What do you get if you send a bunch of sweaty boys over a tabletop and a stairset on a slushy afternoon in the Ziller walley? CASHMONEY, that's what. When it comes to snowboard contests, recent independent surveys carried out ever so carefully in a single Google search have conclusively proved a glaring three way split in opinion as to whether people care any more. Half of us are continually drooling over live streams of ever greater spintrickery while the other half of us moan that if we wanted gymnastics, let's watch some ice skating, at least there'll be lycra involved in that. And then there's the unschooled masses getting all flustered in their rento boots just beyond the sidelines who are baffled as to how several tricks in dizzyingly quick succession can be mathematically valued out of 100, but only after a couple of minutes' consideration. So Vans took it upon themselves to simplify the whole shebang, remind folks where we come from, and have a jolly good laugh while we're at it. The Vans Hi Standard Series gave riders a chance to show off, with steeze scoring higher than spins - a jam session with a ban on anything over a couple of rotations.
No complicated scoring necessary - if the judges liked the way you move, collect your notes before you pass go. After a few initial bails and wash outs, suddenly there were nosegrab late 1s, super slow 3s, and methods dropping all over the show. The judges were getting more loving than your average Bangkok hooker and they weren't ashamed to pay for it. Ghost grabs and window wipers drew blank expressions and we could see shame faced riders hurrying round again to have another stab at it. Standards were kept as high as the contest's name suggests, and if the guys thought you should do better or a tweak was missing then MC Henry Jackson would tell you as well as everyone at the Grillhof all about it.
There is such thing as a free lunch - despite what your gran might tell you - and we all topped up our sunburns whilst munching on it. As if the tourists on the terrace weren't stoked enough to have understood the simple format of the comp, there was a whole pile of swag to give away for anyone willing to handstand or breakdance for our amusement. The jackpot went to a girl who proudly proved snowboarders just are inherently cooler by humiliating a skier in a running race around the restaurant.
After lunch the bank of Vans reopened over at the rail set for another jam session. This was a chance for Betty, the only girl with balls enough to throw down with the crowd to make some bank. She promptly did so with some smooth boardslides over the hand rail - proof enough that the fairer sex can ride with style when they're told to. Taking part does count for something, as proved by Charlie Rowlands, whose double backflips to face were an easy choice for 'best slam', take a hundy for trying Charlie. Rowan Coultas got a tip of the cap from the judges as best under 16 rider, while Flo Heim took best mens.
Vans may have brought the X Factor into our snowy little world with their yes or no judging, but combining that with some instant gratification for all the riders which we all love in this digital age, they have struck a surprisingly engaging balance between competition and camaraderie with the Hi Standard Series, and the crowd were loving it too.