VANS HI-STANDARD EVENT | BRIGHTON, UTAH
The Vans Hi-Standard returned to Brighton resort in Utah after a three-year hiatus. It was an epic display of snowboarding talent and...
Words & photos Alastair Spriggs
I’ve always been proud to say I grew up riding Mount Pakenham. Boosting 280 feet of vertical, five top-to-bottom runs, and two only “larger” park features, it might not sound like much. But, this is where I learnt to snowboard with my dad, got my first job working park, brought my first front-board back to regular, and, realized that I wanted to move to the Sea to Sky and centre my life around riding a piece a wood down a snow-covered hill. So, when the Mount Pakenham Banked Slalom rolled up on my feed, I knew I had to make the trek home.
Mount Pakenham is a classic family ski hill—and it does it well. Located 40 minutes West of Ottawa, it’s the perfect place to let groms ride solo while parent’s indulge in the bar’s impressive beer selection. But, in Canadian snowboard culture it actually holds some deep history. Don’t quote me on this, but I once heard that the “green rail” was one of Canada’s first-ever park features. Under Dann O’Rourke, the park took over the majority of the hill and had over 30 features. This is a place where JDG went to film pre-season edits, former Canadian slopestyle rider Natalie Allport learnt hit her first jump, hell, I’ve even seen Will Kovacic break his ass taking a 20-foot cliff to flat, and chuck a backie in a ski patrol jacket on these very slopes.
But these days, from an outsider’s perspective (hence the outsider here) I assumed a dip had occurred in the Ottawa snowboard scene. Inner-city scaffolding rail jams had gone extinct, the number of snowboard shops had been cut in half, and the parks are objectively smaller and receiving less budget. So, when I headed home for the 4th annual Mount Pakenham Banked Slalom, I couldn’t have been happier with what I got to experience.
Built the day before by Pakenham mountain manager Andrew Burns and a small team of volunteers, race day saw nearly 100 boarders—young and old—ripping down the 280 foot-long course. Old friends, new friends, snow-skates, lots of Busch, a couple hot dogs, and even a down-bar session to finish the day—people were happy, and people were fast. I don’t recall the names of this year’s top three in the Men’s Open, but they absolutely smoked me, so kudos to them. Another highlight came from watching Marie-France Noel dominate the Women’s category on a split board, then skin back up to the top for a post-race burner. Plus, on top of everything, we were able to rally together and raise over $3000 for the TAP program in Arnprior.
Moral of the story here is that snowboard culture runs deep. Sure, this small Ontario hill isn’t what it once was, but nor does it need to be. With the annual Mount Pakenham Banked Slalom and a dedicated family guiding the way, it’s currently writing its own history—one that snowboarder’s will always be apart of. So never underestimate the little guy, or the joy that a 280-foot hill can bring you.
See you next year.