words: Brendan Hart
photos: Mike Azevedo and T. Bird
captions: T. Bird
In its long history, Boston has witnessed its fair share of spectacles. But a US Snowboarding Grand Prix event in Fenway Park with a $75,000 cash purse was, well, a whole different ball game.
There has been a lot of hype around the proportions of the ramp for the Polartec Big Air on the Sox’s hallowed turf. In truth, the kicker did not have an exorbitant gap, but the ramp itself was undeniably gargantuan. The Green Monster, cowering in its corner, was sufficiently emasculated by the centerfield colossus. On the first day of practice Ty Walker fractured her T7 vertebrae on the hulking structure. After qualifying for finals, Sage Kotsenburg was warming up with a frontside 900 nose grab off the toes. He caught the knuckle, then his edge, splintering his helmet, and had to sit out of the event. Two Olympians sidelined. This jump was no joke.
On February 11, 2016, Big Air made its Beantown debut. Bostonians flooded their beloved ballpark, hoping to have their expectations exceeded, and, let’s be honest, see slams at their grandest. They were all swaddled in numerous layers of clothing—yellow B’s, shamrocks, and twin red stockings were common motifs. Each heavily clothed human served as a reminder that Boston is a city that has a deep love for sports. And that it was really fucking cold. But despite the below-freezing atmosphere, on Thursday night Fenway Park was seething with gusto. By the beginning of finals practice, emcees Nelson Wormstead and Preston Strout had brought the crowd to a boil. When the riders began warming up, the sea of onlookers was already entranced, becoming more orchestra than audience, responding with roaring crescendos after watching each electrifying hit. Decibel-wise, it was as if every trick were a home run.
After a chilling, if not freezing, rendition of the national anthem, the competition kicked off at 8:00 pm. Six women and nine men had earned spots in the finals from the qualifier events that were held earlier in the day. The riders had three runs to put down a minimum of two different tricks. Their two best hits would be combined to form their final score.
As Fenway is a place of baseball, therefore dominated by men, it was a special occasion for women’s sports. The ladies delivered, sending a solid assortment of spins and flips through the Boston night air. Canadian Brooke Voigt snagged third place with a backside and frontside 360, and her compatriot Jenna Blasman took second with a frontside 360 and a backside 720.
Julia Marino, an 18-year-old from Connecticut, who has close ties with Boston, originally came to the event as a forerunner, not officially part of the competition. In a mixture of luck, fate, and talent, Julia got a spot to compete and ended up winning the whole shebang with a cab underflip and a bottom-of-the-landing backflip. A Cinderella story—only a lot more badass.
The men of the night also gave Boston much to drink beer about. 28-year-old NH native Chas Guldemond was a favorite throughout the contest, engaging the crowd in an interactive dialogue. Chas said, “It’s East Coast. One of the best crowds, for sure. It’s all my people.” Guldemond put down a cab doublecork 1260 stalefish and on his final hit, called his shot, pointing to the skyline with Babe Ruth-like poise, and then batted a backside 1080 mute insultingly past the sweet spot. The crowd respectfully flipped their shit.
Canadian Mikey Ciccarelli finished just ahead of Chas, also stomping a cab double cork 1260 and a huge backside double cork 1080 indy. The big winner of the Polartec Big Air was 21-year-old Quebecois Max Parrot, who put down a crisp cab double cork 1260 mute and a backside triple cork 1440, which caused the entire stadium to exhale in one great sigh of holy crap.
Here are the full results.
1st – Max Parrot
2nd – Mikey Ciccarelli
3rd – Chas Guldemond
4th – Seppe Smits
5th – Jonas Boesiger
6th – Mons Roisland
7th – Eric Beauchemin
8th – Lyon Farrell
9th – Michael Schaerer
10th – Sage Kotsenburg
1st – Julia Marino
2nd – Jenna Blasman
3rd – Brooke Voigt
4th – Spencer O’Brien
5th – Jessika Jenson
6th – Karly Shorr
Read the full Big Air in Boston: Snowboarding hits it out of the park at the Fenway Big Air article on Snowboarder Magazine.