We knew it was coming but now its official. The Burton US Open of Snowboarding is moving to Vail, Colorado.
I for one am against this move. As a rider who made my bones on the hills and mountains of VT and NH for about 15 years, this almost seems like treachery. With the Dew Tour only doing a single stop in Breckenridge this coming season, now the Northeast has not a single nationally broadcast snowboarding event (although honestly both the US Open and Dew Tour events are just cut up into hour long highlight reels for national broadcasting on NBC’s weird uncle of a sports channel, but that’s a different rant).
So what awesome local spot did they pick to replace the iconic Stratton VT location? VAIL, Colorado, home of the X-games for the last 10 or so years! I’ll admit that I’ve never been but I’ll also admit I’ve never wanted to go to Vail. Large mega resorts just don’t get me going. Nothing downs my mood for snowboarding more than trudging through some modern resort base past Starbucks and Ugg outlets. I want to pull up in my truck, see at least 3 trails, and get pumped for the day while crushing a beer and tying up my boots without having to make a 1/2 mile walk on freshly shoveled brick and concrete paths to get to the hill.
While Stratton does have a village area, its small, short, and filled with mostly family owned local joints that serve cheap beers with normally priced food. It has more of an “Out Cold” atmosphere than a super mall feel. Everyone is super friendly but not in that I have to be because of my job kind of way but more in the sprit of the party and event type way.
Suicide Six in VT was the first to hold the Open 30 years ago and Stratton has been the home of the Open for the last 27 years. This move is a lot like my childhood, almost literally across the street, for those who have never been out there or even to the East Coast I’ll set the scene for ya. Pretty much every little town has some sort of ski area, I first rode at my town’s little hill called Storrs Hill, named after the family that has owned it since like 1259 or something like that. One T-bar and 3 trails, that’s it, but only 10 mins from my front door! Within an hour drive I can name at least 15 ski areas I rode growing up to include both Stratton and Suicide Six.
But I guess this is the time we live in. Most of those areas I rode growing up are closed or about to be closing, including Suicide Six who has opened and closed a few times over the years as they try to compete with the huge resorts that offer everything in one location. I would not have even started snowboarding at 12 (if ever) if it was not for the super low lift prices of my local small hills. My first board was a cheap one that was basically my entire Christmas rolled into one gift and we didn’t have the money for season passes or summer snowboard camps. We paid $2 to ride a shitty T-bar and have the time of our lives. It was a super treat when we got to go to larger areas that charged $20 lift fees…
Logistically I’m sure this move will offer the US Open to more people, attract larger sponsors and raise the popularity of this truly iconic event. However, I can’t help but think that kids like me who have begged, borrowed and stole just to get a lift pass or a cheap room at the Open will be left behind by the higher prices in the areas surrounding Vail.
Finally we have Jake Burton, who first tried his prototype on the very slopes the Open used to be held on, has always been a man who believes in his sport, his fellow humans and the local vibe. And after closing the BMC in Burlington, VT, to move all production to Austria, (which he was forced to do to stay cost effective) he has again allowed Burton to abandon their home state in the pursuit of staying competitive in a truly competitive market. I don’t blame him or them, but I can’t help but be deeply saddened by this because I feel like the Open will never be the same again. Of course I also can’t help but think I personally did something similar last September when I abandoned the Northeast for better snow and greener pastures here in Utah. So maybe I should be just as upset with myself as I am with the Burton US Open of Snowboarding.
This post was written by Zac and posted by Kerry.