words: Mick Posey
photos: Mike Zandron, Mick Posey, Kurtis Schachner
Lost in the swerves and berms of the roads that lead through the Appalachian Mountains is a hill packed tight with winter junkies whose primary objective is going full Chuck Yeager on any given trail.
Located just before you dive into the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Snowshoe Mountain is an oasis for snowboarders in the Southeast. The mountain rests mostly on its own. Secluded 4,848ft above sea level, many often dismiss it, but those who do frequent the mountain know of its pristine beauty and unmatched down-home hospitality. It's a place where the beer flows freely, and there's always a friend to be made.
Oakley and Mountaineer Terrain Parks joined forces with Snowboarder Magazine, Never Summer, Crab Grab, Shred Soles, The Not Snowboarding Podcast, Thirty-Two, Big Timber IPA, Clif Bar, and Old Spruce Tavern to develop an event that the area had yet to see before. The inaugural Berming Man Banked Slalom was nothing short of a success. With a maxed out sign-up sheet, there were plenty of people brave enough to strap in, get low, and stay on their edges. Originally inspired by the roads that take you to the mountain, the course consisted of turns tight enough to worry your grandmother. In the very fashion that is an east coast winter the weeks leading up to the event made for an icy build, but it was nothing the park crew couldn't handle.
Those who braved the course had no choice but to keep their speed and hold their turns for if you didn't, you were getting sent into the nets like a fly at a BBQ. The contestants came from all over. Some who had never been to Snowshoe before, others consisting of employees who somehow managed to get a day off during one of the busiest weekends of the season. With the only requirement being that you needed a snowboard, it was incredible to see the comradery between everyone.
By the end of the day times had been organized and results were read amongst a large crowd outside of the Old Spruce Draft House. Paul Horning (36.79) took first for the mens, Anne Mitchell (48.59) for women's, while Ty Martin (45.65) held it down in the grom division. The top times in each division received their name chalked in glory on a results board that will be displayed all year until the following winter's race.
Somewhere along the way, snowboarding has gotten way too serious and bit unrelatable. With the insanity that is social media and its progression of kids into almost unfathomable levels of skill, along with the constant big media exposure of contests promoted by every brand in your local 7-11, it's often easy to find yourself asking "Where do I fit in?". Snowshoe Mountain embodied the spirit of Berming Man and played a perfect host to an event that is all about being with friends, going fast, and taking chances. If you're hoping to make next year's race, listen for the banjos and let them lead your way.