Big air was back in a big way in downtown Denver Wednesday night as Rocco Van Straten of the Netherlands took giant leap after giant leap to win the Denver Big Air presented by Sprint at the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup. The event marked the first city-based World Cup big air event in the U.S., not to mention the first of its type in the center of Colorado’s capital city. A crowd of over 14,000 was on hand in Denver’s Civic Center Park for the night contest and a concert by One Republic.
“Energy [in the crowd] was totally there. I felt it in my toes to my head. Everyone was screaming. It was a special night tonight,” Van Straten said, who picked up his first World Cup win after finishing four, just out of the medals, at the World Championships last week in Barcelona. “There were pretty big riders here. You have to be scared of everyone ’cause they are all learning new tricks, too.”
A capacity crowd of eager spectators poured into Denver’s Civic Park to see the snowboarders huck their best tricks off the 106-foot high scaffold in the Denver Big Air presented by Sprint. Van Straten did not disappoint, throwing a switch cab 9 in his first two runs, which was scored best out of two, and a backside double cork 10 on his third, which was added to his high score to put him atop the podium.
“The last jump was pretty big. The crowd was screaming and they love my name, so it was pretty sick. I was proud of myself that I landed the trick,” Van Straten said.
Van Straten was joined on the podium by Canada’s Zac Stone in second and Michael Macho of Austria in third.
“I was just hoping to make finals and I did that so I’m pretty stoked,” Stone said. “It’s an awesome event. There’s tons of people in the crowd they were cheering really hard and the band was playing…it was cool.”
U.S. rider Easton Gilman (Chisago City, MN) topped the list for the U.S., followed by Ian Thorley (Marquette, MI) in 11th. According to Thorley, who threw a switch double backside rodeo 9 on his first two hits, he was stoked about the Denver Big Air.
“The event went really well. There are a lot of spectators here. The organizers made us a beautiful jump and all-in-all it was a great success and I’m really excited to see more of these coming around,” Thorley said. “It’s fun for everyone- the riders and spectators. It’s a good way to get snowboarding out there.”
Crowds of people got an early start, watching the practice in the lead up to the big air jump throughout the day. Once the competition was underway, the crowd got louder with each jump. Colorado locals and national music sensation One Republic treated the crowd to an hour-long set before the final jumpers took their last leaps for the win.
“The snowboarders were awesome and One Republic was great. I’ve lived in Denver since I was in high school and I’ve never seen anything like this before. It was cool,” said Bryn, a Denver resident.
To catch the high-flying action on TV, tune in to NBC Jan. 30 at 1:30 p.m. EST or catch it on Versus Feb. 12 at 4 p.m. EST.
2011 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup – Denver Big Air presented by Sprint
Denver, CO – Jan. 26, 2011
1. Rocco Van Straten, The Netherlands
2. Zachary Stone, Canada
3. Michael Macho, Austria
4. Stefan Falkeis, Austria
5. Robby Balharry, Canada
7. Easton Gilman, Chisago City, MN
11. Ian Thorley, Marquette, MI
Author of Story: Lindsey Sine via a us snowboarding press release
photo: us snowboarding/smugmug.com