This past weekend, a 30-foot high inflatable Vans HI Standard boot was standing tall in the middle of a trail at the base of Brighton Resort's, Mount Millicent. It was located on Vans Hi-Standard course right besides the last rail portion of the course. It was jibed on, flipped over, and bashed against. It withstood the never-ending snowfall and the high-speed wind gusts. It only deflated once, for 30 seconds, before the Vans team rushed over and blew it back up. Steve Van Doren, the founder of Vans, was giving one-hundred-dollar bills to the riders using the boot as a feature. When I think about it, that 30-foot inflatable boot can be a metaphor for Vans in snowboarding; it is filled to the brim with love, hard work, and passion for the sport.. and it is not going anywhere, no matter the weather or the bodies bashed against it. It was obvious that the people and vision behind Vans care SO MUCH about snowboarding and people who love it. Over the course of this event, I learned that the Vans HI Standard boot is the longest running snowboard boot franchise in the company's history and that Vans knows how to throw the perfect snowboard party.
Vans Hi-Standard Snowboard Series is an all-inclusive international snowboard event that is free and for all-ages. It showcases and rewards creativity and style; open-jam format, no rotations over 720. After a 3 year hiatus (due to COVID), the Hi-Standard snowboard series returned and came to Brighton Resort in Utah. Brighton locals and Vans Pros, Jill Perkins and Parker Szumowski were spearheading the course design. They wanted to bring this event to their home mountain and work with a resort that celebrates and supports snowboarders. Jill and Parker worked closely with Brighton Park staff to create a flow park that would allow for style, creativity, and fun. The course included some BMX jumps, a QP/Wallride option, a rainbow box, smaller QPS, another jump, a DFD, two downbars with a stair set, and a butter box transfer option. The opportunities were limitless. The layout and design that started as a sketch on Jill’s iPad, came to life and was ready to ride on Friday, March 3rd for the Open Division portion of Vans Hi-Standard.
Open Division is the day for 100 riders to come ride the course and compete for the top 4 MVP spots. The top riders from the Open Division would move on to Pro Division the following day. The riders were getting their lift tickets and numbers while the Vans event team was making waffles and hosting boot demos. Before I even had a chance to finish my waffle, the eager and enthusiastic riders were already hiking to the top of the course. Not only were these riders competing for a top spot, the Vans team was giving out cash for tricks. Do a cool trick, get cash. The Open Division riders were ripping through the course, landing tricks, and filling their pockets with Van Doren dollars. When the heats were over, we had lunch, and moved onto the Best Trick battle on the rails. After hours of fun, progression, and high-level riding, the day was over and the judges had to make the decisions on the 4 MVPS, Best Tricks Winners, and the Dillon Ojo Award. Before Steve Van Doren would help me hand out awards, we did a stunt double skit where a Pro Rider ollied the Hi-Standard sign in Steve’s jacket. It was a perfect way to wrap up the day.
The 4 MVPS were Veda Hallen, Joey Fava, Callie Carman, and Malem McDaniel. The Best Trick award and five hundred dollars were given to Xander Cornaby and Rorie Avelar. Joey Fava went home with the honorable Dillon Ojo award for being the rider with the most spirit, kindness, and passion.
The Pro Divisions rider list was impressive to say the least. Some of the best snowboarders from all over the world were coming to ride Jill and Parker’s course. The list of riders included: Casey Pflipsen, Dan Liedahl, Egan Wint, Bryn Valaika, Griffin Seibert, Jake Kuzyk, Jill Perkins, Mike Rav, Louif Paradis, Naima Antolin, Robby Meehan, Quinn Ellul, Stefi Luxton, Taylor Davies, Riley Nickerson, Benny Urban, Lily Calabrese, Darrel Mathes, Jacob Krugmire, Ivika Jurgensin, Jed Andersoin, Juliette Pelchat, Justin Phipps, Kennedi Deck, Reid Smith, Spencer Schubert, Sierra Forchheimer, Tommy Gesme, and Melissa Rittano. The main purpose these Pros came to the Vans Hi-Standard Series was to celebrate snowboarding and get together with their friends. The secondary purpose was to win the cash prize of $10K.
With the insane snow season Utah has been having, it was no shock that it was dumping. That did not stop the riders from going all out in the event. We started with the cash for tricks jam. The judges and Vans team were giving out more Van Doren Dollars for tricks done properly with style. These riders are the definition of style. It was basically a clinic on how to do every snowboard trick. The viewers were front row for one of the greatest shows ever put on in snowboarding.
After lunch, the riders were properly warmed up and ready for scene 2 of their performance; the heats. They would be judged on 3 top to bottom runs based on style and creativity. The judges; Desiree Melancon, Mikey LaBlanc, Mike Bogs, and Danny Kass had their work cut out for them. How do you decide the top riders out of this group? The snowy and windy conditions were definitely a challenge for the riders but you could barely tell. Everyone was ripping. After the two heats, the finalists were announced. All 11 females, and the top 11 males, were to have a final jam on the bottom section. 30 minutes, overall performance, $10K on the line.
After a 30-minute, high-intensity jam, the judges decided on the top dogs. Jed Anderson won for the Men and Jill Perkins for the Women. The Dillon Ojo Award was given to Spencer Schubert. Watch edit from Justin Meyer for evidence!
Thank you Vans for putting together this event series. This is an event snowboarders dream about. Next stop: LAXX!