Nate Haust givin’ em a show. Photo: Kyle Weiss

 WORDS AND PHOTOS: Kyle Weiss

The 2018 LA Air & Style, scheduled for March 3-4, 2018, held its first round of qualifiers at Bear Mountain on January 6th, to determine which lucky rider would be jetsetting to Los Angeles in a few months. This year’s contest is being held as a rail jam, rather than a terrifying drop-of-doom in the middle of LA, and the qualifiers reflected that. The course consisted of a selection of heavy-duty Bear Mountain metal, courtesy of the Bear park crew.

Between a triple set of down-rails atop some grated metal stairs, a closed-out down bar with an evil gap halfway through, and the aptly named “Hell-bow” kinked rail all on course, it was not a setup to be taken lightly. Casualties were kept to a minimum, but we did see some scary hits. (Rumor has it Big Bear Sports actually sold out of helmets after Julius Starr took a bloody tumble into the gap rail). Veterans Eddie Wall and John Castro hosted, while the the sounds of DJ Slipmatt filled the air.

Dray

Drayden Gardner does it for ‘Merica!

Riders from across the country gathered to take part, but only one would take home the coveted ticket to Air & Style… or so we thought. Drayden Gardner was slated to clean house and take the ride down to LA, but things took a quick turn when Nate Haust, the East Coast powerhouse and contest wild card, stepped onto the course. For over an hour, the two went head-to-head, throwing down trick after trick after trick. When time came for the judges to decide on a winner, one single winner just could not be picked. Both the prize money and the coveted ticket to Air & Style were split between Nate and Drayden, and they created a delicious Shaun White sandwich on the podium. The qualifiers then closed out with a wild performance by drum legend Travis Barker.

Ok, that’s a funny looking sandwich, but we stand by the joke. Photo: Holly Gardner

All eyes are now peeled for on the full contest in March, and with the crazy turn of events that led to our duel champions earning tickets to the upcoming contest, we’re excited to see what the two of them can do on the big stage. In addition to featuring some of the world’s most talented riders, as well as musican guests Phoenix, Zedd, Griz, Phantogram and more. The LA Air & Style event at Echo Park is definitely not to be missed. Get your tickets here.