Just a few days after wrapping up the last and final Empire Games of the season at Bromont ski resort, feelings of nostalgia are already settling as we realize we only have a few epic snowboarding weekends left before our beloved slopes dry up.
Text: Zach Aller (@zach_aller)
Photos: Éric Lamothe (@elamothe)
Once again mother nature blessed participants, partners and spectators with ideal sunny spring conditions this past Saturday to kick off the final stop of the Empire Games, presented by Monster Energy and Burton Snowboards, in collaboration with Volcom & Oakley. The lift line was already overflowing at 8:15 with skiers, snowboarders and everything in between ancy to slash some slush. Empire’s trusty retail partners began turning cold metal screws on next year’s demo bindings, boots and boards minutes later and did not stop until the break of dawn – some even requiring emergency hand cream to avoid contracting the tech rep chapped hand syndrome. Needless to say, the demo zone was LIT all day long.
A few footsteps from the SuperDemo zone was the Empire Games course, and once again there were no disappointments here. This time around, the snow gurus from Todays Parks sculpted a springbreak-inspired course, complete with pool noodles, skate bowls, a classic quarterpipe and life-sized snow waves for riders to get a brief taste of the #summer18 of their dreams.
By 9:30am the riders list was full, with over a dozen on the waiting list. The hype was real and everyone from the local OG’s to the next generation of froth puppies was ready to shred. The unique head-to-head obstacle course kicked things off with the juniors and womens’ categories, both of which put on an impressive show of board control, speed and airtime.
Before the Open category kicked off in the afternoon, the Expression Sessions returned and challenged riders to get creative on the Volcom Skate Bowl (complete with a full size coping!) and the Monster Quarterpipe. It’s not every day that riders get to hit a perfect sunny quarterpipe (or skate bowl actually) on the East Coast, and they made sure to get the most of it.
Local legends Giom Morrisset, Frank April and Phil Jacques flowed through the skate bowl with style and grace and boosted, boned and tweaked out of the QP, showing the kids how it’s done. In the end it was Mathieu Villeneuve who slid his way to a win in the Volcom section, and snowboarder/judge Giom Morrisset who best expressed himself on the Quarterpipe. Riders then moved on to the top of the course for the main event, those thirsty for the win stopping at the Burton Snowboard’s waxing station on the way up.
At the drop-in maestro’s “go”, riders dropped in as fast as possible in hopes of making it to the finish line first, and in one piece.
Section 1: The Car Wash
Side-by-side, riders drove their boards over two narrow speed bumps and into an improvised car wash, where a garden of pool noodles awaited them. To avoid losing control and/or their vision, participants had to make sure their goggles were on tight and machetes out in front of them to minimize the number of slaps to the face and body. A small drop out of the garage and it was onto Falcon Heavy.
Section 2: Falcon Heavy
Recovering from a full body wash, riders maintained their speed for a boost into south shore air space reminiscent of Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy rocket launch. This was a full throttle experience where even a slight tap on the breaks could cost you a crash landing explosion.
Section 3: The Skate Bowl
Volcom, a brand synonymous with skateboarding, could not wait for summer and absolutely wanted a skatebowl. Ask Todays Parks, and you shall receive – riders flowed through this section in search of G-forces, some smacking the lip for extra swag points or just taking the fast line out of there to move on to the next round.
Section 4: The Maverick
Approaching the final section now, riders still standing reached maximum velocity and boosted out of the skatepark to the beautiful beaches of California, where the legendary Mavericks wave awaited them for a quick barrel.
Section 5: The Mega Ramp
The final frontier – the Mega Ramp. From a car-wash, rocket launch, skatebowl, wave barrel and now, the one and only Mega Ramp from X Games. What a Ride!! Riders with enough gas left in the tank tweaked one out for spectators, either celebrating their win or accepting the sour taste of defeat.
In the end it was Morin Heights veteran Devon Millar who took home top honors in the Open Category, closely followed by Raphael Deguire and Thomas Folly. On the womens’ side it was Gillian Andrewshenko in first, Marjorie Couturier in second and Samantha Rudenslay In third.
A major shout out to all who were present and/or were a part of making this event series a success once again, and we will see you all next year as we try to bring this already insane competition to a new level.