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Milam, Leon have mettle to win at Heavy Metal

The 'street' snowboarding event drew dozens of riders and a sizable crowd of spectators to Central Hillside's Cascade Park.

Snowboarder in flight.
Kyle Kennedy jumps from the Cascade Park pavilion during Sunday’s Red Bull Heavy Metal competition Jan. 16, 2022.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Snowboarders from Chisago City, Minnesota and Vermont by way of Connecticut left Cascade Park with $5,000 and the title of Red Bull Heavy Metal champions after the competition on Sunday.
The 'street' snowboarding competition drew dozens of riders to Duluth's Central Hillside and crowds of interested observers as Benny Milam and Maggie Leon took home the top prizes.
The event took place in three zones within the park, with the first zone featuring a 20-foot drop from the park's pavilion tower, the second zone a series of physical 'playground' obstacles like picnic tables and rails and the third and final test traversing a multi-level 'kink rail.'

Snowboarder in flight.
Melissa Riitano holds the edge of her board as she leaves the jump in the Cascade Park pavilion during Sunday’s Red Bull Heavy Metal competition Jan. 16, 2022.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

The event was last held in Cascade Park in 2003.
“Red Bull Heavy Metal means a lot to snowboarding. I think a lot of people might walk away from this event with a different taste in their mouth for street snowboarding. I’m really hoping we inspired all the folks out here today. It was just cool having everybody give me high fives as I was walking up the sideline. I think we did good out here today. We inspired the youth. And maybe even some college students at UMD. Who knows, maybe we’ll see them out here hitting some laps tomorrow. Getting some fresh pow turns. Or what’s left of the fresh powder,” Milam said in a post-event media release.
Martyn Vachon of Oshawa, Ontario came in second and won $3,000, and Zebulon Powell of Waynesville, North Carolina was third and won $1,000.
Maggie Leon came out on top in a field of 11 women competitors with Jaylen Hanson of Hastings, Minnesota second and Lexi Roland third.
“I think snowboarding needs events like Red Bull Heavy Metal. It really helps open street snowboarding to the general public. Snowboarding absolutely needs more of this. Especially because street snowboarding is a little different than slope and it’s a little different than pipe, and it showcases what we do on a day-to-day basis. We’re always talking about barrier to entry, right? This breaks the barrier to entry. You can learn at your local hill, and it’s tough but you can eventually maybe hit your first street rail. And it’s actually accessible and free! And of course you need to learn how to turn before you try this stuff, but I think street snowboarding showcases something more relatable than doing a triple cork off of a jump,” Leon said.

Related Topics: SNOWBOARDING
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