By Dakota Randall
BU News Service
Fenway was more frigid than friendly Thursday night as the World Cup Big Air Snowboard event played out on a 140-foot high ramp amid temperatures that neared single digits. For two New Englanders, though, little could deter the excitement of competing in the historic ballpark.
Julia Marino, an 18-year-old native of Westport, Conn., and Chas Guldemond, 28, from Laconia, N.H., finished first and third in their respective events. Marino, who had never been inside the famous park but had walked by it countless times with her family, expected to treat the event as more of a practice for the unfamiliar scaffolding jumps.
To her and her coach’s surprise, she placed second in the qualifying runs and coasted to an easy victory in front of the 11,786 fans in attendance.
“I was so stoked,” said Marino, who prevailed with a score of 169.25, ahead of Canadians Jenna Bluesman (152.25) and Brooke Voigt (117.75). “I was so happy to actually be able to put down my runs and win. This is an amazing place to have a snowboarding contest. It’s definitely the coolest, most creative place to have a contest because it’s so unique. There’s never been anything like this, it’s a big jump in the middle of a baseball stadium, and that’s pretty cool to say.”
Guldemond finished third on the men’s side with a score of 170.00, behind Canadians Michael Ciccarelli (174.00) and event winner Max Parrot (183.50). After Olympic and event-headliner Sage Kotsenberg pulled out with a head injury, Guldemond took it upon himself to jump-start the frost-bitten crowd, channeling his inner Babe Ruth as he called his final final run.
“I was soaking in the experience,” Guldemond said. “It’s not not going to last forever. I’m 28-years-old and I’m trying to give back to the sport. I was thinking, ‘How can I get the crowd riled up?’ So I called my shot kinda like Babe Ruth. It was a sick experience.”
“Sick meaning good,” he added.
In addition to the bitter-cold, riders had to deal with icy conditions and howling winds.
“The jump was definitely icy out there,” Guldemond said. “But this is East Coast weather, so guys like me are used to it.”
“You just kind of had to block out the howling up there and tell yourself it’s not windy,” Ciccarelli said.
“It was more of an intimidation wind at the top,” Marino said. “The jump was way mellower, so that was good. And yes, it was very cold.”
The Olympic-qualifying event is the third Big Air stop on the FIS Snowboard World Cup tour and the second stop on the U.S. Grand Prix tour. In its 20th season, the U.S. Grand Prix is the longest running winter action sports season-long tour, and features some of the best free-skiing and snowboarding athletes in the world.
While hopeful skiers will have to wait at least another four years, Big Air Snowboarding will make its debut as an Olympic event at the 2018 games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
With the snowboarders holding up their end of the bargain last night, the spotlight will shift to the Big Air skiers on Friday night. The event will be broadcast by NBC Sports Network, starting at 8:30 p.m.