From the cloudy haze of dreamland, I recalled getting only as far as the pre-ollie-not whatever amazing trick I was about to do in front of the prettiest girl or the coolest photo guy-just the simple no-grab pre-ollie thrusting me into the Tyrol Basin halfpipe. It was gonna be “the run of my friggin’ life,” but then the phone rang loudly in my ear, and I realized Saturday halfpipe jams at Tyrol were 2,000 miles away and now nine years in the past.
The call came from an associate of mine-someone who also grew up in middle America-suggesting a trip back to those very grounds known as “Tyrome’s Basement.” Already feeling slightly enticed by the thought of a trip back to my roots, I was also subject to some fairly convincing gossip: “Dude, it’s gonna be so dope. I swear, man, everybody’s gonna be there.” So after a look through some dusty photos and a few minutes of reminiscing, I dropped in on tickets.
The rolling hills of the upper Midwest are subtly beautiful-a landscape that requires appreciation for the less desirable. The countryside is covered with tarnished farmhouses, the air thick with the fragrance of grazing cattle. After a nap at 30,000 feet, we traversed the land in a gold Chrysler Sebring convertible to soak it all in. Once in the Tyrol parking lot, we witnessed a true work of art-a mammoth white sculpture of snow standing triumphant atop of 400 feet of green grass. Sun started to break through the mid-morning sky, and the rising temperature caused steam to gently lift off the main section. Inspired by the hand of local visionary Don McKay, the work in progress was being enhanced by dedicated teams from around the region. Pro snowboarders from all over showed up for the demo, many of whom were returning to the place where they started. Every dedicated amateur, sponsored, and up-and-coming rider in a five-state radius appeared as well. Heroes rode with the newcomers, and all sorts of backside Cab drivers and big frontside food tricks went down in the first two hours. Spectators witnessed complicated contemporary tricks as well-Chad Otterstrom stepped up with lofty Haakon sevens in the pipe, and Tyler Lepore dropped some serious knowledge with a balls-out air to backside disaster slide down a fifteen-foot kinked handrail.
For all the amazing snowboarding, it’s important to note that this was not your standard snowboarding event. There was no second stage with bands you’ve never heard of-there wasn’t even a first stage, no Sony Jumbotrons airing instant replays, and no Sal Masekela uttering witty commentary. This was the Midwest, and people were doing it in beautiful Midwest fashion. Most of the pros ended up just relaxing, and locals gladly took charge of the terrain and the podium. For the riders originating in the area, the event was more about simply going back than anything else, including snowboarding.
In fact, some shreds didn’t even put their boots on, opting instead for a new fad in youth culture known as “parking lot mischief.” Inspired by a mid-day East Coast invasion, goggles were pulled down and a full-bore guerilla-style fireworks war erupted-point-blank Roman-candle battling amid lanes of parked cars. In the end there was, is, and hopefully will continue to be an amazing summer snowboarding event far from the rat-race lanes of Mt. Hood and T-bars of Blackcomb. The Tyrol jam has experienced growth, yet remains a grassroots event respected by the snowboard community. It’s an event that I try to go back for every summer, and one that every once in a while-if the pipe’s good enough-I’ll go back to in my dreams.
1. Zach Moe
2. Chad Kummerow
3. CJ Marsh
1. Jessica Zalusky
2. Jamie Kish
3. Kim Oelhafen
1. Brent Meyer, Chris Crossland (tie)
3. Rob Bak