As a particularly harsh Monday finally passes, it is necessary to sit back, relax and take a few quiet minutes to ourselves to reflect on the sheer scale of epicness that went down at Empire Games this weekend.
True to their style, the snow gods from Today’s Parks and Creations once again found a way to blow our minds with an uber creative and much anticipated build at Stoneham, Quebec, for the first of 2 Empire Games presented by Monster Energy and Burton Snowboards, in collaboration with Volcom & Oakley.
Photo credit © Eric LamotheJTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwc3JjJTNEJTIyaHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZwbGF5ZXIudmltZW8uY29tJTJGdmlkZW8lMkYyNTgwODE5MzglM0ZieWxpbmUlM0QwJTIyJTIwd2lkdGglM0QlMjIxMDAwJTIyJTIwaGVpZ2h0JTNEJTIyNTYzJTIyJTIwZnJhbWVib3JkZXIlM0QlMjIwJTIyJTIwd2Via2l0YWxsb3dmdWxsc2NyZWVuJTIwbW96YWxsb3dmdWxsc2NyZWVuJTIwYWxsb3dmdWxsc2NyZWVuJTNFJTNDJTJGaWZyYW1lJTNF
It’s not every year that the weather collaborates, but this time around Mother Nature gave us a break after a few weeks of high temps and rain. Above zero temps, blue skies and 8cm of fresh snow overnight made for ideal conditions. Riders flocked to Stoneham from all over the province, young and old, men women and children. By 10am registration was up to 110 people, a record-high for the Games. It was Suns out, Guns out baby!
At about the same time the sun came up, reps were seen setting up their tents for the much-hyped Super Demo, an all-day equipment frenzy where over 15 different brands were invited to showcase next year’s gear. Curious riders were invited to test-ride the latest and greatest free of charge, while well-seasoned reps hit them with some brand knowledge and/or stickers and grilled cheeses.
After making their way down to the setup, often sneaking in a few crispy pipe hits along the way, riders got their first up-close glimpse of the mayhem awaiting them. The course started off with a field of oversized speed bumps that were quickly referred to as the Nipples – arranged in a 1-2-1 fashion so that competitors had to fight gravity through narrow lines above each carefully placed Nipple-gate. A true test for edge control and wizard-like stability, this section proved to be the most challenging and exciting for our gladiators.
If you made it out of the field intact, a mellow butter box with two lanes (one for each rider) was next. Here riders picked up the most speed so they could spearheaded their boards towards l’Échangeur Turcot, or Turcot Interchange, if you will. This feature was something out of this world – or actually, you can find something exactly like it in Montreal, but for cars. True to its original structure, the interchange was saw a lot of traffic during the day and potholes, bumps and minimal maintenance made the ride tricky to say the least.
After digesting those G-Forces, a 4 foot (or 1.22 meter) mini pipe with a creative exit awaited both riders. Riders got to express their creativity and test this feature out earlier during the traditional “Expression Session” which took place before the Open Category. Nicknamed the Pipeline, this was the last major challenge for snowboarders that had made it this far – an obligatory crossing of the pipe, side-by-side, and a less than typical exit. This created quite a stir among competitors, who were heard debating the probabilities of having head-on collisions with their challengers. Against all odds however, things went relatively well and no major injuries and/or deaths were reported on the site of said pipeline.
From there, a sprint to the finish line where the fastest one down moved on to the next round, while his/her challenger was often seen doing the walk of shame to the legendary Quatre Foyer bar to drink their sorrows away. A massive hip was also built just after the finish line, this one nicknamed the Armageddon, where riders who had carried enough speed could tweak one out for the boys and/or girls in the crowd.
In the end after all was said and done and every rider gave it their 110%, it was local legend Jason Dubois who took home the top spot, followed by Phil Nault and Zach Aller (yours truly) in second and third respectively. For the ladies, it was Marjorie Couturier closely followed by Maude Schneider of Saint-Sauveur and Claudia Biron of Trois-Rivières. The juniors podium was also stacked with incredibly stable young guns, Aturo Bonnalie Milloch, Xavier Lafond and Tommy Lebel.
Energy drinks and many pitchers of beer were enjoyed that night among industry friends, riders and live music enthusiasts at Quatre Foyer and later, a quality house party held by your friends at Empire. A very nice way of wrapping up a turbo-charged weekend and celebrating everyone's hard work, dedication and love for snowboarding. One for the books, clearly.[vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_co