Author: Lauren Ashley

Summer of Death
Jack Massey switch frontside carves his way to 3rd place in the 18 and over open division. Photo:@_chriskiernan_

Skate decks echoed the sound of claps as they were thumped by contestants and spectators alike, after watching Parley Southworth, 24, complete his winning trick—a truck driver disaster from a waist-high ledge into the bowl. This was the Summer of Death Presented By Monster: Bowl Jam at Banzai, SLUG’s 16th Annual Skate Competition Series in Lindon on Saturday, June 20.

Though the day’s heat was intense in Utah Valley, it didn’t stop any of the contestants from destroying the park’s tight masonite-slick bowl, measuring at five 5 deep with a wall ride 10 feet high. Milo Sport owner Benny Pellegrino, who was emcee of the event, was anxious to see what the riders would do with wall ride, called the tombstone. “Each rider must have enough speed and ride the corners well in order to do anything on a wall like this,” said Pellegrino. Having the event centered around Banzai‘s epic bowl brought out skills (and balls) you wouldn’t expect from the skaters.

For instance in the Little Buddies category—17 and younger—the three groms who competed carved smooth figure eights, went for airwalks, and tried their skills at 50-50 grinds. Mason Webb, 10, gave the crowd a good scene when he attempted a kickflip off the wall ride, but fell—we were impressed with his warrior-mind tenacity shown toward the tombstone to begin with! Overall, each little buddy killed it, considering two of the three competitors hadn’t really ever skated a bowl until the day of the competition. Ogden’s Sean Sweat took First Place; Mason Webb, 10, came in Second; and Jude Wolsey, 13, placed Third.

The Open Division was a much steeper competition than the Little Buddies category. There were six riders total, and about half of them skate Banzai regularly. With that in mind, a lot of the kids competing cheered each other on and pushed the level of skating. But regardless of the bromancing, a few of the skaters were worried about Jack Massey’s bag of tricks, who is on the Banzai Team along with competitor Elijah Scmidt, aka Elijah Bleue, 20.

In the Open Division, each competitor was judged on their flow, how well they linked lines, and of course, their originality. “What we don’t want to see is a skater pushing around like a spider in a sink,” said Mike Muirhead, who was judging the event. Spider-like skating, however, was the last thing these contestants gave the crowd and judges. Though each skater varied in years of experience, most of them showed up with shredding confidence.

17 and under division winners:
1st Place – Shawn Sweat
2nd Place – Mason Webb
3rd Place – Jude Wolsey
Open division winners:
1st Place – Parley Southworth
2nd Place – Josh Meyers
3rd Place – Jack Massey
4th Place – Elijah Schmidt

Photos: WestonColton.com

Thanks to this contest’s sponsors: Banzai Skatepark, The Blue Plate Diner, Board of Provo, iNi Cooperative, Milosport, Monster Energy, Saga Outerwear and Salty Peaks.

Josh Meyer
Josh Meyer (2nd Place), blunt stall shove-it.
Elijah Schmidt
Elijah Schmidt (4th Place), backside boneless.
Jack Massey
Jack Massey (3rd Place), wallride on the tombstone.
(L–R) Strap Tank’s Aubrey Palfreyman and Julia Shuler lead the Utah chapter of Pink Boots Society, a community for women working in the Utah beer industry. Photo: Gilbert Cisneros.

It may be 2018, and though most of the United States has accepted legal victories like repealing prohibition, same-sex marriage and women’s suffrage within the last hundred years or so, in many ways, we are still fiercely trying to educate some citizens on the idea of gender equality. Buzz phrases like “gender pay gap” and “equal pay for women” are all over news media outlets, rightfully speaking to the economic unfairness to women in the workplace. And though we’ve come far as a culture with our social progress and appreciate those who have fought for equal rights throughout the decades, it’s still surprising how gender inequality and sexism can dominate even the coolest of trending industries. Luckily for craft beer, one of Utah’s fastest-growing trades, we have some women on the scene who are making waves with style, precision, wit and grit—and they’re doing it without any apologies. These ladies are the Pink Boots Society.

The Pink Boots Society (PBS) is an international women’s brew club with over 60 chapters worldwide dedicated to everything beer. It landed in Utah last summer when Strap Tank Brewing Co.’s Julia Shuler and Aubrey Palfreyman decided that being members of the nearest chapter in Denver was too cumbersome. “We just couldn’t make the monthly meetings,” Shuler says with a laugh. Based on convenience, Shuler and Palfreyman decided it would be best to start their own society in Utah Valley. But to start a Pink Boots chapter, you must have at least five members, and you must petition the PBS board for approval. With the lack of many women around northern Utah perched and ready to progress in the beer industry, Julie and Aubrey’s chapter barely formed. “Well, Aubrey and I took two of the five spots, and then we reached out to a few of our friends in the craft to make five starting participants,” says Shuler. “Now we have 16 women in our group!” To be part of PBS, you must have some genuine involvement with beer. For instance, you may be a brewery assistant, marketing coordinator, packaging employee or a server at the brewery pubhouse. Whatever your role is, you must be more than just a beer drinker, more than just an aficionado: You must be a craft beer devotee. Any woman who fits that bill is welcome to join. As of now, Shuler stands as the President of the Utah Chapter, and Palfreyman is the Vice President.

Though PBS’ primary focus is teaching women about the perfection of brewing craft beer, the Utah ladies willfully delve into much deeper topics related to the industry. “Oftentimes, beer comes with the stigma that it is a man’s drink,” says Shuler. “We encourage our members to stay well-informed as to what is happening politically and socially in the beer world so they can speak with confidence to anyone about the subject.” By educating the PBS members, these women are making immense strides in leading the conversation with society on how to both desexualize beer and remove the gender stigma that beer is only a man’s drink. “It wasn’t until after the Industrial Revolution that beer was marketed to men,” says Palfreyman. “Before that, clean water wasn’t a precedent, so beer was mostly brewed by women to have something safe for their families to drink.” As Shuler puts it, “We don’t want any gender attached to the drink, and we cringe when we see cheeky sexual innuendo used on labels to sell beer.” It may be common for other industries to promote products with the notion that “sex sells,” but for Shuler and Palfreyman, it isn’t worth using the modality at all. They hope that other breweries will eventually catch the drift that beer should be marketed as beer alone—similar to how wine is only labeled and marketed by varietal. “When you’re drinking a beer with a racy label, it’s easy to forget about the integrity of the beer itself and focus on the (not so clever) marketing,” says Palfreyman.

Another reason why PBS is honing in on degendering beer is that “beer is more than just an alcoholic beverage,” says Shuler. “It is a way to be social and connect with one another—it brings people together. As we are trying to grow the craft beer industry in Utah, we want to attract interested females without them feeling intimidated. If a woman has aspirations of being a brewmaster, we don’t want her to feel daunted by the fact that she may be one of the few females in the brewhouse.”

PBS also does a great job at creating community among women in the beer cosmos. “Our chapter is so much more than a few women getting together and talking about beer,” says Palfreyman. “We are really good friends, we have fun together, and we help each other out.” A good example of their sisterhood is how the women will collectively brew a beer together. In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8), the women brewed a beer called Mash the Patriarchy, which we will see on tap lines later this spring. Stay in touch via Facebook at Pink Boots Society Utah Chapter.

ethika

ethika Underwear

ethika
ethika.com

I’m just gonna say it — sexy and comfortable is ethika Underwear! At first glance, I didn’t think ethika was any different from your standard performance underwear, but after I gave their products a week of wear in a few sweaty situations, I understand why athletic celebrities like Ryan Sheckler, Louie Vito and Lyndsey “Lyn-z” Adams Hawkins & Travis Pastrana sponsor the brand.

First: ethika uses a cotton spandex blend, which makes their fabric ultra soft and extremely flexible. It’s perfect for working out or just being comfortable on any given day. To me, good workout clothes should be just as comfortable to wear when you’re not working out as they are when you are working out. Second: Like most performance brands, ethika’s products are designed with that classic, thick, super-tight elastic band (you know — it usually has the brand’s name in big letters printed on it) but ethika’s band doesn’t hurt or irritate you after an hour of wear. That elastic band, be it lining your sports bra or underwear, is actually there for support — comfortable support. Go figure. ethika’s underwear goes unnoticed, which is what makes it great for everyday wear. On top of being comfortable, ethika’s underwear stays put when you’re working out! What a pleasant surprise from the usual knock-off brands which are so easy to purchase at the big-box stores that claim to carry the exact-same qualities as the high-end brands.

ethikaSo, ethika sold me on quality and comfort, but it wasn’t until I got on their website and looked at their super-sexy ads that I felt like a rockstar wearing their brand. This company is not afraid to sell their product by using the Adonis bodies of professional athletes. Um, yeah, I want to feel like a sexy model riding a motorcycle in the middle of L.A. wearing nothing but stiletto heels and looking hot in a bra and panties … Oh, she’s wearing ethika brand? I’ll take five different styles, please. Um, yeah, Ryan Sheckler looks friggin’ hot with his tatted chest, saggy jeans and ethika underwear showing … My boyfriend could use a style boost — I’ll take every color you have! When you look at ethika’s constant sex-appeal ads, you can’t help but get a little unhinged, and the next thing you know, you’re typing your credit card information into their website. This is a good thing, by the way. There is nothing wrong with letting an underwear brand boost your confidence.

Besides turning into a goddess while wearing ethika, I do want to emphasize their micromesh material. It’s perfect for intense workouts or very hot days. Mesh fabric is known for its breathability, and ethika’s micromesh manages to feel like silky cotton, while being as breathable as you’d expect any mesh material to be — another plus when you want to get your sweat on!

Now for the pricing: It’s reasonable, and it’s worth it! If you can let Lululemon burn a hole in your pocket, then you can definitely afford ethika. All of their products (men’s and women’s) range in price from $22 – $35. Not bad for a brand that delivers quality, comfort and self-assurance. You can pick ethika up at any Tilly’s retail store or online at ethika.com.

On Nov. 5 at Liberty Park, pray for snow with the Shred Fest team and some of Salt Lake’s finest.

Arriving just in time to kick off the 2016–2017 ski and snowboarding season, Nov. 5 marks the day that Salt Lake City will host its first annual Shred Fest at Liberty Park. Shred Fest has brought together the action sports community, college kids, families and those who simply like to have a good time in Missoula, Montana, since 2010. Salt Lake is now lucky enough to host Shred Fest—the only festival in the country that celebrates winter sports on a local and chill level.

Shred Fest is a ‘pray for snow’ party,” says founder and head honcho, James Fleege, with a joking smile. It’s true that Shred Fest may be the perfect place for the collective conscious to pray for a spectacular winter, but in reality, it’s just a really cool festival. Taking place in the center of Liberty Park at the bottom of the north-facing hill (where the drum circle meets), the festival will host a variety of events, including a competitive rail/quarter pipe session, a sponsor village with big brands and local shops, a lumberjack contest, an electric forest to wander through and, of course, good food, music and beer. Any successful event takes a lot of planning and organizing to make it work, and Shred Fest is no different. What sets this festival apart from others is its homage to winter sports—both skiing and snowboarding—as well as its passion for providing the local community with an opportunity to celebrate the season and get involved.

Shred Fest began when Fleege, a budding entrepreneur in his senior year at the University of Montana, wanted to create something that stood out on his résumé in the hopes of landing an official job with Burton Snowboards. As a semi-professional snowboarder, Fleege was already a brand ambassador for Burton, had made some video pieces and had been sponsored by local shops, so it made sense for him to do something involving skiing and snowboarding. The idea for a festival hit him in the early fall of 2010, when Fleege decided that the small community of Missoula could benefit from an event that welcomed winter sports and brought people together.

"Shred Fest is a 'pray for snow' party," says founder and head honcho, James Fleege.
Photo: ColtonMarsalaPhotography.com

Starting a festival is a giant undertaking, but Fleege, being the “grab the bull by the horns” type of guy that he is, saw the task as another item to cross off his bucket list. At first, Missoula was apprehensive about supporting Shred Fest—there was nothing to compare it to. However, when the city was trying to fundraise for a new pavilion that same year, Fleege saw a win-win opportunity and offered part of the proceeds from Shred Fest to assist in building the new pavilion. The city took the bait, and by October of 2010, Shred Fest launched in the college town of Missoula. Call it luck or entrepreneurial prowess, but Year One of Shred Fest earned the city $1,200—Missoula would now always be on Fleege’s side. 

Though the festival started small, year after year Fleege and his team gained traction within the community, and now, it would be impossible to discontinue the event. Headlining artists like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Mumford & Sons would be among the lineups to help make Shred Fest a hallmark Montana event.

After six years of continued success in Missoula, Fleege wanted to explore the possibility of taking the festival to other cities. “It just made sense to come to Salt Lake,” says Fleege. “There is obviously a huge winter sports following here, and the city already supports summer festivals that unify the community. We really believe that Shred Fest can also be a positive addition for the locals.” Salt Lake City agrees. Even though Fleege knows his way around pitching the event, the Salt Lake City Arts Council was more than helpful in providing the roadmap for Shred Fest in SLC. “From the beginning, the city supported the idea and gave me every tool possible to help me succeed,” says Fleege.

Initially, there was talk about hosting the event at Pioneer Park, but the months of cleanup from the Twilight Concert Series would make the timing nearly impossible. Fleege then aimed for the State Capitol. “I thought the Capitol building would be a great backdrop for a winter festival, but it’s illegal to have alcohol there, so that was immediately shut down,” he says. Finally, Shred Fest decided on Liberty Park. “Liberty Park is actually perfect for Shred Fest,” says Fleege. “It’s located in a central spot downtown, and there will be enough room for all of the festival’s events.” The Shred Fest team also needed enough space to bring in the astounding 25 tons of ice shavings from local ice skating rinks to build the quarter pipe and ensure that there is enough “snow” for the rail jam. “SLC has always been a legendary spot in the ski and snowboard community,” says Shred Fest Athlete Brand Ambassador Will Wesson. “It’s events like this that keep that stoke alive.”

Gear up for Nov. 5 at Liberty Park from 2 p.m.–10 p.m. for local food trucks and  music from Hot Vodka, DJ Matty Mo and Pixie and the Partygrass Boys. Tix are $10 at shredfestival.com and 24tix.com or $15 at the door. See you there!

Photos: Andrew Meehan

Salt Lake is one of the few places in the country where incredibly talented, pseudo-pro snowboarders drink at our bars, work at our jobs and eat at our restaurants without ever hinting to anyone of their athletic prowess. If you really knew that the busy waiter hustling around your table and selling you the nightly specials was earlier that day blasting front 540s off a 50-foot vertical in the backcountry or hitting 50/50s on the rails at the high school, you’d probably be quite impressed—and maybe even a little embarrassed—for not taking him more seriously. Tucker Brown, local badass snowboarder, is exactly that type of Salt Laker: an extremely talented rider who keeps his endowments to himself. If you met him on the street, you might suspect that he was a badass in one way or another—there is a humble confidence about him—but besides that, nothing about his demeanor or look gives off “snow bro.” The 24-year-old East Coast native technically isn’t a professional snowboarder, but he is sponsored by companies like Signal Snowboards, Blindside and Dang Shades (to name a few). He rides as many days as he is allowed by his other job as a full-time cook at the hip new downtown restaurant Manoli’s. Why Brown really makes a difference in the SL snowboarding scene, however, is due to his flawless style and innovative video parts with his riding and film crew, SEGCOS.

At the start of our interview at Sushi Groove, Brown made it very clear that SEGCOS isn’t a professional film production crew nor retailer. “We’re a group of local shredders who believe snowboarding shouldn’t be polluted by money or an image,” says Brown. “As a sarcastic response to the dudes out there taking snowboarding and themselves too seriously, me and my buddy, Andrew Nagel, decided to create an all-inclusive riding and film crew called the Super Exclusive Gentlemen’s Club of Snowboarding.”

Fair enough. Although Brown’s hellbent on giving credit to the whole team and not only to himself, as a local rider, he definitely holds his own. Brown’s standout riding style makes snowboarding look incredibly easy—effortless, actually, is the better adjective. Like many snowboarders, all the standard kill-it tricks are up his sleeve: front- and back-side airs, methods, fakies, nose grabs, tail presses. In short, Brown knows how to ride. It might be true that Brown and his SEGCOS crew don’t have any professional “film production credentials,” but that didn’t stop the group from making three independent films: 3Deep5Me (2013), Urban Retina Display (2014) and AEM (2015), which highlight Brown along with 30 or so other riders.

Just like anybody else, Brown had to begin somewhere. It all started at the age of 11 when one day, Brown’s grandparents gave him a Vokl racing snowboard that they randomly found on the side of a road. “Did your grandparents know you were interested in snowboarding, or was giving you the keystone to your life’s passion entirely coincidental?” I asked curiously. “Ironically, I was already wanting to snowboard, but my grandparents didn’t know it at the time,” Brown says with a smile. “I rode that Vokl 161 all through highschool and during my first few years in Utah, until a buddy finally gave me his old Forum Destroyer to ride instead.”

Snowboarding conditions in New Hampshire are rarely optimal. Most of the time the snow is wet and heavy and the slopes are icy, which is why a lot of fantastic riders come from the New England area—they’re forced to work with what they’ve got. If a rider “makes it” out there, it’s not just because they’re good at snowboarding—it’s also because they have to possess passion, persistence and a positive attitude to survive discouraging conditions. You can see those traits in Brown, too. “The hardest thing about snowboarding is learning how to do it,” he says. I believed Brown, considering where he learned to ride, but regardless, watching him makes you think otherwise. His style, vibe, mojo (however you wanna slice it) is so graceful that it actually invokes an illusory confidence that anyone can shred just like he does. It’s like watching a professional athlete during the Olympics: They make you believe their craft is simple enough to conquer on your own. Brown has that same power.

It’s no surprise that Tucker chose to attend the University of Utah to be near the mountains—plus, he fits in seamlessly with Salt Lake snowboarders. “It was in college and through the snowboarding community that I met Nagel, who is the brainchild behind SEGCOS,” says Brown. “We started SEGCOS because a lot of us who ride together wanted to just make cool snowboarding videos without the exclusivity that commonly happens among riders.” 

The SEGCOS crew’s films are interesting from the get-go. Each movie has an overt indie vibe, unorthodox soundtrack and distinctive shots—a lot of tilts and stuffing (close-ups). For instance, Brown’s part in AEM is him shredding to Whitney Houston‘s “I Will Always Love You.” Nagel gets creative by using nontraditional equipment like a Panasonic HVX Camcorder and a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera. “Nagel does everything when it comes to our videos. He produces, edits, chooses the music and films,” says Brown.

With Nagel’s tight grip on every level of production, I wondered if he tries to direct the riders into sequences that most complement his filmmaking style. “Is Nagel a very hands-on director?” I asked. “Not at all,” says Brown. “It’s quite the opposite, actually. Nagel respects our riding just as much as we respect his filmmaking talent.” Maybe that’s why SEGCOS has come so far since its conception—riders can feel comfortable being themselves. “What’s the culture of the SEGCOS crew like?” I asked. “It’s like the ‘Island of Misfit Toys,’” says Brown. “Anyone is invited to ride with us. When we first began, we were riding with 20–30, but the group has dwindled to just a handful of guys. We still aren’t exclusive though. It defeats the purpose of being who we are.”

With their devil-may-care attitude and down-to-earth style, the SEGCOS crew is definitely turning up the local snowboarding scene in Salt Lake City. You can watch the Super Exclusive Gentlemen’s Club of Snowboarding’s films online and for free, or join ’em on the mountain (you know they won’t mind). Whether you ride with these kids or not, check them out—you won’t be disappointed.   

Photos: @cezaryna

For most of us, being a professional snowboarder sounds like a dream come true: receiving sponsored gear, chasing snowstorms around the world, owning a decent small business built on the reputation of your name, followed by an insurmountable amount of likes on Instagram. Though it seems enticing, this lifestyle isn‘t at all what we spectators believe it to be. Most professionals are actually about as normal as the average person in the checkout line. Snowboarding  professionals often buy their own season passes, travel very little because they lack funding and rarely get noticed in public. For 26-year-old professional snowboarder Madison Blackley, being a pro is about as useful as being a modern-day treasure hunter.

Madison Blackley is a shredder from the crew Too Hard. Photo: @cezaryna
Madison Blackley is a shredder from the crew Too Hard.

“If there wasn‘t an industry within snowboarding, everything would be perfect,“ says Blackley, who has been shredding the Wasatch Mountains since she was a bright-eyed 11-year-old. “Though I‘ve been winning contests since I was 18 and have significant sponsors, I still consider myself an amateur. The term pro is for those who can consistently pay their rent from snowboarding.“ Throughout her entire career, Blackley has struggled with the realization that the term professional doesn‘t equal a significant income. Instead of considering herself a professional, Blackley considers herself to be an expert. “I read somewhere that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something,“ she says. “Considering I‘ve been passionate about a snowboarding career since I was young, I believe I can definitely call myself an expert at snowboarding.“

Though Blackley doesn‘t refer to herself as a pro, at this point in her career, and to the rest of the snowboarding industry, she‘s not only a professional but, also, a veteran. She‘s participated in three Dew Tours, has won multiple resort-sponsored rail jams and qualified for the Olympics.

What‘s so refreshing about Blackley is that she‘s a realist. Snowboarding is her passion, but she knows where the sport stands in her existence, and she knows how to keep it real. From a young age, Blackley knew that she wanted to pursue a life as a professional rider, so she threw herself out there by participating in any contest available, making connections with other riders and even postponing college so she could focus on the sport. After years of winning on the contest circuit and gaining sponsors, Blackley realized that snowboarding as a professional was as good as a pipe dream. “The Olympics has changed the game for snowboarders like me,“ says Blackley. “To gain any recognition as an athlete, you almost have to be part of the U.S. Team.“ Three years ago, before the Dew Tour became the qualifying contest for the U.S. Olympic Slopestyle Team, Blackley was ranked fourth among U.S. females. With a ranking that high, Blackley could have made her break into professional snowboarder status. But to level the playing field for the Olympics, only the top three females qualified for the team. The rest of the competitors, including Blackley, lost their ranks, titles and points from a contest that once helped them prove their skill set and talent to the snowboarding industry. “The Olympics permanently changing the contest circuit, coupled with my stepdad passing away, made me realize that I snowboard because I‘m passionate about the sport, not because I‘m passionate about the money or recognition that I could get from it,“ Blackley says.

Madison Blackley – Method Photo: @cezaryna
Madison Blackley – Method

Since that catharsis, Blackley has changed the way she engages with snowboarding. Instead of getting bent on being the best pro snowboarder around, she balances her craft and lifestyle with healthy doses of reality. “I wait tables, and I‘m going to school for a degree in business,“ she says. “Ideally, I want snowboarding to always be part of my life, but I also realize it won‘t last forever.“ Regardless of her sensible approach, Blackley is still a legitimate professional snowboarder with current sponsorships from companies like Vans, Batallion, Airblaster and Smith. She also rides and shoots film as many days as she possibly can with her riding crew, Too Hard. “I guess you can say I chase the snow,” she says. “If it‘s storming and we have a few great days or weeks, I take advantage of it by filming as many spots as I can.“ 

The response to Too Hard has been overwhelming. Not only have these ladies managed to release three films the last three seasons, they also teamed up with Vice, who did a documentary on them called Lady Shredders. “[Lady Shredders] couldn‘t have been more accurate,“ says Blackley. “They focused on the financial struggle that professional female riders face as well as competing for the public‘s attention and respect in a male-dominated sport.“ 

Blackley has learned a lot about who she is and how the conventions of the snowboarding industry can help or hurt the lifespan of a professional. From contest junkie to sophisticated and versatile rider, Blackley knows that the best thing she can do as a snowboarder is to stay confident, play to her strengths and be thankful for the moments she has on the mountain.  She shows professionals and non-professionals alike that snowboarding isn‘t always about the hype of winning money and recognition, but about enjoying snowboarding for snowboarding‘s sake. Check out Madison Blackley and the Too Hard crew on Vimeo.

Pallas Snowboards

Photo: Margie Isabelle and Paul DeVincent

Two years ago, before her boutique snowboarding company officially began in 2014, Pallas Snowboards founder Stephanie Nitsch was dreaming about starting a female-centric mountain biking company. Instead of mountain bikes, a twist of fate urged her into the world of snowboard production—and more importantly, split board production for the backcountry. To her, what mattered was being able to provide women with opportunities to be courageous, to break personal barriers and to get involved with extreme sports—regardless of how many men typically dominate the action. What she wanted was to get back to basics with action sports gear (to level the playing field, so to speak) between men’s and women’s backcountry snowboard designs while simultaneously empowering women to be bold and take risks that get them out of their comfort zone.

Laurel Nelson oversees and personally crafts every single Pallas snowboard. Photo: Margie Isabelle and Paul DeVincent
Laurel Nelson oversees and personally crafts every single Pallas snowboard.

Two super-cool women operate Pallas: Nitcsh and Production Manager Laurel Nelson. While Nitsch was considering to start a female-driven mountain biking company, she connected with Alister Horn, the founder of Pallas’ SLC-based mentor company, Chimera Snowboards. He suggested that she move into split board production because female riders were sparse in the backcountry. “I was passionate about finding ways to get females less intimidated and more confident with recreation in general, and Alister showed me that there was a need for that in the backcountry,” Nitsch says. To complete the success of what is now the Pallas team, Horn helped reconnect Nitsch with Nelson, who currently hand-makes every deck that comes out of their warehouse.

Nelson and Horn had known each other for a good 10 years before working together on this level. “I have an engineering degree, and I came into working with Steph after Alister told me about her vision and passion to make quality split boards and snowboards that satisfied the female market,” says Nelson. By mid-season 2014, they produced their first snowboard line, and the rest is history. Now, Nelson oversees and personally crafts every single Pallas snowboard. “What used to take me a few hours in the beginning to make now takes me 20 minutes,” says Nelson.

Nitsch and Nelson seek to encourage women to enjoy outdoor recreation. Though they have a clear and profound vision of their company’s character, the value of Pallas lies in their actual product—the snowboards. “We don’t shrink it and pink it,” says Nitsch when contrasting the way Pallas makes their snowboards to other snowboarding companies. “Our boards are made for backcountry riding, not backcountry female riding. Though we market specifically toward women, if a man decided to ride on a Pallas snowboard, he would hardly feel a difference from his own engineered deck.”

Like most backcountry snowboards, Pallas boards have an aspen wood core, a wide waist and a stance that sits far enough toward the tail to allow the nose to naturally pop out and cover more surface area of the snow. The primary difference, however, is Pallas’ use of BUHMPER technology, which means that instead of a steel inside edge, they use ultra-high molecular weight plastic (UHMW). This technology gives their boards a poppy and lightweight feel without compromising the ride. “Our split boards can withstand choppy runs and still hold their edge—they’re built to accommodate strong riders,” says Nelson.

Because the Pallas team consists only of Nitsch and Nelson with Horn as a silent partner, Pallas truly is a boutique business. Both Nitsch and Nelson have full-time jobs—Pallas is their passion project. “We’re not trying to put the cart before the horse,” says Nitsch, “and as a company, we are growing at our own pace. Some weeks, both Laurel and I, between our day jobs and Pallas, work 150 hours a week.” Nitsch lives in British Columbia, Canada, and works as a writer for an advertising firm, while Nelson works for backcountry.com. The two communicate through emails and multiple conference calls each week. “I travel to Salt Lake about every two months to check in,” says Nitsch. “For now, it works, but we’re excited to keep moving forward.”

Pallas values teaching inquiring minds that backcountry snowboarding doesn’t have to be intimidating but exciting. Most of all, they ardently stress that it’s OK to ask questions, especially when learning about avalanche danger and its proper precautions. To promote their educational vision, Nitsch and Nelson’s biggest push right now with Pallas is to offer training clinics that teach individuals how to open their eyes and minds when exploring unmarked terrain. The pair also want people to realize that the fear-mongering talk that so often erupts during backcountry conversations is essentially useless. Their goal is to dispel those myths by introducing riders to the realization that knowledge precedes power, and backcountry riding has a lot to do with feeling your power.

Pallas doesn’t sponsor riders yet, but they are interested in building a street team that acts as ambassadors for the company. “Our clinics also work as a marketing tool,” says Nitsch. “We want female riders to know we exist, that we build superior snowboards, and that we connect and educate female riders with the backcountry.” Pallas Snowboards, with its vision and passion, is on its way to the top—literally! Check out Pallas, their clinics and snowboards at pallassnowboards.com.

Pretty Faces
Pretty Faces
Lynsey Dyer’s film, Pretty Faces, casts a light on the oft-ignored world of female skiers.

Pro skier Lynsey Dyer has done it again. It wasn’t enough for her to stun the outdoor world with her awesome and empowering women’s organization, She Jumps. She exceeded everyone’s expectations by making the amazing, all-female ski film, Pretty Faces. Join Dyer and lighthearted pro-skier friend Rachael Burks as they tell the story of “ballsy” females in a men-only recreational world. This film, though, is not an apology or an excuse aimed at the plight of women in a competitive action sports scene. Pretty Faces is a bright, lively and ambitious narrative that genuinely reflects the inherent beauty that women in the outdoors possess. From reminiscing about old-school skiers like Wendy Fisher, Suzy Chaffee and Lynne Weiland to observing the female skiers of today, this film shares the importance of chasing one’s dreams, embracing who you are and believing in the impossible. Unlike a lot of other action-sport films, Dyer’s production truly has a plot and take-home point of inspiring command. At the movie’s apex, we see the ladies wickedly shred down brilliant lines found only in the momentous Alaskan peaks. Just as the title suggests, watch these hard-ass pretty faces conquer and connect to the magnificent pretty faces of the mountains. Watch and grasp the marvelous.

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Ski and Snow Comp
Ski and Snow Comp
360 off the poll by this year’s number one in Men Open Ski division – Jake Lewis. Photo: @cezaryna

The crowd huddled together this past Saturday, Jan. 10, as they watched the winners of SLUG Games: Battle at Basin Presented by Ken Garff Fiat—SLUG’s 15th Annual Ski and Snow Comp at Snowbasin Resort—get crowned and receive their awesome prizes. It was definitely a stiff contest for both skiers and snowboarders alike.

All around, the competitors showed up with impressive tricks. The talent from action sports athletes just keeps getting better, year after year. Contestants were throwing all kinds of killer tricks, from rodeos to misties to clean, solid methods with transitions. The riders were showing off such skills that the judges started to have some fun by offering their personal cash on top of that offered by Ken Garff Fiat for those who could throw down whatever trick was called out by the emcee.

It’s not hard to believe that the SLUG Games Staff starts planning the competition course months before the event happens. Actually, they typically start thinking about the winter games as early as August. This year, the course was fantastic. The riders’ first obstacle was a considerably sized step-down pole jump, flanked by two angled boxes. Skiers and Snowboarders took full advantage of this opening feature, as they would use the obstacle to announce how styley they are with jibs, launches and twists. One snowboarder went so far as to jump over one of the boxes, do a cartwheel to the other side, then hop off the opposite angled box.

As soon as each competitor rallied with their opening entrance, they then faced a waterfall rail or a down flat down box. This choice became very tricky for some athletes, as it appeared to be a challenge on how to approach each feature the best way possible.

All competitors were judged on three things—creativity, style and technicality. The judges were in favor of those who took chances. If a rider fell, it wasn’t the end of the world—being ballsy was appreciated. To solidify how much they liked competitors taking risks, the judges awarded “Best Crash” to Dylan Hartsell and “Best Trick” to Jack Cornell, who managed a sweet Backside Bluntslide sameway 270 on the down-flat-down feature. Of course, what made the difference in who won and who didn’t were those who seamlessly and consistently combined the three qualifications of style, creativity and technicality.

The women competing in SLUG Games freaking rocked. They held their own alongside the male competitors. Not that they were literally competing against the guys, but each heat included males and females trying to smash. A lot of the ladies had serious finesse and grace when it came to transitions and grabs. First Place of the “Women’s Open Snowboarding” category went to Lynn Neil for a switch front lip to rail, which she thinks gave her the winning edge. “I felt really good about that trick,” says Neil. Second Place went to Taylor Mattingly and Third Place to Annie Glissendorf. Winner of the “Women’s Open Ski” category was the amazingly talented Brooke Potter. Second Place was awarded to Alexa Juncaj and Third Place was awarded to Cynthia Hurst. The First Place for the “Women 17 and Under Ski” category went to Wynter McBride, and Second Place to Morgan Lyman.

For the men, both skiers and snowboarders showed a lot of gumption, whipping off the first pole jump then showing their sleez throughout the rest of the course. Winner of the “Men’s Open Ski” division was Jake Lewis, who not only wore impressive denim overalls, but landed a sick front misty out, as well as a back 360 off the pole. Lewis definitely caught the attention of the crowd (and judges) with his self-assurance on the course. Considering he was the leader of the group, Lewis surprisingly said he was “nervous and a bit intimidated by the features.” Second Place for the Men’s Open Ski category went to Brighton kid Walter Shearon and Third Place to Chris Dakoulas. First Place for “Men’s 17 and Under Ski” was Jackson Jenkins, Second Place went to Milan Peylin and Third Place to Tanner Kelsey.

Sam Klein, First Place winner of the “Men’s Open Snowboard” division has only been riding for the past five or six years. His winning combos? “Linking back flips to stack rail tricks,” said Klein. Second Place in the Men’s Open Snowboard category went to Brian Skoropsia and Third place—well, it was a tie between Sammy Elliot and Griffin Lancaster. “Men’s 17 and Under Snow” First Place was awarded to Jacob Ferrel, while Second Place went to Patrick Martin and Third Place to Max Kozlo.

Each podium honoree went home from the games with not only their title and a boost of confidence, but also with plenty of sponsor swag—and skis from 4FRNT, boards from RAMP Sports and cash money from Presenting Sponsor Ken Garff Fiat of Salt Lake.

The 15th Annual SLUG Games: Battle at Basin Presented By Ken Garff Fiat was an immense success. Spectators gathered, 135 riders participated altogether and the podium winners were very deserving of their titles. Sponsored by Ken Garff Fiat, Core Power, Crossroads Skate Shop, Freeheel Life, iNi Cooperative, Lucky Slice Pizza, Milo Sport, Pit Viper, Publik Coffee, RAMP Sports, Saga Outerwear and Salty Peaks Board Shop—it was a fantastic day, and hopefully, next year’s Snowbasin Battle will be just as exciting.

Check out our full gallery of photos here.

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Summer of Death
Jack Massey switch frontside carves his way to 3rd place in the 18 and over open division. Photo:@_chriskiernan_

Skate decks echoed the sound of claps as they were thumped by contestants and spectators alike, after watching Parley Southworth, 24, complete his winning trick—a truck driver disaster from a waist-high ledge into the bowl. This was the Summer of Death Presented By Monster: Bowl Jam at Banzai, SLUG’s 16th Annual Skate Competition Series in Lindon on Saturday, June 20.

Though the day’s heat was intense in Utah Valley, it didn’t stop any of the contestants from destroying the park’s tight masonite-slick bowl, measuring at five 5 deep with a wall ride 10 feet high. Milo Sport owner Benny Pellegrino, who was emcee of the event, was anxious to see what the riders would do with wall ride, called the tombstone. “Each rider must have enough speed and ride the corners well in order to do anything on a wall like this,” said Pellegrino. Having the event centered around Banzai‘s epic bowl brought out skills (and balls) you wouldn’t expect from the skaters.

For instance in the Little Buddies category—17 and younger—the three groms who competed carved smooth figure eights, went for airwalks, and tried their skills at 50-50 grinds. Mason Webb, 10, gave the crowd a good scene when he attempted a kickflip off the wall ride, but fell—we were impressed with his warrior-mind tenacity shown toward the tombstone to begin with! Overall, each little buddy killed it, considering two of the three competitors hadn’t really ever skated a bowl until the day of the competition. Ogden’s Sean Sweat took First Place; Mason Webb, 10, came in Second; and Jude Wolsey, 13, placed Third.

The Open Division was a much steeper competition than the Little Buddies category. There were six riders total, and about half of them skate Banzai regularly. With that in mind, a lot of the kids competing cheered each other on and pushed the level of skating. But regardless of the bromancing, a few of the skaters were worried about Jack Massey’s bag of tricks, who is on the Banzai Team along with competitor Elijah Scmidt, aka Elijah Bleue, 20.

In the Open Division, each competitor was judged on their flow, how well they linked lines, and of course, their originality. “What we don’t want to see is a skater pushing around like a spider in a sink,” said Mike Muirhead, who was judging the event. Spider-like skating, however, was the last thing these contestants gave the crowd and judges. Though each skater varied in years of experience, most of them showed up with shredding confidence.

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