Words: Pat Bridges
Cover photo: Mary T. Walsh
On April 6, 2021, Slush The Magazine broke the seal on our experiential event efforts by commencing the first ever Show Of Hands presented by Dakine at Big Bear Mountain Resort. The Show Of Hands is an amalgamation of snowboarding, inverts and poker. The rules and deck values of poker provide the basis for which various handplants of escalating difficulty are assigned to each card, and the competitors session in hopes of executing the corresponding inverts that will amount to the highest five-card poker hand. For example: a basic andrecht is a 2 of hearts and the layback is a 2 of clubs. Landing each of these tricks will give the rider a “pair,” and they are on their way.
In addition to assigning tricks to all 52 cards in a deck, Slush worked with Bear Mountain to erect an ideal platform to perform plants, complete with myriad transitions of various shapes and sizes. To up the ante, a handful of on-deck accoutrements, like the Liquid Death Tombstone and ten-foot high Dakine Wall, were peppered throughout the setup. With the format and features built, all that was left to make this an “official” event were the riders.
Ultimately, several dozen of the best inverters in America made it to Bear for the first ever Show Of Hands presented by Dakine. From the moment the cards were dealt it was all hands on deck, as everyone from Desiree Melancon to Iikka Backstrom was strategizing, extending, inverting and stomping. Within the first hour of Day 1 Reid Smith executed the most stylishly stalled eggplant of all time, only to be outdone thirty minutes later by Lenny Mazzotti extending a similar one above the Liquid Death Tombstone. From then on the stakes continued to climb.
With the card values ranging from the somewhat pedestrian 4 of diamonds sadplant to the seemingly impossible king of hearts Canadian bacon frontside invert, getting a full house or straight flush would be no easy feat.
Poker aside, the handplants that went down over the two-day session were insane. Lenny Mazzotti’s switch mandrechts on the Liquid Death tombstones were straight up mind-boggling, as were Brandon Davis’ switch frontside inverts. Jed Sky let his hoof breath and gave a one-foot invert clinic. Katie Kennedy got the crowd behind her with each drop as her bag of handplant tricks multiplied by the minute. Melissa Ritano owned eggplants and Desiree Melancon methodically picked apart the setup with a subdued blend of style and technicality. Justin Phipps’ soft-spoken and hard-charging approach made him a favorite of the photogs, while both Jack Wiley and Phil Hansen barged the lip with more aggression than most. Maxwell Scott, the web developer for Slushthemagazine.com, is arguably as good at dealing with coping as he is with coding, and he found the top of the Liquid Death tombstone plenty of times. Then there were the newcomers like Dillon Henricksen, Hunter Goulet and Jake Langston who showed up with something to prove—which they did, and then some.
Yet, the Show Of Hands presented by Dakine was more than a session; it was a showdown. As such, there were certainly a handful of riders who deserved to be recognized for rising above the rest. GoPro provided full Hero 9 setups to the male and female riders who put down the best plants on the Dakine Wall, and after an hour-long standalone heat in that zone, Jill Perkins’ textbook andrechts and Erik Leon’s torqued Japandrechts topped the session, easily deserving of the GoPro prize.
At the end of the day, the contenders retired to the Bear baselodge to sip some 10 Barrel Pub Beer, review their cards and build their hands. Despite strong showings from all of the ladies, Stefi Luxton’s two pair of a 2 of clubs Miller flip, 2 of diamonds sadplant, 6 of clubs stale eggplant and 6 of diamonds frontside invert was the best hand, earning her the $2000 prize for first place. For students of strongarm science, the winner for the men will come as no surprise. Yet in witnessing Scott Blum handplant in person, it is still startling how uncanny his invert awareness is. Like a degenerate gambler, Scott studied the cards all day, calculating his hands, picking apart the deck. His straight flush of 8 of clubs backside grab Elguerial, 9 of clubs switch backside andrecht, 10 of clubs sadplant Elguerial, jack of clubs Stalemasky grab Elguerial and Queen of clubs Elguerial mandrecht was unprecedented and easily enough to take home the $2000 pot.
Slush has to hand it to all of the riders who rallied to SoCal to support the Show Of Hands presented by Dakine, as well as everyone at Big Bear Mountain Resort, including Clayton, Ryan, Camille, Greg, Dan and the rest of the BBMR staff, park and operations team. The same goes for Kim and everyone at Big Bear Vacation Rentals. Furthermore we’d like to show our appreciation to the Show Of Hands sponsors, including Dakine, Ikon, 10 Barrel, GoPro, Liquid Death and Ikanik Farms, whose support ultimately is what made this gathering possible.
Lastly, keep checking the Slush channels to see what’s in the cards for the future, as there are more events to come. This is only the beginning.