A Rising Threat: Return of the Junior Jam
If there’s a strange piece of trivia with the US Open Junior Jam, it’s got to be this: only one snowboarder has ever won the Junior Jam comp, and then taken a top podium spot in the main event.
It was Jake Blauvelt, your 2001 Junior Jam champ, and 2004 US Open Men’s Slopestyle Champion.
Nils Mindnich hiking the pipe in 2003
But it’s not for lack of involvement. Going back through the history of Junior Jam results there is no shortage of who’s who in the world of snowboarding: Pat Moore, Hannah Teter, Luke Mitrani, John Jackson, Mikkel Bang—all have podium finishes at the US Open’s youth event. Even Matthew Ladley, who just recently stood on top of the X Games Halfpipe podium, started out standing on the Junior Jam version in 2005. For 2016, someone could actually do it in the same year, as the winner of the event qualifies to compete in the men’s and women’s main event.
Shaun White sending it in 2000
The talent is there and it’s worth checking out. The kids’ absence has been felt since they last competed at the Open in 2009. While these guys, ages 8-13, are world class for sure, there are still proud parents around the halfpipe and an inspired energy surrounds the event. They’re still kids regardless of how big they’re going.
Once held on Sundays, after the close of the Open’s biggest draws, this year the Junior Jam’s return will kick off the week of action Tuesday, March 1. Featuring 10 boys and five girls, all invited based on their USASA 2015 standings and current results, the event is a great chance to see where the progression of snowboarding is going. They will usher in the next big thing.
Check it out live at Vail, Tuesday, March 1. For the record, if anyone’s going to join Blauvelt as a past Junior Jam Champ and a US Open Champion, Matt Ladley has that chance, and so does Arielle Gold – both competing in men’s and women’s halfpipe as full-grown adults … Unless, of course, this year’s Junior Jam winners pull off an upset after advancing.
Cody Rosenthal, Pat Moore, Renaud Belisle taking the podium honors in 2000
The Junior Jam is a halfpipe, invitation only competition, with 10 boys and 5 girls aged 14 and under. Selection is based on the 2015 USASA results, current form and past performances.
Boys: USASA Top 3 Boys 12-13, Top 2 boys 10-11, Top 2 Boys 8-9 and 3 Wildcards.
Girls: USASA Top 3 Girls 12-13, Top Girl 10-11, Top Girl 8-9.
Boys > 10 Riders, 3 Runs, Best Run Counts
Girls > 5 Riders, 3 Runs, Best Run Counts