Words by Matt Harvey
Photos by Matt Harvey and Chris O'Connell
Video by Chris O'Connell and Chris McMahon
Saturday, December 14th
It's pitch black outside as I awake from a sound snoring, atop Blue Mountain, in Collingwood, Ontario. The alarm clock reads 6:10, and the excitement quickly sets in, keeping me from passing back into the nothing land of sleep. I slowly creep from my bedroom into the hall to find lights already on, and the quiet buzz of early morning preperations under way. It is the morning of the NS Festival, and Blue Mountain awaits our arrival.
I stagger upstairs to find Jay and Chris rolling over in the shadows, wanting to get up, but unable to move from the evening just passed. Jodi is the first one out the door at 6:30, around the same time as CK drags himself up to join the morning party. We quickly realise that it is so dark outside that not even the tips of our fingers would be visible, so we sit around the ski chalet, wishing we had slept just another couple precious hours.
After much deliberation, we convince ourselves that it is infact bright enough to head to the hill and commence setup. We have finally woken up, mind and body, as we travel down the hill in CK's Civic, and Chris' Pathfinder. We find that we are not the only one alive at this ungodly hour, and take a parking spot halfway down the lot.
We arrive at the bottom of the terrain park to find over ten companies eagerly setting up their tents, and displaying their products. Companies in attendence are listed at the bottom of the story.
We waddle up the hill to check out the park setup, and put Newschoolers.com banners on two of the six killer rails set up. Blue Mountain had something for everyone, with two beginner rails, a trapazoid, a 40 foot rainbow, flat bar, and a downkink (shown below).
It seems like we have been up for hours, at a time when most sane skiers would still be fast asleep. All of the preperations for the day's Festival are complete, and we take the opportunity to take a couple of runs. Blue Mountain had over 60% of the hill open, and coverage was incredible. It felt like a day in February, only much warmer, with the sun hiding bashfully behind the onslaught of clouds above.
Time for registration! As the registration table announces its opening, the flood gates are released, and like champagne running free from an uncorked bottle, the skiers and snowboarders rush to the table like it's going out of style. We were expecting a good turnout, but to the surprise of organizers, more skiers showed up than snowboarders! When registration was complete, 51 skiers, 49 snowboarders, and an array of women and juniors signed up for the first competition to go down in Ontario this season.
Blue Mountain officially opens the first ever Superpipe in Ontario! It's a day in history as Blue sets new standards for terrain parks in the region. And they aren't joking around either. Although the dragon still sticks out of the pipe a foot or two, the walls are manicured to perfection. And why stop with a superpipe and six rails when you can add a perfectly built table top to the mix? The open session lasted for about an hour, until the snowboard comp started at Noon.
Daybreak! Myself, CK, Chris, Matt, and Jay have been up for almost six hours. Registration is complete, the competitions are starting, the tunes are blasting, and it's time for an impromptu photo shoot on the downkink rail. An announcement is made and skiers flock to the rails to show their stuff. A couple of mean crashes, switch ups, switch ons, and a nutting later, the photoshoot is done and Tom runs away with a free DVD for his skills.
The 51 competing skiers, and numerous others who did not make it in time to get a bib, made their way to the Superpipe to show off their skills. With the large amounts of athletes, and a limited amount of time, the comp was thrown in a jam format: Biggest hit, biggest spin, best trick. Skiers were travelling twenty or thirty feet down the pipe, airing out over ten feet, throwing alley-oop corked 7s and 9s, and cleaning up with mad style.
Watch the video.
It has been a long, but very successful day, and it is only half-way through. We head down to the Inn CafÃ© to grab a bite to eat, in preperation for the events to come. Jay is already stumbling as he walks from the 'funny tasting' water he has been drinking, and the atmosphere is gaining excitement by the minute. We finish up our $9 hamburger + beer platters and head back up the hill for the skier rail jam session.
We arrive to the jam session a little late (the hambugers were pretty big!). The rest of the skiers at the Festival have already made their way to the rails and the jam is underway. A couple more great crashes, some nuttings, and completely styled out slides go down again in this session. Tom, the winner of the DVD in the photoshoot, won again with a switch 270 on to switch off (disaster) on the downkink. The highlight of the session however, was Charles' nutting of a lifetime! Doing a front flip off his nuts, halfway down the kink, Charles then proceeded to run all the way to the bottom of the hill, trying to forget about the intense pain he undoubtedly was feeling. The rail jam ended the on-hill activities, and there was nothing but smiles all around (except for Charles of course). We made our way down the hill, and to our Hotel.
Watch the video.
The Inn CafÃ© was booked solid when I called a week earlier to make reservations for the Newschoolers.com crew. I was dissapointed to have to make reservations off-site. When we pulled up to the Grand Georgian, my dissapointment turned to bliss. This brand new, four star hotel didn't miss a beat. Free outdoor hottub, a kitchen in the room, a queen sized bed, and a pullout couch (and of course ample floor space for the already passed out Jay). We sat around our beautifully furnished room, opened up a 2-4, and relaxed for an hour while preparing for the party ahead.
We were already late for the awards ceremony as we hobbled down the road back to the base of Blue Mountain (less Jay of course, who was taking a 'nap' back at the hotel). We caught the last couple of awards, one of which was given to the people visiting from far away. There were those that travelled from Ottawa, Buffalo, and even as far away as Michigan! Newschoolers.com rider Jess Bennie won it for the girls, and then we headed for the bar.
For the next two hours, our visual senses were tickled with the sites from Level 1 Production's Strike Three, and Boardpass.com's Mayhem 4. Both were popular movies with the crowd, and it complemented well the beer being passed around by the pitcher. Several mic appearances and Newschoolers.com plugs later, the movies were over, and we made our way to Jozo's.
The after-party portion of the NS Festival held at Blue Mountain was supposed to begin at 10pm, but we found no reason to put off heading for the ski-chalet style bar. We grabbed a table, ordered some nachose (which took over 45 minutes to arrive), and talked about the festivities that just went down. Chris and Stacey made the journey back to our hotel room to fetch Jay, who surprisingly came out to the bar and continued to consume. Great fun was had by all as copious amounts of beverage was dpwmed, and the bar filled up with elderly cougars.
As we began to pass out, we recalled numerous people and organizations who deserved special thanks for the work they put into making the NS Festival happen.
Jodi Cook - Blue Mountain, Promotions Coordinator
Doug Bishop - Blue Mountain, Park Tech
CK O'Connell - Neschoolers.com, Director of Operations
Matt Harvey - Newschoolers.com, President/Founder
Orage, SBC Skier, Boardpass.com, Burton, Salomon, A.O.S, Flow, Head, Elan, Ride/Nixon, Lamar/Limited, BMR
Everyone who made it to the event and supported us!
Chris O'Connell has put together a compliation video recapping the Festival. Watch the Vid.
Thanks again to everyone who made it out to Blue Mountain! Newschoolers.com appreciates all the support you guys give us. We'll see you there again next year!