words and photos: TBird
I feel the need to preface this story by letting the audience in on the fact that I’m from New Hampshire, and in the twenty-five years I spent as a resident of The Granite State, and six more traveling the globe on SNOWBOARDER Magazine’s dime, I can honestly say that it is one of my favorite places in the world. They say that to truly appreciate somewhere, you’ve gotta leave–be it for a few months or a few decades–and I did, in 2006. Seven years later, I truly miss New Hampshire, and one of the reasons is Last Call.
Last Call is a celebration of camaraderie, a call to characters across the East Coast to gather on a mountainside, ride their snowboards, smile, drink, and just generally be merry. This year at Loon was no different.
The funny thing that I’ve noticed about this event is that people on the West Coast think it’s a small gathering, when in fact, it’s now the longest-running and largest contest on the East Coast now that Burton packed up, shaped up, and shipped out of Stratton. There’s nothing small about Last Call, from the crowd to the tricks and the setup. The park crew at Loon Mountain is the best you’ll find anywhere on earth, and this diligent cadre of diggers pushed up some of the best features that have ever been ridden for this year. There were three zones: a jump zone, rail zone, and wallride/quarterpipe zone, all of which stacked up with world-renowned park features you’d find from Mammoth to Mayrhofen. The rail area was incredible. Below the 65-foot step down lay over a dozen features scattered about the trail with tranny from all directions affording any and all takers the opportunity to hit them any which way they chose. Below the rail zone sat Loon’s ominous and infamous wallride, butted up directly next to a quarterpipe. The riders who ponied up the entry fee went nuts, and the crowd followed suit, hooting and hollering with equal fervor for both bails and makes.
Like any contest in New Hampshire that I’ve attended in the past, almost all of the spectators had a beer in hand, and likewise, most participants had a few in their bloodstream as the rabid field pointed it at every feature that lay in front of them. The jump went off just before noon, with Merrick Joyce, Nick Julius, Johnny O’Connor, Shaun Murphy, Mike Rav, Tyler L’Heureux, and many more up-and-coming prospects, and while L’Heureux’s one-footed heroics and shirtless send to the flats got the crowd going early, it was Nick Julius who rode away at the end of the day with the best trick on that particular feature with a double cork back ten.
After a short intermission, the rail zone got going. This was by far the most hectic session, and the whole area was handled by the likes of Merrick, Murphy, Derrek Lever, Nick Doucette, Dillon Ojo, Rav, L’Heureux, Sam Hulbert, Brandon Reis, Zak Hale, Alex Andrews, Ted Borland…shit, even Jesse Burtner was riding around with East Coast legends like Eric Kovall sessioning as well. It truly was a sight to see and most definitely saw too much action to call, but Tyler L’Heureux took the overall rail zone title today with gap outs, airs, and crazy tweaks on everything he strapped in atop.
The final element to Last Call was the wallride/quarterpipe session. The Loon crew refinished their usually-orange-colored beast with a log cabin loon, and they even built a chimney extension for people to plant. Needless to say that anyone brave enough to tackle said extension was most likely going to take the win on the wall. Shaun Murphy, Nick Doucette, and a handful of other brave souls straight-lined the in-run in an attempt to get to the top of the chimney and Doucette rode away unscathed, and $200.00 richer with the best trick. During this jam, the most sessioned feature of the setup was the quarterpipe. It was relatable and fun, yet it lent itself to some pretty incredible tricks. Mike Rav’s wildcat and switch variation of the same trick was insane while Brendon Rego was trying to air into frontside inverts from the cutout in the front. Brandon Reis and Sam Hulbert opted for a few doubles lines with Reis airing over a planting Sam. Again, the action was too intense to highlight each and every standout trick, but for me, this was the most fun to watch. As the crowd got a little more tipsy, the riding became ever more intoxicating.
At the end of the day, everyone gathered at the bottom for awards which are listed below, but all in all, it was an incredible event yet again here at Loon. A huge thank you should go out to Brian Norton and Jay Scambio for organizing this event, as well as Bub from Eastern Boarder and the whole EB crew. Without contests like this, the East Coast would be much worse off, and those riders who have staked their claim here in the past decade might not have ever had the chance to do so without Last Call. If you’re ever in New Hampshire during this time of year, you’ve gotta come check it out, because you won’t believe what goes on in these hills until you see it for yourself.
Jump: Tyler L’Heureux
Rails: Tyler L’Heureux
Wallride/Quarterpipe: Shaun Murphy
Best Trick on the wallride: Nick Doucette, 50-50 to fakie on the chimney
Overall Best Trick: Nick Julius, double cork back 10 on the jump
Crab Grab Golden Claw Award for best style: Merrick Joyce
Charger Award: Cooper Whittier
1. Elin Tortorice
2. Mary Rand
3. Amy (The announcer Nelson Wormstead never said her last name. Sorry, but congrats Amy!)
1. Tyler L’Heureux
2. Shaun Murphy
3. Travis Neuhaus