RyanArringotn-HoopGapWithHorse-ColorHRBorder-Ryan Arrington, through the hoop. | Photo: Jay Stewart

Winter Park is not a conventional ski town — never has been and hopefully never will be. Even as the industry pulls it toward high-dollar ticket prices, paid parking and a burning desire to tack the word “bistro” onto every new restaurant, there’s an underlying sense of blue collar, old school pride that pushes back. It’s a quirky, still authentically western pocket of Colorado that appreciates the simplicity of a good time with good people. There are no egos here, just genuine individuals with a do-what-makes-you-happy attitude. Everyone is welcome to join, and if they’d rather not, then that’s just fine too.

high-noon-duel-winter-park-ryan-arrington-ben-lynch-taylor-boyd-snowoardRyan Arrington and Ben Lynch, about to swing through the saloon doors, guns ablazin’. | Photo: Taylor Boyd

Locals Ben Lynch and Ryan Arrington embody this attitude. They couldn’t care less what the industry deems trendy or acceptable. All they really care about is snowboarding, and most importantly, snowboarding with friends.

high-noon-duel-winter-park-jay-stewartCompetitors hiking to the top after an impromptu hip session. | Photo: Jay Stewart

In its third year, the High Noon Duel at Winter Park Resort has grown to exemplify their collective mindset, encouraging a sense of unison and camaraderie through synchronized snowboarding. Competitors enter as either a team of two or four, and the more eccentric the runs, the better. The Duel has become not so much a contest as it is an excuse to let loose with the boys (and gals) and see where the party takes you. The rules are asking to be bent, and in the end, there is no right or wrong way to go about things.

ben-lynch-ryan-arrington-high-noon-duel-winter-park-jay-stewartBen Lynch in the air, Ryan Arrington about to be. | Photo: Jay Stewart

Such was the case on April 16th, when Mother Nature decided to throw a wrench into Lynch and Arrington’s “plans.” The week prior was nothing but blue skies, high temps and slushy snow — the perfect formula for a springtime contest. But when a major spring storm decided to roll in for the weekend, a lot of uncertainties threatened to cloud the vision of the event. The jumps were big and the snow was forecasted to be deep. Rumors spread around town that the Duel was getting canceled. But rather than throwing in the towel, the “no park and no friends on a powder day” clichés were thrown out the window.

high-noon-duel-winter-park-jay-stewartSnake Farm on course with eight-year-old Indi Stewart bringin’ up the rear. | Photo: Jay Stewart

The result was a rowdy, storm-day event filled with everything that makes snowboarding enjoyable: slashes and trains, hammers and carnage, and of course, a generous consumption of PBR.

high-noon-duel-winter-park-jay-stewartThe Dirty Whistles, doubling up. | Photo: Jay Stewart

Teams collected at the top of Winter Park’s Dark Territory just before noon, eager to burst through the course’s starting gate, which, in typical Grand County fashion, was a makeshift saloon door crafted out of plywood and two-by-fours (Lynch and Arrington were sure to cover the exposed nails with a large pinecone, just to be safe). Everything about the course screamed DIY, from a bucking bronco-mounted scarecrow to the event’s now signature hula-hoop feature.

20160416_boyd-high-noon-duel-2016_4493Underneath that pinecone is the sharp end of a six-inch nail. | Photo: Taylor Boyd

And in keeping true to the area’s laid-back vibe, there were no judges present to score the runs. Instead, scoring would be left up to the other teams, ensuring that every aspect of the event, from the build to the awards, was rider-driven.

kit-hendrickson-high-noon-duel-winter-park-jay-stewartNite Dawg Kit Hendrickson tuckin’ and threadin’. | Photo: Jay Stewart

In the two-man division, Taylor Boyd and Kit Hendrickson — the Nite Dawgs —took top honors, while the Sticky Bandits, comprised of Nate Anderson and Trent Spyrka, earned second place with their “Best Meth-Head” awarded run. Alec Stevenson and Evan Viella, under the tasteful moniker Poon Groomers, rounded out the top three, with Viella also taking home the highly prestigious “Biggest Shit Eater” award.

high-noon-duel-winter-park-method-awardSticky Bandits, Nate Andersen and Trent Spyrka, and a Meth Head. | Photo: Ryan Arrington

Winner of the four-man division was none other than Chuck Meat — the super group comprised of Arrington, Boyd, Hendrickson and Lynch. Together, the crew put on a hula-hoop needle-threading clinic, drawing loud roars and top scores from their competitors. Slithering into second place was the Snake Farm — Evan Glenn, Tyler Harper, Tyler Macleod and Indi Stewart — Stewart being the youngest competitor of the day at only eight years old. Wrapping up the four-man field were the Dirty Whistles, led by Wolf Eugene, Ben Poletti, Josh Vice and the only lady of the event, Delia Maher.

high-noon-duel-winter-park-biggest-shit-eater-awardBiggest Shit Eater, Evan Viella, hoisting his award complete with melted Snickers… or something. | Photo: Ryan Arrington

Outside of the judged runs, the High Noon Duel was a day filled with side hits aplenty, impromptu hip sessions, too-close-for-comfort high speed trains and overall good vibes. There may not have been high profile names, big sponsors or fat purses, but then again, that’s not how they’ve ever done things in Winter Park. The people here, Lynch and Arrington in particular, like things just the way they are: simple, fun and a little weird.

See also: Love Games 2016: Not a banked slalom