Photos: Ben Birk and Greg Furey

Words: Adam Kisel

Videos: Justin Gunson (Teaser edited by Max Ritter)

The 2013 TransAM Premier Resort Award goes to Park City Mountain Resort

Every park manager and crew will tell you that kicking off a nine stop contest tour with the first build is always the hardest. No one really wants to step up first because everyone after you will have the advantage of seeing what you built, having more snow, dedicating more time and labor, and striving to make your build look second rate. After all, the TransWorld SNOWboarding TransAm Premier Resort Award is on the line, with every resort in competition to have the best stop on tour. Luke Mathison and the Waterville Valley Park Crew are anything, but second rate. They gladly step out in front of everyone to kick off the tour with the intentions of doing the best they can do regardless of what is built at the other locations to follow. The respect is in their dedication to making such awesome features as the Zumiez Couch close out rail set up. Of course Mathison kicked off the tour with other awesome features that served as an example of how to build a fun set up, but the couch close out in particular was epic, take a look back at the pictures for proof.

Each builder is given a list of key ingredients for what each feature should entail, but how they use those ingredients is up to them. Mark Tremain took his build one step further that other resorts tried to emulate and he personally made sure sponsors took note. His hand made wooden bar set up put a whole new twist on the Ride Snowboards "Get Buck Wild" feature. Riders could ride through the wild western double door and slide across the top of the old western bar. The amount of time and hard work that Tremain put into that feature was a standard set for the rest of the stops and builds. Jeremy Anderson and the Seven Springs Crew fought Mother Nature and her warm temperatures relentlessly to make a course out of one hundred percent man made snow. Anderson was not backing down to anyone and proved that with his rendition of the Coal Headwear combination feature. The feature stood alone in the corner of the park with a huge up rail to wooden hitching post to a large down box.  It had riders flipping sometimes unwillingly.

Onward we traveled to Minnesota and Powder Ridge. Michael Weiner made it all happen with a very limited crew and build time.  He worked over night to smooth things out for the contest stop. Weiner can build wooden stairs on the fly like a true carpenter. He set up his signature wooden stairs next to the Giro Helmets down rail that gave the illusion of an actual urban set up. Kevin Laverty and the Keystone Park Crew were hungry for the best build award and they spent countless hours in the rocky mountain sunshine perfecting their set up. It dumped snow the day of the contest, which was a blessing for the resort.  Laverty pulled out the huge metal corrugated drainage pipe that could be ridden through the middle or hit from the side. It was a feature of epic proportions and turned heads as the contest tour moved west. The meat and potatoes portion of the tour was in full serving with park crews getting bigger and snow in abundance as we traveled west. Mt. Bachelor is known for powder filled days more than you can count on both hands and feet. It puked through the weekend, but Parker Bohon and the Bachelor Park Crew were dead set on giving everyone a run for their money. Bohon built the first snow boom box that held the Skullcandy cassette tape, a feature that would later be emulated by Bear. Most notably, Bohon took the Anon feature and put it into a redirect feature so that you could hit it going up and down.

In sunny Northstar California, Mike Schipani built a castle-sized course that could not contain the wildest of riding beyond its walls. Schipani made the course rideable from every angle and spread around the Muscle Milk feature for all the kids to enjoy. The fence pieces could be ridden or ollied over and the Tower of Triumph could be topped off even by the smallest of groms. Everyone looked ahead to Bear to see what Clayton Shoemaker and the Bear Park Crew would put together to defend their Premier Resort title. Shoemaker took the boom box one step further with a dedicated huge wall ride with antenna and speakers that the Skullcandy Cassette tape sat in. The Bear crew took everything that screamed Bear and put it into the TransAm Park. It would again be the park to beat and Jeremy Cooper from Park City I am sure knew it. Cooper had started his build plans months ago, contacting me to get the layout details while on the road transporting a rail to be used in a morning show in NYC. Cooper knew finals would be big at Park City and he also knew Shoemaker was gunning to silence any questions on who would get the Premier Resort Award this tour.

We would get to Park City days before the contest to realize Cooper had gone insane. His crew was hand shaping a skate bowl on snow from top to bottom.  It was like a skate park on snow and the result was something that left an impression on the moon. Cooper set the bar higher than we could have even imagined proving Park City was not just a catchy name. The Sanuk wave at the top corner of the bowl had a C rail at an angle for riders to jib across the lip of the wave. Riders would criss cross throughout the bowl under the Utah sun and we were not only amazed by the riding, but by rideability of the set up. With smiles bigger than the High Cascade Snowboard Camp Marshmallow the riders from across the nation faced off in a flawless park build. Speed was kept throughout the course not just from the plethora of Wend Wax, but because each transition was meticulously hand crafted. Congratulations Jeremy Cooper and Park City, you are this season's TransWorld SNOWboarding TransAm Premier Resort Award winners. We will be back next year with a new round of features and a renewed build off between the greatest park builders across the nation.

PHOTO: Ben Birk

Want to see more of what went down at the TransAM this year? Well click here!