Vermont may have lost its marquee snowboard event when the U.S. Open moved to Vail, this year, but the spirit behind this historical gathering is far from snuffed. In true Yankee can-do fashion, a band of Green Mountain State shred veterans have partnered with Stratton Mountain to hold a new "all-inclusive" contest. It kicks off this Friday under the Vermont Open banner.
"The Vermont Open is a true open format contest for amateurs, pros, and washed-up pros," explains Vermont Open Advisory Board Member and former professional halfpipe competitor Seth Neary. "If you think you have what it takes to compete you should show up this weekend to claim your prize money and title."
The event tees off with a rail jam, outdoor music and a poker tournament hosted by Olympic Medalist, and Vermont Open Advisory Board Member, Ross Powers. Saturday includes a halfpipe competition (note: NOT a superpipe -- this is a good thing), a snurfer straight-line race, quarter pipe and big air event. Sunday features the main event: the Washed Up Cup banked slalom. There will be the full spectrum of riding styles represented, lots of live music, plenty of parties, and a $20,000 purse up for grabs.
After the departure of the U.S. Open and DEW Tour contests from Vermont resorts, Vermont Open event organizer Stevie Hayes and his advisory board saw a serious shortfall in event offerings for the local snowboarding community. They founded their own event in part to create the opportunity for amateurs to rub elbows and share runs with seasoned pros and grizzled shred veterans alike.
"The crew that put this event together knows first hand how important pro contest are -- not only for the economy in Vermont, but for up-and-coming snowboarders," says Neary. "Seeing pros ride in person can be huge motivation for a rider to push their ability to the next level. You never know when the next Ross Powers is going to drop in!"
For it's inaugural year, Neary says the Vermont Open is a totally "grass roots" initiative, so there won't be swarming TV crews or sponsor villages or triple corks. But there will be East Coast and international legends -- including racing icon Andy Cohglan, Seth Miller, and former Washed Up Cup champ Jason Goldsmith.
As for Neary, he's been training for a while now, and some speculate that he's in the best shape of his life. His motivation speaks to the scope and spirit of what will surely become an East Coast snowboarding institution: some cash, some cachet, and a whole lot of good times.
"There is 20 K up for grabs and bragging rights!" says Neary. "I want to have fun, and I want to win!"