Dave Zook is a sponsored Alta Snowboard Team Rider. Dave was kind enough to share his experiences at the first Masters of Snowboarding event held at Alpine Meadows, California on February 14th, 2013. Dave finished 26th in a field of 54 competitors.
To me the Masters is about having fun and pushing my abilities amidst a group of talented riders. I have done a few competitions in years past with limited success, but have an underlying confidence that on the right day I can hang with the big kids. I was hoping Tahoe would be that day.
On the first day at Alpine I had my inner amp-up reserves stored up for a 20-foot rock with a firm but acceptably steep landing. The goal was to stay conservative through the top section and cap the run off with a sizeable air, staying fluid throughout.
I dropped into the upper ice apron and squiggled and squirmed over the wind-scoured month-old snow. I found air 1, a four-foot drop to slick runout.
A four-foot air is admittedly small, but I have no trouble conceding that for me it was difficult to land any air on that steep of a venue and control the speed afterward. The difficulty lay in not simply landing the air but regaining composure without throwing the board on the heel edge and sliding for awhile, as doing so is not smooth, and runs the risk of washing out. Though the announcers kept saying “railing out” when this happened, which channeled my inner eighth-grader and made me giggle.
I dropped the first air and rode out, sliding but a little on my heel. I weaved over to air 2 which was about a foot bigger than air 1st. The same tactic here yielded the same result. While I could feel I wasn’t rocketing through the course like some (Matt Carter!), control was a nice thing to be able to fall back on to justify lack of berserk speed.
But one big rock still lay between myself and a cold beer. The in-run had a smoothed out and perfectly horizontal takeoff zone from everyone scraping it the day before. That’s nice, I thought, as I closed in on the lip. I remember wanting to drift from rider’s left to right in the air, so I could find the optimal transition, and not go too far and land in Nick Perata’s lap in the announcing booth.
The plan almost worked. My speed felt good, I found the grab and looked at the impending landing coming straight to the bottom of my feet. Only a few centimeters of board, a sturdy pair of boots and a pair of thin socks insulated my feet from the ruggedly firm snow. If memory serves me, which it probably doesn’t when trying to recollect thoughts from a free-fall, I was positioned to land on the mental X I had mapped out.
But, I came down with a tad too much weight centered over my front foot and tumbled. I’d anticipated the landing to be proper hardpack, but I think the snow gave way just a touch and tripped me up and over the handlebars. I tweaked my ankle and it hurt. I broke my board and that sucked. I didn’t land and wouldn’t get a great score and that pissed me off.
But like anything, perspective is key. It was a beautiful day in Cali, my home state and I was outside, and snowboarding. Friends were watching and supporting me, which counts for everything, more than I can express. In no time I was smiling and cheering on the rest of the riders. I had fun.