Mammoth Mountain not too long ago set the stage to host the US Grand Prix—the final US Olympic Snowboarding Staff Qualifier occasion earlier than the US Olympic Slopestyle Snowboarding Staff is introduced and athletes head off to the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Having hosted the Grand Prix greater than a dozen instances, Mammoth has run remaining qualifying occasions in 2014, 2018, and now in 2022.

A famed stomping floor for Olympians since 1998 (the primary yr the Olympics hosted Snowboard Halfpipe as an official occasion), Mammoth’s lengthy listing of snowboarding regulars contains Kelly Clark, Danny Kass, Tommy Czeschin, Shaun White, Greg Bretz, Jamie Anderson, Maddie Maestro, Chloe Kim, Pink Gerard, and now Dusty Henricksen. All can attest to Mammoth Mountain’s Unbound Terrain Parks setting the bar.


Aptly named Mammoth Mountain. The Superpipe and Principal Unbound Park (decrease left) is a main coaching floor for Olympic snowboarders.
Chris Wellhausen

 

The employees at Mammoth Mountain isn’t any stranger to being Olympic group gamers and pulling off Gold Medal performances below stress. Lower than a month earlier than the Grand Prix, snow sources had been low and got here means too near jeopardizing the chance to host these Olympic hopefuls.

“This yr marks the ninth US Grand Prix I’ve been part of to see the evolution of Slopestyle programs—and attempting to give you artistic methods to problem not solely the athletes but additionally the builders yr after yr is a particularly tall order,” says Scott Cherry, Mammoth’s Director of Slope Upkeep and the Unbound Terrain Parks, who provides that finally all of it comes all the way down to Mom Nature. “With such restricted sources, heat temperatures, and minimal snowmaking, we had been actually involved about with the ability to pull off an Olympic high quality occasion.”

Fortunately, the snow arrived simply in time—a number of it—over the past two weeks of December. “With 160 inches of snow and dealing 24/7, we had been capable of exceed our personal expectations and construct two venues worthy of internet hosting an Olympic high quality occasion,” says Cherry.

It took ten snowcats to construct the Grand Prix, 5 snowcats on the Superpipe, and one other 5 for the Slopestyle course. In accordance with Cherry, Mammoth labored 1,900 hours on the course builds. That included 12 Unbound park employees and 14 snowcat operators. There have been additionally consultations with the athletes themselves.

“The Unbound division has very private relationships with all of those athletes—and an open door coverage to encourage their suggestions,” says Cherry. “Brock Crouch and Dusty [Henricksen] helped us take a look at the programs, and all of us bought collectively to debate any needed modifications. Our product displays the relationships we now have with a few of the finest riders within the World. It’s extraordinarily rewarding to see our native riders achieve this nicely on an Olympic stage.”

Males’s Journal caught up with three of the most important names in US Olympic snowboarding throughout the intense lead-up to Beijing 2022 at Mammoth: Gold Medalist, Pink Gerard, who has been coaching at Mammoth most of his profession; Olympic rookie and Mammoth Lakes native, Dusty Henricksen; and three-time Superpipe Olympic Gold Medalist, Shaun White, who could possibly be headed to his fifth Olympics.

Close up of Red Gerard at the base of the slopes holding

Pink Gerard received the US Grand Prix Slopestyle—and was additionally acknowledged because the 2021-22 US Nationwide Slopestyle Champion.
Chris Wellhausen

Pink Gerard, 21, Silverthorne, CO
US Olympic Slopestyle Snowboarding Staff
Gold Medalist, 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

Males’s Journal: How does it really feel to be right here in Mammoth for the US Grand Prix?

Pink Gerard: Superior. Simply getting again within the circle with the whole lot that’s been occurring and all of the unknowns feels nice. Having contests deliberate and figuring out the place you’re gonna be all through the season is very large proper now—and being in Mammoth has all the time been cool. I grew up watching Brock Crouch, Gabe Ferguson, Judd Henkes, and all these guys using right here—you’d see them on the finish of the season right here hitting these big jumps. There’s all the time lots to do right here and a ton of development occurring.

Red Gerard performs a backside 270 over the chain links during his US Grand Prix run at Mammoth

Pink Gerard begins his successful run with a Bottom 270 over the chainlinks to the downbar.
Chris Wellhausen

 

You’ve already been by way of one Olympic ringer—pulled out with the very best success—and now you’re coming again to your second one. How does it really feel to be heading to Beijing because the reigning Gold Medalist for Olympic Slopestyle Snowboarding?

It feels good, to be sincere. Not a lot with the place we’re standing proper now with the virus, however apart from that I’m feeling actually good and able to go over there and snowboard my finest. I had such cool friends over the last Olympics. I actually had no clue what it was gonna be like, how massive it could be, all of the media and the whole lot else, and so they actually watched over me. The US group is a unique one this time, with new youngsters coming in. Now I need to be that man who they will put their belief in and ask me something in regards to the Olympics—as a result of they don’t actually educate you a lot about it entering into and it may be fairly stunning.

With all of that Olympic expertise behind you from 2018, do you have got any expectations for the Beijing Olympics?

PyeongChang [South Korea, 2018 Winter Olympics] was a very artistic course for its time. That was when the aspect hits had been actually beginning to come round. That course was in all probability one of many extra artistic Slopestyle programs I’ve snowboarded so far. I believe China and this yr’s Olympic Committee might be holding themselves to that customary at making a strong, artistic course. There’s been a take a look at occasion over there and I’ve talked to some mates who stated it was insane—simply large snow sculptures constructed. So I believe it is going to be fairly cool.

So far as our group goes, the is the strongest one I’ve ever seen for US Slopestyle. We had two months over in Europe early season the place I used to be always impressed. Each single particular person was studying a brand new trick. We had been all using always, pushing one another, feeding off one another in actually good methods. We’re all about the identical age going on this time, so I believe it’ll be a number of enjoyable. The actually cool factor over the previous two years has been seeing all of us develop. It’s about us, however additionally it is about this group, and we’re all supporting one another nonstop to the highest!

Red Gerard hugged by his father Conrad at the end of his winning run

A giant congratulatory hug from Pink Gerard’s dad, Conrad Gerard, on the finish of the run.
Chris Wellhausen

 

What do you like probably the most about Slopestyle?

The good half about Slopestyle is that you just by no means have the very same options in any contest. It’s all the time totally different. There might be transition options concerned, an array of jibs and rails, aspect hit take offs, and only a line of traditional jumps. If you’re going into to a Slopestyle competitors, you actually haven’t any clue what’ll present up till that first observe day. That’s the place I discover Slopestyle snowboarding so cool. You’re dealt no matter playing cards are given—and you then’re like, okay, nicely I do know perhaps this doesn’t actually go well with my using the most effective however I’ve to make one thing up so my run works on this course. The way in which I take a look at it, I take my time by way of it. We get chunk, two days, of time for observe, climate allowing. Earlier than going, I’ve concepts of methods that hopefully will work. After that, I look across the course, see what’s distinctive in a means that speaks to me, fits my using the most effective, and go from there.

Close up of snowboarder Dusty Henricksen at the base of Mammoth Mountain

Dusty Henricksen: The Mammoth Lakes-based, teenage snowboarder heads to his first Olympics in lower than a month
Chris Wellhausen

Dusty Henricksen, 18, Mammoth Lakes, CA
US Olympic Slopestyle Snowboarding Staff.

Dusty—you’re based mostly right here in Mammoth. It’s fairly the hub for breeding gifted Olympic snowboarders. How’s your season been to date?

Dusty Henricksen: It’s been enjoyable going to all of the contests. We’ve been form of getting labored with the climate however I can’t complain. We get to journey round and snowboard. It’s the life for positive and it by no means will get outdated. Yesterday in Mammoth was truly the most effective day I’ve had all season. It was phenomenal climate and we’re using on this superb Slopestyle course for the Grand Prix. It was so enjoyable.

You’ve snowboarded the world’s finest resorts and parks. What’s it about Mammoth and it’s Unbound terrain parks that pushes you to experience at peak stage?

That is the place my household moved [from Big Bear, CA] after I was about 12 as a result of I wanted to snowboard larger jumps. Till then, my dad was driving us up right here each single weekend to do the USASA contests. Mammoth just about in each means form or type is ideal for my part. With Principal Park particularly, It’s only one elevate and I like these laps. They’re quick. You might have loads of pace to do what it is advisable do on the jumps. Every thing is so massive and loopy, however it’s all fairly flowy so it really works nicely and isn’t too scary. Plus you have got the whole lot at your fingertips right here. Six terrain parks, plus superior freeriding terrain and large backcountry. No matter you need to do to get rad. Snowboarding Mammoth is a reasonably straightforward choice to make.

You battled it out on the Slopestyle tour to land on the Olympic Staff with such talent, expertise and magnificence. Talking of which, on the 2020 US Open of Snowboarding—how did you pull off that bottom Quad Cork 1800?

That was a final second choice, truthfully, I had no plans. I closed my eyes and I used to be simply was like—oh, I bought it. I used to be so baffled to get the 4th rotation round however I butt checked. I’d been doing Triple Corks all week and that was the one time I actually felt like I had sufficient airtime for the Quad Cork. Within the remaining spherical at The Open, I landed the entire run earlier than the final soar and felt it was Go Time. That was form of the deal for me.

Dusty Henricksen doing a hand drag pull back on Mammoth's rainbow rail during his US Grand Prix run

Dusty Henricksen throws down his signature trick—a Hand Drag Pull Again on Unbound’s rainbow rail
Chris Wellhausen

 

Have you ever accomplished one other as soon as since then?

No. I’m attempting to study different methods which can be just a little extra distinctive within the lesser levels whereas focusing extra on fashion. There’s so many different prospects of issues that may be accomplished earlier than 4 rotations.

Any particular snowboarders who impressed you to push for the rostrum in Slopestyle?

I grew up trying as much as the folks I rode with in Large Bear. That was Lucas Magoon and Chris Bradshaw. They had been the heavies, the massive canines on campus. I rode with Bear Mountain’s Sunday within the Park crews at any time when I might. They had been tremendous welcoming and needed to assist me study as a lot as I might. After we moved to Mammoth, contests kicked in, after which it was my mates Judd Henkes & Brock Crouch who had been my mentors. They had been doing the Slopestyle factor. I really feel the explanation I converted was as a result of I used to be using Slope one season, discovered a bunch of double cork spins, and was super-stoked.

How about snowboarding with Pink Gerard on Staff USA?

Pink is the person. He’s been an idol of mine ever since first watching him snowboard. He’s achieved a lot so early on in his profession—and that’s what motivated me to make it to the Olympics by age 18. He’s helped unlock so many prospects in my thoughts about snowboarding. Being on the group with Pink is nothing however nice instances and good vibes!

In a nutshell, what does the prospect to symbolize US Slopestyle Snowboarding imply to you?

It’s been one among my goals since I began this complete mission after I was 5. I by no means actually believed it till current years, however that’s all the time been the objective. These USASA contests certified me for the Rev Tour. Then the Rev Tour superior me into the World Cup. And now to be going to the Olympics is tough to consider. Once I’m on the flight to China, I believe that’s when it’ll hit me. It’ll be wild to carry out on that stage and attain that quantity of individuals particularly from a profession standpoint. Shaun [White] has been capable of make a full profession out of it. He’s a brilliant good man, and residing massive. He created that for himself and I actually look as much as him in the way in which he managed his complete profession. I really feel super-blessed to be going to the Olympics.

Snowboarder Shaun White stands at the top of the run

Shaun White goals to symbolize Staff USA at his fifth Olympics. “I had a bizarre begin to the season … and it’s been a whirlwind since then.”
Chris Wellhausen

Shaun White, 35, San Diego, CA.
Three-Time Olympic Superpipe Gold Medalist

Shaun—you’ve been to 4 Olympics; Torino 2006, Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014, PyeongChang 2018. You’re nonetheless battling to your likelihood to experience within the Olympics for a fifth time. How is snowboarding going for you lately?

Shaun White: I had a bizarre begin to the season on the US Grand Prix at Copper Mountain in December—having to cope with these first competitors nerves that we fake to not have. It wasn’t the most effective, however I did accrue some factors. Transferring onto the following contest, I used to be tremendous fired up for the Dew Tour occasion earlier than the vacations. Issues had been going nice, my observe runs had been on level—after which within the Finals observe I broke a binding. We switched to a brand new pair. Then I felt one other crack in my binding. This by no means occurs and it occurred twice, which simply form of threw me. Finally, I used to be left to deal with my third run, asking myself—“What’s most necessary proper now? Go for the win by placing in a riskier run or put down one thing strong, get some factors, and transfer on to the following.” I got here along with my US Snowboarding coaches JJ Thomas and Mike Jankowski on the high of the pipe and we went with the latter. Bur at any time when I’m holding again, it’s by no means pretty much as good as after I’m going for it. Since then, It’s been a whirlwind. Mammoth was presupposed to be the final Olympic qualifier occasion technically, however apparently now the Laax Open in Switzerland could have bearing on who’ll be on the US Olympic Superpipe group. This final Grand Prix is a significant one for the US however it’s good to know there’s one other likelihood.

Is your mindset any totally different lately—battling for a place on the US Staff for Beijing 2022 in comparison with being a lock main as much as Olympics previous?

My objective is the Olympics. It doesn’t matter to me how I get there, so long as I get to the place I’m going and do what I need to do. Once I was youthful, if I misplaced a single occasion it was the tip of the world to me. Now, I’ll take the third and transfer on. I’m simply getting what I want. This isn’t the massive day. This isn’t the massive present. That can occur in China. I need to peak after I get there.

You’ve had a number of enjoyable and success in Mammoth’s Superpipe. What units this place aside?

It’s Mammoth—we love Mammoth! It simply looks like dwelling courtroom right here. That is my turf, the place I grew up using, and y’know sleeping in a van within the parking zone to only nonetheless being right here and competing. There are a number of roots right here. I even owned a part of the mountain for awhile. Mammoth is only a particular place, and I’m enthusiastic about being right here. Frank Wells is chopping the Superpipe and he did a very good job. We’re all trying ahead to getting in there to snowboard.

Shaun White in his first run in Qualifiers at Mammoth

Shaun White in his first run throughout Qualifiers.
Chris Wellhausen

What are you seeing elevate the development in Superpipe snowboarding? Methods? Type?

I’m all the time attempting to push the envelope to do one thing new. Doing the 1440s continues to be actually arduous. Riders are nonetheless struggling to grasp these methods, and do it of their runs. I’m fairly positive two 1440s and two 1260s within the final Olympic run would have received these competitions, or no less than taken second place. The development has moved however it hasn’t dramatically jumped. Clearly with the triples it’s actually unimaginable—one thing I attempted in 2013, and the primary try didn’t go so nicely. I got here again, tried it like three extra instances, and bought near dialing it in. Then a fellow competitor does a DoubleCork 14. Okay, nicely, why go triple when you’ll be able to form of do that double and it’s the identical quantity of spinning? I imply clearly doing the triple is insane, and it’s the place the game’s going, however it’s important to put in a run, below stress, when it counts and that’s not straightforward to do. I keep in mind having seasons the place I used to be attempting the brand new massive trick and saved falling whereas everybody else saved successful as a result of I used to be going for one thing new. I believe going massive, doing clear methods, and touchdown easily on the partitions—all these issues nonetheless come into play.

What sort of coaching routine retains you match for this stage of competitors?

Numerous folks suppose it’s about going loopy within the health club. I don’t actually really feel it’s about that. It’s about discovering a consistency. I didn’t notice that for some time as a result of I used to hate the health club. I’d go in there with a coach and suppose I’ve to beat myself up. I’d be so sore the following day to go skate or surf. I wouldn’t have the opportunity do the issues that I needed to do for enjoyable. I noticed Should you even have an ideal coach who eases you into it with lighter exercises to construct up power over time, it helps with different issues in life. I believe refined course corrections can get you to the place you’re going and obtain greater than you suppose. You don’t should make this dramatic change, however simply know that you just’re going to keep it up. The most important change for me is simply to constantly work out.

 

After having a number of Olympic experiences What does one other shot on the Olympics imply to you now?

I’ve clearly been there, accomplished it, and did it repeatedly. It’s been superb. I believe it’s one thing particular simply to go to the Olympics, be an Olympian, and play part of historical past. The truth that I can doubtlessly go once more is superb. It’s just like the Rocky films. He doesn’t win the primary time. It’s all about who he turns into. It’s all in regards to the journey. Additionally, it’s the Olympics, so that you simply really feel such as you’re a part of this larger factor. In snowboarding there’s no group actually—till you go to the Olympics and now you be a part of not solely the remainder of the snowboarding group however your entire U.S. Staff. All of those people who find themselves finest in what they do. You’re part of that group, sporting the identical outfit. I’ve simply associated it to films. It’s like that scene the place the astronauts are strolling out. Like Bruce Willis in Armageddon heading out to save lots of the planet. It kinda looks like that. It’s simply such a enjoyable expertise.


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