words and photos: Brendan Hart
Homecoming. A tradition habitually celebrated with acutely unimaginative festivities, formal dances, football games, parades. In all, an annual revival of the Archie and Veronica heyday. On October 2, 2015, the University of Vermont, thanks to the efforts of the UVM Snowboard club, laudably strayed from this collegiate norm, like defiantly ordering a Breakfast Blend during the high point of pumpkin spice season. This past Friday night the Billings-Ira Allen Lecture Hall was swarming with more than just alumni. Excited multitudes of internationally famed snowboarders, industry personalities such as Matt Jagemann and Dan Hartman, college riffraff, and many homegrown Vermonters were all assembled to watch a screening of The SNOWBOARDER Movie SFD, a film featuring Green Mountain greats Jake Blauvelt, Lucas Magoon, Forest Bailey, and up-and-comers Hans and Nils Mindnich.
What happened was more than a homecoming, more than a movie premiere. If anything—with Jeanie Magoon, Bill Pospisil, and what appeared to be the entire Mindnich clan present—it was a transcendent communal reunion, like a concert where the majority of the audience had either once changed the diapers of a band member, sat behind them in math class, or dated their sister.
Before starting the movie, Pat Bridges, SNOWBOARDER's own VT veteran, called Hans, Jake, and Canadian northern neighbor Mark Sollors to center-stage. The crowd was ogling the lineup, thinking one thing: "Where's Forest Bailey?" To the relief of all, Bridges explained that Forest had run into difficulties involving a belated Uber and would soon be arriving. Then everyone, consciences at ease, settled in their seats, lights and murmurs were dimmed simultaneously, SFD commenced.
The entire showing was electric, stimulating, applause was boisterously volleyed for the riders who were sitting so casually in the crowd. When the lights came back on, the atmosphere had shifted. The local stars of SFD had all seemed to grow in stature. Jake Blauvelt said that when he was a Stowe Mountain adolescent that "Kyle Clancy, Zach Leach, Colin Langlois, Jeff Kramer, Freebird—those five were the Stowe locals and I really looked up to them." The queues of friends and fans eager to accost Blauvelt after viewing his burly backcountry exploits betokened the fact that he, along with his heroes, has been likewise penned into Vermont snowboarding's impressive canon.
The bustling throng spilled out of the theater, choking its entrance in a cheerful, rowdy, fire hazard of stoked humanity. All were eager to snowboard, but with the first flakes of the season still weeks away, the overflowing amp was dispersed into various Burlington watering holes, before ultimately reuniting at Esox, the town's darling dive bar. With so many established VT legends and myths-in-the-making, the night was an outright reminder of the East Coast's position as a staunch epicenter of good people with an authentic thirst for snowboarding.