Thought Bubble


Joe DeBlasio April 1, 2024

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This past Friday and Saturday, March 29-30th, 16 of the world’s best female and male skiers gathered at Solitude Mountain in Utah to compete in one of the most unique events in all of skiing, Red Bull Cascade. Started a few years ago by icon Bobby Brown, the event blends big mountain and slopestyle features into a mile long course where judges score the athletes’ runs to award the best overall competitors of the contest. 



The Format

Four teams. Four skiers each. One practice day. Two contest days. Team captains were chosen on Thursday night and through random selection they were assigned their team members. On Friday and Saturday morning, riders went head-to-head trying to gather the most points possible for their team. The top two teams thus went into a single-run finals on Saturday afternoon where eventually four athletes on one team would be coined the winners of Red Bull Cascade — winning this event combines the skills of multiple disciplines of skiing so bragging rights extend beyond the simple gold medal. 

The Teams

Team 1 — Overshoot

Marin Hamill, Aaron Blunck, Konnor Ralph, Tanner Blakely

Team 2 — Center Punch

Jay Riccomini, Cody Laplante, Ben Smith, Birk Irving

Team 3 — Mando

Bell Harwood, Bobby Brown, Jed Waters, Colby Stevenson

Team 4 — Punchfront

Svea Irving, Gus Kenworthy, Blake Wilson, Henry Robarge

The Course

The course itself was nothing short of a spectacle, a freeskier’s dream combined with engineering genius. Bobby Brown’s brain paired with a team of park builders led by the man, the myth, the legend himself, Charles Beckinsale, created a creative, technical, and extremely large-scale course that challenged the athletes in new and unique ways. The course began with a “choose-your-own-adventure” style big mountain/freeride/cliff-filled section that truly showed what Solitude is known for – big sends and crazy lines. This led the riders directly into a step-down jump that shot them into another smaller hit, right into a New England style gladed area. 

aaron blunck

After meandering through those trees, riders would be faced with a series of slopestyle features – a giant rail/wall ride combo followed by a 40+ foot gapped jump with a precise landing. Within 20 feet of landing this jump was yet another booter immediately followed by a huge rainbow that stood 10+ feet of the ground. Even Birk Irving himself called it “a little nutty.” And after this rail was where the real show was put on – two jumps, a carving-right, and a carving-left option. Both of which stood a mere 25+ feet off the ground with 75+ foot gaps depending on where the rider landed. No biggie though for athletes like Gus Kenworthy who nailed a double cork 1080 on the first day of practice, on only his fifth day of skiing of the season.

The Comp

Leading up to the event there were concerns over weather. Weather reports were calling for nearly 15+ inches of fresh snow at Solitude over the course of the 3 days, which for an event like Cascade, is a big concern considering the course requires speed, visibility, and safety for the event to go on. The course underwent major structural changes on a handful of the features within 48 hours of the event beginning on Friday. As most of us know though, not all weather reports can be trusted. Friday ended up being a bright and sunny bluebird day where athletes were really able to dial in their runs. 

Colby Cascade
Colby Stevenson

Judges scored on a 50-point-per-run scale based on creativity, speed, choice of line, difficulty, and energy (style/uniqueness). Athletes really had to work as a team to gather the most amount of points possible to check off all those boxes. Saturday, however, proved otherwise – low-vis and dumping sticky snow became a challenge. 

At the end of the morning, Teams Center Punch and Mando scored highest, which put them into the finals. Despite the conditions, the athletes still threw down and gave the crowd their money’s worth. Backflips off 30-foot cliffs, 450s out of the wall ride feature, knuckle-huck 7s, and a handful of double corks certainly got the people going. The fact that the riders were able to showcase such unbelievable riding despite the conditions is nothing less than, again, a spectacle.

The Results

Would it be a shocker if Bobby Brown’s team won? No. No, it would not. Team Mando ended up walking away with first place and in classic “put-it-all-on-the-line” fashion, it all came down to the final run of the day with rider Colby Stevenson. Colby needed a 46 to bring his team home the gold. And a 46 he provided. A near-perfect run of holding nothing back. The crowd went wild. And speaking of more incredible riders, siblings Svea and Birk Irving took home the Women’s/Men’s MVP awards, showcasing the most unique riding over the course of the event.

cascade final cascade mvp

1st Place — Mando

Bell Harwood, Bobby Brown, Jed Waters, Colby Stevenson

2nd Place — Center Punch

Jay Riccomini, Cody Laplante, Ben Smith, Birk Irving

3rd Place — Overshoot

Marin Hamill, Aaron Blunck, Konnor Ralph, Tanner Blakely

Women’s/Men’s MVPs

Svea Irving, Birk Irving

Cascade’s Future

So what’s next? According to the legend himself, Bobby Brown says we will see Red Bull Cascade again next year. And it will continue to push the envelope of skiing. And we can’t wait. See you next year, Cascade.

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