Snowboarders of various ages and skill levels came out to test out their jibs, ollies and rails Saturday as part of the Burton Mystery Series at Snow Valley Ski Resort in Minesing.
The local event, touted as an “inclusive banked slalom event series,” was one of two Canadian stops on the tour, which is working to pave the way to build a more accessible snowboard community for all ages and abilities.
Team Burton riders Kody Williams and Mikey Ciccarelli were on hand at the event for demonstrations, and to cheer on riders as they made their way through the course.
Ciccarelli, who has been riding with Burton for 11 years, started snowboarding when he was six years old.
“My whole family skied and we had an old family friend that snowboarded, and I always thought it was cool. One day, my parents bought me a snowboard and I have never skied since,” he said, adding he’s always loved the sense of community that comes with the sport.
“Riding through the park, you see everyone coming together, hiking features (and) throwing high fives … That’s what drew me to it.”
Williams, who started boarding when he was nine, credits his older brother for getting him into the sport — which he said he looks at in the same way people look at art.
“There are so many different forms of art and so many different ways you can paint or draw,” he said. “For me, it falls into the style of snowboarding. You don’t have to do the hardest trick, but if you do something and it feels and looks really good, that’s what I love about it.”
Williams, who has been riding with Burton for two years, said Saturday’s event was simply “fun.”
“Everyone is smiling. That’s the biggest thing. It’s still very new to me that people are asking for my autograph. It’s kind of crazy,” he said.
Approximately 150 riders pre-registered for the competition, with many more signing up earlier in the day.
Avid snowboarders Martina and Erik Frankcom enjoyed the event with their nine-year-old son, Nathan.
The Midhurst family had a blast hitting the slopes together, Martina said, noting the couple grew up snowboarding at Snow Valley.
“We both actually worked here and started our snowboarding careers here and did competitions. We didn’t know one another as kids, but we both spent a lot of time here, and now our kids are growing up … so we come out here as a family all the time,” she said.
As part of their day, the Frankcoms enjoyed a few bank slaloms and a jib park session before getting in some après ski time in the chalet while they awaited the awarding of the prizes.
“I like that it’s hard, but once you get the hang of it, you can do it really well and you can learn a lot,” said Nathan.
“We are really proud of Snow Valley,” added Martina. “One of the reasons they were chosen is because for the past 20 years, they’ve hosted the Chill Program for kids who maybe can’t afford snowboard equipment … Burton brings kids up here, gets them all suited up … and they come up all winter and learn how to snowboard … and Snow Valley has the most affordable lift tickets.”
These types of community events, acknowledged Ciccarelli, go a long way in helping build the community of snowboarding.
“This means a lot to the next generation. I always cherished those times when I was a young rider getting to ride with the (older) generation, so I love that Snow Valley and Burton are putting the time into events like this. This is the grassroots of snowboarding and is what’s going to grow the sport and make the culture and community grow,” he said.