Progress is like a V8 engine on a cold winter’s morning. Sometimes it’s a few turns of the key before it roars into life and wakes up half the neighbourhood. The sounds, and sights, of progress were everywhere by mid-week at the Red Bull Snow Performance Camp 2012, as the skiers and riders got to work, lapping, jumping, refining, repeating, and, finally, evolving.
Moving forward was definitely on Louie Vito’s mind, who spent his mornings working hard, hitting the Red Bull Vert Bag at the bottom of the half pipe over and over again, taking advantage of a tool that, for him, was new. “That’s my first time using it. I’ve never really hit a lot of air bags, so it was cool to check this one out. It’s a really nice landing.”
At his side was Tanner Hall, who was putting his mantra “repetition is the father of learning” into practise with endless shots at the bag. His compact silhouette, unmistakable, soared above the lip nonstop as he stalked his goal: 12’s in the pipe.
Earlier in the week, he said he hoped working with the Bagjump- Vertbag would bring breakthroughs. “With the air bag I think it’s going to help me out, help get over the fear. Once I’ve got it down in the bagjump, it’s just hike up 30 feet and do it in the pipe. That’s the progression.”
It looks like it won’t take long. The first day in the halfpipe brought five 12’s by lunchtime. By the second, he was landing them feet first on the bagjump, something he’d only done in the backcountry before.
“First 12 to the feet! After, like, 40 tries from yesterday to today I feel like I’m finally getting it. It’s crazy to go from hitting pow jumps to this, but to feel it off the takeoff for the first time kind of gets you all tingly, like you just got a nice birthday present. I’m going to go try to get that feeling 100 more times!”
As firsts started to happen for some of the athletes, others brought something new for those watching. Take Sebastien Toutant. He started out the week with a mellow mindset, sticking to cruisier tricks, testing the permutations of hand-on-board. “We do so many contests during the season, I feel now is the time to focus on yourself, on your own riding. Maybe easier tricks, but with a lot of style, and looking at new ways to approach them, like with different grabs.”
A mid-camp heli session with his fellow Red Bull riders changed all that, with an exuberant Toutant stomping a triple cork. One of only a few riders with the trick on his resume, Toutant’s triple was rumoured to be the first landed in New Zealand.
Whether it was or not, it was a moment that showed that when you get the best skiers and riders together in one place, not only does change happen, so does history.
Still to come? More repetition, evolution and revolution—three things that progress is all about.