Skiers, snowboarders take over Kennewick

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldOctober 28, 2012 

A slight drizzle and temperatures above 50 degrees may have softened the snow packed on wooden ramps and over pavement on Cascade Street in downtown Kennewick.

But it didn't stop about 65 skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts from pulling off tricks Saturday at the first ever TC Throwdown.

As the 50 participants in the amateur division warmed up before the competition, some turned circles at the end of the rail and pulled off landings, while others bit snow or pavement.

The skiing and snowboarding competition was the brainchild of Eric Schultheiss of Essence Photography in Kennewick. Schultheiss, who photographs skiing and snowboarding, said competitions similar to the TC Throwdown happen in other cities, but this is the first time one has come to Kennewick.

The participants were judged on the tricks they pulled off in front of several hundred people.

"Style is really big," Schultheiss explained.

Brandon Squires, 25, of Richland, was one of about 15 people in the pro competition. Skiers and snowboarders were divided up by skill.

Squires, who has skied for about 10 years, said he and other skiers use a freestyle set of twin-tip skis, which allows them to go backward as easily as forward. Without those, he said, he still would be snowboarding.

Volunteers for the event, such as Squires, helped provide a little extra momentum for the participants by giving them a push as they headed down the ramp.

While they had experimented with jumping off of straw bales in the beginning, Squires said that failed to give speed that lasted through the course.

Jonbrock Olsen, 25, of Kennewick, said he was back on his snowboard for the amateur competition after about a year and a half off of it.

Olsen, who started snowboarding about 13 years ago, said he and friends sometimes build up ramps and courses when it snows. Hanging out with friends is all part of the fun, he said.

Megan Middleton of Seattle, a sponsored rider with Soul Ryder's of Seattle, a ski and snowboard production company, said they don't decide what tricks they will do until they see the course.

That's something that Schultheiss planned on changing between the amateurs and pros.

Middleton, who started snowboarding about 14 years ago, said part of the reason she came to the competition was because she has family in the Tri-Cities.

Snowboarding has become a passion because there always is something to learn, she said.

Schultheiss said they've been harvesting snow from local ice rinks, and had a pile prepared to continue to add to the course as the event progressed. He said the event would not have happened without a crew of about eight volunteers and the support of sponsors such as the Sporthaus, Tire Factory and HAPO Community Credit Union.

Schultheiss said he intends to have the event become an annual one, depending on its reception.

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