By Stan Leveille
Composed of 10 separate walls of various sizes and textures built triumphantly beneath Bear Mountain’s Chair 4, the first annual Wallbangerz event by Dakine focused solely on wallrides. Despite the outside-the-wall approach to a contest, the event still offered a winner-take-all prize purse of $2,500 for both the men and women’s overall winners, as well as a custom engraved Nixon watch for the two riders who had the best time. Get it?
Ok, so you might be thinking, “What’s with the name?”
The “Harvey Wallbanger” is a cocktail with vodka, Galliano (similar to Sambuca) and orange juice. Legend has it that the drink was named after a surfer frequenting Antone's Blackwatch Bar in Los Angeles. Drink historians (yes, that’s a thing) have confirmed that a Galliano company commissioned a graphic artist to develop a "Harvey Wallbanger" scantily-clad surfer mascot in the late 1960s.
Using this as a loose inspiration, on March 17 and 18, Bear Mountain hosted the first annual Wallbangerz event presented by Dakine. Riders included Jaimee Deister, Taylor Elliot, Melissa Evans, Summer Fenton, Dillon Hendricksen, Mike Liddle, Stefi Luxton, Michael McDaniel, Myrie Metzger, Dylan Okurowski, Justin Phipps, Jed Sky, Jordan Small, Christine Savage, Jenise Spiteri, Jack Wiley and Max Warbington.
While Thursday was a practice day, the riders wasted no time in tackling tricks on coping we thought we might not see until finals. Justin Phipps and Dylan Okurowski were the first two riders to push the course to the limits, constantly landing coping tricks and switch tricks alike.
Dillon Hendricksen, who arrived late to practice directly from Mammoth, made quick work of attacking each feature in a calm, but massive, approach that often entailed a blunted slide on top of the wall’s coping.
Come finals day, we focused on four separate sections, with a 40-minute session on each area. First was the Dakine wall, a perfectly sized wall to start the contest and allow the riders to get a grasp on their full bag of tricks. Dillon Hendrickson was quick to air off the side of the wallride, hyping the rest of the field with this new approach.
Next came a double line featuring a six foot wall ride on either side of the trail. This is the first place Max Warbington started to show his prowess with one-footers, and Jack Wiley started moving on one of the cooler features of the day, a “floating” wall ride that was perched in a tree about five feet above the lip. Dylan Hendricksen again offered a surfy style on this feature unlike anyone else, Dylan and Phipps, who were a microcosm of energy, matching each other at each spot, continued to battle their respective tricks, a mix of handplants for Phipps, and a series of switch tricks.
After making quick work of the Liquid Death tombstone, and an impressive road gap session put on by Myrie Metzger and Koleman Lecroy, with a cameo from Russell Winfield, the pack moved their way to the top for the last session of the day.
The final showdown took place on Bear Mountain’s JP wall and cracked off around 2 pm. Summer Fenton lofted a massive backside 540 transitioning into the wall giving the riders the only real view of how a true halfpipe rider might attack this set up. Dylan Okurowski stepped to a backside 180 from a lower transfer that really solidified his dominance within the pack.
In the dwindling minutes of the contest, Max Warbington, a strong contender to take the win, took the opportunity to unstrap the hoof and put on a practically first try demo on various fast plant options. Jed Sky joined in the show, while on the ladies side, the full field continued hiking, perhaps partially in support of Stefi Luxton’s last-minute efforts toward an andrecht. Taylor Elliot put up some sizable andrechts as well, while Jack Wiley put down one of the most impressive frontside inverts I have ever seen in person.
When it was time to hand out the big checks, the winners of the day were Dylan Okurowski and Stefi Luxton. Each of them delivered a consistent array of tricks throughout the day, oftentimes leading the pack in the various sessions.
Our Nixon Best Time winners were Myrie Metzger and Melissa Evans. Myrie’s general disregard for his own safety that came complete with a smile on his face was reason enough for us. For Melissa Evans, her genuine excitement after bagging a trick on the various walls was infectious.
For a more tangible view of what went down, stay tuned for the video coming this week.