words: Brendan Hart
photos: Aaron Blatt, Nick Doucette and Kyle Murray
captions: Pat Bridges
At East Coast snowboard events the question, "Where is his shirt?" is usually followed by some sort of stunt that provokes the exclamation, "What the fuck!" So when Riley Morris dropped in to the quarterpipe nipples ablaze, the spectators at Eastern Boarder's 16th Annual Last Call guessed something improbable was about to take place.
They were right. Darting into the quarterpipe, Riley veered right, heading for the corner of the colossus. It was like watching a middle finger flying away from a big icy fist. He burst off the lip, traveling over the backside of the quarter, a few stories above the Earth, aimed at a faraway landing that offered more irony than transition.
Riley met the ground. With his face. Feet before his desired landing. But, somehow he was alive. Somehow he trudged back up hill. Somehow he went faster than before. Somehow—he did it. Shooting off the QP, he sailed his carcass into a smooth touchdown dozens of yards away.
This uncanny story of testosterone, beautifully bad judgment, and cojones of pure granite is standard fare for Last Call, the fabled contest at Loon Mountain, where every participant teeters between accolades and the ER. This year's burly setup was composed of (1) a jump with three differing takeoffs, (2) a sprawling minefield of rails, and (3) a brutish, give-me-your-lunch-money quarterpipe—or in Latin known as a trannysaurus rex.
For well over a decade Last Call has served as a way to punctuate the season with an exclamation point and at least three fire emojis. This year was Last Call's sweet 16—and it was pretty unforgettable, in a happy-go-lucky, and at times scarring type of way. Around 11 the contest kicked off on the jump. Conditions were how all New Englanders like them: bulletproof and flat light. Within the first fifteen minutes of the jam, Grant Shambo had already hucked a double cork over the booter. Jack Herald finessed a cab 900 nose-to-tail grab. Merrick Joyce chucked and stomped his first 900 of the year. Ian Hart put down an array of stylish jawdroppers. Max Lyons also found his backside 900, which came with a tuck knee. Kyle Dorfman launched a frontside 1080 somewhere near the landing. But the only way to really kick ass is using one foot. Which is why Jed Sky let loose his back paw with a proper indy grab at the end of the hourish-long session.
If you've ever driven in Boston, then you can have an idea of what the rail portion of the event was like. It was a shit show of human fender benders. Some labelled it the nosebleed section, not due to elevation, but because a handful of riders were dripping crimson from their snouts as they charged at the metal. A few competitors, however, figured out the flow of the course. Parker Szumowski was flyinggg through the traffic, handplanting the wall ride, and blazing at the rails. Mike Ravelson tossed a big 'ol crippler off the wall ride. Jed Sky did a perfect nosepress backside 360 out. Cooper Whittier, Max Lyons, Matt Schaffer, Jack Herald, and Rob Hallowell were all slaying throughout the fracas.
And then it happened. The perfect storm. Free chili dogs, Shane Nassar, and a quarterpipe came into contact. A cloud of cheap meat and spicy beans trailed Shane as he sped toward the transition, a bearded tsunami of a man. On the first hit he rocketed at least eight feet out. On the next he went at least twelve. One hit, hiking up, he was smashing his board barbarically against his head, pumping himself up for something completely mental. This wasn't just another trick. It was war. He started higher, he dropped with more speed, he was on a trajectory to go fucking huge. But he didn't.
Shane's legs buckled in the transition. He spurted out of the quarterpipe, soaring up to the deck of Loon's iconic two-story wall ride, earning himself a concussion and everyone's deep, deep respect. Shane's heroic performance catalyzed the entire quarterpipe session, challenging everyone to step their shit up.
Tim Sullivan picked up where Shane left off, boosting a method nearly sixteen feet above the deck. Matt Schaffer laced a number of tweaked ten-foot air-to-fakies. Danny Garrity, NH’s kneeless grizzly bear, dusted off his McTwist using at least 6ft of air, but he clipped the deck on way down, snapping his board in two. Then Danny’s redheaded roommate Parker Szumowski backed him up, muscling a series of jumbo Mickys into the stratosphere. John Murphy put down a hefty front three. Pat Bridges and Ralph Kucharek were handplanting using the buddy system, finding camaraderie and the coping. Kyle Dorfman was absolutely exploding from the lip, like a radioactive zit, all throughout the session. Eleven-year-old Morris Gifford startled everyone when the little guy bolted speed-checklessly into the beast, scraping the ten foot marker, and thwacking the deck as he fell back to Earth. He tumbled to the ground uninjured. It was arguably the fastest someone has ever gone through puberty.
2016 saw another Last Call that exemplified the unique scene that the East Coast has spawned. It's a leathery breed of cultural hardiness built on a black coffee backbone of work ethic, disregard for consequences, and human beings who just want society, as a whole, to go big. At Last Call, it's never about the landing. It's strictly a question of dropping in.
1st – Parker Szumowski – $1800
2nd – Matt Schaffer – $1000
3rd – Rob Hallowell – $800
4th – River Richer – $600
1st- Lauren Tamposi – $1200
2nd – Ty Schnorrbusch – $800
3rd – Danika Duffy – $600
Rails: Jed Sky – $100
Jumps:Jack Herald – $100
Quarterpipe: Kyle Dorfman – $100
“Send it Like” Award – Morris Gifford