April 7, 2011 |

'Big Air' contest set for Sunday

Wacky weather won’t ground this year’s Olen Nash Memorial Big Air Contest, set for around noon Sunday near Three Guardsmen Mountain in British Columbia.

“I just got back from the Pass to go see if there’s even enough snow, because it’s been such a strange year,” coordinator Luck Dunbar said this week. “It’s just nothing like it’s ever been, but there’s enough snow up there, so I’m rallying some troops on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to try to build the jump.”

Skiers and snowboarders will show off their backflips and twists at a site about 60 miles from town up the Haines Highway.

“Everybody who’s been involved in the past is totally invited to come out and help build the jump,” Dunbar said. “Please don’t bring any dogs. I always try to do that, but there’s always a dog chasing skiers right before they hit the jump.”

The competition has beginner, intermediate and advanced divisions and now is a tribute to its founder, Olen Nash, who died in a 1999 commercial fishing accident.

“I organize it, but it’s a huge community event,” Dunbar said. “It’s a giving event for kids to get out and go goof off.”

The Big Air Contest has a $10 entry fee for participants, who will be judged on their air, style and landing. It often attracts high school students from Haines and Juneau. They have vied for prizes such as heli-skiing tour packages and outdoor gear, Dunbar said.

“There were some kids getting sent about 50 feet last year,” he said. “It was a pretty good jump. We’re going to try to find a better transition this year, which is the landing – a little steeper landing.”

Dunbar said several spectators hike, ski or snowmachine after the Big Air Contest, and he advised locals to be respectful in crowded conditions.