Mike Walsh | Powder Report: Gettin' Sendy and sociable with spring time riding
With Old Man Winter hemorrhaging the life blood of this ski season into soppy puddles around the Berkshires, there would seem to be reason for despair.
Worry not, though, yee fellow worshipers of the shred, for there is plenty of fun to be had in the late-season period of winter.
The Powder Report is coming to you a few days late this week, thanks in large part to how good the local high school basketball teams were this season, but before I could make it out to Curry Hicks Cage for the five Western Massachusetts title games The Eagle covered on Saturday, I had to stop by Ski Butternut for the Gettin' Sendy park jam.
If you caught us last time in the gnar-lossary, you know Gettin' Sendy was a collaboration between The Garden and Shire Breu-Haus. They created an IPA with a release party two weeks ago, and then the jam at Butternut.
Saturday saw around 30 skiers and riders mixing it up in Great Barrington on the Cruiser trail, which was molded into a mini-park by Butternut's master builder Josh Morse.
"He had about two days to work on it, and he just went to work," said The Garden's Bill Whitaker. "Butternut is always a good time, and we love doing stuff with them. They've made their name with park riders and people travel there for that."
Whitaker was on the hill supervising and handing out swag prizes alongside Justin Maruco, who had the play-by-play on a megaphone. Maruco broadcasted the happenings down the Butternut's sun deck, where more than 100 spectators enjoyed some Gettin' Sendy — and kicked the keg long before the jam reached it's peak — while watching the skiers and riders get sendy of a multitude of features.
Things started with a set of basic and crooked rails, then progressed to a rounded pipe rail, on down to a sizable kicker alongside the parking lot treeline, and eventually a sweet barrel-topped volcano at the base.
"It was a good time, the vibe there was awesome," said Whitaker, who put on the free event as an invite to the local community to come out and jam. "There weren't any main big prizes or winners. I think everybody really picked up something. We had a handful of younger kids, and they can get intimidated with all eyes on you in a competition. So this was more just a fun come out and jam."
The term Whitaker used a lot was vibe. The vibe of Butternut, the vibe of the event, the vibe of the bluebird Saturday. The vibe was awesome, from the sun deck on up. Skiers and riders were patient, friendly and helpful, all while laying down some legit tricks and stomping out some serious air. Among them, Elliot Deleo, Cody Amstead and Gabe Santamarina.
Beyond that, though, it was just nice to see that type of community come together for an event.
Much of snowboarding in my experience is a solitary activity. Certainly, it is a fun thing to do with friends and family, and stopping to take selfies with the view, or riding the lift up deep in conversation are real. However, it's typically very cold and windy, so you are retreating into a face mask with goggles down, exposing as little skin as possible. You're also riding down the mountain in general solitude, and with the advent of singles lines, the mountain can become a lonely place some times.
Which can be great when you want that peace of mind, but the point here is that we're entering the time of year for mountain mingling, exposed skin and general sociability.
Bousquet will host its annual Irish Olympics on Saturday in Pittsfield. The local hill will kick things off at 11 a.m. with a series of events including the slush run at 2 p.m. and a torch light parade at dusk. Check Bousquet's Facebook page for a sweet teaser trailer for the slush run.
If South County is more of your jam, Ski Butternut will host its annual Spring Fling on Saturday as well. Starting at 2 p.m. with a Cardboard box build, and then the derby on the tubing slides at 3 p.m. They'll also host a rail jam and big air challenge at 4 p.m., before their own pond skimming event at 5 and then the human dog sled run to close out the evening.
It's spring fling weekend at Jiminy Peak as well. The mountain in Hancock hosted the likes of Scotty Lago last weekend for a park event, and is keeping the celebration going with the STRIDE Great Race first thing Saturday morning. I attended it last year, and it's amazing to see that community in action, shredding in a variety of ways. Saturday also features another cardboard box race and Jiminy Peaker and Snoopy races for kids, plus the Powder Report-favorite Bikini Slalom.
Strap up on Sunday as well, with Jiminy's version of the pond skim. The annual Saint Patrick's Day $17 lift ticket will be offered on Monday at Jiminy. Keep an eye out for me looking steezy in a 2008 Kendrick Perkins jersey.
Take off a layer or two, get sendy off a lip somewhere. Enjoy the ski community now that we can hopefully come out of our Oakley, balaclava and Hot Chili base-layer hibernation.
Most of all, continue to keep your tips up and stay spoice!
Mike Walsh is an urchin snowboarder who can be reached in the local lift line or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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