Shaun White has signed on to host a first-of-its-kind snowboarding big air competition at California’s Heavenly Mountain Resort in April. White won’t compete, but instead will “oversee the proceedings,” Heavenly spokesman Russ Pecoraro said Wednesday.
The event, titled the High Roller Hold ‘Em, was conceived by Chris “Gunny” Gunnarson, president of Snow Park Technologies (SPT) and longtime X Games course designer. It will feature a unique format wherein competitors are given cards with different tricks on them. The riders will then pick a trick from the cards they’re holding and must land the trick to have a shot at moving on to the next round. The most difficult trick will advance.
“Gunny obviously is deeply rooted in terrain parks and snowboarding culture, but he’s also very interested in poker and I think this brings together a couple of his passions in a really unique way,” Pecoraro said. “He was just looking for the right partner to do it with. Heavenly, with the casino nightlife and high-energy vibe on the south shore, provided that venue.”
Pecoraro said that as far as he knows, White will not hit the jump. White recently pulled out of X Games Tignes, where he is the defending champion in both SuperPipe and Slopestyle, to focus on training for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Heavenly is owned by Vail Resorts, one of White’s sponsors.
“Shaun White’s kind of the host,” Pecoraro said. “It’s his event, and he’ll be there but he’s not going to compete. He’s overseeing the proceedings, and he’s there to get the crowd psyched up.”
Pecoraro said he expects the roster of competitors to evolve in the weeks leading up to the April 6 event, which offers a $50,000 purse and is sponsored by GoPro and Red Bull and will be broadcast on ESPN3.
“After the Burton U.S. Open in Vail, they’re all going to France for the X Games, and SPT will be there with them,” Pecoraro said. “We expect those things to come pretty quick.”