given away.There’s also a free Salomon Sunday Session Pro Clinic taught by Salomon pros Jan. 16, from 10 11:15 a.m., followed by the Salomon Public Rails Competition at 11:30 a.m. (Register at the registration session from Jan. 13 16) An autograph session from noon 1 p.m. rounds out the whole event.If you can’t keep track of all the happenin’ sessions, all the info can be found on-line at sessionvail.com. Even if X-games brainwashing has taken hold, and you’re more likely to break a hip than land a Cab 7, free stuff is free stuff. The actual snowboarding really is amazingly athletic, so, with all that in mind, we shouldn’t have to mention the flame thrower again.RIGHT?Event DescriptionsSuper Slopestyle Competition- Jan. 15 Men’s Qualification 12 2 p.m.- Jan. 15Men’s Finals 7 8:30 p.m.Pro riders will compete in a session format on Vail’s super slopestyle course, designed and built exclusively for the contest by Planet Snowdesign. Riders will be looking for that “golden run” as overall impression of the top single run is worth $30,000 for the top man. The top-5 men from last year’s finals will gain an automatic berth in this year’s finals and an additional 10 riders will be selected from the men’s qualification. The men’s purse is $80,000.Competitors40 MenPrize moneyMen: $30,000, $20,000, $15,000, $10,000, $5,000Judges4 Judges will be provided by the IJC.1 Head judge (who oversees the judge’s scores.)3 Pro rider judges.Competition formatqualification: Running order will be from computer start list (35 men). Sequence – riders in qualification will take three runs in start list order. All three runs will be scored. Only the high score will count toward final ranking. The top 10 men will advance to the finals along with the top 5 men from 2004. If any of the top 5 (2004) riders do not compete, their place will be filled from the qualification.Finals: Open session – running order will be by qualification place for the first run and random thereafter for the duration of the session (15 men). Sequence – all riders have 1.5 hours to session the course. All runs will be scored during the rider’s session. Only the high score will count toward final ranking. Riders should be able to take 5-7 runsCompetition flowThe slopestyle competitors will take as many runs as designated in the qualification or final session format. The start order will be computer generated for the men’s qualification. In the qualification the men will all take three runs and the best score will count. For the men’s final the start will be by qualification place for the first run and random thereafter for the session. In the finals…a rider may elect to watch a couple runs or get right back into the action as soon as possible. The finals session will start when the first competitor drops into the course and ending when the last competitor has completed his run at the end of the 1.5-hour time limit. In the finals it is possible a rider could take as many as 5-7 runs.Computation of scoresThree judges will view the complete run from video monitors allowing every judge to see the complete run in context to all tricks and overall flow. The judges will score each run on a whole number point scale of 1-100, with point allocation based on the Overall Impression of each run. Scores will be carried out to tenths of a place. All three judges scores will be added together then averaged (88.5, 90.2 etc.). Scores over 90 will be considered exceptional. All runs count and are scored with only the highest score factoring into the final rankings. Points are deducted for falls and are awarded for superior overall impression and progression.CriteriaEach run down the slopestyle course will be evaluated by the following criteria. Trick Difficulty and Execution. Progression.Resolving tiesIf a tie exists, the next highest score of the rider will be used to break the tie among the competitors. If that is tied the next highest score will be used and so on. Salomon Rail CompetitionFriday, Jan. 14Men5:30 7 p.m.Saturday, Jan. 15 Women5:15 6:15 p.m.Pro riders will compete in a jam session format on a unique street/rail course built exclusively for the Vail “Session.” Competitors will session the course, hitting a variety of rails as they compete to be one of the top five riders that will be awarded prize money every fifteen minutes. Both men and women will compete under the same-scaled prize system that will have six payouts over the 1.5-hour session for the men and 4 payouts over the 1-hour session for the women. An additional prize known this year as “The Josh Malay” best trick (prize TBD) will be awarded for both the men’s and women’s best trick.Competitors40 Men – 15 WomenPrize moneyTop five riders for women and men will be awarded prize money at 15-minute intervals.The “Josh Malay” best trick for men and women (TBD).The prize money that will be awarded every 15 minutes is as follows:1st – $2,000.002nd – $1,000.003rd – $500.004th – $250.005th – $100.00Judges4 total judges will be provided by the IJC1 IJC Head judge (who oversees the judge’s scores)3 Pro rider judgesCompetition format* Open session – running order random on the rail course.* Sequence – men will have 1.5 hours to session the course and the women will have 1 hour.* Judges will compute a running total of the top five riders every 15 minutes.* For the men and women the top 5 riders will be awarded prize money every 15 minutes.* For the men and women the “Josh Malay” best trick will also be awarded.Competition flowDuring the rail session, the riders will take as many runs as possible or they feel necessary on any of the rails on the course. The start order at each rail will be in random order, based on who makes it back to the top of the rail and gets in line. A rider may elect to watch a couple runs or get right back to the action as soon as possible. The session will last 1.5 hours for the men and 1 hour for the women. The session starts when the first competitor drops onto a rail and ends when the last competitor has completed his or her run at the end of the time limit. It is possible a rider could take as many as 8-12 runs in the rail session.Computation of scoresThere will be a total of three judges. Judges will watch the whole course. Judges will write down all tricks and the judges will keep a running total of the top five riders during the competition via a magnetic leader-board. The Head Judge at 15-minute intervals will determine the overall top five riders from each of the judges magnetic leader-board and submit them into the official scoring. In addition, the judges will choose an overall “Josh Malay” best trick winner for both men and women.CriteriaEach ride of the rail will be evaluated by the following criteria. Trick Difficulty and Execution. Progression. VT By Chris BlackTom Boyd contributed to this story
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