The Oakley Shred Shop Challenge returns to Mammoth on March 20, 2013. Teams of employees from Wave Rave, Eastern Boarder, Darkside, Milosport, SnoCon, Active, and Evo will descend on the Unbound Terrain Park to vie for victory for their shop, hoping to bring back the title and acclaim to their home region.
We will be at Mammoth to give you the lowdown on which core shop’s staff can shred as hard as they can sling gear, but while you wait for this year’s event, check out some photos and words from the Oakley Shred Shop Challenge in 2012.
words by: Pat Bridges
photos: Jeff Baker
In 1988 I stole my parents car, sans license, and drove my buddy and I two hours away to The Boarding House snowboard shop in Burlington, Vermont. We weren't on a mission to buy anything. We just wanted to revel in awe at so much awesome shit in one place. From "Life's A Beach" Batman one-pieces to Gnu Antigravitys to stacks of ISM magazines, the Boarding House was wall-to-wall radness. Freshly melted wax masked the slightly skunky smell emanating from the sticker-caked door to the backroom and merchandising amounted to cardboard signs with "Sale" and "Special" scribbled on them. The shop's owner, multi-time US Open Champion, Andy "Dog" Coghlan, was behind the counter and his presence only added to the surreal atmosphere. Though I had been riding for two years it wasn't until that moment that I realized there was a difference between being someone who went snowboarding and being a snowboarder. My life hasn't been the same since and every now and then I still fantasize about opening a snowboard shop of my own, a place that could spread that same stoke that I felt the first time I walked into The Boarding House.
Every scene has a Boarding House.
Sadly, as our sport has grown, maintaining the prominence of core snowboard shops within our culture is a constant struggle. Predatory big box outlets and low overhead internet sites have put the squeeze on the brick and mortar retailer. In turn, retail robots who peddle everything from golf clubs to glow sticks oftentimes fill the role as the uneducated and unenthusiastic gatekeepers to our world.
There are still solid of examples of traditional retail done right. Behind every healthy snowboarding scene is a core shop nourishing the culture, outfitting generations of riders with the intention of building passion rather than profits. They hire real riders with relatable experiences to provide one-on-one service and insights not offered online or at the strip mall. A salesperson's firsthand knowledge of the gear they provide is invaluable in making sure that a customer's on-snow experience isn't hindered by a less-than-ideal setup. Shop sponsored events lay the grassroots foundation for a pastime that can last a lifetime. Lastly, there is the tactile access to a community hub where like-minded people gather to watch movies, share spots, discuss exploits, and keep the commerce fueling the local economy.
SNOWBOARDER Magazine and Oakley share a common desire to keep snowboard shops as a key conduit of our sport's culture. To highlight this initiative and give back to the shop environment that introduced us all to riding, SNOWBOARDER Magazine and Oakley partnered to create the first annual Oakley Shred Shop Challenge last March at Mammoth Mountain, California. The goal of the Oakley Shred Shop Challenge was to hold a slopestyle contest that fostered friendly rivalry amongst the best retailers in America to see which shop staffed the best riders. With a custom setup on Mammoth's Chair 4 South Park including a string of tabletops and double-sided hips as well as the Oakley Rainb-O Box and SNOWBOARDER Magazine Wall Of Sound, the whole show was top shelf. Eastern Boarder, Active, Satellite, SnoCon, Cal Surf, Wave Rave, Darkside, and Milosport were the eight establishments with squads in contention for the Oakley Shred Shop Challenge honors. In addition to the best overall team title there were several "Superlative" awards given out. Winning "Best Costume" was the Darkside contingent who were kitted out in camo from head-to-toe with Wizard Staff flair. The "Most Inspirational" award was earned by none other than Satellite's Raul Pinto who emerged from the disabled list just in time to drop in at The Oakley Shred Shop Challenge. Nick Mertes from Cal Surf and his Juggalo kit might have lost "Best Costume" but his backside wallride to backside 180 out on the Wall Of Sound was more than insane enough to land him "Best Trick." Just like snowboard shops, proper methods are an integral part of the pedigree of real riders and Milo's Erik Nielsen knows how to tweak a title-winning grasser, aka "Best Method."
Ultimately the Oakley Shred Shop Challenge is about which store has employees who can send it as good as they sell it. According to the Oakley pro riders on-hand to pass judgment–including Eero Ettala, Ståle Sandbech, Mark McMorris, Marie-France Roy, and sister of pro snowboarder Greta Eliassen–the pack from Wave Rave did their home park proud. Frank Knab, Pat Reddy, Jimmy Goodman, and Nate Araujo opened up a wholesale can of whoop ass on their colleagues by spinning off the toes, going over the top of The Wall Of Sound, locking into their jibs, and fluidly linking it all. Making Wave Rave's well-earned Oakley Shred Shop Challenge title even more impressive is the fact that notables like Mike Ravelson and Dylan Dragotta were brought in by Eastern Boarder as ringers. Seattle's SnoCon even went so far as to slyly employ Pat McCarthy as part of their roster.
If real snowboarders are taken out of the retail equation it is only a matter of time until how a board, boot, or goggle actually performs is removed from that formula as well. So long as there are shops like Wave Rave, Satellite, SnoCon, Milosport, Cal Surf, Eastern Boarder, Darkside, and Active–which adhere to an ethos that dictates that line to the bottom is as important as the bottom line–snowboarding will continue to be a sport that sells itself.
Active Ride Shop
Best Method: Erik Nielsen (Milosport)
Best Trick: Nick Mertes (Cal Surf)
Best Costume: Darkside (Wizard Staffs)
Most Inspirational: Raul Pinto
1. Wave Rave: 121.8
2. Sno Con: 94.4
3. Milosport: 92.6
4. Eastern Boarder: 92.0
5. Darkside: 74.7
6. Active Ride Shop: 66.8
7. Satellite: 54.7
8. Cal Surf: 47.6