The unofficial La Niña, on-the-edge events guide for snowboarders and skiers
A roundup of 2010-11 slopeside parties, contests and events around Washington ski and boarding resorts, for the young and not-so.
Special to The Seattle Times
If the prophetic equatorial waters are true, this La Niña could prove to be a winter of epic proportions. It's going to be deep. It's going to be cold. It's going to be — a fiesta.
After last season's abysmal conditions, La Niña is coming on like freezing manna from heaven for Northwest skiers and snowboarders.
And local ski areas are already licking their chops.
Crystal Mountain built a gondola. White Pass is firing up two new quad lifts. Summit East reopens. Mt. Baker got new "extreme danger" signs.
But the question begs, what about the contests? How are rail jams going to work in waist-deep powder?
"It's one of those things, you just gotta roll with it," says Nate Escalona, the 26-year-old marketing manager at Stevens Pass Ski Area. "There are only a couple events we can't run if conditions are bad. We'll just be digging out the rails."
With last year's Winter Olympics only a distant memory of baffling network coverage, here is an exhaustive list of adventurous events that you can watch in person, or, better yet, compete in yourself. Who knows? Maybe this is your year.
It's time to put your p-tex on the line in these local rail and box contests. Expect live music, barbecue and close-up views. Come with an open mind and de-tuned edges.
This year is all about creativity. At Summit Central's Boxes for Days, Youth Marketing Director Krush Kulesza has created a LEGO-like fantasy and answered the question of what would happen if someone lined up every single box on the mountain and tried to slide the entire thing. Also, be sure to check out the Revolution Jankity Junk Jam and Quarterpipe event at Mission Ridge in February — just make sure you've gotten your tetanus shot.
Here's the season's calendar:
• Open Season Rail Jam, Dec. 17, Stevens Pass. More info: www.ridestevenspass.com.
• Boxes for Days, Jan. 15, The Summit at Snoqualmie. More info: www.summitatsnoqualmie.com/News/Events.
• Revolution Jankity Junk Jam and Quarterpipe, Feb. 5, Mission Ridge. More info: www.missionridge.com.
• Volcom's Peanut Butter and Rail Jam, Feb. 12, The Summit at Snoqualmie.
• Greenhorn Games (13-and-younger contest), March 12, The Summit at Snoqualmie.
• Pretzels and Polish Donuts, March 26, The Summit at Snoqualmie.
Heart thumping. Legs jelly. Pick your line and take a deep breath. These big-mountain events are all about taking a smooth line through the sketchiest terrain. New this past year, the North Face Masters of Snowboarding at Crystal Mountain is already the king of local freeriding events. If the sun is out, bring your binoculars and enjoy the show. If not, go ride powder.
Here's the season's calendar of freeriding events:
• Cowboy Up Freeride Challenge (ages 12-17), Jan. 28-30, Stevens Pass.
• North Face Masters of Snowboarding, Feb. 6-8, Crystal Mountain. More info: www.thenorthfacemasters.com.
Lose your inhibitions
There is a breed of advanced humans who no longer need bindings on their snow-sliding devices. From snowskating to powder surfing, Hurricane Ridge near Port Angeles is leading the charge as the Northwest center for minimalist snow gear. (It's reported that people with bindings still ski and slide there, too.)
The calendar for binding-free events:
• Revolution SnowSkate and Destroy Jam, Jan. 8, Mission Ridge.
• Strapless Weekend, featuring Snowskate Park Jam and the Almost Legendary Snowskate Baked Slalom, March 26-27, Hurricane Ridge.
No matter the latest trend in snowboarding or skiing, there's still no substitute for hitting a big ol' jump. Ever since the first skier pointed his wooden planks at a mound of snow and said "watch this," catching air has remained the staple of snow one-upmanship.
Nowadays, you probably have to slide a few rails on the way, but all eyes will still be on the big jump. Whether you fly or flop, these slopestyle, big air and quarterpipe events all have one thing in common — air time. The calendar of jumping events:
• Capita's Minor Threat (14 and younger), Feb. 19, Stevens Pass.
• Kan Jam Freestyle Festival, Feb. 4-6, Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park. More info: www.mtspokane.com.
• Holy Oly Revival, Feb. 19, The Summit at Snoqualmie.
• Ride Shakedown, March 18-19, The Summit at Snoqualmie.
• Big Air Fiesta, March 19, Stevens Pass.
• Hoedown Throwdown Slopestyle, April 9-10, Stevens Pass.
It's just you against the clock. Fastest one down the mountain wins. Come armed with your race wax and a bag full of excuses. The calendar of race events:
• Legendary Banked Slalom Locals Qualifier, Jan. 17, Mt. Baker Ski Area. More info: www.mtbaker.us.
• Legendary Banked Slalom, Feb. 11-13, Mt. Baker Ski Area.
• Glenn Wilcutt Telemark Race, March 19-20, Stevens Pass.
Fund cancer research, wear your old neon gear and watch your kid compete with other kids at these low-stress, high-fun events. The Retro Fools Day at Stevens Pass features a slalom course with time deductions based on the retro-ness of your gear.
"Last year's best dressed, Steve Frink, was wearing a one piece, boda bag and a tape deck playing Oingo Boingo," says Nate Escalona at Stevens.
The calendar of benefit and just-for-fun events:
• Burton Women's Retreat, Feb. 26-27, Stevens Pass.
• American Cancer Society's Hope on the Slopes, March 5-6 at Stevens Pass, March 12-13 at Crystal Mountain, March 19-20 at White Pass.
• Dirt Bag Ball, March 26, Crystal Mountain.
• Retro Fools Day, April 2, Stevens Pass.
John Kinmonth is a Seattle-based freelance writer and snowboarder.