The Showcase Showdown has gone through a lot of changes in its 12 years, from halfpipe to quarterpipe to rail jam to pipestyle to the latest incarnation of backyard slopestyle. From the start the mission has been to challenge and entertain, and Saturday's backyard slopestyle accomplished both with a course at the base of Whistler Mountain.
The course had a series of jumps - tables, gaps, hips - with rails, boxes and barrels mixed in for good measure. Riders were judged on two runs with only the best run counting.
The women went first, and at the end of two runs Caley Vanular was the new champion. She scored a 26.8 on her first run to rank second behind Molly Milligan, but her second run score of 31.3 was the best-scored run of the day.
"I think I was just really consistent," said Vanular. "I landed everything, and I think my runs flowed pretty well.
"I'm not really a contest winner, and there were a lot of bigger names out there, like Molly. At the end the guys were telling me that I won, and I said 'no way,' so it was really cool to hear my name at end."
Vanular is relatively new to competition, and preferred the low-key atmosphere of the backyard slopestyle format to the amped up pipestyle event from last year.
"It was just way more fun," she said. "There was no pressure, it was seriously like taking laps through the Whistler park with my friends. It felt great."
Vanular is feeling more confident after the event. She has a few more events on her radar this year, including the Volcom Peanut Butter and Rail Jam Championships at Mammoth, but says she is open to anything. Next year she'd like to compete in the Canadian Open slopestyle, and the Roxy Chicken Rail Jam at Mammoth.
The younger sister of pro skier Corey Vanular, Caley rides for Electric, Volcom, Union, Capita, Nixon, Celtek, Frontline and The Circle.
In second place was Milligan with a score of 28.7, followed by Claudia Avon with a 26.4. The top three riders earned $750, $500 and $250 respectively.
On the men's side it was a game of attrition with two rounds of qualifiers before the finals. Andrew Burns took the win with a score of 30.8, followed closely by Rusty Ockeneden's score of 30.5. Mike Osachuk was third with a 27.0.
Burns is similar to Vanular, in that he rarely enters contests.
"To be honest I just ride whatever's the best that day, whether it's the park, or powder on the mountain, or if the conditions are good I'm in the backcountry," he said. "This year hasn't been the best for the backcountry so I've been riding more park, which kept me on my toes for the contest.
"I'm not a big contest rider. I just do the ones that I know are going to be fun and have buddies doing them with me. The most fun I could have had that day was to ride the Showcase Showdown with my buddies."
Burns favourite trick of the day was a backside cab 540 over one of the barrels, although he says his 270 over the rail gap was probably more of a crowd pleaser.
When asked what set his run apart from the others, Burns said he just tried to be different.
"I think I was trying to do more technical tricks, and I was doing different tricks than everyone, which I think might have helped out as well," he said. "I was super stoked on the whole concept, I loved the format... and all of the features were really fun."
Burns rides for Capita, 32, Etnies, Dragon, Union, Capix, Annum and Top of the World.
He hasn't committed to any other contests this season, but would like to compete at the Grenade Games during the Telus Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival.
The top three men earned $2,000, $1,000 and $500 respectively.
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