Different approaches yield same results 

Close friends, new pals team up for Gibbons Style Session wins

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - Under the lights Men's winners Tyler Nicholson (left) and Evan McEachran (right) fly off the pipe in the finals of Gibbons Style Session on April 16.
  • Photo by Dan Falloon
  • Under the lights Men's winners Tyler Nicholson (left) and Evan McEachran (right) fly off the pipe in the finals of Gibbons Style Session on April 16.

Spencer O'Brien and Kaya Turski have a history with each other on the mountains.

Tyler Nicholson and Evan McEachran, not so much.

But whether the teams were old friends or new, both scored a victory in the inaugural Gibbons Style Session on Whistler Mountain on April 16.

The 19-year-old McEachran said he was glad to join Nicholson to create a strong entry for the contest.

"I heard about this event awhile ago and I was looking for a partner," he said, noting Nicholson got in touch with him to team up. "We linked up to make a team for this event and I was really stoked to ride with him. He's a really good rider and he's done really well this year. The setup was super fun, the crowd was sick and it worked out with me today."

For his part, snowboarder Nicholson said he chatted with some of McEachran's national team coaches, discovered he was one of the top partners available, and locked him down sight unseen.

"I never got to ride with him, but he's pretty good," he said. "He was the guy I wanted to pick, so I picked him."

The pair put up a final score of 177.5 to claim a winner-take-all team prize of $8,000 when all was said and done. The women's winners of skier Turski and snowboarder O'Brien took home their own $8,000 prize with their 147 score.

Turski said after the competition that when she first heard about the event, her thoughts immediately turned to O'Brien.

"When I was told about the rail jam, I thought of Spencer right away. She's a local. She's great at snowboarding, so I asked her first. We made a team and I think we made a great team," she said.

O'Brien, the 2013 FIS world champion in slopestyle and five-time Winter X Games medallist, appreciated the chance to compete with Turski, an eight-time Winter X Games gold medallist.

"I've known Kaya forever and obviously respect her skiing so much, so it was really cool to be really accomplished athletes and then have to work together," she said. "It was fun, we landed all our runs, so I'm really happy about that."

The pair was actually third of five after qualifying, but as the lone team to land its finals run, they easily bested the runner-up duo of Maria Thomson and Maude Raymond, which tallied 94.5.

"Kaya, I think, definitely had the most technical ski trick and I just tried to be nice and stylish, so hopefully that paid off for the judges," O'Brien said.

The Nicholson-McEachran duo went wire-to-wire as the leaders after qualifying before scoring a convincing win by 28.5 points over runners-up Jarrad McCarl and Ryan Manning.

McEachran said sitting with a target on their backs was difficult, but he and Nicholson pulled it off.

"In the finals, it was a little intimidating because we were last to drop and you only had one shot to land, so there was a lot of pressure on us for that," he said. "The combination of our flips and spins off — Tyler spun on and then did a back rodeo off as well and I did a cork 810 off, so I think the combination of that and being synchronized worked out well in the judges' eyes."

Turski, who once called Whistler home, was thrilled to be back, especially as a raucous crowd of revellers packed Skier's Plaza and braved a rainy evening to see the show.

"It was so cool to be back, feel the crowds, rain or shine, it felt really great. Everyone was carrying such a great energy," she said.

Skier Blaine Gallivan was honoured with the best style award for his misty 540 with a hand grab, while snowboarder Ryan Manning took the top individual score with an even 90.

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