Last week, the first-ever Meka Festival touched down in Denver, Colorado, ushering in winter even though the city was experiencing unseasonably warm weather. But the sunny days filled with video premieres and educational presentations only underlined the fact that everyone at Meka was really read for winter.
The brainchild of Adam Schmidt, the founder of Snowboard on the Block, and Mikey LeBlanc, influential snowboarder with incredible knees, Meka invited snowboarders of all stripes to Denver’s RiNo Art District and Commons Park for four days of events and activities.
A barage of boarders flocked to the Mile High City beginning on Thursday when Red’s BKYD opened up to everyone (for free!) in Commons Park and Torment Magazine celebrated their six-year anniversary at evo Denver.
On Friday, the premieres began. Jamie Anderson debuted Reflections, a video inspired by her career competing at X Games. She recalled while introducing the movie that during her first X Games, she landed on the podium with a 180 and then her most recent gold, a decade-and-a-half later, was earned with back-to-back 1080s. In between those events, Jamie became one of the most dominant competitors in the world and responsible for pushing progression further every year.
Reflections follows her snowboarding journey as she moves further into big mountains, culminating with riding lines in Alaska. Now, a new mom (her adorable 6-month-old Misty with partner Tyler Nicholson was in attendance for her first premiere at Meka), Jamie’s raising the bar in a whole new way as a mother and an athlete.
Travis Rice and Hana Beaman took the stage following Jamie to introduce Natural Selection’s Super Sessions video, which followed 12 riders, 8 NST competitors and 4 never-before-competed-in-NST esteemed individuals, as they rode lines in Revelstoke on what was originally slated to be the 2023 NST Revy course. The video will drop online later this month.
On Saturday, the festival grounds at Commons Park opened up and a proper throwdown rail jam went off in the afternoon. The set up was simple and perfect: down bar, double kink, and a flat box and the assembled riders: Maggie Leon, Iris Pham, Grace Warner, Veda Hallen, Kaleah Opal Driscoll, Laura Rogoski, Egan Wint, Lex Roland, and and up-and-comer names Lily Dhawornvej on the women’s side and Rob Roethler, Zeb Powell, Pat Fava, Joey Fava, Cooper Whittier, Mike Liddle, Sam Anderson, and Luke Winkelmann on the men’s side. From the jump, the riders were firing. The only indication hat this wasn’t mid-season and everyone was properly warmed up was the fact that it was over 80 degrees out and there was grass on either side of the set up. The riders seriously served it up.
On Saturday night, Ride premiered Rated R, a definite crowd pleaser featuring Jill Perkins, Danimals, Cole Navin, Spencer Schubert, Jed Anderson, Savannah Shinske, and more. The end cap of the night was the world premiere of Quiksilver’s new team video, Sequencer. Sequencer took a page from classic team films with an all-terrain approach, highlighting the proficiencies and proclivities of each member of the Quik crew. While everyone’s riding was fire (watching Red’s part with his personal breed of loose-yet-contained style in the backcountry, you can’t wait to see what he does next), a segment following Travis Rice and Austen Sweetin as they rip down the previously unridden Velvet Castle is a definite highlight. The crowd sat rapt during both videos, a proper night of snowboard cinema.
In addition to premiers, parties, and art show by Jamie Lynn and Schoph, Meka also emphasized education. Over the course of the event, Jeff Pensiero, Jeremy Jones, STAY, and BCA held sessions, imparting information and inspiration about a wide range of topics, from the backcountry to mental health and suicide awareness. This was a particularly exciting part of Meka; as snowboarding grows to incorporate more perspectives, learning from expert individuals and groups offers so much possibility, not only on a personal basis for all of us, but as a collective. We are excited to see this part of Meka grow in the years to come.
The really rad thing about Meka was that it wasn’t just one thing. Well, let me rephrase that. It was all about snowboarding. But snowboarding in different ways. Video premieres, a rail jam, a reunion, an open-to-all and learn-to-ride experience in Red’s BKYD, bands playing sets together who also ride together, brand booths, non-profit booths (the STAY booth at Commons Park was engaging so many folks that was active after the sun set until the moment the videos started playing), art shows, photo shows, motivating discussions, educational presentations, industry, riders, families, weekend warriors, diehard locals–everyone was welcome and invited to share many different aspects that make up snowboarding. In recent times, there has been a call to bring people together in snowboarding more and more. And we see this happening more and more at Interlude, at Ojo Park, at Homesick, at Mystery Tours, at banked slaloms–and last weekend, in Denver, thanks to Adam Schmidt, Mikey LeBlanc, and the Meka crew–and everyone that made the trip to Meka to be a part of things.
Thank you to Adam and Mikey for their efforts in bringing Meka to life. It was an awesome weekend for snowboarding and we can’t wait for next year.