The 2018 STOMP Summit brought snowboard brands, retailers, and media together in Aspen to exchange thoughts and experience the coming season’s product in its intended setting—on a mountain.
April of 2018 marked the inaugural iteration of this thing called STOMP—an acronym for Snow Trade Outdoor Media Preview. With Aspen as the venue, which is a bizarre microcosm in the best way possible, STOMP united media, retail, and brands, offering each the opportunity to experience the coming season’s flagship products firsthand. When you gather the snowboard community's most influential group, most of whom are good friends, possibility of a bad time is low. And the ones that weren't friends before? They probably are now. That was the idea—at least in part.
Merchants, media, and manufacturers are the three proverbial pillars that the business side of snowboarding stands upon, and the stronger each is, the stronger the other two are. Kind of a lame metaphor, but the point is that it’s important to work together and learn from one another. At times that learning comes in the form of in-depth conversation, while at others it comes from watching someone scorpion.
Speaking in terms of product, a brand’s ultimate goal should be to deliver the best, a shop’s to outfit the consumer with the most appropriate, and media’s to accurately portray that product to the consumer. Time on-snow aids all of the above.
As for ideas, they can be conveyed on a page, via email, over the phone, and in a web post, but there is no substitute for actual human interaction. And for those who have built a career around snowboarding, the most natural place for this communication to happen is in the mountains, especially on a snowboard.
With Aspen's Limelight Hotel simultaneously serving as homebase for both STOMP and Snowboarder Magazine's Black Black Board Experiment, collectively bringing 65 snowboarders into a town past its peak tourism season, we take over—the mountain, streets, bars, pool and Olympic-sized hot tubs. It’s not a recognized event yet, but in the case of a late addition to the Tokyo 2020 lineup, a few contenders emerge.
Each morning the crew convenes in a room filled with 2018/19 product from 24 brands. As coffees and second coffees are sipped, bindings are mounted, goggles adjusted, and jackets zipped, before a mass migration to the gondola occurs. The crew from Radio Boardshop has put in shovel time around Ajax Mountain to bolster existing sidehits and add new ones. We also find ourselves continually hiking a short bootpack to a small sidecountry jump that sees its share of flips, both in the air and upon landing.
Nothing explains a product’s functionality better than riding it, except having someone close to that product’s development elaborate on the chairlift. Whether it's a retailer curious about a line they're not carrying, a brand interested in experiencing a competitor's technology firsthand, or someone like myself tasked with writing about this stuff, we all benefit from spending time on different gear.
Though there's a time and place for that discussion as well. When the gondola stops turning we find ourselves a hundred yards away from its base, on a patio shared by patrons you can only find in a place called Aspen. During dinner, tables are made up of eclectic enclaves that consist of shop owners, marketing managers, and those from the mag intermingling.
On the second night, right as most are finishing their first course, Dave Marx parades through a set of double doors. If anything was missing, the ever-effervescent Marx might've been it. Delirious from a flight from Japan, he manages to mumble some words on a microphone that fire the place up, and next thing we know he’s in a headlock from the unsuspecting recipient of a piece of cake to the chest. Its intended target was too quick.
The following day on-hill, party laps prevail as the group warms up for a slalom race. This isn’t the berm-assisted form we’re used to seeing. This is the same Nastar course the most talented families on vacation from the Midwest test their times on. Racing is an excuse to jock out and talk shit, but when the timed runs are over the crew returns to the regularly scheduled sidehit program.
The final evening’s dinner reservation is for 65 at Mi Chola, but before demolishing trays of tacos, we walk to Radio Boardshop to have a couple cool ones amidst the racks of clothes, boards, and shoes. As dinner winds down at the Mexican restaurant, the night is just getting started. An awards ceremony, the existence of which is unbeknownst to most, begins as plates are cleared and drinks are refilled. In the Mt. Baker LBS tradition of tape trophies, the fastest times from the day’s race are awarded with adhesive on a roll, while other noteworthy achievements are commended with prizes pulled from a brown City Market bag. Except for one. Matt Stillman is crowned the overall MVP of STOMP and given a championship belt signifying his significant contributions to the good time had by everyone in attendance.
Exhaustion sets in on the drive home from Aspen, but it’s different than that experienced after leaving a metropolitan convention center following a tradeshow. The notion that STOMP holds immense potential to reshape the platform for this industry's important interactions is stimulating enough to keep us awake on the interstate. Of course, this second cup of coffee doesn’t hurt either. Discussions of STOMP’s progression and expansion are already happening. See you there.
Stacked Clips – Jesse Burtner (Lib Tech + Gnu)
Prize: 1 box of paper clips
Best Crash – Tanner McCarty (RIDE)
Prize: 1 tube of Bengay
Technical Tuner – Matty Swanson (Radio + Strafe)
Prize: 16-piece screwdriver
Energizer – Dave Marx
Prize: 1 pack AA batteries
Chill Pill – Cale Meyer (Smith) and Sean Black (Arbor)
Prize: 2/3 pack of edibles
Green Dragon – Shayne Pospisil (Bataleon)
Prize: 1 bag of Cool Ranch Doritos
Hugh Hefner aka Robe Daddy – Mike Yoshida (Snowboarder Mag + TWSNOW)
Prize: 3 Playboy XXL condoms
Hammer – Travis McClain, Zak Ferrara, Nick Becker (Radio)
Prize: 1 hammer
Martinelli – Ryan Scardigli (Bataleon)
Prize: 1 bottle of sparkling cider
Crispy Critter – Jon Callahan (Launch) accepted by runner up Mary Walsh (Snowboarder Mag)
Prize: 1 tube of sunscreen
Overall MVP – Matt Stillman (Rome)
Prize: 1 championship belt
1st: Tim Gallagher (Wave Rave)
Prize: 1 roll of packaging tape and 1 pair of speedshades
2nd.: Zach Nigro (Burton)
Prize: 1 roll of masking tape
3rd: Shayne Pospisil (Bataleon) & Raul Pinto (Satellite)
Prize: 1 roll of Scotch tape
1st: Allie Hoosin (Satellite)
Prize: 1 roll of packaging tape and 1 off-brand energy drink
2nd: Heather Hendricks (TWSNOW)
Prize: 1 roll of packaging tape
3rd: Jenna Dilsaver (Never Summer)
Prize: 1 roll of Scotch tape
Slowest: Matt Stillman (Rome)