words: Brendan Hart
photos: Waterville Valley and Brendan Hart

On Saturday, December 5th, Waterville Valley hosted its rendition of an early season rail jam, The Season Ease-In. It sounds so welcoming and nonlethal, like an aquatic exercise program for senior citizens, but as many of you might know, getting things started is not always a pain-free process. My first mistake was not stretching before I undertook the strenuous endeavor of tying my boots. It was with miraculous grit and fortitude that I finally knotted my bunny ears, only mildly exhausted. I also must note that I think my boots must have had a very enjoyable summer. They smelled of chlorine and hotdogs. Although I thought they hadn’t left my garage, I now surmise that they vacationed at a water park on the sly.

Upon seeing the setup, my aching out-of-shapeness gave way to excitement. Waterville Valley recently acquired Justin Lapchak, the former park pusher at Sugarbush, to groom and govern their terrain park. Justin seemed eager to mark his first year at Waterville with maximum gusto. Perhaps too much, for he confessed to me that, even though it was not yet winter, he had already sharted—an act I think is usually reserved for spring. I wonder how he got the nickname “Juice”?

Bowel miscalculations aside, Justin’s talents materialized a beautiful river of features on The Pasture trail. Skate-style, somewhat gnarly, though wholly welcoming. The participants ranged from E.T. sized BBTS snowboard club members like Morris Gifford, Jeff Gordon (no, not that Jeff Gordon), Eli Campeanu, and Jackson Saia to PSU scholars such as Pat McManus, Tanner Pelletier, and Pat Kiley. And after two years of not having stepped on a snowboard, former mogul of New England contests Ben Ross strapped in. Although it had only been three days since my last day on snow, it was not long before I had lightly flayed my arms and nearly torn something (my underwear). Ben seemed to have no similar problems getting back into the swing of things, stitching together technical lines from jib to jib, boosting methods with extravagant tweak.

In the end, it was Pat McManus who emerged as The Season Ease-In’s top dog. Pat’s riding was distinctly on-point. He was like a last-episode Jon Stewart riding among first-episode Trevor Noahs—we were trying our best, but there were chasmic differences. Big thanks to 686, Rome, DC, and Dragon who outfitted the top finishers from each group with a lavish amount of goods, and even dispersed some excess swag to all competitors present.


First – Hilary Cooke
Second – Nicole Peltier
Third – Mersadies D’Agostino

First – Patrick McManus
Second – Ben Ross
Third – Brendan Hart

Grom Winner – Morris Gifford


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