Photos: Andrew Sergeant, Scotty Arnold, T. Bird, Tanner Zachem, Jonathon Uthiem, Evan Pierce, Liam Austin
Too often these days, we sit at our computers or on our couches, staring at the television and witness spectacular snowboarding on the grandest of stages from the riding to the level of production, and that’s currently what the mainstream views competitive snowboarding as. Recently, the allure of the once-coveted 22-foot superpipe is fading away, mainly because 1.) they’re unbelievably expensive to build, 2.) they’re extremely expensive to maintain and 3.) less than 5% of the general snowboarding public can air out of them. They’re daunting. They’re intimidating. They’re simply unrelatable to most kids.
Enter the Bode Merrill Minipipe Invitational. Though the pipe is half the size, it seems to produce twice the fun, and that’s exactly what Bode was going for when he incepted the event a few years back. What’s come of it is one of the most talked about events of the summer up at High Cascade on the glacier of Mt. Hood. And while Bode is one of the best snowboarders in history and built his reputation by putting his life on the line by hitting features that would make most people’s b-hole pucker, he likes to have fun more than anyone I know, and coming off one of his best winter’s ever while filming for SNOWBOARDER’s new release, Pepper, Mr. Merrill and friends simply want to do what everyone else does and that is to simply head on up to Mt. Hood to have some fun.
While mainstream, televised contests feature the usual suspects at every stop, one of the most entertaining and inspiring parts of the BMMI is the roster of riders standing atop the minipipe. This year, when one peered down from the drop-in, they could, at any point, look to their right or left and see names like Danny Davis, Max Warbington, Nils Mindnich, Trevor Otterson, Kelly Clark Bode Merrill, Chris Grenier, Luke Winkelmann, Hans Mindnich, Desiree Melancon, Tim Eddy, Forest Bailey, Scott Blum, Colin Langlois, and dozens more strapped in shoulder-to-shoulder and ready to drop. When was the last time that Danny D and Tim Eddy stood next to each other in a competitive arena? If your answer is the 2016 Bode Merrill Minipipe Invitational, then you very well may be correct.
The pipe was in pristine shape when we arrived at the start of the event, and by mid-day, it was literally and figuratively being torn apart by contest standouts Max Warbington, Nils Mindnich, Danny D, Luke Winkelmann, Keegan Hosefros, Reid Smith, Colin Langlois, Nate Carroll, Colin Langlois, Jake Pates, Brandon Reis, Kelly…