At the heart of Midwest snowboarding culture is the tow rope. Not having grown up in this bastion of board world, I can only speak to the rope’s importance as an onlooker, though the gravity of how it shapes snowboarding is clear, no matter where you’re from, thanks to the talent that emanates from the region. If the tow rope is a pillar of our culture, visiting Dresser, Wisconsin, the home of Trollhaugen, it felt like a pilgrimage to a mecca of its existence.
Half a decade ago, Pete Harvieux, venerated member of the industry, founder of The Interior Plain Project, and constant, hard-charging conduit of Midwest snowboarding community, catalyzed a meeting of the minds on the rope. Each winter, Lord of the Ropes brings a crew of the Midwest’s best rail riders–which is to say, a crew of the best rail riders, end sentence–to Troll where they battle it out head-to-head for the title of Lord of the Rope. Last Friday, at the fifth iteration of infamous Midwest event dubbed LOTR: Ingrained, 64 men and women took to the Troll set up under the lights, moving through the rounds until Benny Milam was crowned champion.
The contest in its entirety can be watched on Trollhaugen’s Youtube (we’ve posted it here), and the lofi aesthetics of the broadcast match the grassroots ethos of the proceedings. But that’s what is wild about the IPP event at the same time; it’s a local event with a leveled up roster. Benny Milam, Mike Liddle, Eli Lamm, Alexis Roland, Justin Fronius, Skiba, Rob Roethler, Colin Wilson, Kyle Kennedy, Emily O’Connor, Casey Pflipsen, Sam Klein, Ryan Paul, Matt “Boody” Boudreaux, Garrett McKenzie, Blake Lamb–just a few of the 64 individuals that were at the top of the park for this year’s contest. It was a meeting of experience and aspiration, of veterans and up-and-comers, of energy and calculation, of a community whose finesse on the ropes has given them countless laps in Troll’s celebrated parks and in turn, they’ve brought their personal brands of style and ingenuity to the foreground of our culture.
Mike Yoshida was at Trollhaugen for Lord of the Ropes and captured what went down. Enjoy the gallery of photos, a cross-section of Midwesterners fully Ingrained.