I'll admit that there's something odd about snowboarding in the city, like scuba diving in a pool, but with Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows still ironing out opening dates, the only snowboarding going down in the entire Willamette Valley this weekend was on the corner of Davis and 11th in downtown Portland, two blocks north of Burnside Street and 57 miles Northwest of Mt. Hood.
Salomon/Bonfire threw their annual Backyard Bang this Saturday, October 31yes, Halloween afternoon, and it was every bit the quintessential "urban rail jam." Think leather jackets, West Coast up and comers, shaved ice and scaffolding, free beer. Think "hard-way" 270-ons watched by Pearl District yuppies as they shelter their pugs from the weather with their jacket lapels. It was a party in the streets and all in the name of funa little taste of the snow before the winter begins, and a fine way to spend a drizzly Hallow's afternoon when your costumes already done but it's too early to put it on.
"It's cool we were able to do this when budget's are so tight," says Salomon/Bonfire PR lady Rian Rhoe as we stand on the sidewalk inspecting the action. It's true that times are tough, but it's also true that grass-rootsy events like this are perhaps most important when times are tough. It's a way to give a little back, as opposed to, like, running a commercial during the Olympics or something. Later, I bump into Bonfire founder Brad Steward on the way to the beer garden, and he's got nothing bad to say about the "recession" or the "economy" or anything. He shrugs, "We always operate the same, no matter what." In other words, Salmon/Bonfire always runs things lean and mean, and that's part of the key to their success. "Besides, I like it when times are tough!" he growls with a smile.
It might have been at that exact moment that the skiesgloomy and moistureswollen as they werefinally opened up and unloaded their burden. It was pouring! The coursewhich consisted of a down box adjacent to a mini kicker, both winding up in portable wallridesneeded a little maintenance, so while that went down, everyone ran for cover. Then, ever so slowly, the rain was replaced with a milky sunshine. Judged by Salomon pro Jarad Hadi and last year's best-trick winner Tyler Verrigan, the finals jam began. Eugene, Oregon's Jonah Owen was oozing steez, Johnnie Paxson was twisting 270 on the hard way to 270 out, Celeste Rhoads was front-boarding smooth as anything, someone did a backie on the mini kicker ... and then my parking meter ran out and it was time to peace!