Powder, Rails & 35mm Film at Vans Hi-Standard Series, Brighton Resort
A visual recap of the style-focused snowboard contest, where 32 of the most creative international pros competed for $20,000+ in equal prize money
Named after the iconic brand's best selling boot of all time, the Vans Hi-Standard Snowboard Series returned after a three year hiatus to Utah's Brighton Resort, bringing with it 32 of the best and most pro creative snowboarders in the world—and dozens of local rippers—to compete for over $32,000 in cash prizes on a course designed to reward style above all else.
Propelled by memories of epic backcountry trips in pre-pandemic times, I accepted the invite to attend, packed up a borrowed board bag (thanks Hondo!), and flew to Utah for my first turns of the season. What I encountered was far from the pow surf/hot spring dreams of trips past, but still a thrill for this snow-starved New Yorker.
The Vans Hi-Standard Series is billed as an all-inclusive international snowboard competition that celebrates creativity and style above all else. Boarders are judged solely on how they interpret the unique course (designed by Vans team riders Jill Perkins & Parker Szumowski), with inverts and rotations over 720 discouraged. In the age of I lost count spin-to-win style snowboard comps, who could argue with such billing?
With Desiree Melancon, Mikey LeBlanc, Mike Bogs, and Danny Kass acting as judges, and an equally stacked rider roster of both emerging and long established pros, the laundry list of Big Name Boarders offered plenty for this geriatric millennial to get excited about. Adding to the mix, emcee's Mary Walsh and E-Stone (of The Bomb Hole podcast fame) were on hand to deliver the play-by-play, while legendary skater John Cardiel and legend-in-the-making skater Ben Kadow DJed. In short, the vibe was strong and energy levels high. Did I mention it was snowing? (It was, always, hella hard.)
Because photos speak louder than words, I'll cut to the chase. Everybody went hard. Older dudes and young cool kids alike. A top prize of $10,000 was on the line for each men and women, plus a plaque for the good vibes Dillon Ojo award. That's it. All or nothing. In the end, the three that wound up atop the podium included the absolute raddest women's rider out, one of snowboarding's most beloved golden boys back from an all too early retirement, and a big mountain boarder wearing a t-shirt honoring the namesake award he won. Talk about a feel good ending to a feel good contest.
Scroll on for a glimpse into the madness that was the Vans Hi-Standard Series at Brighton Resort.
2023 Vans Hi-Standard Winners