JOHN COWAN'S BACKYARD JAM EXCLUSIVELY FOR DIRT JUMPERS TOOK THE WHOLE DAMN DIRT THING TO A HIGHER LEVEL. RUSS CARTY WAS THERE.The progression of dirt jumping hit new heights during Kona Clump rider John Cowan's first annual Backyard Jam dirt jumping contest held at Cowan's super-sized private trails in San Marcos, California, before the Interbike show. Fifteen pro mountain bikers rode the "Disneyland" of daunting dirt trails, built by Cowan, in a two-hour contest of sick tricks and technical transfers.
"It's like playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 and finding a new level," says 16-year-old rider, Kyle Strait, who had big moves including a tail-whip over the biggest jump.
Three judges and the riders themselves determined that Cowan won top prize of $1050 US, for back-flip variations like a back-flip-no-footer, a back-flip x-up, superman transfers, 360 x-ups, and consistently good riding throughout the day. He shared Freeride Entertainment's "Sickest Trick of the Day" $500 prize with Scott rider Timo Pritzel from Germany, who awed the crowd with a huge transfer line as his head skimmed the top branches of an avocado tree. Pritzel nailed second place with a prize of $750 for a solid session of innovative lines and extended tricks including the sickest no foot can-can, and a back-flip tabletop off the biggest jump.
Former BMX superstar and X-Games veteran Chris Duncan won $500 for third, landing many difficult tricks including a tail whip, and Cameron McCaul from Santa Cruz blasted into fourth place with his quiver of tricks, earning the young rider $250. John Jesme launched big 360's and back flips to win fifth and Jordy Lunn's nothing to no foot can can helped him take sixth. South African downhill racer Greg Minaar rode impressively well with big supermans and smooth style.
"This is the first time that there's been a contest exclusively for dirt jumpers and everything went back to the riders," says John Cowan. "That created an environment where the riders could ride at their peak; it's amazing how much this sport has progressed."
Riders enjoyed the relaxed "Jam" format where they were judged for overall performance rather than individual runs or crashes at the unique event. The Backyard Jam was sponsored by the Kona Bicycle Company, Marzocchi, Decline Magazine, Freeride Entertainment, Salomon, and Stone Brewery.
Main pic: The kind of radical action that John Cowan and Timo Pritzel bring to the party over and over, bigger and wilder.
Other pic: John and Timo (with the beard). Timo's secret history as a soap star is yet to be revealed.