First Trip to Okemo this Sunday

“I can’t wait for Sunday,” said Corbin Kuntze, a junior on the Boston University Snowboard team. “We’re finally going snowboarding!”

Sunday’s trip is to Okemo Mountain in Vermont. Check out Okemo’s official snow report and snowmaking blog!

Taken from the top of Okemo Mountain in 2010.

BUST members will wake-up bright and early, (around 5 a.m.), jump on a bus, and head to Okemo for a day of snowboarding.

Here’s some alumni tips from former BUST President Alexa Fernandez to help ensure a shred-tastic day at Okemo.

      Tip #1: Set multiple alarms. The bus leaves each spot at 5:15, 5:30, and 5:45 a.m., respectively.

      Tip #2: Pack gear the night before. It may be hard to remember to bring gloves, hats, socks, hand warmers,     sweatshirts, scarves, boots, boards, tools, and snacks at 5 a.m.

      Tip #3: Sleep on the bus. The ride provides an extra three hours of snooze time.

      Tip #4: There’s a Waffle hut, so bring cash if you find it hard to resist that warm, sugary aroma.

      Tip #5: Have fun snowboarding with BUST friends!

Fernandez also said her favorite song to listen to while snowboarding is ‘Punching in a Dream” by naked and Famous.

What are you listening to? Here’s what BUST members Scott Wilkinson, Louisa Mardirossian, Mike MacFarlane and Jonah Stella get stoked.

Chill Teaches Boston Kids How to Snowboard

Boston University snowboard team member Alex Ketner teaches kids from Boston how to snowboard. Here he's seen at a recruiting event in September, 2011. (Photo courtesy of Rascha Jelks)

For six weeks every year, members from the Boston University snowboard team take a van to Wachusett Mountain to teach inner-city kids how to snowboard.

“I worked with this one kid who was really good at speeding down the hill, but he couldn’t really stop or turn at all,” said Alex Ketner, BUST member. “I helped him with s curves and learning how to carve.”

Ketner said he was able to ride with the skinny, 11-year-old from Boston because of Chill. Chill is a non-profit youth development program that uses snowboarding to help teach life skills, said Dean Calcagni, the national coordinator for the Boston area.

Chill partners with social service agencies from urban communities, like Boston, to bus kids up to Wachusett for six weeks in January and February. Calagni said about 15 groups from Boston participate.

“We want to give kids the opportunity to try something they really wouldn’t otherwise be able to try,” Calcagni said.

The kids are provided gear – snowboards, boots, jackets, everything other than socks, Calcagni said.

On the mountain, (or the bunny hill,) each child is partnered with a volunteer for one-on-one instruction. Calcagni said the on-snow relationship is what’s important.

“We became boys; we became cool,” Ketner said. “Just snowboarding with someone, you get closer.”

Calcagni said the goal is that all the kids can learn to link turns, stop and ride chair lifts. Each week has a theme that connects to being on the hill. For example, last year, the first week’s theme was patience, he said.

“It’s more powerful than just a learn-to-ride program,” Calcagni said.

After two hours on the bunny hill, Ketner brought his instructee on the chair lifts to ride with him on the mountain, he said.

“He followed me off a small jump and face planted,” Ketner said. “But, if you’re going to try, might as well go big.”

“He got better, he just wasn’t pro status,” Ketner said.

Chill will run from January 10 through February 15 at Wachusett Mountain this winter. For more information visit the Chill Foundation’s website.

Helmet Pride!

BU Senior Louisa Mardirossian and I rockin' our lids at Loon Mountain last winter.

Over half of skiers and snowboards say they wear wear helmets on the slopes, according to a National Ski Area Association demographic study.

That means, if you don’t wear a helmet, your friend probably does.

Plus helmets can be a fashion statement with so many different colors and models to choose from. Including, those coveted audio inserts that make listening to an ipod effortless.

On Saturday, I sat down with Head Coach Howard Chauvin, of the Boston University Snowboard team, to talk about snowboard safety. He told me the story of a friend who, he says, should have been wearing a helmet.

Chauvin’s friend suffered from sever head injuries.  Chauvin and some friends from home pulled together and held a snowboard competition at their local mountain to raise money that would help pay the medical bills. Now, the competition continues in an effort to raise helmet awareness.

As Chauvin says, his friend hopes to be snowboarding again sometime this season.

The tragic, yet inspiring story of Danny Toumarkine is a reality check for everyone who doesn’t wear a helmet. “Moving Forward” documents the time before and after Danny’s snowboard accident that changed his life.

Favorite Snowboard Tales — BUST Style

The snow has officially arrived! Nothing can get us more pumped than looking out the window and seeing a blanket of white on the ground. Four kind souls, Jonah Stella, Louisa Mardirossian, Scott Wilkinson and Mike MacFarlane, offered to share their gnarliest tales from the slopes in honor of the pre-season flurries.

BUST Treasurer Jonah Stella goes off the beaten track.

BUST senior Louisa Mardirossian says some of the most memorable moments on the mountain come when you least expect them to.

BUST junior Scott Wilkinson has been snowboarding for 14 years. He tells the story of how his snowboarding adventures began.

BUST Vice President Mike MacFarlane says he’s the “King of the Hill.”

A Slice of Nationals with Rascha Jelks

“The whole reason I went was to skip a week of school and ride powder in the sunshine — it’s the perfect excuse.”

-Rascha Jelks, president of BUST

Copper Mountain, USASA Nationals 2011 (Photo courtesy of Christine Binko)

BUST President Rascha Jelks was invited to compete in the women’s boardercross at the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) Nationals last year.  They were held at Copper Mountain, near Denver, from April 2-8. Five other BUST members went with (three girls and two guys, which she thought was cool) for six days of nonstop shredding.


First off, what was the highlight of your trip?

There’s this event they do called Monster Mash.  It’s with all the pro’s and winners from the half-pipe competitions. They got up in the pipe and were getting mad air. All the pros and little kids riding together. It was really cool. Howard got in there too, Coach Howie.

Wow, I can only imagine how cool that was to see.  Overall, your experience was….

The snow was amazing, which was kind of our downfall, I guess. It was gorgeous. Except, the boardercross competition was on the fourth day and we had been riding in hip-deep powder for four days. We were totally worn out by the end. And, we had been bumming rides to the mountain, so by the time we got there, we had missed warm-ups.

So, you were tired and now you get no practice run to test the course.

Yup. Basically, our first run was our warm-up and I face plant into the first roller (an obstacle riders can jump or pump). Honestly, I jumped out of the starting gate, went up the little hill and face-planted. I had to take off my board and walk up it and strap back in.

Besides your first run fiasco, how did the competition go?

I got 9th overall in Women’s Jams, the bracket for ages 18-22 I believe. But that doesn’t matter, the cool thing about it was everyone from the North East hung out together. We got close to the guys from UVM (University of Vermont); they shredded.

At least you got some solid, out-west riding then. What else did you take away from this experience?

I learned that I’m a warrior– sleeping on a couch for three nights, taking one cold shower, and cuddling with my friend Christine for body heat.

Do you plan on competing again this year?

Definitely. We’re going to competitions in Vermont this year. I’m going to do Open instead of Jams, so I have more competition.

BUST Girls at Nationals, April 2011 (Photo courtesy of Christine Binko)

Quick Guide to New England Season Passes

I’ve done the dirty work for you. The map below represents three season pass options BUST is looking at this year:

Higher Education College Pass (Mt. Snow, Attitash, Crotched, JFBB, Wildcat) — Blue.
SOS Pass (Stratton, Okemo, Sunapee) — Red.
New England College Pass (Loon, Sunday River, Sugarloaf) — Green.

The passes are grouped by color on the interactive map below. Each mountain is represented by a marker. Click on the markers to view trail maps, see how far away the mountains are, learn about special features, and to read personal reviews.

Don’t forget to take the season pass poll after exploring the map!