words: Mary Walsh
photos and captions: Mary Walsh and Mark Clavin
Mammoth Mountain has long occupied a revered place in snowboarding. It’s a mecca for both those who crave corduroy and perfect takes off as well as individuals drawn to untracked lines far off the cat track. Contest jocks and soul boarders alike have found their home at this megalith mountain; it’s a destination regardless of the types of turns that make you want to get up and head to the lifts in the morning, so it is no surprise that for the second year in a row, iconic eyewear brand Oakley, whose own roots in snowboarding extend deep below the surface, partnered with Mammoth for Oakley Week, a celebration of all things boarding in the eastern Sierra Nevada.
Just as with the premiere seven-day event in 2016, Oakley Week 2017 was flush with activities, throughout which, resort-goers were able to demo brand new Oakley helmets and Prizm goggles from a pop up shop located at Main Lodge. The eight-day affair kicked off with The Progression Sessions, Oakley’s beloved women’s snowboard and ski camp that has been going on at Mammoth for the better part of the decade. Sixty ladies descended en masse on the Unbound Park system, training through the jumpline and minipipe and taking over the lower portion of Forest Trail which was turned into a private, ladies-only progression park. While sunny weather and warm temps created the perfect conditions for park laps, just next door to Forest Trail, TJ Dawoud and his crew of Unbound diggers were diligently pushing snow to create a massive set up for the Oakley team to session later in the week, including a 30-foot tall quarterpipe extension, a gigantic step over and a cornucopia of rails and tubes.
As the warm, spring weather quickly abated, a commercial break in a winter that has dumped well over 600 inches of snow to date on Mammoth, the Oakley team arrived just as a storm system prepared to drop a few more flakes on the mountains: Stale Sandbech and Eero Ettala flew in from Scandinavia; Jamie Anderson came in from Tahoe and Sebastien Toutant from Quebec; and Canadian Craig Gouweloos and Coloradan Sy Moran drove out from the Rockies. Low clouds and a fresh coating of snow offered up ripping conditions for Forest Trail laps before Main Park would open the following day.
On Thursday, the skies were Mammoth Mountain blue and the park was firing. The quarter and step over were flanked by a large backside hip and preceded by a tube garden up at the top of Main. A triple jump line and multiple rails occupied the lower section of the park. Stale, Seb, Eero, Jamie, Craig and Sy wasted no time etching lines into the take offs and sending themselves deep into the Sierra sky. Spencer Whiting, Mammoth local and follow cam savant followed hot on their heel edges off the cheesewedges as the crew filmed a one shot, multi-rider line from the top to bottom of Main Park for a new episode of Legends of the Fall Line (stay tuned to Snowboarder.com, of course, for that). Just before Chair 6 stopped running for the day, the Prizm’d posse headed back up hill for a sunset shoot. Jeremy Page and Scott Blum joined the fray for the night. Page sent it on the jump a few times despite breezy conditions and Blum shut down the QP extension with a couple incredibly proper handplants.
Friday was a powder day and a bluebird one, at that. LA commuters starting their weekend earned fresh turns and the tireless Unbound crew set their sights on the minipipe, installing jibs and bonks down the coping of the pint-sized walls for the second annual Oakley Minipipe Challenge. There are few radder and rarer opportunities than to rip miniature transition alongside some of the most talented snowboarders in the world, and the Minipipe Challenge provides just that chance. On Saturday, the final day of Oakley Week, the prestigious Mammoth locals dropped in alongside Eero, Stale, Seb and crew for handplants, micro spins and very quickly-tweaked airs in the jib-filled pipe (full recap coming on Snowboarder.com, stay tuned).
It’s been a banner year for Mammoth Mountain with copious snowfall and blue days speckled throughout. Oakley Week capitalized on the flawless conditions and welcomed spring in the way only eight days filled with contests, park laps, park shoots, and powder turns can, that is to say, with a ton of snowboarding.
Thank you to both the Mammoth and Oakley Snowboarding crews for cramming a ton of radness into one week and thanks to Mother Nature for making sure the weather was on point for everything. See you next year!