King of the ‘Mountain

gordon.beedle

Let’s get ready to rumble.

That was the mindset at the fifth annual Midwest Super Park Mania snowboard and freestyle-ski trick competition at Marquette Mountain this past weekend.

To go with this year’s pro wrestling theme, master of ceremonies and event coordinator Brandon Croney wore a yellow and red tank top emblazoned with “Hulkamania” and sported a blond goatee, all in an effort to emulate legendary wrestler Hulk Hogan. To begin the day’s competitions, Croney rang a ringside bell, and afterwards spouted Hulk Hogan’s catchphrases: “Ooh yeah brother,” and “A holla’ if you hear me.”

The Hulk Hogan impression and other pro wrestling gimmicks were meant to bring the best possible competition out to the hill for the event, Croney later said. Saturday’s competition brought professionals and amateurs in freestyle skiing and snowboarding to the mountain’s biggest jump and rail of the year.

“It’s just a big publicity stunt to try and get some of the best riders from across the Midwest,” Croney said.

The events were split into a big air competition and a rail jam competition. The rail for the rail jam was 20 feet long and the big air jump was 12 feet high; competitors were launched close to 70 feet off the big air jump, Croney said.

Riders competed in one of three classes: open men’s, open women’s or youth. Winners received a cash prize, equipment and a championship belt.

“We have the best and biggest jumps and rails of the year. In the competition you’re going to see double flips, 1260s, and, honestly, tricks you would have never seen unless you were watching the X-Games,” Croney said.

There were close to 130 riders from the area and out of state, with nearly 300 spectators looking on-all were on hand to see the most extreme tricks Marquette Mountain had to offer, Croney added.

A number of NMU students came to the event to both compete and watch the competition. Croney said the event acted as a type of recruiting tool for NMU.

“For the most part, most of these kids are from Northern or will be going to Northern,” he said. “A lot of the times an event like this will bring kids to Northern because they will want to ride this stuff every year.”

Brad Wenzel, a sophomore English major, said the ski hill and the competitions were among the top reasons he came to Northern.

“A bunch of people are here who are from snowboarding and skiing movies that my friends and I watch before we go out and ride,” he said. “Then, to actually see them in person and meet them later is really cool.”

While some students came to Marquette Mountain to watch, other students competed alongside local and professional riders. Croney said the local riders may have an advantage or, at the very least, a chance to compete with some of the best in the country.

“On a local scale, we ride this stuff every day, and [local competitors] want to be pushed to be better. And by inviting the best of the best skiers and snowboarders to the competition, the level is raised,” Croney said.

First place in the men’s snowboard big air went to Gene Ross from Iron Mountain. In the women’s class, Marie Maurer, an NMU senior majoring in management of health and fitness, brought home the championship belt.

In the skiing contests – both big air and the rail – Cody Ling, who skis for Solomon out of Minnesota, finished in first place.

“I knew there was going to be a lot of good people here and I was going to do my best, and it’d be sick if I won, and I ended up doing that, so I was stoked,” Ling said.

Even with a solid number of professional athletes at the contest, many locals still competed at a high level, and Croney wasn’t surprised.

“In the Midwest, this competition has the biggest jumps of any of them, and these kids love to ride them,” he said.

Croney said the main reason he puts on the event is to see kids improve in skiing and snowboarding.

“Riding with people brings out the best in each other,” he said. “These kids have just gotten better and better, and watching them compete is what keeps me enthused about it.”