words: T. Bird
photos: T. Bird, Ryan “Huggy” Hughes, Mike Yoshida, E-Stone, and Aaron Blatt
At most snowboard events, the riders in attendance would more than likely hit snooze and go back to bed upon waking up to forty mile-per-hour winds, almost zero visibility, and a dusting of fresh snow atop very firm slopes...but this isn't most snowboard events. This is The Launch presented by Volcom, and although the conditions here at Seven Springs, Pennsylvania were far from perfect today, that didn't slow down these kids.
While Mother Nature threw obstacles at us with the weather, the obstacles themselves pushed up by the Seven Springs crew are world-class. With two massive jumps, a full twenty-two foot superpipe, a channel hip with a myriad of other options, two wallrides and a full street-inspired jib area, it's one of the best Launch parks we've ever seen, and while much of it went unridden due to high winds and zero visibility, around a hundred kids packed onto the hill to session some of the smaller stuff and it turned out to be a ridiculously fun introductory day.
After registration, the jib area was the first zone to be explored, with two down bars hosting around forty riders who were lapping and hiking them for hours while the SNOWBOARDER staff photographers were shooting stills and the video guys were running around capturing all the action for the Day One video that's soon to come. Shortly after, the majority of the participants headed down to the wallride that's tucked inside the channel hip and a session of around fifty kids kicked off. It was really amazing to see some of the older Launch attendees not only lapping with the younger kids who have less experience in this arena, but also to see them helping them out, giving them advice on judging speed and their trick selection. That's what makes The Launch so special. It's not necessarily the awe-inspiring tricks that go down on the hill, it's the thesis that once some of the elder statesmen have come up through The Launch, they feel that it's their duty to help out some of the kids who have never been to the event. After all, even the riders who are big shots now were in a similar situation just a few years ago.
There was a plethora of talent up there today, as SNOWBOARDER movie roster riders Spencer Schubert, Hans and Nils Mindnich, Sam Taxwood, and Garrett Warnick were sessioning the wall with Red Gerard, Brock Crouch, Toby Miller, Reid Smith, Judd Henkes, and some of the young tykes, while Olympian Seamus O'Connor was putting on a show. Zack Normandin proved that he was gunning for the Launch Standout award-an honor he narrowly missed last year-by his rail riding in the morning and his wall planting in the afternoon. The kid's well on his way to possibly winning that award after the first day on hill. Much more went down and it'll all be in the videos and photos accompanying these words. For now, be sure to keep up-to-date with all the happenings in Seven Springs because the weather is supposed to break and the next two days are calling for warm, sunny temperatures which only means that the riding is going to heat up.
Tomorrow, on Monday, you can watch LIVE as these up and coming riders hold a heavy session in Industrial Parkway during The Launch webcast, right here on Snowboardermag.com from 1-3pm EST.