Breckenridge Throwback Throwdown celebrates 30 years of snowboarding |

Breckenridge Throwback Throwdown celebrates 30 years of snowboarding

Sebastian Foltz
Breckenridge local Brett Esser reaches for the method grab at the 2015 Throwback Throwdown. Esser won best method at the competition.
Sebastian Foltz / |

Long before there was a machine-cut, Olympic-sized superpipe or world-renowned terrain park, there was a 6-foot hand-dug halfpipe. For 30 years since that first pipe in the winter of 1984-85, there has been snowboarding at Breckenridge. The resort was one of the first to allow it that winter.

On Saturday, Breckenridge celebrated that long-standing snowboarding heritage with its fourth annual Throwback Throwdown competition.

Pro snowboarders who spanned the mountain’s entire snowboarding history took to the slopes to compete in the two-part event, which featured runs in both the 22-foot-high superpipe and a hand-dug halfpipe that replicated Breck’s first one.

“I’m really proud they did it,” former snowboard pro Chris Pappas said. Pappas, now in his early 50s, competed in the World Snowboard Championships at Breckenridge in 1986. Looking up at Breck’s terrain park, filled with skiers and snowboards alike hitting the features, he added, “It really started with snowboarding. We fought so hard to get it.”

“It’s probably the best contest we do all year. There’s really no consequence.”Brett EsserBreckenridge local and Dew Tour veteran

Saturday’s competition featured current X Games- and Olympic-level snowboarders as well as some of the sport’s legends like Pappas in the “Old Dudes” bracket.

For today’s pros — like top women’s snowboarder Arielle Gold, who grew up in groomed, well maintained halfpipes — the throwback pipe offered an added challenge.

“I have no idea what I’m doing in there,” the 18-year-old X Games and Olympic veteran said, laughing, after a practice run.

“I feel like an idiot,” she said with a smile.

But it was a challenge she and the other pros readily embraced in the jam-formatted afternoon portion of the competition.

With all the pressure of the season off his shoulders, Breck local and Dew Tour veteran Brett Esser said, “It’s probably the best contest we do all year.” And the slushy, 6-foot throwback pipe is a fun change of pace. “There’s really no consequence.”

Fellow Breck local and X Gamer Benji Farrow agreed. “It’s way more fun than competing in a 22-foot pipe,” he said, mainly because the stress of a regular-season contest was off. As to whether their skills in a 22-foot pipe translated to the throwback version, current Dew Tour champion Taylor Gold said, simply, “You can be sick at pipe and suck at this.”

Gold, 21, still managed to finish third in the “Young Dudes” division behind fellow Colorado pros Brock Waring and Matt Ladley.

Taylor’s sister Arielle — coming off a third-place finish at the Burton U.S. Open in Vail earlier this month — took second in the women’s competition behind her Red Bull teammate Sarka Pancochova of the Czech Republic.

Breck snowboarding legend Todd Franzen took the top spot in the “Old Dudes” competition, followed by Chad Otterstrom and Jim Smith.

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