Aguirre, Guldemond rock the rails
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL ” It took Molly Aguirre a little while to warm up, but once she got her bearings, the tricks kept coming and coming at the Session on Friday night in Vail.
Aguirre put on a solid display to edge out Jamie Anderson in the rail jam at the base of Golden Peak. Breckenridge’s Leslie Glenn tied Amaike Izumi for third.
“I didn’t place at all in the first round,” said Aguirre, who was second last year and won the contest two years ago. “I kind of put it behind me, and I was seeing so many girls throw down that I was getting so amped. I started to feel it and connect.”
In the final three 15-minute intervals of the hourlong jam session, Aguirre used her smooth-riding skills along with some Session experience to rake in the cash.
“I knew the key to this contest is hitting everything and showing the judges you can do it all,” she said. “I remember a couple years ago, I was kind of stuck on this one feature and I didn’t place high ” I think I was fourth ” and the judges said, ‘You need to move around the area a little bit.’ That’s what I tried to do this year, put a couple runs together.”
Aguirre impressed the judges plenty, as she was awarded the second-best trick in the second interval and then the top trick in the final two intervals, along with the Malay Factor for the best overall trick, giving her $6,500.
For the first 30 minutes, Anderson ruled the giant terrain park, laying down the top tricks. Anderson, who won a gold medal at this year’s Winter X Games two weekends ago in slopestyle and was second at last year’s Session, used a good powder run early Friday as some mental preparation.
“Riding powder earlier made me realize how fun snowboarding is and how stoked I am to be able to do something I enjoy doing,” said Anderson, who picked up $4,550. “It’s so rad. I love snowboarding. I get to travel around and compete. It’s so amazing, and I’m grateful. This is a crazy different type of snowboarding, but it’s cool.
“I like everything. I get too bored if I’m in pipe all the time or (doing slopestyle) all the time. I like to mix it up and do a little bit of everything. Get me on a board and I’ll have fun.”
Aguirre, a versatile snowboarder like Anderson, enjoys the Session as a change of pace in her riding.
“I ride a lot of pipe contests and this is so different,” Aguirre said. “For me to come here and do a rail contest … and do a format like this, it’s so fun and different to get out of the pipe for a bit.”
With her mom cheering her on, and her boyfriend DJing in the VIP tent, Glenn slid her way to $1,300.
“I was having a lot of fun and trying a new line, and it worked out,” she said. “Being such a creative event, you are just figuring it out and challenging your own riding. To come away with money and a podium finish ” I’m so stoked.”
From his first run, it was apparent that Chas Guldemond just was on.
Guldemond dissected the course, placing in the money in all four intervals to take home the men’s rail title along with $6,500.
“I just went in it having fun and came out on top,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. I tried to mix it up. It’s just like a skate park ” you want to hit everything and get a clean line. That’s what they like to see.”
Guldemond found success on a plastic quarterpipe, executing a perfect McTwist (a 540 with a flip).
Much like Aguirre, Scotty Arnold used other riders’ performances to spark his own.
“Watching people do some good tricks motivated me to go land some good stuff,” said Arnold, who had the top tricks in the two middle intervals to take $5,000 and second place.
“I didn’t understand the money; I was just trying to land something,” he said.
Friday’s jam was Arnold’s first contest this season.
“I’ve been filming a bunch for Grenade,” Arnold said. “My sponsors and team manager made me come out here, and I said, ‘I don’t want to do a contest,’ but I actually had a lot of fun and it was cool.”
Scot Brown was third with $3,500, while Michael Casanova picked up the Malay Factor. Casanova, along with a few other competitors, arrived in Vail on Friday after competing in the Central Park Winter Jam on Thursday night in New York City.
Last year’s second-place finisher Pat Milbery showed that his creativity goes beyond snowboarding when he presented the framed Malay Factor awards, which honors Vail rider Josh Malay, who died four years ago in a snowboarding accident.
“(Josh’s) cousin Tyler and I created this award for him,” Milbery said. “We used some of Josh’s old artwork as the backdrop.”
Milbery picked up $750 in the final interval, while T.J. Schneider, who tied Milbery for second last year, got some big air off the 35-foot hip and then did a butt slide to take home $1,000.
Local riders Rick Rodriquez (Eagle) and Bryan Daino (Edwards) qualified for the 20-rider finals.
“That was all I wanted to do,” said Daino, who finished the afternoon qualifier in eighth. “I was sitting in third until about an hour left. (In the finals) I just knew I had to step up my game, and I went for bigger tricks. I was trying (540s) over the transfer quarterpipe, and it was hard to land that.”
The Session continues today with the men’s slopestyle finals from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. The event also will be streamed live online at http://www.sessionvail.com
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.