Snowboarders and skiers look past the slopes

By Hunter Lee

When the hills get too packed, local skiers and snowboarders pack into their cars and start their search around town.  What are they looking for?  They are scoping out rails, drops, and basically any inner-city features that can be snowboarded on by innovative individuals.

Most of these youthful riders are locals at Otsego ski resort, Bittersweet and a lot of them attend Loy Norrix and are seniors here right now.  The group of friends spend hours on end during the weekend setting up jumps, making runways (for the jumps), kickers (little jumps) for handrails, and occasionally they innovate with use of picnic tables, benches, and jumps over fences.

Not often will you see a skier or a snowboarder stray far from the mountain, and this group of riders may surprise you, but they are just like anyone searching for passion.  Senior Colin Rooney is of this group and has always enjoyed the company of his close friends when hitting jumps and rails in the urban setting.

“I do this stuff with the dopest kids around, and we do this stuff at schools, churches, and anything that looks promising,” said Rooney.

Rooney rides with friends, senior Joey Birdsall, senior Kevin Mahoney, junior Phillip McCrary and more.  You can find them around town, and once and awhile the police think the kids are “breaking the law” but usually they realize that they are not hurting anyone and drive off.

“One night at Maple Street Middle School around 10 p.m., about eight cop cars came and kicked us out,” said Mahoney.

In fact earlier that day a sheriff rolled into the Maple Street parking lot and simply told the students just to be careful.  The only other problem besides hitting a rail on private property is getting speed to hit the jumps.  A simple starting ramp built out of wood or other items can work for a kicker in front of a rail, but when it comes to jumps, they are looking for as much air as possible, and they need speed for so much height off of a jump.  Their solution is to harness the speed from a moving car.

“Cars usually work the best, they are more consistent, and we can easily tie a rope to the trailer hitch on Colin’s jeep and pull the riders,” said Mahoney.

As they are pulled by the car, they reach sometimes up to 35 mph across a parking lot and onward towards a 5 foot jump.  Like a boat could pull a wake boarder, this sport of being pulled on skis by a car is definitely comparable.

There are no jumps set up for you or any mechanically carved half pipes, ready for riders to hit.  When these urban riders search in town with an open mind there is more availability for someone to do something massive because they are not confined in a formal terrain park at Timber Ridge or Bittersweet.

With all of the obstacles like stairs and railings and sometimes walls that were constructed for everyday people in pursuit of a structured goal (work or church), it is pleasing for these teens to put an end to that boring cycle of everyday life.  Instead of walking over those stair sets and using the handrails for support, snowboarders and skiers air over the stairs or grind down the handrail.  They are visionaries of their own kind and are following a passion.