Colorado is a gracious host. The industry shows up for a tradeshow or televised contest, gets drunk, passes out on the couch and leaves early with a hangover. Its role in the snowboarding world is largely event-based, and the state sees more high-profile contest bibs than probably any other.

Meanwhile, snowboarding as a whole is experiencing a resurgence of DIY contests, mostly those which requires you to put your bib on your front leg instead of your chest. Competition doesn’t need to be reserved for those who get paid to snowboard, or aim to, which is what’s great about a banked slalom. I would go so far as to say that the simultaneously competitive and attainable aspects of that event format have played a role in righting the proverbial ship that is snowboarding — we’re getting there, and it’s evidenced in part by the near extinction of the tall tee.

But ample room remains for events that aren’t berm-based, yet don’t carry the exclusivity of a traditional slopestyle or superpipe contest. Calling Love Games a contest is like calling Justin Bieber a snowboarder. Some show up to ride, while others go to hang out, talk shit and drink too many beers. Neither option is wrong. There’s no registration, numbers or running order, and it’s as do-it-yourself as DIY can be. Day one of two is spent building the features with a voluntarily enlisted group of snowboarders down to spend their Saturday shaping what they will ride Sunday. It is just as things were 20 or 30 years ago, long before everyone’s favorite green soda had its own tour.

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Build day

It takes a lot of hands to dig four zones in eight hours. Someone told me a total of 50 people showed up to shovel on Saturday, so I’ll take that as fact, and that fact is testament to the notion that Colorado’s core snowboard community is regaining some of the fire it once had.

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Kit Hendrickson has a strong resume in both industrial design and park digging. Here, he puts the latter to use.

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Director of Operations and co-owner of Satellite Boardshop, Raul Pinto, firming hard or hardly firming?

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Hobo Headwear and Nightmare Snowboards collaborated to build the lower zone at Love Games, and once it was finished we had to test it out. Chris Sypert tosses a method for good measure.

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After a full day of digging, the last thing we wanted to do was drive to Denver only to find ourselves back on the pass first thing in the morning, so we rented a place 15 minutes down the road in Georgetown. Mike Nauman, Kit Hendrickson and I did our best to skate despite the dirt road.

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Zone One: Lefthand hip

This feature is not typically part of Love Games, but Chad Otterstrom recommended it be included this year, and you do what Chad O. says. It’s on the opposite side of the pass from where the rest of the event takes place, meaning that every person on hand for this session had to hitch a ride to the top. On April 3rd, 2016, the record for volume of hitchhikers on Loveland Pass was undoubtedly broken.

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When we arrived in the morning, the session on the first feature was going off. Chris Waker sends a frontside grab.

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Chuck does his best to help with a hectic hitchiking scenario.

Zone Two: Quarterpipe

Usually the first feature at Love Games, and often more bank-to-wall than quarterpipe, this year the transition was smoothly sculpted. However, the lip was a little less than vertical, sending a couple riders into the onlookers, and the snow was sunbeat and soft, stopping some snowboards in their tracks. Such imperfections are the reality of handbuilt features and the session went off.

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Like wine or fine cheese, one’s ability to heckle others improves with age. Satellite co-owner JG Mazzotta is getting really good at it.

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Staying upright through the compression is a feat in itself; getting to the lip is another challenge. Ben Elliot, air-to-fakie.

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Zone Three: Righthand hip

Known as the Ironing Board or Diving Board depending on who you talk to, this hip is built into the side of a cornice that forms on one side of a gulley. It has a stereotypically Colorado landing — it’s flat as fuck. But that doesn’t impede the the chucking, and this is the venue for what is arguably the heaviest session each year at Love Games.

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Nic Drago cradles a dog in a sweater, Blair Tice watches in amazement, Matt Bievnour nurses a beer, Alex Andrews gets the shot, Kevin Casillo takes it all in, Zac Marben smokes a spliff, fuck Alex Pashley, Seth Bruce and Erin Pashley are cool, and Austin Julik-Heine and Zach Rawles — they’re cool too.

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You can smooth the lip, but your can’t smooth the landing. Raul raking mid-session.

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Zone Four: Rhythm section

Comprised of small jumps and, in years past, log features, this zone is always the most eclectic. But the Forest Service service hates nothing more than people having fun on downed trees and has made every effort to eliminate any slidable piece of wood in sight. This year there were multiple BMX-style jumps to session — one that bore more resemblance to something suited for aerial skiing than bike riding.

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The crowd at the final, bottom zone.

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Put a piece of tight transition in front of Dylan Alito and he will flip off it.

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I may have gotten in Kit’s way getting this shot, but he won the Froth Puppy award regardless of not riding away, so whatever.

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Putting down moves like this perfectly tweaked crail with consistency landed “Nasty” Nate Cordero on top of the Love Games podium.

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The lot

Love Games works its way down Loveland Pass and ends up at a parking lot, which is a great place to drink beer and talk shit. Oh, and they give out awards here.

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One of the great things about loose DIY snowboard events is the venue they provide for families to enjoy together. Indy, Sawyer and Nate Latimer. Kyle, Justin and Ryan Phipps.

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Dragon will take two hot dogs.

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