Love For The Love Games—Retailers Help Shred Scene Connect With Its Roots

Photos: Jeffery Garland

On Saturday, April 30, with only a few hours of daylight left, around 50 people met at Loveland Pass for an open session in the first annual Satellite + Installation Love Games. Originally meant to go off as an all day event and contest, storming and copious amounts of snow, late-season Colorado-style, kept the pass closed for most of the day. This didn't stop groups from gathering on both sides of US 6; barbecuing and lapping nearby Arapahoe Basin and Loveland mountains until the pass reopened in the afternoon, with clear skies and plenty of fresh snow.

The Ironing Board, a well-known area that lends itself to natural transitions and features was built up the day before, as well as other legendary spots: Pocahontas, the Bush Gap and the quarter pipe. Unfortunately the quarter pipe was never realized for this event, as it was left buried under three feet of windblown snow. The fresh cover proved to be worth the wait and the turnout was significant, with many from the rep and local ripping community in attendance. Vans (who provided BBQ for the whole crew), Burton, Volcom, Forum, and Never Summer factory vehicles kept riders happy with food, drink and a few warm-up laps until the pass could be accessed in the early evening.

With no judges for this day, the format was just good old-fashioned sessioning- one good trick deserves another. Love Games 2011 was not only a day of friends, party, powder, and blue skies, but also a specific response to the current scenario where fewer kids coming into snowboarding have an adequate connection to its roots, in order to be able to appreciate its full breadth and impact. Co-owners of Satellite Boardshop and Installation in Boulder, Raul Pinto and JG Mazzotta say they feel their position as long-time shop owners lends the opportunity to try and facilitate that connection. "So much of snowboarding is about the lifestyle; take that away and it's just another weekend leisure sport," says Pinto. In addition, he and others who make up strong Colorado shred history have started to feel weirdly estranged from the 'sport' they helped build.

"Shops like ours comprise 1% of sales when it comes to the overall profit share among snowboard buyers. Most sales occur at the big box level, where there is almost no true reference to the lifestyle of snowboarding." Love Games was designed as a way to bring people back to the whole reason and way snowboarding began in the first place. For those who care about the integrity of snowboarding, there are too many up-and-comers who have no idea how much of it is based in the backcountry. Most have never even experienced it. The emphasis these days is much more about riding chairlifts and lapping the park, which is all fine, but if snowboarding will continue to separate itself from other recreational activities, it will need to keep those lines of connection to the lifestyle strong.

Trent Bush, co-founder of Twist Clothing and now head of TechNine and Brandbase says, "Love Games is exactly the kind of event that specialty retailers should be doing. It brings elements together that help keep specialty thriving in a tough market: creativity, community and a love for snowboarding that can't be faked. I can't wait for the next one." Pinto adds, "I was stoked to show people what I remembered about riding in Colorado and the spots from videos like Neto and Big Jean Fantasy and how stoked people were to find out that these are all just there waiting to be built and ridden."

Finally, Mazzotta says, "It was fun to hit jumps that nobody else has hit in years, that we built with no chairlifts, ski patrol or any other BS… just shredding."