NEW YORK — The residents of this city are definitely not strangers to skyscrapers. But last night, over 100,000 snowboarding fans converged on East River Park to encounter their first ever Snowscraper.
Of these fans, ten were Yalies who made their way into Manhattan by way of a free bus sponsored by Yale’s Red Bull representative, Tim Handlon ’10. A linebacker on Yale’s football team and a student brand manager for Red Bull, Handlon organized the trip for fellow snowboarding enthusiasts to see their favorite athletes in action.
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“The most important thing is representing the personality of Red Bull as a brand,” Handlon said. “They wanted to make a statement with this event. Red Bull, and no one else, could put on a show like this.”
The popular energy drink company teamed up with Snow Park Technology and New York City officials to create a never-before-seen event. The result was a nine story high mountain of snow and ice culminating in a double-sided jump. The landing, better known as a hip, gives the athletes the choice of a frontside or backside trajectory. Touted as the largest ramp and contest ever to be held in an urban setting, Red Bull pulled out all the stops inviting no fewer than 16 of the world’s best snowboarders to test their creation.
The event started with a 60-minute jam session in which the athletes were allowed to jump as many times as possible with judges awarding scores for each jump. Olympic champion Shaun White thrilled the crowds in this session but failed to woo the judges in later competition.
Adding to the intensity of the jumps were the enthusiastic fans watching them.
“I loved the atmosphere,” said Trey Rallis ’11. “It was freezing, but the excitement was a lot of fun.”
Attendees said the environment at the park was nothing short of overwhelming. Thousands of hard-core snowboarding fans huddled together — not only for much needed warmth, but also to have a chance at an up-close-and-personal look at their favorite boarding stars.
Neon lights and advertising tents jockeyed for the attention of the spectators. But nothing compared to the ramp that loomed overhead. Lined with flashing blue and red lights, the ramp set the stage for the caliber of athletes who would be competing.
In addition to White, Olympic bronze medalist J.J. Thomas also competed. The $50,000 prize, however, eventually went to tri-state area favorite Shayne Pospisil. He gained the support of both judges and fans with big air and successfully landed backside 900’s before overtaking Norwegian Torstein Horgmo in the finals to win the Snowscraper crown.
It is difficult to imagine a 90-foot man-made ice ramp here in the middle of Manhattan, but students said the event was a huge success. Snuggled between FDR Drive and the East River, the park was an unlikely backdrop for an event of this magnitude.
Handlon said this marketing experience at Red Bull will give him a leg up on future jobs. But here at Yale, his job is to give students unique opportunities to attend events such as this one.
Despite the cold and large amounts of fake snow, Yale students in attendance said they had an unforgettable experience.
“Yale’s in a good spot. There is a lot to do in New Haven, but the proximity to New York and Boston is great,” Matthew Smock ’10 said. “There is no place like New York. To see the best snowboarders around and be in the city was a really unique experience.”