Guess what folks, snowboarding is alive and well and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Want proof? Plenty of it can be found at the 2nd Annual Jackson Hole PowWow where I had the pleasure to meet up with various snowboard enthusiasts from around the world who descended upon this magical place to shred pow.
As Rob Kingwill, founder of the PowWow, puts it, “Snowboarding is about riding with friends, finding new places, and hopefully riding powder.” Something the PowWow embraces with pleasure, but with a small twist: testing out powder boards from big brands like Burton, Ride and Capita to companies like Japan’s Gentemstick, a small shop that hand shapes each board.
Here’s the full list of brands: Arbor, Burton, Capita, Cold Smoke, Dupraz, Flow, Franco, Igneous, Gentemstick, Gnu, Grell, Illuminati, Jones, K2, Lib Tech, Neversummer, Nitro, Notice, Ride, Rossignol, Slash, Sims, Unity, YES and Venture along with anon. and Smith for the necessary goggles and helmets.
Within a large bubble tent located next to the tram, nearly 100 attendees tested out a slew of pow boards. After mounting up their sticks and bindings it was off to the hill with friends to enjoy some good ‘ol fashion shredding. And with over a foot of fresh that came in Monday night before the event, there was plenty of powder to go around.
Now this isn’t your typical demo where you hang out a tent all day and try one board. The main idea is to test as many different shapes, sizes and designs as possible, then fill out a survey on your phone that rates the board you rode… hopefully on powder. This feedback helps board shapers and designers tweak their models to perform better so when you go to purchase one, you can rest assured that the board will perform as advertised.
This format was a true breath of fresh air. Hanging with friends, old and new, and shredding for three days in unbelievable conditions made the test that much more successful. What’s great about Jackson Hole is once the resort gets tracked off, you head into the sidecountry (technically backcountry) to explore vast zones of technical terrain with perfect conditions.
Our group visited the famed Four Pines and Cody Peak area two days in a row and stacked footy for a feature in our 2015 Buyer’s Guide (keep a look out for that one!). But it wasn’t all fun and games (that’s a lie) as Rob Kingwill put together Shred X, a spin off of Ted X talks where invited speakers shared stories of the shred. Speakers included Jeff Grell, the inventor of the highback (This dude is a legend people. Pay your respects.), Alex Hillinger, Director of Asymbol Gallery (Yes, the Travis Rice one) discussing the Pass It On Project 2, Photographer Chris Figenshau who discussed traveling to Nepal with Jeremy Jones for the Deeper, Further, Higher trilogy, and finally Stephen Koch, a man who has conquered more first descents on a snowboard than you thought possible.
The history and legendary status of many in the room was beyond words. Talking afterward with a few of these accomplished men was tough as I look up to them as gods in the snowboard world. It was truly an eye opening experience into the history of snowboarding.
Once three days of amazing riding concluded we wrapped up the 2nd Annual Jackson Hole PowWow with an official closing celebration. It’s amazing to see the snowboard community come together to share something we all have a passion for, and this night further solidified those bonds.
See Also: Franco Snowshapes: A Snowboard With Soul
Joined by friends and snowboard pioneers Steve Link and Mike Troppman, Jeff Grell reflected on his time at the PowWow by sharing insights from the past thirty-five years of his life in snowboarding. Mike and Steve spoke to their roots in snowboarding by sharing their early experiences designing boards as well as starting Ultimate Control Boards in 1981 and Summit Snowboards in 1982, respectivly. After, Link excitedly spoke about his friendship with Tom Sims and their adventure together filming the snowboard scenes for James Bond in A View To Kill.
These guys are true legends and whether or not you realize it we are all in debt to the passion and dedication these three had for snowboarding. Without their influence, who knows where snowboarding would be today.
To close down the party, Rob Kingwill announced that Jeff Grell won Chief of the PowWow, an award voted on by fellow snowboarders for the one who embodies the true nature of the JH PowWow. “Thank you for the honor. I can’t wait until next year,” remarked Grell. “I’ve been to hundreds of events in my life and this is the funnest one yet.”
If we inspired you at all with this story and you want to head to Jackson to experience it yourself, hit up Jackson Hole Resort Lodging who offers vacation rentals from studio condominiums through 6-bedroom homes for the ultimate mountain vacation. They’ll even hook you up with lodging and lift ticket packages to help save you some dough.
Jackson Hole Resort Lodging