words: Mary Walsh
photos: Mary Walsh and Amanda Hankison
It's a beautiful thing when symbiotic neurons collide. When a bevy of not merely against-the-current but make-your-own-current brainwaves interweave, one person's inventive inklings collide with another's, resulting in a tsunami-grade flood of creativity and the welcome deconstruction of the status quo. It was such an instance when Airblaster's Jesse Grandkoski and Jack Hewitt teamed up with Snowboy's Krush Kulesza to craft an aerial carving arena into the trail at Copper Mountain in Colorado, shoveled and raked to perfection so a handpicked crew of boarders who excel equally at bagging airtime and tacking turns could let loose amid the berms and banks. Everything came together and Airblaster Trenchfest was let loose.
Airblaster has been the flagbearer for funboarding for over a decade, infusing a healthy dose of Stay Wild! in every turn made by members of this illustrious crew. Any time that the Airblaster moniker is attached to an event, it is bound to be grounded in good times and partyboarding and Trenchfest was exactly that, a snowboarding anti-contest. Two days of lapping the set up, sussing out lines, and trying out tranny. Day one was the warm up. Battle the Colorado elements a little and get used to the flow of the course. Day two, the pressure was on—wait, there was no pressure at all, just good times—so, day two, the sun came out and the assembled boarders etched lines into the corduroy to their hearts' content, stoke levels rising with each overhead gap, each below-the-knees carve, each jump between the rollers. At the end, one person would be decreed the #1 Trench Diggger and would receive a shiny, gold chainsaw (children's edition, no sharp edges) to place in their trophy case, but it's pretty likely everyone would be winners because Airblaster was hooking up pizza at the awards party.
"The genesis of Trenchfest was trying to combine aerials—everybody loves those—with something that's kind of on the come up, circling around back from the past: carving," commented Airblaster Founder and Trenchfest innovator, Jesse Grandkoski. "I've always been of the mindset that I love watching people with great board control, who can carve. They're not just linear thinkers; they're not just hitting a straight park jump. They find tranny everything and they can make anything into a playful, fun feature. That's where Trenchfest lives, at the intersection of getting some airtime and carving."
Krush, the captain of Snowboy Productions, teamed up with the park crew of Woodward Copper and took the generous snow at this Summit County resort and crafted a veritable skatepark into the rider's right side of the main park. Just below the drop in, three lines of staggered rollers, each with transitions carved into every side, funneled riders into a multi-faceted bowl section. In the center, a double-sided hip allowed for multiple entry opportunities into the right or left bowls. Cruise into, hip into, gap over, butter onto—the possibilities were endless. And at the outer edge of both bowls, jib options, including a pill bonk and a double set of flat round rails. Did we mention everything had tranny cut into all available surfaces?
The two-day event began on Tuesday, January 24th. The Airblaster team had descended on Colorado, their checked bags way beyond the airline weight limit, loaded with a variety of tweaks, slashes and surfy carves. Tucker Andrews, Max and Gus Warbington, Tim Eddy, Max Tokunaga, Nick Dirks, Madison Blackley and more joined CO locals Justin Phipps, Shane Serrano, Sandra Hillen, Jack Coyne, and a crew of Canadian Airblaster supporters and retailers who had come out to cut corduroy. Zak Hale and Michael Wick were in town and linked up to link turns. Amanda Hankison, Michael Garceau, Grant Giller, and Summer Fenton were cruising, too. And over the course of Tuesday, the crew figured out the zone, springing up from the rollers like pieces of popcorn, spiraling in every direction.
If the first day provided aerial acclimation, the second day was when everyone really cut loose. While the lines were undoubtedly contemplated, transition broken down and dialed in before hitting send, the riding seemed practically effortless. Creativity infused with consideration. The clouds moved in and out throughout the day, keeping the temps low and the snow fast. Max Warbington, board control connoisseur, set a pace for going over, under, and around as he gapped between bumps, handplanted whenever possible, and moved dexterously between land and sky. Young Coloradan upstart, Justin Phipps, was boosting impossibly high off of anything and everything, offering up style way beyond his fourteen years. (P.S. Look out for this kid!) Madison Blackley was lofting over the hip, while Sandra Hillen was planting the corner. Tim Eddy, longtime Airblaster team-rider-turned-TM brought the Sierra Surfer vibes directly to Copper and was getting tubed all day long in every corner of the course. Tucker Andrews was throwing the most perfect laid out backflips. Max Tokunaga, whose skate-infused style was perfectly matched for the Trenchfest set up, was finding rad lines and popping over the hip. Shane Serrano, Aspen transplant by way of New Jersey was just sending all day. G-Don was nose-buttering over the deck of the bowl as well as boosting out of the transition. Nick Dirks found lines taken by no one else. Jesse and Jack event got to snag some hangtime in the air. It was epic. No matter what direction you looked, someone was going up and over or low and fast. It was a beautiful sight.
The riding continued into the wee hours of the afternoon, as the lifts slowed to a stop it was time to head downhill. The crew would have surely welcomed another few days lapping the Trenchfest course, but there were winners to be crowned at this non-competitive contest and so everyone gathered in the Copper Village at the Airblaster house to eat pizza and celebrate the past two days of boarding. When all was said and done, it was Phipps who would take home the golden chainsaw as the #1 Trench Digger at the first-ever Airblaster Trenchfest. As the pizza was devoured and high fives were slapped, sights were already set on next year, when aerial maneuvers and carving would once again collide.
#1 Trench Digger (all around champ) – Justin Phipps
Trenchiest Trick (best trick) – Shane Serrano
Host with the Most (nobody ripper harder) Max Warbington
Rippingest Retailer – Adam Balon of Propaganda
Fast Shades – Tucker Andrews and Nick Dirks