Sammy Luebke & Shannon Yates win TNF Masters at Snowbird
After a long season of suspect snow conditions and delayed tour stops, we’ve come to the end of the 2012 North Face Masters of Snowboarding in Snowbird, Utah. And, like most stops during this year’s tour, we were greeted with above par snow conditions. You truly couldn’t of asked for a better finish to one of the best tours in The Master’s short five-year history.
Mother Nature put down an impressive amount of snow the night before which made Baldy that much better. You could feel the excitement as the riders made their way up the Aerial Tram early in the morning. As soon as the clock struck 10:30 the women started dropping into a perfect, deep venue.
The ladies put it all on the line, as they weren’t just competing for the win, but the overall North Face Masters tour title as well. It was a close race between Casey Lucas and Shannon Yates, but after the 8 ladies finished their runs it would be top qualifier Shannon Yates who would take first at Snowbird and the overall tour title for the women.
“I feel amazing right now,” said Yates of her win and overall title. “We had epic conditions today and to win on my home mountain is such a thrill.”
Until the moment Shannon dropped in for her run she wasn’t really sure what she was going to put down for the judges. “While sitting at the start gate I was undecided on what my bottom air was going to be. I was torn between a gnarly air down the center or to keep it a bit more mellow,” notes Yates. “I opted for a smaller air to the lookers left of my other option and it turned out to be a good decision.”
As the weather moved in the men began to drop on Baldy. The first two riders would get their runs in with some light but the rest of the field would battle fog, heavy snow and light winds. It was a tough final for the judges and riders but both battled through it to crown a champion.
TNF athlete Mark Carter, one of the first two to drop, hit the lower cliff ban known as The Broom Closet with a huge air but sketched out on the landing which would put him in a tie for 20th. Chris Brock got the crowd screaming as he made quick work of a sneaky tree chute mid-run as well as an impressive drop in The Broom Closet.
Jamie Rizzuto would take over first for a bit with his fast, powerful run that included his signature back flip off The Flying Squirrel and a risky cliff drop coming into the corral. But it would be Sammy Luebke who would knock Rizzuto out of first with a huge air at the bottom of The Field of Glory followed by a perfect cliff drop and a giant method off The Flying Squirrel.
“I’m stoked right now! I had a baby about a month ago so it’s been an amazing year,” said Luebke. “It feels good to come out and do well as I had to leave the lady at home. The venue was sick today – I can’t believe it’s April right now. It’s like spring break and we’re riding pow.
“I couldn’t really decide what to do for my run,” adds Luebke. “I had a line picked out and said to myself, stick to the plan and don’t’ change it up. I ended up on my feet and I couldn’t be more happy.”
Not only did Luebke take first at Snowbird but the overall 2012 North Face Masters tour title as well. Both him and Yates are sure to be back next year to defend their titles.
Men’s first place qualifier, Blake Paul, would not leave his first tour without making a name for himself as he snagged the 2012 Young Gun Award. If you’ve never seen Paul ride before then you’re missing out. This kid resides in Jackson Hole and roles with some of the best big mountain riders today. Good things are inevitable for this one.
Well that sums it up from Snowbird as we come to the close of the 2012 North Face Masters of Snowboarding. If you missed any of the action make sure to check out our video section for all the highlights from each stop. We’ll see you next year!