Photos: Greg Furey
Video: Justin Gunson
Words: Adam Kisel
Going first in anything can be a little high anxiety. When you don’t know what to expect, and having no idea of what the conditions of the situation you are in, and making sure you survive all add to the fear. This is a feeling that Luke Mathison and the Waterville Valley Park Crew are all conditioned to move past at times giving the impression of ease. The TransWorld SNOWboarding TransAm presented by Skullcandy has kicked off at Waterville for the past 11 years and Mathison has admitted to losing sleep during the park build because he is the first to go on the tour and sets the standard for the rest of the stops. Other stops must build to or surpass the level that is set by Mathison.
Most amateur events have easy features to build. They usually feature your standard three jump line and a few rails and boxes mixed in, and boom, you’re set. The TransAm is not your normal event. For the past 11 years it has been pushing builders to get as creative as possible to build features that competitors wouldn't normally see in the park. Lucky for young rippers across the nation, they will have nine different parks to tear apart this year, as TransWorld SNOWboarding expanded the tour by three stops. Everyone stepped up this year with sponsors designing their own features such as Zumiez producing a rideable orange couch, that pint sized Wyatt Kern front flipped over. Seriously, this very small human shredded harder than most of the competitors that probably weighed three times his weight. Ride Snowboards threw an extra challenge into their "Get Buck Wild" feature with old western style saloon doors to ride through into the down tube. Riders had to charge through the double doors, guns blazing like they were robbing the place just to have enough speed to survive the gap onto the tube.
Those riding with the biggest guns could flex their way up to the Muscle Milk ‘Tower of Triumph’ that was flanked by two fence pieces. Mathison himself doubted anyone would be able to get up and over the tower without losing his or her precious life. Zach Normandin proved Mathison wrong with a frontside three sixty bonk on top of the barrels earning himself the Zumiez best trick award. Anon Optics had spectators wide eyed with excitement as they built a feature that could be hit from a number of different angles. The Anon tube had an angled up entry into it and ride-able angled skirting so the kids could get rock out any which way they wanted. Speaking of rocking out, Skullcandy kept the head banging to the maximum level with a jib-able cassette tape that had every old school rocking parent in New Hampshire throwing the devil horns. Tim Major knocked the tape completely off of the spool with his heavy riding all day long, taking home top honors for the guys.
Sanuk showed riders how to get crazy with a capital C rail, and Giro Helmets put a kink in the box feature they represented at the bottom of the park giving riders like Nora Healy a chance to step to the main stage. Healy, who rode with a cast on her arm, was not afraid to keep shredding with reckless abandon, which had the many onlookers screaming for more. Coal gave the crowd what they wanted with the refusal of just one feature for the kids to ride, but a minimum of two features in the Coal combination set up. There was a wall ride and a lift tower laying horizontal for riders to live and let die. Nate Carroll almost died launching several feet above the wall ride and landing completely flat on the other side. He was revived with the best crash award and the show continued.
The encore of this heavy metal mayhem was the pizza party and awards show that gave top honors a reason to turn up the volume to 11. This year's trophies from TransWorld SNOWboarding were not something you would put on your shelf and forget about. The first place trophies were Epiphone heavy metal guitars that were black as hell and engraved with the winning place and stop location. Coal kept up the black metal theme with custom black beanies with the TransAm logo on them melting down the front. Winners also were able to blow their metal loving ears out with custom Skullcandy Aviator & Cassette headphones and protect their eyes from the bloody carnage with goggles from Anon Optics. The top winners received Ride Snowboards, High Cascade Snowboard Camp custom backpacks, and Zumiez gift cards were the currency of the day. Zumiez also gave out a 500-dollar gift card to Zach Normandin for best trick and flight vouchers to 1st place winners to fly to TransAm finals in Park City, Utah. Muscle Milk gave out 200 dollars to the Riders Choice Award winner, Al Grogan, who rode so hard his peers voted him best around. Wend Wax was on the scene to keep riders sliding faster with free wax and proved their waxed worked with riders flying high all day long.
The heaviest of metal will be shipped to Mountain Creek, New Jersey for the next stop this coming weekend, and if it’s anything like this past weekend you should bring some ear plugs to keep your brains from blowing clean out of your ears. Till next time, rock hard, rock long, but whatever you do, rock and roll.
1st Tim Major
2nd Dennis Filteau
3rd Al Grogan
1st Nora Healy
2nd Lily Callabrese
3rd Bekah Ashley
Pint Sized Ripper- Wyatt Kern
Muscle Milk Rider's Choice- Al Grogan
Zumiez Best Trick- Zach Normandin