White rules the rails again
VAIL – Call it the Shaun White Session.On Friday, White laid claim to his third straight win at The Session by grabbing the most cash at the men’s rail jam.With a flurry of crowd-pleasing runs, highlighted by a frontside 900 on the quarterpipe followed by a frontside 450 onto a table and a 270 onto the lower rail, White collected $9,500.Oh, and White’s only rails practice came in the past two days.”I didn’t know what to expect because there were so many good guys here,” White said. “I haven’t ridden rails this year at all because it’s been an Olympic year, so it’s all halfpipe.”Travis Rice had the second-most lucrative evening in the men’s rails, bringing in a $4,350 check. And Pat Milbery earned $2,600 to round out the top three.In the hour and a half of non-stop riding, competitors threw down tricks ranging from McTwists to 540 alley-oop rodeos to double Japan grabs on the pipe and every slide imaginable on the rails, including the infamous butt slide.With riders getting a feel for the course in their first three runs, the money lead changed hands. (Every 15 minutes, the judges awarded money for what they deemed the best tricks. As the session progressed, the judges awarded money based on variety of riders’ tricks.)
About halfway through the evening, White regained the money lead and wouldn’t relinquish it.”I knew I wasn’t in first anymore, so I knew I had to step it up,” White said of his 900 to frontside 450 to 270 frontside. “It’s what you’ve gotta do in a contest like this. I’ve never done either of those tricks before.”One of White’s other runs featured a McTwist on the quarterpipe followed by a nose slide into a tail slide on a rail. And even when White looked like he was taking it easy, he still pulled unique tricks, like switching from the bus stop rail to the S-curve rail, a 5-foot horizontal gap. GnarliscousEveryone was positive that when Milbery landed his gravity-defying rail trick of 360 onto the bus stop rail followed by a board slide into a 360 on the mid-rail finished off by a 50/50, he had captured the “Malay Factor” award for best trick. He did.”I was just thinking gnar, gnar gnar,” Milbery said of his run. “The trick really goes against your momentum, but I pulled it off.”The gracious, happy-go-lucky Milbery was happy to have won the best-trick award for its namesake, Josh Malay.
Milbery had been good friends with Vail’s Malay, who died two years ago in a snowboarding accident.”Josh’s mom called me this morning and told me to do it for Josh,” Milbery said. “(The trick) is totally what Josh would want. He was the type of kid who when he went against Shaun White, he’d pull a trick that blew everyone’s mind. I thought, ‘Why not pull another one that blows everyone’s mind?'”There was a huge smile on Milbery’s face, but he knew it wasn’t the only one.”I felt that high-five from Josh as soon as I landed it. I felt it, and saw (his) smile, and it made my world.”Bag of tricksMinturn’s Dylan Bidez grabbed what was likely the most air off the quarterpipe.Robbie Bak made good use of the 4-foot extension on top of the pipe, twice riding up it and going into a handplant.
While several riders pulled stalls on the quarterpipe, Keegan Valaika stayed at the top of the park bench, spinning a 180.And Danny Davis was one of the few riders to pull a trick on the ascent up the path that led to the quarterpipe, nailing a backflip. Davis also laid claim to an alley-oop rodeo.On the whole, riders were pleased with the format of The Session, which allowed riders to squeeze in tons of runs and rewarded competitors for specific tricks as well as overall performance.”It’s really cool because you can get money every time,” Rice said.Rounding out the top five money winners were TJ Schneider in fourth with $2,200 and Kevin Pearce and Chad Otterstrom, who tied for fifth with $1,000 each.The action continues today with the slopestyle competition kicking off at 6:15 p.m.Vail, Colorado