This was the second year that we were invited to Snowboarder Magazines Launch. What is the Launch you ask? Well I’ll quote SNOWBOARDER on this one “The most progressive gathering of up-and-coming snowboarding talents in the world. Founded in 2008, The Launch strives to provide our sport's next generation of icons with a chance to collaborate on an event that they can call their own. For four days, progression and camaraderie are fostered in real time as the riders get the opportunity to excel in a scenario that is low key, high energy and above all else, fun.”
We went last year to Bear Mountain CA during the kid’s spring break and it was an absolute blast. So there was no way were missing this event even though they switched coasts on us and sent us out to Seven Springs PA. Travel to East Cuddy Bum Fuck proved tricky, especially since I had already booked tickets to CA, for the week before. Upon short notice of a location and date change, I scrambled my ass off to figure out how to afford this deal. 5 years of college with a 2.2 GPA in Geography at Salem State paid off as I found mileage tickets to Philly, as well as $30 car rentals vs. the $100 car rentals in Pittsburg. On top of that, the mountain was in one of our reps dirt and he got us incredible pricing at the Cruise Ship like hotel on the mountain.
We rolled out of Seattle at 6:30AM, to the MVP Gold check in counter at Alaska, where the agent questioned my decision to only upgrade myself for first class and not my children. After a couple of smiles and explaining that it was WeGnars birthday, she promptly upgraded both of them for the flight. Boom, this shits getting good. That is till the half hours worth of turbulence that had my heart beating at too rapid a rate for this old ass. On top of that I was watching that stupid Sandra Bullock movie Gravity. This didn’t go well together.
We landed in Philly, met Glen and Jonas Harris from Utah and off we drove for 4.5 hours to Seven Springs PA where we met up with none other than Griff who did a mellow 10 hour drive down to hang out from MA.
Sunday was day one of the event and it snowed like 4 inches and was 28 degree’s out. Hardly spring shredding and not conducive to what was supposed to be going down.
What was supposed to be going down was all the superman like features the crew at Seven Springs built for these 18 and under. A two jump line of a 65’ into a mellow monster where the sweet spot was at least 90’ out there. Yea…Milo I don’t think training on these 45 footers at Stevens all winter is going to give me the confidence to allow you to step to a 100 footer. Then there was the hip. A super booty hip to the moon, maybe 20-25’ feet in the air with a snow cat wide channel cut thru it. Just a beast. Attached to this were two channel jumps and a 40’ rail over the channel as well as a wall ride up the channel. Of course there was a rail garden and to top it all off, there was a 22’ super pipe. Next Level Shit all around.
Day one was rough for most. The only thing that really got going was the wall ride. A bunch of groms and Zac Normanden started to session it and Zac took charge when he started his attempt at coping with a backside invert. Milo was hitting this thing as well and I grabbed him before Zac started in on his quest to support himself with his arm on top of a 20’ and said, “dude, Bridges (Pat Bridges) loves hand plants. You got these on lock, get one at the top of this to start this session off right.” “Uhhh I don’t think so Dad” and off he went.
Normandin got real close to the top and Pat shut the session down to everyone but Zac. That’s how he works. He wants the dude that’s going for something special to get it, and in no way is he going to let anyone interfere with it either. Zac got it in a half or dozen tries and with that, day one was a wrap.
Day two it was a classic sunny, blue, slushy, and absolutely awesome day on the hill. They got the jumps going and then ended up filming a live web cast at this place called The Streets. Griff, Glen and I went over to check it out and I called the boys to get their asses over there and get in the mix. But it was WeGnars birthday and they were ripping the lap park and pipe with Mike Rav. Hmmm, hike rails all day or have a personal all day session with Mike Rav? The choice was and easy one.
Day 3 was a live webcast on the double jump line. Pat specified to the riders that “if you’re going to be a pussy and not hit the second jump, stay the fuck off the jumps period.” Translation of this was, don’t hit the first one, then shut your shit down and make a bunch of moguls in the take off for the 100 footer. As it’s not safe. About 25 dudes of the 75 invited were hitting the jump. And it was insane. Later that day they got the hip session going with about the same number of dudes. Day 3 and the boys hadn’t gotten to really do shit at the hill for a camera. This was actually kind of a mind fuck for me too. When I saw the set up on the hill, I though to myself “ok, he can maybe hit that first jump, but there will be minimal rotations on that, and that hip, well he could hit that too but it’s pretty bucky so…On top of that, he hit the channel gaps a couple times and got thrown forward on one and landed near the bottom of the jump on his back. Things were looking grim for either Malkoski boy to get any attention.
Day 4, we woke up to a full-blown downpour. Launchers were packing their bags and beating it out of dodge. Pat sent out an email that it looked like it was going to let up later in the day and we’d be riding around noon. We all looked at each other and said fuck it, this is why we came, and we’re staying. Rain doesn’t stop Northwesters. That’s for sure. We got on the hill with the entire Snowboarder Mag staff and about 25 Launchers. Ghost town status for sure. Red Gerard and Toby Miller went back to the wall ride and got a session going. Milo, Mac and Jonas came over and jumped in as well. After a couple warm up runs hitting the top of the coping, Milo decided it was time to listen to what I had told him to do 3 days earlier. 6 tries later he got T-Birds attention, who quickly encouraged Milo that today was his day and he was going to get coping on this hand plant. 10 more tries and I heard Bridges scream from across the way “Hell Yea Milo!” With that I knew it was on. In the meantime, Mac made friends with the snowmobile driver named Noah who was shuttling the kids to the top of the runway. Mac, being as light as he was, couldn’t get enough speed to get to the top of the wall ride. Noah made it his mission to help the birthday boy get the present he wanted, so he pulled him down the hill on the sled and whipped him into the feature at about 40mph. Pat came over to the group that was shuttling and yelled, “Back off the sled, Milo has priority. I want him to get this.” Milo finally got coping on the hand plant, stuck the landing, slapped hi5’s all around and called it good. Afterwords he came up to me and said “Dad, next year I promise to listen to what you tell me to do from the start.”
That day we rode till 6:45PM with Pat, Bird, the rest of the mag staff and the few riders that stuck it out to the end. It was some of the funnest, shredding we had done all year. On a hill with 750 vertical feet to boot.
The next day we packed it up and drove 4 hours into Philly to get what Philly’s known for, a cheese steak. We went to Geno’s, which is next to it’s arch rival Pats, and had a Philly Cheese steak wit wiz. That’s cheese wiz. A perfect ending to a pretty incredible trip.
Thanks Snowboarder Mag for the invite. Thanks Pat and Bird for being a true voice of snowboarding. Seven Springs park crew did an incredible job of building and maintaining a world-class event as well as lift ops that worked till 7PM every night. Thanks to Griff for always having a cold beer waiting and stashing “Easter eggs” all over the mountain. Hi 5 to Glen and Jonas for making this trip twice as fun. And thanks to Noah for driving that snowmobile shuttle for 2.5 hours as well. Lastly, thanks to my wife for letting us go on these adventures.
Gnar looks like a kitted out Honda with all that neon.
Griff drinkin a cold Easter Egg.
Chase Josey is pretty dreamy here.
Ben Ferguson was insane on this monster. What 45'-50' in the air? Mental.
Commander Bridges watching his troops