Recap: Rails to Riches Skiing

r2r setup

This time annually, Killington, VT holds the largest rail jam of the year. This rail jam is none other than Rails to Riches and the prize is exactly what it sounds like. The combined purse was $25,000 this year, with the first prize for the men’s snowboarding and men’s skiing division being a whopping $5,000. Contestants flew in from all over in attempt to take home the money.

The qualifying rounds were chaotic as always. With the diverse array of contestants, everybody knew they had to really have the juice to get to finals. They spent over an hour hiking up the hill over and over to get as any hits in as possible in before time was up. Just in the 20 minutes that I spent watching the qualifiers between taking laps of my own I had seen some of the craziest tricks that have ever been done in front of me, as well as a handful of collisions.

After the qualifiers were over, I linked up with contestants Mike Brewer and Christian Franchino in the lodge to have lunch before we heard who was making it to finals. As the list rolled out, finals round was starting to look more and more exciting. First we heard Christian’s name get called followed by Mike’s shortly after, giving my friends and I more reason than ever to be hyped to watch the battle soon to come.

As finals started to heat up, it became obvious that this was going to be the most lit R2R that I have ever attended. The competition was far more even than past years, to the point where nobody could tell who was going to take it home. Everybody was skiing to the best of their abilities, and the conditions were just about as good as they could have been.

After the last hit was finished, we all anxiously awaited the announcer to give us the news. Emile Bergeron took home best trick by launching a giant blind 3 switch-up, which also contributed to landing him in third place. A known force to be reckoned with, Dale Talkington, took home second after skiing with incredible consistency and landing some monster tricks.

After Emile and Dale were announced, nobody knew what exactly was going to happen. Khai Krepola had won in the past, and Sandy Boville was also a favorite, but a large group in the crowd had a different turnout in mind. The announcer did not seem as if he was too familiar with the contestants, but as he read off the first place winner he announced: “I have been told this place is about to go nuts, because in first place we have Christian Franchino.”

frank and dadThe whole place erupted instantly. In the past the entertaining factors of R2R had been dulled down by the saturation of big name pros flying in from everywhere, but this year it was different. Although Dale is quite well known Emile and Christian are both underdogs, so a podium like this has not been seen in years. I can safely say that this was the most electric contest that I have ever been to, and could not be more stoked on the outcome. Big ups to Killington for setting this up, the competitors for putting on such a great show, and everybody who spectated with me.

Check out the recap video put together by Champlain Alumni and Ski the East Production Manager, Cam Willis, below.


Champlain College Gear Swap

gear posterOver the course of the past few months I have been working with a team of champlain students to put on a gear swap. If you have never been to a gear swap, you essentially go to sell, trade, or buy ski and snowboard gear. They are typically aimed at communities in ski towns, making it easy to drive attendance, but we foresaw challenges in getting a sizable turnout from the Champlain community.

We handled this by putting together a raffle with all of the proceeds going to the Chill Foundation, Burton’s nonprofit dedicated to helping less privileged kids learn how to snowboard, skateboard, and surf. After we had the cause, all we needed were sponsors that wanted to work with us to market themselves and donate product to our raffle.

j skisWe ended up receiving products from companies in the area, some of which being J skis, Wildlife, and with the big donation of a seasons pass, Smuggler’s Notch. Most of the sponsors accepted our invitation to table the gear swap and even sell their own merchandise.

Along with the raffle, we teamed up with the Center for Service and Civic Engagement to add a clothing drive to this little function. Students had the chance to bring in any unwanted clothing or blankets to donate to community organizations such as COTS and Spectrum. To top it off Champlain Dining Services was kind enough to donate a full taco bar, which was wildly helpful in getting students to wander in and check out what we had going on.

When it was all said and done we raised over $100 for the Chill Foundation, as well as collected around 20 pounds of clothing donations to distribute amongst the community. Though it doesn’t sound like much, we chalked up the event as a success, and the sponsors were all satisfied with the turnout which we estimate was approximately 100 students throughout the day.

686 Seconds, a film by 686

Recently I was a part of putting on Burlington, VT’s premier of snowboard company 686’s latest film, “686 Seconds”. 686 is a clothing company that has logged many years in the snowboarding industry, with a very diverse team of riders. The cool thing about hosting their Burlington premier at Champlain College is that one of their lead filmers, Ian Post, is a Champlain Alumni. Contacting and working with them to set up the premier was a breeze. We already had a strong supply of Ski & Ride Club gear to raffle off and sell, and they were willing to give us plenty of their own product to do as we pleased with.

In the past we have had successful movie premiers, as well as not-so-successful ones. This one just happened to go swimmingly. The auditorium was filled up and the crowd stayed until the very end. This was something that we didn’t even have to worry about considering the movie was put together so well. The blend between big mountain snowboarding and urban ripping was well balanced, meaning that the movie had a little something for everybody.

As we head into the final stretch of the semester, stay tuned for my write up on our Gear Swap, as well as my coverage of the largest rail jam in the east, Rails to Riches.


Champlain College Rail Jam

Dam went upside downThis past Friday I was fortunate enough to be a part of planning and finally executing the 12th annual Champlain College Rail Jam. We have been in the planning process for this event since the Fall semester started, so we were all very eager to bring our vision to life. We had already recruited a list of sponsors including large companies like Burton as well as smaller business’s like Arsenic Apparel. All we had to do now was make it happen. If you have never been to an early season rail jam you may be wondering where on earth we would get snow for such an event, but luckily this was not our first rodeo.

In order to collect snow we spent Wednesday through the Friday of the event driving a rented Uhaul truck back and forth from ice rinks in the area. When an Ice rink gets resurfaced, the “snow” shaved off of the ice by ice skates is collected and dumped outside. All we had to do was take 10-15 volunteers with shovels to go pick it up and stockpile it on campus.

frank rail jamOf course that is much easier said then done, but after two late nights of shoveling we had enough snow for our good friends at Sugarbush Parks to work with. These guys are pros when it comes to setting up rail jams, in fact they had just done UVM’s the week before. By 5:00 on Friday the setup was complete and the attendance started to build.

The warm-ups kicked off around 5:30, and by 8:00 or so, the winners had been decided. Third place for snowboarding went to Will Muench who seemed to have come out of nowhere, Neal Cummings took second place, while Holden Barth surprised the crowd by taking first. For the skiers, Co-president of the club Taylor Bibaud took third which was especially victorious as it was his birthday. Second place went to Joey Favara, another senior at Champlain, while Christian Franchino took first for the third year in a row.

Being my third year and last year of involvement with this event, I can honestly say this was our best yet. When I first helped with one of these as a freshman, the event went so poorly that sponsors dropped out mid-event. Now the Champlain Rail Jam is recognized as one of the top collegiate rail jams in the east attracting more sponsors than ever. All I can say is thank you to everybody that volunteered their time to make this happen, as well as those who came out to have a good time.

Stay tuned for the recap video!


Steak Frites pt. 2

12185675_10206464420463712_1780050206_oThis past saturday I attended part 2 of the “Steak Frites” series. Steak Frites is an art show put on by local artist Jack Moore, who has put on a handful of other art shows in the past. The event was held at Signal Kitchen on Main st. in Burlington, VT around 8:00 pm. These art shows are all about giving local artists a chance to display and sell their art to a demographic in a setting that could be considered more laid back and less high strung than a typical art show

The cool thing about this event is that it isn’t necessarily all about the art. Jack’s vision for these shows has a goal that transcends simply making sales. The show’s goal is to have a good time and expose the community to some interesting art. This is why one of the main attractions of these shows is also the music.

For this element Jack recruited two DJ’s, Crusty Cuts and Loupo, who teamed up to spin hip-hop tracks for the whole evening. Both DJ’s have a solid fan-base in the area so adding them to the list of artists at the event was a strong marketing move as well.

Jack’s art shows are primarily advertised by creating a Facebook event. He posted the event many times on his personal page while other artists and friends of his did the same. He also used more than one image to advertise his show, the second one being the one posted above cooked up by local designer Mike Brewer. These flyers were printed and posted around town guerrilla style, but I believe the Facebook page had the strongest impact.

Without knowing any of the specifics in terms of art sales, I would consider the event successful. Aside from a couple folks being kicked out for drinking underage, there were little to no problems that evening. As somebody who has little art experience I found the event very accepting and comfortable and I’m sure the many other attendees in my position felt similarly. I had an excellent time and will absolutely be attending the next one!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment!

HG Skis: Children of the Guan

GuanA little over a week ago, I attended the premier for “Children of the Guan” by HG Skis. If you have never heard of HG, they are a small ski company based out of Burlington, VT and they are rapidly gaining exposure. For the past 3 years they have spent their winters filming their skiing in order to produce a film to be released the following fall season. Over the years I have become good friends with a few of the people involved, so naturally their film is always the one I look forward to the most during premier season.

In the past I have played a part in planning their premier through the Ski and Ride club, but this year they decided to take a more independent route and hold their premier at Arts Riot on Pine street. As their movie is fairly short, they joined forces with a group of Swedes that go by “The Bunch” in order to show their movie “Finito,” the final component to their movie trilogy they have been crafting over the years.

I arrived to the premier a few hours after the doors opened, right before the showing of Finito. It was easy to tell how excited the crowd was, especially with the large amounts of alcohol added to the situation. I had just enough time to grab a beer and find a seat amongst my friends before the lights went off and the movie started rolling.

As expected, Finito was one of the better ski movies I have ever seen. The skiing was on it’s own progressive level and the editing and film work was far from the norm. I was also surprised and thrilled that the movie featured the song “Semi on em” by Gucci Mane and Chief Keef, as were most of my friends. It is safe to say that by the end of the film, not a person in the audience was disappointed.

After the final credits of Finito, it was a full on mob to the Arts Riot bar as the previous round of drinks were universally finished half way through the first movie. After the audience made it back to the stage, Harrison and Connor, the co-owners of HG, got up for the big raffle. After rifling through the jar of raffle tickets, which came with the $5 entry fee, one lucky winner went home with a brand new pair of HG Stingers. As exciting as this was, this is where the event took an unfortunate turn.

As we were all waiting for the feature film to start, I noticed it was taking a lot longer than expected to get the movie playing. Rumors that the projector had overheated started to circulate throughout the venue, which started to look more and more like the truth as the minutes went by. Harrison then got on stage and let the audience know that the projector was out of commission and there was no backup in the venue, but he still encouraged the audience to continue partying and not consider the night a loss.

As disappointing as it was to not see Children of the Guan at the premier, I knew that it was out of their control. I was already satisfied with seeing Finito and having drinks with all of my friends, so I didn’t even think about the $5 I spent to get in. I believe that all but a handful of people felt the same way. They also promised to release the movie online for free to make up for it, and made good on their word.

The next night I watched the movie at my friends apartment in a much smaller, casual setting, and still had a good time. The movie did not disappoint in the least, and it was obvious how much work was put into it. As fun as it would have been to watch at the premier I understand that these things can happen unpredictably, in which case measures must be taken to salvage it. The HG squad still raffled off and gave out close to $700 worth of merchandise, as well as a first time showing of the Bunch’s movie. Along with releasing their movie online, that is the best they could have done to come back from their movie not showing. I am already looking forward to next year’s premier.

Check the movie out by clicking here and be sure to take a look at the HG Skis website.


Otis Mountain Get Down

otis coke machineOtis Mountain Get Down happened this weekend, meaning I am now dealing with the first cold of the season. OMGD is a two day music festival that takes place in the woods of Elizabethtown, NY. The festival is run by a group of Champlain alumni that I have known since my time at the school started, so it was very inviting for me to get involved and volunteer my time.

I worked with parking, which is an essential element of any event of this size, so it was very interesting to gain some event experience that I’ve never really had. The parking lot was a bit far from the actual event so this was handled by funneling festival-goers into the parking lot and then shuttling them up the the camping/concert area via hayride.

Although showing cars where to park and helping people move their camping gear to the campsite sounds monotonous, it was actually a really good time. I spent my time doing this surrounded by crew-members that were all there to have a good time like myself, and it was really cool to greet all of the people that arrived to the event. On top of this, volunteers also get their tickets refunded to them after the event so it is a great way to attend the festival if you are on a budget.

If you are interested in attending, or even volunteering for next year, it couldn’t be an easier process. They are always looking for more volunteers and sign-ups open up a few months before the event. The link to the event’s facebook is attached,¬†and a highlight video for this years event is coming soon. Enjoy!


Otis Mountain Get Down