Darcy Sharpe isn’t feeling too much pressure as he heads into Saturday’s (April 20) big air competition, the grand finale for Monster Energy’s The Shred Show and the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF), as the defending champion.
The Whistler-based rider’s victory in the big hip contest was one of the major highlights of the 2012 WSSF, as he pocketed $15,000 for the win as a 16-year-old.
But the Comox native hasn’t spent a lot of time stressing about repeating as champion.
“I don’t think about too much stuff like that,” said Sharpe. “It was fun (last year) and cool to be able to win it and make a good amount of money.
“I’m just stoked to shred and it should be fun.”
The big air event Saturday takes on a more traditional format than last year, and will once again be a 5-star event on the TTR World Snowboard Tour. Shred Show director Dano Pendygrasse said organizers listened to feedback from riders when putting together this year’s Saturday night showcase event.
“It’s going to be as standard of a big air jump as we can make because the level of progression these days is so high that the riders really demand a uniform jump,” he said. “It’s not about the jump anymore, it’s about what they can do on it. It’ll be a standard big air like you see at X Games or anywhere else, and that’ll give them the best chance to do the best tricks they can do.”
Now in its third year at the WSSF, The Shred Show has attracted its most talented field of riders yet, including heavy hitters like Eric Willett, Sage Kotsenberg and Maxence Parrot. Others who have hit the podium at The Shred Show before like Matts Kulisek and Antoine Truchon are back, while local riders like Jon Versteeg, Mark Sollors and Logan Haubrich could give judges a hard time deciding the winners Saturday.
Though Pendygrasse would love to eventually see elite riders like Mark McMorris and Sebastien Toutant make an April pilgrimage to Whistler for The Shred Show, he’s enjoyed watching the talent level improve from year to year and said he’s excited about this year’s crop of athletes.
“With Sage and Eric Willett coming this year, and Max Parrot has been top three in events all year long, it just top-level guys,” said Pendygrasse.
One thing that hasn’t changed for this year is that fat stacks of cash are up for grabs, as a $25,000 prize purse is on offer for both the big air and Friday’s (April 19) slopestyle finals in the Blackcomb Terrain Park. Much like the big air, Pendygrasse said the slopestyle course will be exciting, but in line with what riders have seen for most of the season, as slope courses have become a little more standardized as the event moves towards its first appearance in the Olympics.
But everything gets underway Thursday (April 18) with boarderstyle, a Shred Show original that fuses snowboard cross with slopestyle as riders race to the bottom while completing tricks along the way. This year’s boarderstyle course will be crazier than ever, with more freestyle elements than in years past.
“The most fun evolution for us is seeing where that goes each year, because after inventing it, we can kind of do what we want with it,” said Pendygrasse. “But when Terje (Haakonsen) finished second last year … he said ‘It’s still pretty easy. They could do more freestyle.’ So we’re listening and putting in more freestyle.”
The Shred Show is the first North American men’s stop on the TTR World Tour for the 2013-14 season, so riders will be looking to rack up points for the season ahead before the winter here comes to a close.
“The big air jump looks fun and the slopestyle course looks crazy, so we’ll see what happens,” said Sharpe.
See www.wssf.com for the full Shred Show schedule.