Words by Ian Reynolds
Photos by Mike Rogge & Dan Brown (http://www.kapitolphotography.com)
A true ski fan knows there are some events you just can’t miss. For most of us, traveling to Aspen for the X Games is out of the question. The Dew Tour brought that world to the east coast this year by making one of three inaugural stops at Mt. Snow, VT. This gave the true fans from the east an opportunity to see and experience the highest level of competitive skiing, up close and personal.
Some ski fans are more fortunate and have worked for a seat behind the velvet ropes, in the heated tents drinking free hot cocoa. The rest of us, i.e. the majority, are still stuck outside of that barrier, drinking beer from backpacks and ripping shots from flasks all while keeping it under raps so the cops don’t get wise to the situation unfolding. This is the crowd I found myself rolling with at the Dew Tour.
The week preceding the event was one filled with excitement in the local ski shop in Framingham, MA. Speculations of tricks performed, final results and all other types were talked about constantly. The events started Wednesday with the first practices for slopestyle and pipe. I, of course, having to work around my day job couldn’t get there for the full experience, but rather the weekend warrior's perspective of the final two days.
Arriving Thursday night was a great choice, as things really didn’t get rolling until the next day. Friday began with classic preparations for a full day on the hill. Pack the car with everything from ski gear to going out clothes, driving to 7-11 or Christy’s for those of us who have skied Mt. Snow our whole lives. A six pack, 1/4 lb hot dog and Monster later you're at the base of the mountain to stand in the cold and watch the best athletes in the sport compete for the most money ever given away.
The set-up for the event couldn’t have been better. At the base of the slopestyle there was a massive big screen showing all the uphill action out of view to the people standing at the bottom. Aside from the incredible action on the hill all the skiers were exiting straight into the crowd. With that said you get the first taste of how truly approachable these skiers are. They are simply talented trained athletes but share the same passion for the sport.
Lunch was the same story. I walked into a lodge I have been going to for fifteen years and this time, it was packed. It was filled with people just like my friends and I, people simply stoked on the sports of skiing and snowboarding. In addition to those, the crowd was speckled with athletes like Simon Dumont, Jon Olsson and Peter Olenick. The looks on the faces of kids around were similar to what you would imagine if Tom Brady walked into your bar on Sunday. They were in awe. There were autographs a plenty but the truly great part of the experience was how these athletes handled themselves. They were composed, polite and most of all pumped to talk to kids who look up to them.
After lunch it was time to brave the cold and step out to watch the slopestyle finals. The field was stacked with serious contenders but sadly the crowd dwindled. The true fans were left out in the cold to watch the jumbo TV and catch the final two hits live. This was enough for the small crowd that gathered, but I couldn’t help notice the longing looks towards the heated structure at the bottom of the course. This structure blocked most of the view. Where’s the love for the average Joe? Nonetheless people were still standing at full attention screaming when the big doubles were thrown down. To most of the crowd, the results mattered less than the excitement of watching an event of this stature and seeing the athletes up first hand.
The day continued on from there with a killer concert with Dirty Heads and Flobots. In the down time it was back into the lodge for a warm up. I sat down on the couch and started playing a quick game of Shaun White and when I looked over realized I was sitting next to Tanner Hall. To most of society this would seem a small event with just another stranger. For a skier it evokes extreme excitement and high social anxiety. What do you say to the athlete you look up to the most. After introducing myself I realized, he was what I had hoped he would be, a skier. He was truly passionate about the sport and you got the sense that really nothing else mattered. Life long skiers can relate to this and it creates an instant bond. Thanks for fulfilling this role Tanner.
After that meeting my stoke was through the roof and it was only emphasized by a great show on the stage outside. Dirty Heads killed it.
The night rolled on from there with some down time at the hotel bar for some dinner and pregame drinks. This was followed by a fury of phone calls trying to get into the parties surrounding the resort. The Snow Barn was the place to be that night. The beauty of drinking at the hotel bar is the local staff that understands safe rides are important. A quick ride from the local valet and a response from the staff at the Snow Barn and I was into the party for the night.
The scene at the Snow Barn was as to be expected, wild. Outside while waiting in line, the opportunity arose to meet members of the Dirty Heads and they were just as excited as the crowd waiting to get in. This was surely a sign of good things to come.
The night consisted of large bar tabs, pro athletes, and industry insiders. It was a great opportunity to have a great time and meet great people. After a rousing night with NS writer Mike Rogge and friends the likes of John Symms, Tom Wallisch and others who may or may not be under the age of 21 and will remain unnamed, a ride home with friends was in order.
Getting home was a relief after such a long day and with the expectations for the pipe final on Saturday a good nights sleep was just what the doctor ordered. Saturday was a more low key day as I didn’t arrive to the base of the pipe until four thirty. This time there was a massive crowd gathered. The true fans were out in full force. From Xtremo costumes to beer hidden in the crowd it was the true comp experience. Standing in the crowd, which constantly pushed forward for a better view, was a rush. While most fans stood and watched I couldn’t help notice the scaffold structure behind me. I saw the heat lamps and the cups of coffee and cocoa in people’s hands. It made me question where I would like to be and with that came the realization, the crowd is where the true stoke really is. The crowd is what brings the stoke and adrenalin to the athletes. The stoke isn’t in the form of cocoa and warmth, but rather bitter cold and beer. Sitting in the crowd, outside the velvet ropes is where I’ll be at every event I can make it to. And for those that don’t know, the pipe finals were amazing to watch.