Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Caldwell nabs big purse at Vans Cup

Lake Tahoe stunts are lucrative

Wyatt Caldwell

Sun Valley Snowboard team alum and Ketchum native Wyatt Caldwell captured two firsts and $40,000 in prize money within 36 hours at the Northstar Tahoe Vans Cup this past weekend in Lake Tahoe, Ca.

"The X Games gets all the hype and the play, but among riders, the Vans Cup is considered one of the biggest events of the year," said Caldwell's former coach and Snowboard Team director Andy Gilbert.

Caldwell, 22, began his masterpiece weekend with a flawless execution of Friday night's Railjam under the lights and in front of a huge crowd gathered for a freeride culture extravaganza complete with graffiti artists and a live DJ. Caldwell cruised over the high stakes rails, nailing his tricks perfectly and thus nabbing first and $15,000.

Sunday, the Vans Cup unveiled a new event, the B.A.R. (Best All-Around Rider). It incorporates the three major elements of freestyle snowboarding—rails, big air jumps, and pipe transitions.

The B.A.R. course challenges riders with a double-set of rails that flow into a huge 65-foot jump and finish with a towering quarterpipe/hip combo. Caldwell slid the two 25-stair rails flawlessly, then stomped his landing on a Cab 9 mellon grab over the jump, followed by a Cab 7 above the quarterpipe/hip combo to beat out Salt Lake City's Nate Sheehan for the win and an additional $25,000.

For Mammoth Lakes (Ca.) winter resident Caldwell, who underwent a late spring ACL replacement, the purse came as a huge help with the mounting pressures of medical costs and the professional snowboarding circuit.

Wyatt's father Will Caldwell did not make the trip to Tahoe, noting that he "didn't know he was going to win." When Wyatt found a moment without cameras flashing in his face, he called home to tell his parents of the success.

Will Caldwell, though happy with his son's recent income, is more excited for the opportunities that such a performance will present. Invitations to the X Games will likely be only the beginning of the next stage in Caldwell's career.

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