The Northwest’s ’94¿95 season got off to a great start. Erick Schade, the board buyer at Oregon Mountain Community in Portland, says the snow was ridable November first¿if you didn’t mind hiking for turns. But the storms failed to stick around long enough to entice the number of new board buyers retailers would have liked. Increased business competition was also hard on some retailers. “Local competition sucks,” was all Bill Morris, owner of Winter Wave, had to say about the glut of new shops in Bend, Oregon last year.
Several shops either hosted competitions or helped sponsor them last season. Boardsports in Eugene, Oregon was one of the few Northwest shops to host United States Snoboard Association (USSA) races and freestyle contests. Race turnout was good, but freestyle was down a bit, according to Boardsports manager Rain Couture. The biggest complaint about competitions in general was from Gloria Wright, owner of Smoked Monkeys in Portland: “There just weren’t enough quality prizes to entice riders.” She hopes to hold a competition this year to attract more entry-level riders.
In other events, John Logic, owner of the Snowboard Connection in Seattle, said their showing of Gettin’ Some and Deuce was a success. The end-of-season snowboard demo/jamboree at Lookout Mountain, Montana was (despite the size of the place) a big hit. Potential future competition organizers should take note of the large prize give-away; however, be wary of lucky local Mt. Hood Meadows rider T.C., who cashed in well on his ten dollars’ worth of raffle tickets. The man is luck personified.
Although mid-season snowfall was less than marginal, January was by no means the end of the season. Some areas shut down with over 100 inches of snow still on the ground in April. Tom Brown, owner of the Shred Shed in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, says he is taking advantage of that extra snow. He sees backcountry snowboarding growing as hardcore riders steer away from rising lift-ticket prices. But after the loss of a local rider this year, his number-one goal is education, education, education.
Chris Hansen is a PSIA-certified snowboard instructor and a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon.