Rudimentary Roots: Stevens Pass Retro Fool’s Day 2016

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Before the days of snow cats and mechanized cutters, half pipes came to fruition through the strenuous labor of dedicated riders willing to dig one out by hand. Pipe competitions have come a long way since their inaugural debut in 1983 at the first ever Snowboard World Championships in Soda Springs, CA, but the prototypal pit’s impact on freestyle snowboarding has been immeasurable. As of late there has been a strong focus in reflecting upon snowboarding’s rudimentary roots in our own contemporary culture. It is evident in the burgeoning carve craze, a growing number of banked slaloms across the country and abroad, and through younger riders’ evident desire to emulate surf-style in present-day riding. Before the days of double corks and double kinks, tweaks reigned supreme – and in some circles, they still do. This past weekend at Stevens Pass Retro Fool’s Day, it did for sure.

Spectacle would be an understatement. The slopes burned bright with the heat of a hundred neon shredders. It looked like a scene out of 1985’s “Better Off Dead” starring John Cusack, with onesies, tube socks, tights and scrunchies, and wild wigs out the wazoo. There was also lots of beer.

The day started with a slalom race off the Big Chief lift. Prior to dropping in, racers earn time deductions based on how old their gear is, further encouraging the retro vibe. Bluebird skies allowed for a beating-hot sun and high temps led to slushy slip-outs. The need to constantly “rehydrate” also helped in leading to an even greater number of falls. Ryan “Disco” Davis, a.k.a. Johnny Wavis, led the colorful pack by carving out a time of 44.90 seconds on his 1991 Lib Tech Dough Boy Shredder, 6’ 7’’ in length. When asked what his technique was, he said, “Stay low, be powerful,” before proceeding to finish the drink at hand.

Following the slalom riders made their way over to the “Stunt Ditch.” The Stunt Ditch resembled a classic hand-dug halfpipe and featured a corrugated tube and a few tires and barrels for added variety. Kurt Jenson was the unofficial MVP of the Ditch after throwing a multitude of crowd-pleasing backflips and handplants, and Ryan Davis backed up his race time with airtime and a few classically quintessential PNW methods (one would expect nothing less from Johnny Wavis). The freestyle jam went un-judged with male and female riders of all ages and skill levels dropping, slamming and landing at random.

Between fresh 2016 bindings strapped to tattered 1980s boards, iPhones and remote controlled drones filming snowboarders in a hand dug halfpipe, and the gathering of gray-haired grinders and the up-and-coming groms who will one day fill their boots, Stevens Pass’ Retro Fool’s Day event was a harmonious culmination of old and new. Through paying homage to the sport’s roots, however comical our appreciation may have seemed, we thrived in the unadulterated aspect of what makes snowboarding truly great – Although the clothing, music and riding styles influencing our sport may change, some things remain the same: Tricks are tricks. A board is a board. A slope is a slope.

And this will always be about having fun.

2016 Retro Fool’s Day Slalom Top 3 Racers:

1) Ryan Davis a.k.a. Johnny Wavis

2) Kyle Phillips a.k.a. Yeti

3) Bryce Yamasaki a.k.a. B-Rizzle

Retro Fools Day 2016 from Funny Feelings on Vimeo.

Retro Fool’s Day is a fundraiser for The Service Board, a Washington based charity that focuses on mentoring teens to conquer personal and cultural challenges through public service an outdoor adventure. This year’s event raised over $700 that will be put towards getting kids on-slope. Click here to donate or get involved.

Thank you to Chris Danforth, Julian Tracy and the rest of the Stevens Pass crew for hosting another wildly successful Retro Fool’s Day, and especially to the park staff for constructing such an entertaining Stunt Ditch. Rain or shine, powder or slush, the PNW can always count on Stevens Pass for a fun time.


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