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Sunday River was home to the first ever Near Canada Open on March 16th, 2013. Unlike the other 15 “Opens” going on back east right now, this one was organized by West Coasters, namely Krush Kulesza and Lib Tech Snowboards. Andy Simutis made the 3,000 mile trip and issued this report.
Words and photos Andy Simutis
Disclaimer: Although I do snowboard quite a bit every season, I haven’t snowboarded on the east coast in ten years. Although I founded, and wrote everything for Eastern Edge for the first five years of its existence, I am as out of touch with the east coast scene as you can get living in Seattle. That’s why it was perfect for me to cover Lib Tech’s Near Canada Open at Sunday River Maine.
The idea was to cover the contest in true Eastern Edge style, meaning I would not be able to accurately name a competitor unless I’ve had a beer with them. I would not be able to get half the trick names right. I would not get an actual shot of the winning trick. I would have to mention Seth Neary or Jeff Brushie at least once. I would confuse which Rehbein was which. I would not acknowledge the people who really deserve credit. This sounded like a good idea while hanging out with Jesse Burtner back in Seattle, but the reality is that this was a really sick, fun event and to give it the Eastern Edge treatment would be really unfair, as would writing a snarky article where we make fun of snowboarding like it’s still 1997. So I’m just going to show you some photos of people riding snowboards and tell you a little bit about what happened.
Since Burton moved the big halfpipe show out west, Lib Tech thought it would be fun create a mini-pipe-jib contest for that same weekend instead. Since every single sport already has a US Open, this would be a Near Canada Open. Get it? It’s at Sunday River Maine so it’s still in the US? It’s an Open? The course was the remains of the superpipe cut down to a more manageable size and then a variety of jumps and jibs were built all over the decks ending in a quarter pipe with a couple more jibs on top. Despite one vocal complaint about the halfpipe getting trimmed down, everyone else seemed to be pretty stoked on Sunday River and Krush’s course layout. To really make it open, anyone could enter and it was free. Little kids, pros, moms, anyone willing to sign a waiver and hit jibs on top of a pipe was in. The prize money was a little different too. Rather than give out a big cardboard check to a couple people at the end, Jesse Burtner and Preston Strout would stand on the quarter pipe and call out tricks that would earn the first person to land one a ten dollar bill. They did this a hundred times to give away the $1,000 for everything from handplants, to stalls, to an entire run of methods, to taking a run holding hands with a stranger, and to anything that really impressed them. A lot of people won multiple ten dollar bills while hardly anyone left without at least a T shirt..
The locals came out to try for those big bucks, with a bunch of people who’s names I didn’t get (remember I was going to do this Eastern Edge style). A few guys consistently won $10 challenges, but Jeff DeForge led the charge with tricks like a 180 on to cab 3 over the death box tube transfer, dominated the currogated tubes, and ripped well enough overall to earn a Superpark invite. Brandon Reis went bigger on everything to win Crab Grab’s Golden Claw, while Lib Tech teamriders Sam Hulbert, Ted Borland, and Stefan Krum hit everything with one foot or both and generally got weird all over the course. The contest turned into more of a session than a serious career on the line high pressure contest, and it seems that every US Open replacement event this weekend was trying for that same goal. Big props to Lib Tech, Sunday River, Arnette, Crab Grab, and Poler Stuff for getting right on this contest
The brave men who made the “Slopestyle Mini Pipe” possible.
Stefan Krumm has no East Coast roots to speak of, but he was likely inspired to take his foot out by Scott Stevens, who IS from the East Coast.
East Coasters rarely get credit for their contributions to snowboarding anymore, so we’re making it a point to note that Tanner McCarty is solely responsible for the “Erection plant” craze that’s about to take over snowboarding.
If this was the US Open circa 1994, Preston Strout would be handing Sam Hulbert a beer. But since it’s 2013 and the US Open is now a Colorado stunt show, he’s handing him some cash money, which if he’s smart, he’ll spend on beer.