Matt Yockey takes Jeremy Worrell Sickblade Award
by Than Acuff
There are certain moments in time, occurrences in everyday life, when a higher power does something to show the world that a higher power actually exists.
One such occasion was millions of years ago when a large field of mid-Tertiary intrusions formed a geographic triangle in Colorado where many laccoliths intruded and created one laccolith in particular: Crested Butte Mountain.
That occasion ultimately then led to another such occasion: The 12th Annual Snowblade Extremes on Saturday, April 1. Which then, in turn, led to another occasion: Ben Blackwood’s seventh Snowblade Extremes title.
It was laccodonculous creating laccolerium that was laccolincredible. Wait, where’s my laccolesaurus?
As the day of the Snowblade Extremes approached, the intrepid athletes were treated to a blessing from both Mother Nature and the Good Lord above, providing a brief storm blanketing the Headwall venue with snow. While seemingly lacking in depth to the everyday skier and their long skis, the amount that fell left stellar conditions for snowbladers. Following the transitive theory, four inches to snowblades is like 14 inches to those on long skis.
And the record number of snowbladers made the most of the conditions, working any and every pow stash available on the burly venue, bringing the sport to an entirely new level.
“It seems like the confidence and ability levels of those daring to participate in this competition is taken up a notch each and every year,” says Blackwood. “Guys like Charlie Parr, Trevor Bona, Pat Sullivan, Grant Spear, JT Ryan, Lawson Yow, Alex Mattes-Ritz, and even newcomers Alex Stevenson and Will Jarvis are all pushing the sport to levels thought impossible just a few years ago. And I want to give some credit to Matt Yockey, who came out of nowhere to win the Jeremy Worrell Sickblade Trophy.”
Former champion Grant Spear turned the crowd on its collective ear midway through the competition. After working the upper triangle and dropping into the riblet adjacent to Powder 8 gully to hit a double, Spear bee-lined for a tree stand punching his way between the two trees setting the tone of EXTREME for all to follow.
“What are your DINs at?” asked a fan as Spear took his spot in the finish corral.
“All the way,” responded Spear.
Yockey was a relative unknown to the snowblade world but after dicing his way through the quarry at the top of the venue, Yockey paused to tend to some bodily function issues and then proceeded to execute a full extension back handspring mid-run. He followed that with an equally impressive double on the riblet and while he was denied the title, he took home the highly coveted Jeremy Worrell Sickblade Award for his effort.
Tandem blading and the youth seemed to have taken hold this year as well. Rising bladers Kai Matlock and JC Patterson stopped to play house on House Rock, complete with a hip-smear of said House Rock. Anyone can air it but only bladers hip-smear it.
“The evolution and progression of blading is also apparent in the number of juniors we are seeing these days,” says Blackwood. “There were a record number of athletes in that division this year, and kids like Dane De Frates, Kye Matlock and Avery Bernholtz are getting after it. That said, I still intend on crushing all of them whenever they are old enough to join the adult division.”
As the mayhem continued, so did the amazing blading, but eventually the field of bladers was whittled down to two lone wolfs standing alone at the top of the venue: Six-time champion Blackwood and defending champion and two-time Sickblade winner Jimbo Webb.
“Before I dropped in, I wished him luck and told him to crush his run,” explains Blackwood. “I have a ton of respect for Jimbo and his blading and consider him amongst the elite athletes in the world, probably only seven or eight levels below myself. We just have different styles. I’m kind of a combination of two-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion Aaron Rodgers, pro wrestling legend The Ultimate Warrior, and whoever is the current winner of People Magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ award. Meanwhile, Jimbo is more like a mix of former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, ‘80s and ‘90s pro wrestler Marty Jennetty, and former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle. I’m not necessarily saying one style is better than the other. Just different.”
With Webb the defending champion, he was to go last, leaving it up to Blackwood to tip in first and let go. Blackwood picked a unique entrance to the venue and promptly went to work with not one, but two of his trademark daffys. Blackwood then continued to throw down mixing in line choice with fluidity and glimmers of incredulous until the unfortunate. Once again, Blackwood’s equipment failed him as he threw a blade and was left to finish his run una hoja, which is Spanish for one hoja.
“This year didn’t go as planned,” admits Blackwood. “After shredding the top section of my run, I went for a power-cartwheel up on the Handrail, and once again, my equipment failed me. My binding couldn’t handle the overwhelming intensity of my blading, and I was forced to miss my bottom two airs and just get myself to the finish. It really wasn’t what I had envisioned, but two-thirds of a Ben Blackwood run is still generally better than anyone else’s full run.”
That opened the door just a crack for Webb to repeat as champion and Webb took the opportunity to state his case letting his blades do the talking. Webb aired out of the quarry, slashed the Headwall like it was Peachtree and closed with a front flip, double ejection walk finish, or, a front-dub-eject, bringing the crowd to its feet.
Numbers were crunched, results tallied and when all was said and done, Blackwood edged out the win, for his seventh Snowblade Extremes title.
“Did I blade at my peak performance level? Not even close,” reflects Blackwood. “Did I deserve this championship? With the incredible display of blading by all competitors this year, it’s debatable. As it turns out, though, the judging panel had the same issue that I come across every day of my life. I’m irresistible, to both women and men alike, and they couldn’t help but score me high. It’s like they say, ‘Women want to be in me, men want to be on me.’ Or however that saying goes. I can never remember, but it’s something like that. You know, it’s not easy being Ben Blackwood. Around every corner, I have cameras in my face, the press demanding interviews, crowds begging for autographs, and women fighting over me. I have to deal with balancing countless lady friends around the world and am approaching Wilt Chamberlain records. And I’m not talking about the ones that have anything to do with the sport of basketball. But you know what? I have a responsibility to my adoring fans. So, whether it’s with my unparalleled blading abilities or my indisputable good looks or my undeniable charm, I’m going to do whatever’s necessary to deliver that snowblading world championship. And that’s exactly what I did.”
Once again, Blackwood will now spend the next 12 months soaking up the glory and looking to the future.
“Having the most prestigious trophy in sports, the Snowblade Championship Belt, wrapped around my waist feels amazing,” says Blackwood. “And I think the world can finally put to rest that ongoing argument of who is the greater athlete, Ben Blackwood or Michael Jordan. That guy has always been an over-rated hack. Sorry, Michael. But your six titles are nothing to my seven. And I’m not done yet.”