Manhattan Mayhem

Union 26

Oakley sports have truly been dominating all spectrums from Winter X Games in Aspen to FBR Open in Phoenix and now Street Sessions in Manhattan! We had all the angles covered in Union Square with five competing athletes, Dingo and Nelson emceeing, Trevor “Trouble” Andrew performing on stage, numerous banners, product giveaways and the Rolling O Lab’s insane presence (including a private tour for the NBC cameras).

For nearly 170 years Union Square has been a gathering place—for commerce, for entertainment, for labor and political events, and for recreation. The park owes its name to its location at the intersection—or union—of two major roads in New York City, Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) and Bowery Road (now Fourth Avenue). And this past Thursday night it was the site of the second annual Union Square Street Sessions under the surrounding city lights.

“The Union Square Street Sessions presented by Jeep transformed one of the City’s most storied parks into a winter wonderland,” Sports Commissioner Ken Podziba said. “The juxtaposition of a 40-foot snowboarding rail surrounded by skyscrapers in the heart of New York City creates a truly unique experience for fans and riders alike. This year’s event winner was presented with the first ever Mayor’s Cup NYC Snowboarding Trophy.”

The crew of the Rolling O Lab drove into Manhattan hot off the heels of our FBR Open success story and driving through several winter snowstorms to arrive in the late hours of Wednesday night. A big shout out to Aaron the head driver of the Rolling O Lab and the rest of the crew for making the nearly impossible cross-country drive just in time. By noon on Thursday the Rolling O Lab was rocking on the corner of 17th and Broadway in Union Square. Towering over our neighboring sponsors tents the Rolling O Lab was an absolute must see for all the daily foot and vehicle traffic.

“To be in the heart of New York City with some of our best riders, entertainers and the Rolling O Lab made this event a slam dunk for Oakley,” proclaimed Ryan Evert, Rolling O Lab Manager for Oakley. “I mean how could you possibly ask for a better location then the corner of 17th and Broadway in the busiest and biggest city in North America… from the foot traffic to the NBC coverage we could not be happier as a brand with the exposure we gained here.”

As the sun began to set over the Manhattan skyline, practice came to a close and the first of three rounds began with some serious heavy hitting action. A crowd of over 10,000 moved their way into Union Square to check out the battle of rail riders that was about to take place. NH young guns Sam Hulbert and Brandon Reis came out swinging with some ridiculous early round trickier, making not only the judges take note, but their fellow competitors.

After round one all five Oakley rippers were moving on – Tom Weis, Aaron Bittner, Jeremy Cloutier, Brandon Reis and Sam Hulbert. Round two produced the best action all night long as the riders were still fresh enough to hike, while riding the course with half the size field as round one and now completely familiar with the set-up. For whatever reason Brandon and Sam did not move onto round three, even though the general consensus was that Brandon had walked away with the best performance in round two.

With night setting in and round three about to kick off Bittner and I chatted about shredding in Utah and the fact that he was pretty much done with rail riding for the year after this contest. We joked about contests and television’s role in controlling the layout and structure of them. I shared with Aaron, Shaun White’s recent scenario at the Winter X Games, where he was put on hold for a basketball game. Both of us laughed over the story and Bittner hiked back up to the start ramp. Wanting to score a new angle I hiked up with the rest of the finalists to capture some new photos from atop the 40-foot drop in ramp.

Just as the finals were about to kick off the starter informed all the riders that although the format would remain a jam, each rider would have to wait a full 20 seconds before one could drop in after the other. Bittner turned around and just rolled his eyes with a look of are you kidding me.

The finals were action packed and all I can say is being a judge for this event was not an easy one, but either way Mike Cassanova totally deserved the first place check for $15,000 and Mayors Trophy!

Make sure to catch all the action of The Jeep Union Square Street Sessions on NBC’s Jeep World of Adventure Sports, February 16th from 5 to 6pm EST.

Big thanks to the entire Rolling O Lab Crew, Liam Barrett, Chris Hotell, Brianne DeWeese, Aaron Quigley, Joe Mata, Area Reps and Accounts, Jack Fleming, Red Bull, NBC, Jeep and all the other sponsors for putting together an amazing event for Oakley Sports.