Some of the best snowboarders and skiers from a few of Virginia’s top universities went head to head in a slopestyle battle on February 7th. Massanutten Ski Resort and RedBull hosted the fourth annual Red Bull Rivals competition between Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, James Madison University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. While the DJ spun some sick beats, these teams hit the terrain park to show off their hottest moves and compete for the first place trophy and, more importantly, bragging rights as Virginia’s best collegiate ski and snowboard team.

As warm-ups began, many competitors took it easy on the jumps and rails. Due to the warm temperature that day, the snow was packed down tight and beginning to freeze over which could hinder performance. The spectators were arriving rapidly, representing their college by a show of their beanies, t-shirts, and recycled pizza box posters. Once the competitors got a feel of the snow and jumps, they began stepping up their warm-ups with minor tricks like tail grabs, 360s, 580s, and two brave flips. They were ready to shred the gnar!

The first heat began and the crowd watched in awe while the teams hit big air on the jumps or glided like butter across the grind rail. We began seeing more gutsy spins, flips, and combinations, some so crazy that the DJ would explode in excitement over the sound of the music. The teams were identifiable by their four different brightly colored shirts. Judges stood with clipboards in hand all up and down the slope, constantly marking their papers every time someone landed or missed a trick. Ranging from freshmen to seniors, these men and women from the four schools clearly knew what they were doing, which made this big rivalry even more competitive. As the first heat ended, I knew it was going to be a close call and an intense second heat.

These snow and cold loving competitors came out in the second heat with more energy than ever. They were touching the sky on these jumps! But even crazier, they were landing them with ease! One highlight of the night occurred when one of the brave opponents was at the last and biggest jump of the slope and proceeded to hit a double backflip. This caused all the fans to break out in a victory-like cheer, regardless of what school they were rooting for.

The second and final heat ended and the crowd and competitors began flocking around the trophy, knowing that the judges had a tough decision to make. Last year, Virginia Tech took home the first place trophy with JMU falling several points behind them in a close second. They began announcing. UVA and VCU would take third and fourth place. The crowd fell silent as the announcer built up the anticipation. It fell down to the two teams who took first and second at the same event last year. The voice on the microphone finally broke the silence with the anxiously awaited announcement.

Second place fell to Virginia Tech. The JMU team began jumping up and down, yelling in excitement knowing that they were the best. The team grabbed the trophy, each with a hand on their prized possession, and held it high above their heads in victory. James Madison University may have taken first place from Virginia Tech, but each school had no lack of amazing competitors. Now the teams will begin training for next year’s event, once again trying to become the best in Virginia.

Sarah Puckett