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Sun, fun and snowboarding. Photo: Matt Alberts

Facebook might be good for keeping in touch with people you never really cared about in the first place, but you really can’t deny the magic of the snowboard event for reconnecting you with old friends you actually want to see. That’s what happened at the Holy Oly, where I ran into Jason Speer, a friend from Baker and my college days at WWU. Jason happened to have a couch surfer by the name of Madison Ellsworth. “You should interview him for your site,” Jason told me, “ he’s an up and coming park rider and a pretty cool guy.” Being lazy, I told Jason, no, you should interview him for my site. To my surprise a few days later, he actually did. A few quick follow ups and thanks to the magic of REAL human interaction, here’s Hump Day with Madison Ellsworth.

Jason: How did you end up on my couch?

Madison: I’m on a long road trip to check out the Northwest. My first plan was to be staying in Whistler. I was up there for a few weeks and the weather would not give me a chance. I came down to Bellingham for a 686 shoot at Baker, and since then we have been getting a lot of stuff done and the weather has been awesome so I haven’t come up with a good reason to leave.

Jason: You’ve been hanging out in Whistler this winter, how’s your French coming along?

Madison: Whistler is English based so not a good place to practice French. I have gotten pretty good at Australian accents though.

Madison and his stunt doubles. Photo: Matt Alberts

Jason: Best thing you’ve done this season/in your life?

Madison: The best thing I’ve done this season is going on a road trip with no plans at all.. Just getting out of CO and adventuring!

Jason: Worst thing about this season?

Madison: Sitting in Whistler for 2 weeks and not being able to snowboard because of weather.

Jason: How did the Holy Oly go for you?

Madison: It went great. It was my first time being there and I decided to take the spectator route and cheer on my homies. They killed it!

Enjoying a wiener. Photo: Jason Speer

Jason: Who is the biggest pro that you ever beaten in a contest?

Madison: My favorite pro to ever see at a contest is Jamie Lynn at the Holy Oly. I don’t know the biggest pro I have ever beaten though. I beat David Gravette in a skate contest once. hah that’s my claim to fame.

Brooke: Do you actually like competing or is that just what you do when you grow up riding Breck?

Madison: I think it is a big part of growing up in Breck. I like to compete, but I would much rather just do all back country. It’s way more peaceful and less stressful.

Brooke: After riding at Breck, what is your take on the “park jumps” at other mountains? Does anywhere else you’ve been compare?

Madison: The jumps at Breck are definitely the best. They are consistently perfect and never really get icy. I think most mountains are starting to figure it out for shape, but have to deal with warmer weather and rain so they will never have the consistent soft snow that Breck has.

Who needs park jumps? Photo: Matt Alberts

Jason: What’s the last trick you learned? What’s the next trick you want to get?

Madison: backside trendeighty double cork was the last trick I learned, And I would like to learn a cab 9 double dip.

Brooke: People keep doing triple corks. How long do you think it will be before it will be expected and not a “twsnow.com exclusive” novelty? You planning on learning them?

Madison: Triple corks are lame I don’t ever want to do one and I don’t think that they will ever be a standard in contests. I hope not at least. That’s not snowboarding, that’s aerials

Brooke: Does it suck have a gender neutral name? Has anyone ever assumed you were a chick?

Madison: you tell me…. hahahah

King of the mountain! Photo: Matt Alberts

Brooke: Do you still live with your parents? Being a reasonably attractive man with snowboard skills, have you ever been forced to sneak babes in?

Madison: Well thank you… I lived in a house for a while with some buddies right in town so that was good for a while. When I moved back in with my parents I had a girlfriend so she was always over and they were cool with that. I’m freshly single now…

Brooke: What are the pros and cons of living with mom and dad?

Madison: Free rent and food is nice of course. They are hippies so they are just like any other roommates I would have in Breck haha.. they are really cool and know a lot so I love living with them, not really many cons to it actually. I would rather live a little closer to town though.

Brooke: How did your parents feel when you dropped out of dropped out of school? Did you get your GED or do you just plan to “get an industry job” when your done snowboarding?

Madison: They weren’t surprised. My school sucked and the teachers would have the option to fail me if I missed more than 20 days a semester and I was traveling a lot back then too, so the really mean teachers could just fail me. They didn’t really like me there either, so I was over it. I got my GED right when I dropped out. I’ll go to school someday too, I want to fly helicopters after snowboarding.

Brooke: How did you get on the YES program? What’s it like having legends like DCP, Romain and JP as your bosses?

Madison: I was introduced by Nic Drago to Joe Timlin who lives at DCP’s house in Vail. Joe went on word of mouth basically and got me in touch with DCP on the phone, They were looking for an am from the states to put on the team. I just had the right contacts and the right people backing me up so they chose me. It was a bit intimidating at first but once we went to El Salvador for the sales meeting and I got to know them better than I wasn’t as worried about it. They’re rad! I just knew I had to prove myself. If I wasn’t doing something right than I’m sure Romain would have something to say… haha

Boostin. Photo: Matt Alberts

Jason: I hear you’re moving to Hawaii, have you really thought that through?

Madison: Making last minute decisions seems to always work out for me so I won’t quite think that one through until its time too book the ticket. haha I would like it to happen though for sure it would be so sick!

Jason: Time to give shout outs to anyone you haven’t mentioned already.

Madison: Of course my parents and friends at home Love you! Drago is the man too! P mac for letting me crash at his house for three weeks and Dubs and Speer for putting up with Pat’s mistake haha. Mikee and Logan too for letting me crash on their floor for a few weeks in Whistler, wish we got to go out buds…


YES. Snowboards, 686, Dragon, IFound, Breck, and Drop.


Super rep Dustin Anderson gave the east coast kids a run for their money

Given the recent outrage over snowboarders enjoying themselves while representing their country at the Olympics, it’s pretty clear everyone else in the world hates fun. No one, however, seems to hate fun more than Mother Nature, who has now tried twice, unsuccessfully to stop the Holy Oly Revival, basically the most fun contest one could do. Last year a mudslide sent the usual venue careening down the hill, and this year, it really hasn’t snowed, at all.

Krush Kuleza and the crew at Sno Boy Productions weren’t going to let a little thing like lack of snow stop the event though, and for ten days snow was trucked to Hyak from the other side of the mountain. The Holy Oly was to be held on the remnants of the mudslide, whether Mother Nature wanted it to or not.


Hiking didn’t dissuade many

Of course, the lifts were still out of commission, which meant everyone who wanted to participate in, or just watch, the event, had to undertake a bit of an endurance test. For the average person, it was a mellow walk up a gentle slope. For me, dreadfully out of shape, with 40 pounds of camera gear on my back, it was a serious feat. I would have failed had the promise of free beer and Cobra Dogs not been coaxing me along.

When I got to the top, I was rewarded with two half-racks of Olympia, courtesy of the Summit at Snoqualmie. Call it a bribe to get a positive review if you want, but I see no conflict of interesting in accepting pay offs if it quells my alcoholism for the day.


Danny Garrity knows how to do methods.

The sun was shining bright, and the set up, though slightly smaller than in years past, saw all the requisite airtime, methods, and Northwest legends we’ve come to expect. The only “schedule” was riding would last as long as the play list did, and when Van Halen came on, it was time to go home. The early part of the day saw impressive stunting from Peter Line, but a freak thumb dislocation took him out early, leaving room for the young guns to really shine.

It was a bit of an east vs. west battle, with a heavy New England contingent – Danny Garrity, Nate Farrell and Forest Bailey – holding up against the local shreds such as Austin Hironaka, Austin Sweetin, Pat McCarthy and more. In an especially impressive showing for the Y chromosome, Jess Kimura absolutely shredded all day, taking a few serious diggers in the process. And of course, a few out-of-the-woodwork riders were in attendance, most notably Russell Winfield.



The riding lasted longer than the sun, and even though the temperature dropped, most hung out to watch the crowning of the Holiest of the Holy (and all the other awards.) It was no easy decision, by the crack team of secret judges rewarded Austin Hironaka’s hi-yah shredding with a half pallet of Olympia. The rest of the awards went something like this:

The Northwest Method Award: Danny Garrity
Beserker Award: Nate Farrell
Highest air/ Best Facial Expression: Bryce Neibuhr
Hardest Charging Industry Dude: Sean Tedore
Jeff Brushie Russell Winfield Award: Russell Winfield
Y Chromosome/ Best Crash: Jess Kimura
The Official Mayor of Tube City: Forest Bailey
We don’t need no stinkin’ binders award: Jake Tomlinsin
Billy Goat’s Gruff Award (most creative line): Blair Habenicht

Now check out the gallery:

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John Webster photo. I will miss you this year worst enemy. Boo for real jobs.

I am all packed up and waiting for my airport shuttle (thanks Nate!) so I can head down to Mammoth for the Nikita Chickita this weekend. I am a little bummed I am missing the Holy Oly, but Nick has assembled a crew of two photographers, a filmer and himself, so I think it’s covered! Hopefully they don’t get in each other’s shots. And if Chikita is anything like last year, it will be a good time as well.

This year I was less involved with the planning of Chickita, but I still helped with registration and will be journalizing like mad when I am there. Fingers crossed that it’s sunny and wonderful as Mammoth should be so I don’t have to “try” in order to get the shot.

I am also meeting up with the Osiris girls crew while I am down there to maybe shoot some stuff for them. I keep telling these people I am not a real snowboard photographer, but no one seems to listen! It’s fun anyway, and hopefully I get some good stuff. I’ve got a ridiculous amount of stuff packed (yay snowboard photography!) and I sure am glad I have airline status. Even if does mean a 3 hour layover in SF to get to Reno (which is equally far away from Mammoth as SF.)

In this age of drug tests, energy drink sponsors and snowboard moms, contests have become the antithesis of why most of us started snowboarding. But there are a few events out there that don’t fit the usual mold, and strive to keep things mellow and fun. You don’t even have to be the best rider to enter. These are the Anti Contests.

Legendary Banked Slalom
Mt. Baker, WA
Est. 1985
This Year: Feb 6, 2009


Photos: Timzimmerman.com
Tom Sims didn’t set out to respond to other contests, or remind people what snowboarding should be when he and Bob Barci approached Mt. Baker about the idea of holding a slalom event in 1985. Back then, many of the 14 competitors who turned out weren’t even riding real snowboard gear. But more than twenty years later, the Legendary Banked Slalom has remained true to its roots, and stands as the original “anti-contest,” an event that isn’t so much about winning, as it is about snowboarding, seeing old friends and making new ones. There is no money, just painted rolls of duct tape for the winners. Yet the LBS attracts everyone from top pros of the day, looking for a reprieve from the hectic contest circuit, to legends like Terje Haakonseen and Temple Cummins, who usually don’t compete at all. “It’s young kids, old rippers, and the best riders in the world all riding the same course,”Cummins said. “The actual race time is only a few minutes of the day, the rest of the day is for riding with all the friends.”

Check out more images from the 2008 LBS

Holy Oly Revival
Summit East a.k.a Hyak at the Summit at Snoqualmie, WA
Est. 2004
This Year: Feb 21, 2009


The Holy Oly. Geery photo

The Holy Oly Revival is officially “A Celebration of NW Snowboard Pride.” The recipe is simple: build the biggest quarterpipe in Washington, and let anyone who wants to ride it go nuts. At the end of the day, someone walks away with a pallet of Olympia beer.  “The event just has a start and a finish…there are no heats, no categories and no rules,” event founder Krush Kuleza said. The “Holiest of the Holy” award has gone to Peter Line, Justin Heath, Luke Mathison, Sammy Luebke and Wille Yli-Louma over the years, but there are also awards for the Best NW Method, Hardest Charging Industry Hero, The Berserker Award and The Future of NW Shred. Every year the quarterpipe has gotten bigger and the course better, but the vibe has stayed the same. This year, a natural disaster is moving the action to Summit West, but don’t worry, that’s all that will change. “I’m stoked when I watch local 12-year-old Jacob Krugmire drop in after two-time Olympian Danny Kass while Sean Genovese and Pat Milbery session some jibs. Burtner keeps the crowd entertained, Grove keeps them fed and Peter Line’s girlfriend’s iPod playlist pisses off some soccer dad…it’s quite a scene to behold,” Kuleza said.

Check out all of the action from 2008

And some more photos.

Nikita Chickita
Serfaus, Austria and Mammoth, California
Est. 2003
USA February 21, 2009, Mammoth Mountain
EUROPE April 18, 2009, Serfaus, Austria


Sorry boys, you have to have boobs to compete in this event. Actually, technically you don’t because it’s open to riders of all ages, and 8-year -old girls have been known to compete against women in their 50s. There are tons of prizes (Lomography has even signed on to sponsor the event this season), some cash for the pros, and first prize in the Am division is a one-year Nikita sponsorship. But even with said prizes on the line, the Nikita Chickita feels more like a mellow day riding with your friends than a contest. The format seems to be made up as it goes along, and if the judges can’t decide, they just let the girls ride. Whether you hit up the event in Austria or the one in Mammoth, when all is said and done, it’s pretty easy to forget you spent all day at a contest, and that’s just the way they want it.

Want more images from the Nikita Chickita at Mammoth 2008? Here ya go!

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The Nate Chute Hawaiian Classic
Whitefish, MT
Est. 1999
March 14-15, 2009


Photos Courtesy of Brendan Rohan/ stumptownphoto.com

Nate Chute was a big part the snowboard scene in Flathead Valley, MT until he took his own life 10 years ago. So his parents, friends, and Joe Tabor, owner of the local shop, Stumptown Snowboards, set out to start and event in his honor. The Nate Chute Hawaiian Classic was born. “Nate was one of the kindest, most talented kids on the mountain,” friend and K2 Team Manager Kevin Winkel said. “He was the kind that let his riding speak for himself and when he did speak it was only positive things to be said.” The idea for the event was to create a time and place for old friends to gather, ride together and remember Nate. But since there are many variables in a freestyle event, the main event has always been a banked slalom. “It was something anyone could participate and have fun,” Winkel said.  “We have ex-Olympians participating, little groms, moms, grandparents, ex pros and all in between.” A few years back a Chinese downhill was added and after ten years the event has become something who grew up riding Whitefish won’t miss. “There is nothing better than getting to shred your home mountain with all of your friends that you grew up with,” Winkel said. “Everyone else that was not part of this history can easily feel the vibe and is welcomed.

Thanks stumptownphoto.com for these pictures!

World Quarterpipe Championships
Waterville Valley, NH to Blue Hills, MA and now Timber Ridge, VT
Est. 1998
March 23, 2009


Photos courtesy Rome Snowboards/Liv2ride
In the late 1990s, the US Open was transitioning from the year’s biggest party, to a serious event with national television coverage and relentless bag checks, so the World Quarterpipe Championships began as an answer to that. Originally called the East Coast Quarterpipe Championships, and moving around New England as it wore out its welcome at various resorts, things have only gotten rowdier over the years, but it has always been about 50% drinking and 50% snowboarding. This season the rebirth of the WQP at Timber Ridge, a private ski area in Vermont, included a mid-course fire pit, a bottle of Jack handed to riders after they hit the quaterpipe, and the “gauntlet”—a row of hecklers who yell and pelt the rider with their empties. “From the outset it was designed as the anti-contest,” WQP founder Mark Sullivan said. “A lot of riders jump through the same contest hoops all season long and this was designed to be 180 degrees away from that. What all big events did, we did the opposite.”

We dug up some pictures from World Quarters of yore and a few more of the event at Timber Ridge. Here.

Grenade Games
June Mtn, CA to the Summit at Snoqualmie, WA then back to June and now Whistler, BC
Est. 2005
April 20, 2009


Photos courtesy Grenade Gloves/Jeff Curley
Leave it to the Grenerds to come up with an event held each year on 4/20, complete with snowboarding, metal and of course an award for the “highest” air. The event, whichhas been held at June Mountain and the Summit at Snoqualmie over the years, includes awards for everything from riding mogul fields binding-less, bull riding, racing, over consuming, spinning like crazy, blasting massive airs in the pipe, and all-around great riding. “With the vast season of so-so events we need events like this to remind people why we snowboard and why we like to compete amongst each other on snowboards — to meet chicks,”  Danny Kass said. Word has it the Grenade Games will go down on Canadian soil in 2009, so watch out.

Oh yeah and here are more pictures. Thanks to Grenade and Jeff Curley!

I must say I was a bit disappointed with the stories I read on the Holy Oly this year. Future had already assigned some dude I’d never heard of to write theirs, so I just made the video. The dude’s story turned out to be a two paragraph inside joke that he didn’t bother to explain until someone called him out in the comments. It wasn’t great. Ok, and actually, that’s the only story I read until Dave Schiff posted this little gem on the Grenade site. I even let him use my photos in exchange for like, 100 pairs of gloves. But anyway, it’s great.

Today I have been watching the Go211 webcast of the Nippon Open. I must say they do a pretty good job with these webcasts (it’s the first site that I’ve even been able to get a webcast to work on for starters.) But yeah, the contest looks fun. I went last year and it was one of the best events I’d ever been to. (Check out some pictures in my snow gallery.) We had spring conditions though and this year they had powder. I am not sure which I’d prefer, I do really like powder. But I don’t think my “All Four Ones” story would have happened if it was knee deep!

Austin Hironaka

My parents came to visit, so I decided to take them to the Holy Oly. They like beer, so I figured it would work out. We went up early to do a little night riding at the Summit at Snowqualmie, which turned out to be amazing. Apparently if it rains all day, then stays warm, the snow is perfect. My dad was claiming the best Friday night of his life, that is until we were at the bar eating dinner and the worst band ever started to play, really, really loudly. But it was still a good night.
Things only got better for the event the next day. The sun was out, the quarterpipe looked really good, and Jeff Brushie was there! The Jeff Brushie! Since that guy pretty much put me and my shittalking on the map, I have a special place in my heart for him. Anyway, for not snowboarding for five years (according to him) I’d say he did alright.

I ate a Cobra Dog, made a video, shot photos and worked on my tan. The day culminated with two Oly’s in the lodge (thanks Jeff!) and then the ‘rents and I headed back south. Apparently I missed a dude barn blow out but hopefully they will have another and it was worth it. This Holy Oly was definitely the best yet.

You can check out my post on Future or just enjoy the video below.