We all dream of being the first; it’s one of those things people have done since the beginning of time. For example, what made Columbus sail across the Atlantic?
Our dream of glory started on a chairlift back in January of ’99. Wes Makepeace and I were talking about The End (Birdhouse video), how cool the loop was, Duane Peters, and how no one had ever tried to do a loop on a snowboard. It was then that I vowed we’d be the first–I’d figure out a way to build it, and Wes would be the first one to pull a full loop.
Some of the initial ideas on how to build the loop were kind of out to lunch; dig it out of a snowdrift; build a wood structure, cover it with carpet, and spray with water; make it like you would make an igloo; and on and on. A comment from Peter Saari actually got the “plan” going. It was simple–push up a huge pile of snow, and tunnel through. Simple.
Pat Melendoski builds halfpipes and snowboard parks for a living, and does a damn good job at it. After he’d volunteered to move some snow for us, and Mt. Bachelor agreed to let us use their hill (we’ll spare you the insurance nightmare) and one of their snowcats, we figured the hard part was over–we were ready to rock and roll.
It took Pat about eight hours to push up the mound of snow, then the troops were called in. We had originally tried to tunnel through by hand, but after three hours of ten guys digging and little progress made, it was time to improvise. The next day we brought in a mini-backhoe, and with the snowcat, we finally managed to tunnel through. Then Chris Owen, Pat, and I shaped the top out by hand. It took us another full day of work, but we got that sucker close. The next day Pat spent about five hours teching the loop out, and we were ready to run.
Wes couldn’t make it, so Andrew Crawford was the first to ever attempt to do a loop on snowboard. He was totally committed–unfortunately he went a little too fast, and backflipped around it. After that everyone was kinda sketched on our loop. We decided the best plan would be to bring up pads the next day, and learn how to ride it “safely.” Somehow, a lot of people in Bend heard of our project, so Mt. Bachelor didn’t want to leave it up overnight–someone could come up in the middle of the night and get hurt on it!
So, no one made it around. Excuses are like … but here’re some reasons why: due to insurance restrictions only two people (Andrew “Wes” Crawford and Marcus Egge) were allowed to try; because of various time restraints, only four hours of time were allotted for the attempts, and I geeked it by not bringing pads for the practices. But the good news is we’ve learned from our mistakes and will try it again.