Earlier this year it was quietly whispered that there was going to be something big coming to the Mid-Atlantic region in the world of snowboard contests. No one exactly knew what it would be but most were certain it was going to be revolutionary. Recently I had a chance to sit down with long time Angry Snowboarder supporter and friend Pat Morgan to talk about what the Eastern Snowboard League is and what it’s bringing to the area.
Angry Snowboarder: Where did the idea to start the Eastern Snowboard League come from?
Pat Morgan: The ESL was born in conversations between Junior Kantor, Ian Oliver, Joel Rerko and myself. We all had the same mindset that there needed to be something more done in this region. Our first frustration was how the Mid-Atlantic territory is generally left out of east coast discussion, and overlooked for some of the major event series’ stops.
We knew collectively we could give back to the riders and the region and create something truly unique and special. The resources and contacts the four of us have are powerful, and we even surprised ourselves at the volume of progress and momentum we’ve created this quickly out of the gate.
AS: Are there any other events of this magnitude in the Western NY/Pennsylvania region?
PM: I’m not so sure that there are. With that said though, we’re kind of in an ‘apples to oranges’ scenario here. This isn’t the typical mass produced series or tour. There are some series in and around the east coast that are definitely on point and get it done, but I think this is a completely different offering. I mean these are three of the best park programs in the region, and NO ONE else is offering prizes of the caliber we have.
AS: Out of all that the East Coast has to offer why were these resorts and regions chosen to host events in the inaugural year?
PM: Well, I guess we chose the resorts because of the personnel and credibility behind each location. Ian and Joel are continuously at the top of the Transworld Resort Polls for their parks (Big Boulder PARK and Seven Springs), and we’re gaining momentum here at Holiday Valley with our event capabilities, so we knew each stop would offer the best of the best, and more importantly would be ran how events should be. I’m going to step a little outside of the box here and say the three of us are some of the best in the business in this region, and we’re excited to prove this through everything we do, be it website content, contest set ups, and the pre and post event marketing of the whole deal.
AS: Are there any thoughts to further expand up and down the coast to other resorts?
PM: Its in the back of our head, and we’ve talked casually about who we’d be willing to include next year, but nothing official. It was surprising how many resorts reached out and were like ‘we want in’ when they heard who the players were in this. Some even expressed disappointment, or maybe were even offended they weren’t asked. Mind you this was when we were still being tight lipped about everything we were working on, so it was just kind of a shock to see the waves we made so quickly. The important thing to remember is we aren’t going to add a resort to the series just to add them… they need to have the full set on lock: like minded individuals, creative and progressive park setups, and the ability to execute/host premiere events without any BS. Quality v. Quantity ya know?
AS: Why does the format call for a different set up for the finals instead of the qualifiers? Is this to force riders to show their diversity by breaking the stagnation that occurs with doing the same laps through the same features?
PM: Exactly. Our plan is to build off the popularity you’ve been seeing in skate contests in recent years, with fast and furious heats that force riders to step to it hard and heavy right out of the gate. I think three hour rail jams should be ran out of town (unless it’s a hell of a set up) Each zone will have a unique facet to it, could be a rail station, could be an abstract snow feature. The idea with the final zone is to force riders to send it. I mean, the Destroyer division is competing for a slot in Superpark after all. We’re not saying you’re going to see an 80′ step down at any of our mountains, but there will definitely be some hang time involved…
AS: There’s some serious prizes up for grabs with a spot at Superpark and a week at Woodward at Copper for the over all winners add to that cash prizes at each individual event in the Destroyer class. What can you say about the various levels of prizes being offered and do you feel this should help to draw more people in because these are truly legitimate compared to other events that the winner might get a snowboard or a plastic medal?
PM: I mean, that was the point right from the first thought process- to do something more. These prizes are banger. Where else can you get prizes like this? No where. We’re expecting some riders to come out of the woodwork on this one, we’ve even heard some talk of riders flying in for these events because qualifying for Superpark in other areas is tough. I laugh when I hear that because these riders in these areas have some serious heart and character, and will definitely hold their own. I think all events should be challenged to offer something more these days. I mean, really, how many wax/leash/XL t-shirt product tosses are kids going to put up with?
AS: Looks like the ladies don’t have their separate category to enter, going to make them metal up and compete with the boys or will there be something for them?
PM: We’re going to do something with the ladies for sure. The division names are actually tie backs to the Forum brand base (Youngblood, Destroyer) so we’re going to give out a ladies award at each stop called the ‘Honeypot‘ award. I’m probably going to hang myself here, but unfortunately there still just aren’t enough girls out there in this region that we felt we needed to create their own category. Half a dozen here, half a dozen there just makes it tough. We figured that
at least recognizing a standout lady rider at each stop will be a start, and we’ll see how the series progresses over the years and how we can cater to them.
AS: In terms of growth potential where would you like to see the league poised after this season? And in five years?
PM: I think our goal this year is to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’, and most importantly follow through and deliver on everything we’ve claimed we’re going to do. The Eastern Snowboard League will grow at a rate that makes sense. We’re not getting rich off this, we’re looking to provide a quality event series for riders in a region that couldnt deserve it more Five years down the road it’d be nice to see us as a mainstay in the region, with some major financial sponsorships and a network of 5-10 resorts. I’d love to see more rider movement within the east coast (the poor snowboarder excuse is bullshit) and maybe this is the series that makes it ‘worth it’ to get riders motivated.
AS: For anyone that’s considering competing in these events what would you tell them are the biggest factors in showing up and doing it?
PM: Show up on time, show respect to your other riders, and the resort hosting the event. Remember we’re all just here to have a little fun, and you should expect to have a full day of it, first chair, last call mentality you know? It’s pretty easy.