This weekend, for the seventh year in a row, legendary surfer Gerry Lopez will host the Big Wave Challenge at Mount Bachelor in Bend, Oregon.
Lopez picked up snowboarding years ago and moved to Bend in the 1990s, where he serves as an ambassador for Mount Bachelor. Since moving there, Lopez has continued his mission of spreading aloha to all he meets, whether that be on the mountain or in the ocean. And it was for that purpose that Lopez started the Big Wave Challenge.
A custom snowboarding course was built up with features meant to look like frozen waves. The three-day event channels Lopez’s inimitable spirit by bringing hundreds of snowboarders to the mountain for a weekend of slashing banked turns, boosting playful spines and chilled out yoga sessions led by Lopez himself.
“The beach boys in Hawaii used to say that best surfer in the water is the guy who’s having the most fun and I think that really applies to the mountain as well,” Lopez told TRANSWORLD SNOWBOARDING following last year’s event. “The guys have a lot of fun riding this course and that’s all we can ask for.”
Fun is at the heart of this year’s event, as Lopez has decided to change the judging format from years prior by eliminating qualifying rounds and allowing all entrants to compete on both Saturday and Sunday.
“I was never a successful contest surfer and felt my best competitive performances were in Expression Session events,” Lopez wrote on the Big Wave Challenge website. “What all of us who bring you the Big Wave Challenge want to see is your best performances without stifling any of the creativity, style or personality of your riding.”
This year’s Challenge offers contestants the chance to win more than $25,000 in prizes. With competitors split into four open divisions based on age and sex, and a fifth division comprised of pro surfers (last year Ian Walsh competed).
Open division winners this year will take home a custom Gerry Lopez surfboard and a free week’s stay at the Volcom Pipe House on North Shore of Oahu.
The 2017 Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge kicks off Friday with a 9:00 a.m. practice session at the mountain and ends Sunday with a luau and live music.