Of its primary water and concrete-based counterparts, snowboarding is the only sideways endeavor that is largely restricted by a fee. There is a distinct cost to snowboarding that ranges from a variable $15 to $180 per day or a fixed $300 to $3000 per winter. Plenty of means exist to slide downhill in the snow without paying for a lift ticket or buying a season pass, but more so than most pastimes, snowboarding is financially gated.
As snowboarding has matured and grown to be widely accepted at resorts and well-manicured terrain parks have become commonplace, the idea of buying a ticket or a pass has become increasingly ubiquitous. But there was a time when it was less common, when many resorts didn't allow snowboarding or restricted it to specific areas. Freestyle snowboarding was much more a do-it-yourself endeavor than it is today. Outside of a naturally-occurring lip, shovels and manual labor were requisites for air time. Riders built what they rode.
As someone who's been snowboarding for little more than two decades, this era was largely before my time. By the time I started, most resorts had some form of terrain park, albeit rudimentary in comparison to today's standards. But many of my best memories on a snowboard—the times when I learned three tricks in a day or rode late into the night—were fueled by shovel power. There is something about building a feature yourself and hiking it that accelerates progression and allows you to better connect with what you’re riding.
Each spring, there is an event that takes place which hearkens back to a simpler time in snowboarding—a time when building what you rode was commonplace, when progression didn't involve corked multiplicities, and when Colorado was the epicenter for freestyle advancement outside of the high profile contest realm.
For the last seven years Satellite Boardshop, with the help of an increasing number of shovelers each iteration, has offered a demonstration of a type of snowboarding that requires only enough money to put gas in your car and make it to the bottom of Loveland Pass. From there, you can hitch a ride to the top, where a quarterpipe is sculpted out of a natural windlip and a step up carved next to a cornice. Lower down, the infamously flat Ironing Board hip sees five hits to one land, and back at the bottom of the pass a jib-focused zone lends ample opportunity for carnage.
Either Aaron Dodds or Seth Bruce accurately described Love Games as a monster truck rally. But in between savage tomahawks, scorpions and faces meeting snow before boards—and without the typically requisite lift tickets, ski patrol, or entry fees—the strongest snowboarders manage ride away from heavy tricks at each zone, and these riders are recognized at the end of the day while hot dogs are grilled and beers are sipped by sunburnt lips.
Men’s 1st Jade Phelan 2nd Chris DePaula 3rd Seth Hill
The men’s podium: Chris DePaula in 2nd, Jade Phelan in 1st, and Seth Hill in 3rd. Congrats, boys. | Photo: Taylor Boyd
Second and first-place women’s winners Ruby Peyton and Melissa Riitano threw down all day on each feature. | Photo: Taylor Boyd
Froth Puppy : Nate Cordero
Defending Love Games champ Nate Cordero walked away with the Froth Puppy Award this time around—an acknowledgement of his efforts both digging and riding. The dude rips and moved a approximately one ton of snow by hand. | Photo: Taylor Boyd
Best Method: Justin Phipps
Justin Phipps and a size 66 Vans shoe with art by Jamie Lynn—his prize for grabbing methods well beyond his years. | Photo: Taylor Boyd
Highest Air: Hunter Frutchey
Hunter Frutchey’s absurd amplitude was acknowledged with the Highest Air Award. | Photo: Taylor Boyd
Legend Award Rob Bak
Longtime Vail local Rob Bak walked away with the Legend Award after hiking and ripping all day long. | Photo: Taylor Boyd
Brendan Sullivan didn’t win an official award, but the fact that he back lipped through the down-flat-down elbow log deserved recognition of some sort. | Photo: Taylor Boyd