Photos: Greg Furey, Ben Birk, and Ryan Taylor.
Words: Adam Kisel
The TransWorld SNOWboarding TransAm Tour charged through its 10th birthday with reckless abandon. This year, the tour was presented by Skullcandy, and the usual suspects were part of the gang as well. Feature sponsors were given the opportunity to submit a feature design that would be taken by the park builder and incorporated into the mini park to build in a fashion that would be representative of not only the sponsor design, but also of each resort's park personality. As per always, Luke Mathison and the Waterville Valley Park Crew kicked off the tour with their rendition of how the design should look. Skullcandy already sponsored Waterville Valley, so it was easy for Mathison to take the Skullcandy sound tube he had been using on hill and incorporate it into the build. It was the most hit feature at the first stop of the tour and with good reason. Mathison and the crew set up the sound tube so you could handplant or flip over it, or you could hit it from the side and jib to your heart's delight. It was fun to watch, and Waterville proved why they are a Skullcandy-sponsored resort.
The next stop was one to remember, as the tour stayed east and touched down at Mountain Creek, New Jersey. Jersey was not as dirty as expected and covered the event day in the purest of white snow, leaving eight inches of fresh powder to slide through at the first drop in. Marc Tremain and the Mountain Creek Park Crew thought they would add their own touch to the Anon Optics rail design. They set up the Anon rail at a vertical angle and built a quarterpipe at the end of it. Riders could ride up one side of the quarterpipe and air out or handplant over the vertically set rail. They could also ride up the rail and redirect back into the quarterpipe landing. Mountain Creek kept the action live and spirits high with fresh snow and a setup that packed enough punch to give Snooki a black eye.
The third stop put us smack dab in the middle of this fine nation and the spawning grounds for some of the best rail riders known to man. Powder Ridge, Minnesota, sits out in the middle of a farm field and serves the twin cities with nonstop rope tows and urban rail setups. Michael Wiener and the Powder Ridge Crew stayed up all night long to build what would be a raw version of their urban assault on the TransAm. The Giro down bar setup had wooden stair steps on either side and a chain-link fence closeout that had riders jumping over the fences or from one down bar to the next. They kept each trick strictly for the streets and kept the riders coming back with a feature that was never before seen in Minnesota or on the TransAm Tour. Wiener proved that his mountain and staff might be small, but their hearts and creativity were big.
Jeremy Cooper and the Park City Park Crew had one goal in mind this year, and that was to get the trophy for best park, after last year's near miss. Cooper changed the TransAm park building game last year and had NorthStar and Bear scrambling to one-up his showing. This year proved to be no different, as he once again sculpted snow like a true artist with a Coal Headwear feature so real you could have checked it for a pulse. The head made of snow had a rideable mustache, nose, eyes, and a Coal beanie on top. Riders were gapping over the nose to the rim of the Coal beanie and jumping back into the transition on the nose. The head even had dreadlocks coming out the back, and the Rastafarians were in full approval. He took another shaped snow beanie and set it up on its side to be hit like a hip. Cooper and the crew were hungry for the title. They even sculpted one of the best mini pipes in the country with rails and pole jams littered throughout. The High Cascade Snowboard Camp mini pipe never looked so good, and the riders proved the transition was there to stay for quite some time after the tour stop.
The scene and story was the total opposite at North Star in comparison to last year. Last year, the park was buried under three feet of snow, and Mike Schipani and the crew had to dig out what they had already built. This year, Schipani had to turn on the guns and bring his own storm to the TransAm build, as the snow wasn't exactly piling up the way it had the previous year. Either way, they built an awesome park with a Zumiez living room feature complete with big-screen TV and that famous Zumiez orange couch. The icing on the 10th birthday cake was a huge window frame to down-box that riders could jump through as they cruised through the living room setup. Schipani was thinking along the same lines as Bear's Clayton Shoemaker with a feature you could actually ride through. Shoemaker took the title last year with a ride-through bear head made of snow. Schipani also pumped up the riders with the Muscle Milk mile-long rail that was set up on the deck of the mini pipe. If you could get to the end of this flat rail, you deserved a muscle-building Muscle Milk for such a gallant effort.
Finals once again kicked off at Bear Mountain, and by kicked off, that means punted to the moon. Shoemaker and the Bear Mountain Park Crew started their build a week ahead of time and built what will stand to be the greatest mini park ever made. It was a huge skate bowl made of snow that had two tunnels through it. Riders could shred through the tunnels and hit the transition inside the bowl, or they could just jib the rail inside one of the tunnels. The rippers could also ride the deck of the bowl that was littered with rails, some of which took you over the death-defying gap above the snow tunnels. He took the Coal headwear to the next level with a smoke-breathing double-headed dragon. One of the jibable Ride Snowboards smoking barrels sat in the mouth of the dragon and could be ridden as an option in the gap jump up and over the dragon's head. The words on this paper right now cannot and will not do this build justice. Take a look back at the pictures and video as proof why, once again, Clayton Shoemaker and the Bear Mountain Park Crew are deserving of this year's TransAM Premier Resort Award. Congratulations to Shoemaker, and thank you for once again setting the bar high for the mini park of mini parks!
For all things TransAM including videos, photos, recaps, and winner lists from each stop, go to www.twsnow.com/transam.