The crew at Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire
“When Iberg first told me about the tour, I said yes immediately,” says Phil Casabon slowly through swollen, half-closed lips. He broke his jaw on a knee-to-face landing here at Mt. Hood last week, but he’s still willing to tell me about last winter’s Inspired Demo Tour even with his mouth wired shut. “I saw the potential and I knew it was one of the greatest things we could be doing, to reach out to the people that support us and spread the stoke.”
We’re sitting in a cabin occupied by the Inspired crew at the Ark, the staff lodging for Windell’s Camp employees, where Phil, Paul Bergeron, Henrik Harlaut and filmer Emil Granöö have been staying while building backcountry jumps at Hood. Last week Eric Iberg asked me to write a Newschoolers article on the Inspired Demo Tour, so I’m here at the Ark to ask the boys about their experience.
From December to February, B-Paul, B-Dog and E-Dollo journeyed across a vast swath of North America on a mission to bring stoke to ski areas in regions that are often underappreciated or overlooked. Starting in Maine and ending in South Dakota, the crew skied in ten different states and one Canadian province, while driving a total of over 6,000 miles. In a nutshell, B, B&E drove, jibbed, autographed, bumped Wu Tang and Mobb Deep, and bro-pounded their way across much of America’s ski heartland, making a point of visiting many of the smaller mom-and-pop ski areas along the way.
B&E at Cascade Mountain, Wisconsin
Whaleback, New Hampshire.
B-Dog in the Midwest with a lot of tickets stacked up.
Phil pulls out a leather-bound photo album and hands it to me. Inside are photos of the tour crew in front of the sign for each resort they visited. There are 50 in all. “Jess, Tanner’s trainer, made these for us,” he says. Looking at it is the easiest way for the guys to pick out specific memories from the long months on tour.
Wild Mountain, Minnesota
“Where was that house party where we played chess?” asks E-Dollo. The crew begins to toss around names of friends and ski resorts, from Minnesota to New England. “You gotta mention Dougie Fresh!” someone says, mentioning a good friend they stayed with in Detroit. Later on the phone tour manager Kevin Perron tells me stories of a crazy night at a backwoods inn and bar near Saddleback, Maine involving an ugly sweater contest, a rock-paper-scissors tournament, and selected members of the tour reciting the entirety of GZA's Liquid Swords during an open mic jam.
Of course, there are countless other stories to tell, and 66 days is a very long time to be driving around with a ski crew. There is Henrik's Olympic training video from Quebec and skiers going wild to the Backstreet Boys and Slayer. There are four B&E Shows documenting the tour, with more reputedly on the way. I was lucky enough to see Phil's personal highlight reel, which is dripping with bangers.
“It went by so fast," says Phil. "Once we were in it, it was just nonstop. Drive, ski, autograph, drive, sleep, to the next mountain and the next and the next, meeting kids and skiing something totally different every day.”
Phil on a unique feature at Stowe, Vermont.
B-Paul nose buttering at Blackjack, Michigan
Brady Perron at Boston Mills/Brandywine, Ohio.
“It was a hectic, intense—No, let me rephrase. It was the most hectic, intense and fun experience I’ve ever had,” says Emil. “Two very fun months just hanging out with some of the best friends I’ve got, filming all day every day with these riders who dedicated two months of their season to go out and meet kids.”
One of the tour’s most impressive story lines is how Henrik came straight off the tour—from the 25th stop in Alpine Valley, Ohio, to be precise—to the X Games in Aspen, stomped an unheard-of trick, won two medals, and then came straight back. A few days after standing on top of skiing’s biggest podium, he was hitting a backyard PVC rail in Michigan.
Dollo at Hyland Hills, Minnesota
“I’ve never really trained much for contests,” says Henrik. “If you ski a lot, that’s the best preparation, and that’s exactly what we did on the tour. Skiing so many different mountains, and you only have one day to do any tricks on the features. We were excited each day for a new mountain and something we’ve never skied before.”
Dollo enjoying the rope tow at Wild Mountain, Minnesota.
Dollo praised the Midwestern parks in a news clip for a Minnesota TV station, perhaps giving people there the feeling that they aren't at the dead end of the ski world, after all:http://eplayer.clipsyndicate.com/embed/iframe?aspect_ratio=16x9&auto_next=0&auto_start=0&page_count=8&pf_id=8302&pl_id=16621&rel=3&show_title=0&tags=default&va_id=3946827&volume=8&windows=1" width="425" height="330"
Here's one more news report from the crew's visit to Hyland Hills:http://player.vimeo.com/video/59968508?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0" width="400" height="300" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen
“It was sick to see so many small mountains,” adds Paul Bergeron. “I wasn’t expecting that much, and I was really surprised. Most of the mountains had really nice parks.” Despite low snow levels in much of the East, the crew made the most of what they had, getting help from park crew and locals along the way. At Sunday River the park was rebuilt just for the tour’s visit. At other resorts where snow levels were low, features were quickly set up alongside the ski trails. On weekends the ski areas were packed. On weekdays, kids skipped school to ski with their heroes.
A big crew rolls at Mt. Snow.
First lap at Sunday River, Maine.
A crew at Pine Knob, Michigan.
A packed park at 100-foot vertical Elm Creek, Minnesota.
“The East Coast and the Midwest are regions that do not get a lot of love from the skiing professionals because the hills and conditions are not epic enough,” Iberg told Powder Magazine in an interview about the tour. “But people in these locations are really what make the ski world go round. They are the people that ski everyday in the shittiest conditions ever and love it because it is an opportunity to ski.”
What particular places stood out for you? I ask the crew at the Ark. Names come flying back: the big turnout at Mt. Snow, the high-speed rope tows at Wild Mountain and Hyland Hills, the Perrons’ house in New Hampshire, Dougie Fresh’s spot, a guy named Austin in Ohio, a guy named Fritz in New York... the list goes on and on. “People were awesome, showing us so much hospitality on the road,” says Phil. Along the way the crew met up with old friends (like Brady Perron, Phil Belanger and Mike Nick) and made many new ones, like Dougie, Austin, and Evan Dybvig at Whaleback, who the boys remembered from “Royalty” and were honored to meet. At many of the smaller ski resorts the crew found themselves meeting directly with the ski resort owners when they visited.
Vallée du Park, Quebec, Phil's home resort
Greek Peak, New York
Snow Trails, Ohio
“Out West the ski resort owners are rich big-timers, but in New York you’ll meet the owners at the ski resort right there, running the lifts,” says Kevin. “Its super grass-roots in a sick way. You get to meet everyone involved in the resort.”
In essence, that was what it was all about: meeting the locals, skiing new places and making new friends. Will the Tour be back next year? No doubt about it, says Kevin, who says they’ll be adding new resorts and athletes to the tour next year. Casabon says he plans to be back on tour next year connecting with fans.
Alpine Valley, Wisconsin.
“You reach out to the people who support you, and spread the love back to the sport where you give all your effort and dedication,” says Casabon. “The purity of it is overwhelming.”
A young Inspired fan in Vermont.
There is an incredible wealth of videos and blog posts over at inspireddemotour.com documenting the whole tour. Big props to Iberg for having the dream and the Inspired crew for making it a reality—I'm sure that all the fans that the boys met on the road will agree that the Inspired Demo Tour was one of the sicker things to happen in skiing last year. Let's hope the van has legs for another go-round!
Terry Peak, South Dakota.