Olympic gold medalist Shaun White has done it again, successfully marrying outdoor sports and music at Expo Park in Los Angeles March 3-4 for his fourth annual Air+Style Festival.
One could have been a little apprehensive when first hearing about the addition of skateboarding to the snowboard big air event in years past, but it all came together flawlessly with the snowboard rail contest taking place on March 3, capped by music headliner ZEDD, and the skateboard contest on March 4 featuring musical headliner Phoenix.
The snow-street contest started off the first day with athletes competing on the street-style snow course. In the contest, athletes were judged on their run on the entire course, not just on one trick. Olympic silver medalist Kyle Mack placed third at the competition with Darcy Sharpe in first place and Johnny O’Connor taking second place. Spaced between practice rounds, prelims and final rounds, musical acts such as D.R.A.M, Cashmere Cat, Wet and Cut Copy kept festivalgoers’ energy flowing. The biggest standout music act was Cut Snake, who kept the festival grounds pulsing with deep bass and insane drops from the summer stage located near the skate park, where athletes were competing in trick competitions later in the day.
One of the two best-trick skate contests was won by Alex Sorgente, with the other by Patrick Ryan, but the biggest standout of the group came in the second competition when Hawaii-based rider Heimana Reynolds placed third. Reynolds was relentless in his dedication to nailing some of the most difficult tricks seen that day. What we saw the first day was just a taste of what would be seen from him during the skate competition March 4.
The biggest highlight of the final day was the skate competition, which came down to the last run with CJ Collins and Reynolds competing for first place. During the skate contest Reynolds placed first, followed by Collins, then Tom Schaar. French indie-pop band Phoenix closed out the festival with a colorful, energetic act that fused projection with stage lights. Playing sets throughout the day were Phantogram, Griz, Tinashe, BADBADNOTGOOD and Washed Out. The two best-trick contests at the snowboard park throughout the day with Drayden Gardner, winner of the Bear Mountain qualifier, placing first in the earlier contest and Francis Jobin taking first in the later contest.
What started out hectic and unorganized — forklifts were visible and staff were running around putting things away and setting up props after the gates opened — turned into a streamlined festival machine on March 4. Shaun White managed to pull off a unique festival experience that allowed guests to experience something different with only a short walk in any direction. This festival was able to successfully merge music and outdoor sports to downtown Los Angeles.