A gathering at Sugarbush in Vermont.
On the East Coast, as a rule, it is unheard of to have three days of unadulterated sunny weather, skies devoid of clouds and dilute in bright blue (okay, there were some clouds the last day, but it was warm and slushy). That kind of luck in weather is rare. Something a bit remarkable. A three-day event in the Northeast is usually marred by at least one interrupting downpour followed by an overnight freeze, or a day of bulletproof hardpack, or just the kind of slightly offensive weather, overall, that makes East Coast snowboarders the unique breed that they are.
Well, it’s unsure what dark conjuring Rome Snowboards’ Matt Stillman and Snowboy Productions’ Krush Kulesza made happen among the peaks of the Green Mountains, but Mother Nature turned it on for the week of Sidehit Séance at Sugarbush Resort. Three days of perfect spring weather for a relentlessly creative crew of riders who made the treck to norther VT.
A meeting of the rakes between the Snowboy crew and the Sugarbush Parks squad brought to life a myriad of transition, metal, and wood, flooding a trail just off the Green Mountain Express and weaving through the trees on the lane’s edge. It was the manifestation of the natural trailside bumps and berms of Sugarbush, enhanced to magical proportions, thanks to the work of the diggers. (Big shouts to Snowboy’s Krush, Blake Geis, Laura Rogoski, and Louie Arrigoni, as well as the entire Sugarbush Parks crew, led by terrain park director Trevor Borrelli and head groomer Tyler Watson.)
On Wednesday, March 16th, a congregate of boarders gathered on the bottom bowl zone in the Séance park, standing on the deck and interspersed on logs among the birches. This gathering was almost exactly two years in the making and the excitement was palpable. Planned originally for the same week in March 2020, the world shut down, and of course, the Séance was postponed. Now, March 2022, as slowly shards of familiarity have returned, we can rip around with friends again, and the crew behind Sidehit Séance intended to mark this March with an all-time gathering. The setup had a field of dreams aura, a magnetism that had summoned individuals from all over to Sugarbush. The SDS was out in full force, of course. Stale Sandbech and Len Jorgensen flew in from Norway, Ivika Jurgensen arrived from Finland. Kayli Hendricks from BC, Madison Blackley, Ozzy Henning and Jeff Hopkins from Utah. Nate Haust from Tahoe. Drake Warner, a new addition to the crew, came in from Michigan. Ralph Kucharek drove down from Burlington, while Casey Savage came up from southern VT. New Englander Ian Keay returned from Washington. Timmy Sullivan, Lucas Magoon, and Luke Mathison were there. Jeff DeForge returned to Sugarbush from Colorado and brought fellow Possy member, Eli Lamm with him. North Carolinian up-and-comer Charlotte Flowers, perennial favorite Louie Arrigoni, Sean Murphy, Tucker Speer, John Murphy, John Garoutte, Charlie Mayforth, Kevin Raknis, Travis Kerr (owner of beloved local shop, Splinters), and more flooded the park. It was a much-needed meeting on the East Coast. A long-awaited time to session.
That’s the thing about Snowboy events, of course. Sidehit had a Field of Dreams quality. An “if you build it, they will come” that collected individuals who had ridden together, who had not, who fed off one another’s energy and aesthetic, whether when launching off the rider’s right hips along the treeline or building a DIY jump through the trees. Walking around on hill carrying a camera and watching things, riders hiking, hanging, finding lines, it just plainly felt good to be there. I think it was that way for everyone. There’s something about an East Coast event where there is just so much appreciation about what’s going on. Nothing is taken for granted, no feature, no line, no moment to spend with the crew.
For three days, the weather was perfect, the snow was soft, and the course was devoured by everyone in attendance. Sessions erupted in different areas of the park throughout the week: a pole jam was set up over the deck of the bottom bowl section; the tree rainbow saw heavy action, especially from Lucas Magoon, Casey Savage, Ozzy Henning, and Kayli Hendricks; Max Lyons warmed up his office legs with Ian Keay, Jeff DeForge, and more on a forest hitching post; Ivika Jurgensen, Laura Rogoski, and Madison Blackey took down metal from top to bottom; Stale Sandbech, Jeff Hopkins, Eli Lamm, and Len Jorgensen found pop-to-sky with controlled abandon; Nate Haust was doing Nate Haust things, just sending it; Timmy Sullivan was doing Timmy Sullivan things, also just sending it. Lukas Huffman and Dennis Healy came by. Paddock was shooting photos. Sully was holding court. Stillman led a mob, ripping downhill. The mix of styles and lines dripped cohesively into a swirling ether of enjoyment. Check out the photos, watch the video. The riding was impressive. The community was even better.
Weather that nice in Vermont means two things: mud season and parking lot hangs. Late afternoons stretched slowly into evening gathered in the tiers of Sugarbush’s lot, enjoying the late day sun and Lawson’s Little Sips (next time you’re in Waitsfied, make sure to stop by the Lawson’s Taproom. It’s a stunning New England building with lots of brews and good snacks). The Rome crew was staying in a Scarface-meets-VT-country Airbnb right on the Mad River, where Sully, Paddock, and Max cooked up family meals and after two long years, the team was able to reunite—some meeting for the first time. I spent all of my time off hill over there, soaking up the long-awaited reunion until it was time to fall asleep and do it all over again. After essentially two years of not being able to do this sort of thing, every gathering feels even more fulfilling, like it’s happening for the first time, which I guess, sometimes, it really is.
On my end, it was my first time back in Vermont in nearly a decade. I hadn’t meant for that much time to pass, but somehow, it did. Mike Paddock and Dan Sullivan were two of the individuals who welcomed me to my first foray in the snowboard industry at the Rome office in Waterbury when I was still in college. Matt Stillman has long been a close friend since we met at the Rome Lodge in Austria years ago. The atmosphere that these guys create, along with the rest of the in-house crew is fueled by an unrelenting love of snowboarding and of sharing that with those around them. To be back in that environment was buoying. They do a hell of a job at having a good time, putting in the work and sharing the rewards.
To this end, the collaboration with Snowboy was perfect. Krush and crew’s mentality is equally focused on the drive to create and share good times and the snowy manifestation brought to life by these great minds of snowboarding was something special. The Sidehit Séance in the Green Mountains was real good. For sure, everyone there can’t wait for the elements to align again in the future.