Breckenridge snowboarder Zach Black took a trip back in time Saturday, and found $3,500 along the way.
Black took home top honors in the first-ever Throwback Throwdown, a celebration of snowboarding history held at Breckenridge Saturday.
In addition to a normal competition on a standard (machine-made) 22-foot halfpipe, the Throwback Throwdown had help from a team of hard-working humans who constructed an exact replica of the original competition halfpipe built at Breck in 1986 out of two columns of snow boulders. Crude and unforgiving, the 6-foot throwback pipe was the true star of the show.
"It's just enjoyable," Black said of the throwback pipe. "It's a hard halfpipe to ride for sure and it gives you respect for the tricks people were doing back then."
Black said his favorite trick in the throwback pipe was second-place Dom Harrington's back rodeo at the top of the U-tube. In addition to the inverts, the day saw other newer tricks in the old-school pipe. A fresher trick - which competitors of today are currently experimenting with - is a simple drag of the hand during a maneuver in which it is difficult to keep the hand near the snow. Black thinks his drop-in at the top of the pipe, where he performed a hand drag front flip 360, helped him clinch the win.
"(In the throwback pipe), you can go over knuckles and do little hand drags," he said. "And that was the funnest thing I think I did all day."
Former US Snowboarding Team member Dylan Bidez said it was the most fun he's ever had at a competition, and it wouldn't have come together the way it did without Zach's brother, Jake Black.
"This event was all thought up by Jake Black," Bidez said. "It's the funnest event I've ever been in."
Jake Black and a team of 12 or so workers spent seven hours turning the two 6-foot columns of melded-together snow boulders into the pipe they rode on Saturday. Jake Black said the idea came to him and the rest of the organizers at Breck after they began discussing the development of halfpipe events over the years.
"We starting talking about how pipe events today were so fast-paced; they're not as emphasized in style as they were," Jake Black said. "We talked about bringing it back to that and developed a two-part pipe event with the 22-foot pipe and the hand-built pipe, covering almost thirty years of snowboarding and how it's developed from this hand-dug ditch to the 22-foot pipe."
Jake Black, 23, his brother, Zach, and Dylan Bidez, both 21, were on the younger end of the three generations of snowboarders represented, from 13-year-old Matt Cox to Chris Pappas, roughly 30 years Cox's senior.
Pappas, who competed in the original halfpipe competition in 1986, landed a flip and was the winner of the "Old Man" competition at the event, which included over-40 snowboarders like Steve Link, Andy Brewer and Michael Chapman. He said Saturday's halfpipe was very similar to the original.
"I'm really surprised with the way it turned out," he said. "I think I showed up two days early in 1986 to help dig the pipe. In that day, the riders would show up just to make sure that we had a pipe. Fortunately I've got to say a lot of thanks to the Breckenridge park crew, this time I didn't raise a shovel as I did in '86 ... Maybe we should make a requirement if you compete in this you need to dig for an hour."