The Drink Water Rat Race via Vans Pro Park at Hastings bowl

Words: David MacKinnon | Photos: Robin Van Gyn | Videos: Cole Jandrisch | Hastings Pro Park Photos: David MacKinnon

As this summer's COC sessions ended, the vibe in the West Coast's shred scene was thick with boarding stoke. We'd been treated to some of the funnest glacier riding in recent memory with a shake-up in the build at Camp, and between that and the great skating at new parks in Whistler and Ambleside, South Coast rippers were sitting on the highs of a few good months standing sideways. The window between July 9 and 11 had all of us talking about ways to stay in the dream; the days leading up to the weekend injected Vancouver with a shock of international skate culture, and rumours of a hell track being built in Oregon were stirring local pros and industry heads to point their adventure rigs for the border. At SBC, the concept for a road trip was born: Hastings to Mount Hood, linking the Vans Pro Skate Park Series to the Fifth Annual Drink Water Rat Race.

The Pro Skate Park Series is the evolution of the infamous Van Doren Invitational, and the latest in Hastings' storied string of world skate culture gatherings. Most invited riders arrived in Vancouver about a week before the contest, and in the evenings leading up to qualifiers small crowds would gather to watch them session local parks. Here at SBC, we blew off e-mails on more than one occasion, grabbing skates and six-packs and pushing off towards the heat. We'd been planning to jump on the road to Rat Race with a few days for some surf on the front end, but watching dudes like Alex Sorgente and Steven Pineiro shredding Leeside put our focus square on concrete. We decided that we couldn't miss the comp, and that the gnarliness we'd see at Hastings would be better inspiration for Rat Race than we'd find anywhere else that weekend.

On the 9th the comp went off, with mind bending skating and a hyper engaged crowd. The Saturday's nagging clouds were warded off by the cheers that echoed as Grayson Fletcher blasted overhead airs, Sky Siljeg brought snowboard influence to massive alley-oop transfers, and Grant Taylor blasted through corners grinding coping. Riley Boland and Alex Sorgente kept fans in the front on their toes with stalls on the fencing around the pool, and Kevin Kowalski's island gap into the deep end would have had the crowd raining beer cans if Renee Renee wasn't on it keeping order for the best trick.

Ivan Federico ended up in the top spot, after runs that combined ingenuity, technicality, and laser consistency. The number of tricks he packed into his runs was insane, with bangers like a frontside disaster on Hastings Beach and his fastplant transfer from the deep end flowing seamlessly into airs, grinds, and spins over the spine. The 17 year old Italian accepted his win with goofy flair, dropping a few F-bombs in his interview and offering something for the ladies with a few smooth quips in his mother tongue. The crowd was stoked on their champ. Robin Bolian of France took 2nd, with American Cory Juneau nabbing 3rd.

Steven Pineiro catches a massive backside flip in Leeside's recently completed south end. The park fires regularly when locals hit their groove, but seeing that world stage flair was definitely a treat

"Laughs were shared, fives were slapped, and iPhone gems were grammed..."

Leanne Pelosi crushing Snapchat on the journey south

Meanwhile, a strong contingent of Canadian heavies was rolling wheels toward the Rat Race, as excited to link up with the larger snowboard community as they were to see what madness the HCSC diggers had come up with. Veterans like Devun Walsh, Marie-France Roy, and Mikey Rencz were just as stoked as groms like Caleb Chomlack and Juliette Pelchatt, and the caravan making its way stateside was not only a who's who of the Canadian scene but also a posse that marked multiple generations of our nation's finest. All in all, the roster of Canucks descending on Mount Hood included over 20 names, among them more than a few contenders for the coveted rat traps and prize boards. Laughs were shared, fives were slapped, and iPhone gems were grammed as the shreds moved south, and for our part the SBC crew crushed kilometres before crushing miles, making up for time spent watching wicked skating with a red-eye push to Oregon. We got to our campsite in the dark, but early enough to burn a bit of wood before the rain. Fireside chat jumped from rumours of the rider list to expectations for the course, with occasional breaks for reliving moments from the Pro Park.

In the morning there was mist; the rain had settled into a wet air that disallowed us our first glimpses of Mount Hood. On a clear day, the 3, 400 m volcano commands the skies, drawing eyes from the area's surrounding towns, lakes, and trails. We worried slightly about the weather, but good faith kept spirits high as we drove toward Timberline Lodge.

Top Left: Dinosaurs Will Die co-founder Jeff Keenan feeds the wildlife in its natural habitat | Top Right: ATHLETES. Cryogenic therapy before race day | Bottom Left: Ashley Barker and Kyle Martin talking shit on Palmer chairlift en route to the race. Ashley later won the Eat Shit or Die award | Bottom Right: It's all smiles until the grom in the helmet owns you in the race

Stephen Fox and Aidan Payson, the masterminds behind the scenes at Drink Water, were running registration, and as we linked with them we were reminded that the event was much more than a good excuse to push our snowboarding a little further into summer. The dudes thanked us for coming down and supporting water.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing clean drinking water to the people in the world who need it most. Radder still is that the strategies employed by water.org go far beyond that tagline, pushing past the band-aids of fly-by humanitarianism with strategically designed programs such as WaterCredit, which provide realistic solutions to water issues in third world countries by building resources into local water and sanitation sectors. It's rad, and it's only one of the water.org programs that Drink Water supports through their merchandise and fundraisers like the Rat Race.

With the added boost of knowing the event would make a difference, we moved from registration to the melée of boots, boards, and backpacks in the day lodge. Riders were pouring in, many of them coated in wax scrapings from last minute tuning in the parking lot. We started seeing friends, and before long we were catching up with Cashen, Keenan, Craven, and a host of others. We swapped springtime stories with Americans we hadn't seen since Bowly, and met rippers we'd only ever known through screens and magazine pages. It felt great to be with our people.

And skies were clearing by the time we loaded lifts. The craigy spires of Hood's high places still held clouds, but the Palmer Snowfield was bright under blue as our boards touched down on snow. It was incredible luck; for five days prior the mountain had suffered awful weather, so bad that operations had ceased over the weekend. What serendipity the situation added to the story, however, was offset by complications for the course builders– building in the fog has added guesswork to the project of making a course ridable enough to let people shine but gnarly enough to strike nerves in the world's best, the yearly goal of Rat Race architects. And though the diggers pressed on through the sock to build a beauty of a track, I think everyone was a little bit surprised when they saw it in entirety for the first time. It was a veritable roller coaster, a maze of banks and mounds that zig-zagged down about a hundred metres of vert, with off-shoots, gaps, and whoops enough to let riders choose their own adventures through their runs. The two run format would allow for a conservative approach, but the sparkle in the eyes of dudes like Ben Ferguson and Darcy Sharpe showed that we'd see people going for it off the bat. Stoke was high as rippers put ruts through the Palmer taking warm-ups down the Snowfield.

Polite as always, Ben Ferguson waves hello to the next berm

JF Pelchat and Spencer O'Brien, the official security squad of the Rat Race

Who's got tickets? Full Moon crew mixing it up from the usual pants down offering

Harry Kearney's first run set the pace for speed, and though he made it look easy with a smile on his face there were racers who were clearly feeling nerves. "I don't know..." I overheard, as anxious rippers talked strategy for the gap into the second bank, "I might just get a time on the board." There were a variety of approaches tried throughout the day, with some folks throwing caution to the wind and others just trying to stay on their feet. There were big airs and some heavy crashes, with the Canadian contingent making its mark in both categories. Some sections of the course flowed and others had half the field hopping, but its ability to intimidate never wained throughout the day.

Highlights of the race included Darcy's back 180 in the bottom whoops, Mikey's crash in the first berm, Juliette's style-beyond-years high lines, and the countless recoveries from near-scorp experiences. The race ended to much speculation and chatter about who had been the fastest– we'd have to wait until the awards at Clear Lake to hear results, but we'd seen some wicked runs and we knew the top times would be pretty close. Anticipation faded back into appreciation for the scene as we shared turns and tailgate brews making our way off of the hill.

The atmosphere in Government Camp that afternoon was right in line with what we'd felt since the build up to the Hastings Comp. Stories from the day had made their way through town as boarders stocked up on essentials for the night. A stop at High Cascade had us confirming that Austen Sweetin had looked fast, a Cobra Dog started a conversation about the course. Everyone we talked to was turned on to the race, and chatting with locals gave us new perspective on the event. "So sick they had a lottery this year," we heard from a homie at the coffee shop. "There are so many locals who have wanted to race since the first year. When they announced that people were so hyped." Another dude told us about the days when Bryan and Austin would build BMX tracks while digging at HCSC, stretches of gnarly whoops that would eventually evolve into the Rat Race. Just like in Vancouver, when grams dropped with locations for heavy sessions, it was clear that we're boarders in an era of engagement, of thriving participation among lifestyle shredders.

Not only do they drink water, but organizers Bryan Fox and Austin Smith also like surfing water and presenting awards in front of water.

We made our way to the lake to catch the Q and the awards. Bryan's folks were at the grill and cooking up a feast, and as plates were passed around we chatted art with Barrett Christy, surf with Temple Cummins, and events with Krush Kulesza. Eyes occasionally darted to the rack of prizes, a display of boards and various swag from sponsors that reminded us of the day's competitive undertones, but conversations kept away from winners as we shared and enjoyed each other's company. The evening was a little windy, and as sweaters went on we saw logos and artwork from events like the Mount Baker LBS, various camp sessions, and the Dirksen Derby.

Excitement was high as the awards ceremony started, and Bryan and Austin's jokes were met enthusiastically by cheers and retorts from the crowd. Nobody, from Schubert to Terje, was safe from ribs, and as the Rat Trap trophies for honours like 'Best Hair Best Air' and 'Eat Shit or Die' rolled out there were multiple recognitions (and digs) for the Canadians. Juliette took the Lady Boss, Darcy the Hot Dogger, and Mikey the Biggest Name, Biggest Time. And as the rankings were revealed, we did alright as well. Charles Reid was our fastest in 4th, behind Curtis Ciszek (1st), Ben Ferguson (2nd), and Chase Joycey (3rd). Darcy cracked the top 10 as well with 6th. On the ladies' side, Spencer O'Brien took 2nd behind Hailey Langland, with Zoe Bergermann in 3rd. Marie-France Roy was our next fastest in 7th.

Charles Reid put down a mean second run, clocking in at 37.15 seconds and earning himself 4th place. We've seen a few of this guy's clips for the upcoming Wildcats movie, and they're insane– look for that one in the Fall!

After the awards, the good times pushed into the night. Roaming shreds from on and off continent kept festivities going late, and as things progressed to varying degrees of loose the Fifth Annual Rat Race worked its way into the books. By the time the Wildcats started freestyle rapping, the Rat Race had raised an estimated 29, 000 USD for water.org. It's amazing what the front-end organizing from the crew at Drink Water had been able to do to turn our fun into a means for giving back– huge props to Aidan, Steven, Austin, and Bryan for putting in the work. The dudes, with the help of their sponsors and the unsung homies who pitched in, made it happen in a big way.

Sorry Leanne, Liam Neeson will not be hunting you down at the bar tonight. Kidnapped by Chyna and Colleen Quigley.

And that was our extended weekend– 3 days of boarding immersion and stoke. By the time we got back to the office we were filthy and exhausted, we'd spent enough cash to seal in ramen futures, and we were definitely behind on e-mails. But as we unpacked, throwing skateboards, snowboards, and tents in a pile by the entryway, we were completely satisfied and jazzed as ever on the grime and glam of the sideways times. We'd seen some incredible boarding in the past few days, both on skates and snowboards. But more than that we'd seen community. The take away from this is go; grab your gear, get your shifts covered, find homies good for gas and get yourself to the next gathering that comes across your radar. And if you find yourself at Rat Race or the Vans Pro Park for summer 17, come find us; we'll definitely be around.

Huge thanks to everyone at Drink Water, ace photographer and caption writer Robin Van Gyn, Brennan Kurchak, DVX wizard Cole Jandrisch, and all of the sponsors who made these events possible: Vans, Quiksilver, Adidas, Evo, Smartwool, Christenson Surfboards, Picky Bars, High Cascade Snowboard Camp, Nitro Snowboards, DiecutStickers.com, Crab Grab, OneBall Jay, Timberline, Traverse, Skullcandy, Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom, Airblaster, Burton, and GoPro.

Men’s Sponsored Division:

1. Curtis Ciszek

2. Ben Ferguson

3. Chase Josey

Men’s Un-sponsored Division:

1. JD Dennis

2. Logan Beaulieu

3. Tanner McCarty

Women’s Division:

1. Hailey Langland

2. Spencer O’Brien

3. Zoe Bergermann

2016 Rat Trap Winners:

Lady Boss: Juliette Pelchat

Hot Dogger: Darcy Sharpe

No Respect: Tonino Copene

Biggest Name, Biggest Time: Mikey Rencz

Java Award: Hannah Eddy

The Skier: Chris Shalbot

Eat Shit or Die: Ashley Barker

Best Hair Best Air: Spencer Schubert

Created By
David MacKinnon
Appreciate

Credits:

Robin Van Gyn, Austen Sweetin, David MacKinnon

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