words: Brendan Hart
photos: Brendan Hart, Mike Garceau, and Tyler Mills
Buck Rowlee is one of those rough-hewn gentleman who is forever clothed in heartfelt praise and shining testaments. A really rad dude who has been a really rad dude for a longtime. In February 2009, Buck’s five-year-old daughter Molly was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell Lymphoma. The following June, Buck and his wife Meighan lost Molly to the grim illness. But from this devastation, emerged an inspiring enterprise. The bereft couple were determined to carry forward their daughter’s warm legacy. They set up The Molly Rowlee Fund, a fundraising institution that provides financial assistance and other forms of support to parents whose children are combatting cancer.
Buck is now predominantly known as a surfer, but his roots in the New England snowboard scene plunge deep into the heart of the sport. Three years ago, Evan Ricker, the former manager at Darkside Snowboard Shop, desired to host an event at the neighboring mountain Killington Resort. Not any old rail jam, but a one-of-a-kind grassroots competition that assembles the snowboarding community for a memorable ruckus. Evan contacted Buck and soon Killington’s Slash and Berm Banked Slalom was created with The Molly Rowlee Fund as its partner and beneficiary. It would be carving for a cause.
The Slash and Berm’s first two years were spectacular, but this year’s race was almost miraculous. The day before the event there was simply not enough snow to make another banked slalom in The Stash, the all-wood terrain park where the race is always held. Then Mother Nature woefully sent a bitch slap of a rainstorm hurtling across New England. In some areas rain totaled three inches. If temperatures had just been a few degrees lower, this would have solved the East’s snow crisis. But alas, they were not, and it was hateful orbs of H20 that dropped from the overcast heavens.
Except in Killington.
The Vermont resort received two inches of rain, but then a chill penetrated the storm, and seven to nine inches of white gold wafted angelically down upon the slopes. It was this last-minute snow that saved the entire contest. Just after it fell, Killington’s cat drivers rallied under their leader Jay Rosenbaum, and wrought together an immaculate course. Log jams, forest spillways, and the iconic Stash cabin were all linked with tranny and decked with gates. On February 28 and 29, two days of perfect weather, scores of riders ventured to Killington to raise money and ride the inventive lines ands berms that ribboned through The Stash.
On Saturday the public race took place. There were nearly 100 participants. Riders of all ages and facial hair mobbed the start gate with edges sharpened, boards meticulously waxed, and steely mindsets. There was an air of camaraderie fused with tension. If there is one Vermont event that reflects your boarding abilities it’s the Slash and Berm. Clocking a praiseworthy time means that you have a mastery of all the complex fundamentals that make a good snowboarder. The Slash and Berm course always makes any shortcomings embarrassingly apparent. Say you miss a gate. And tomahawk dramatically down a berm, yardsaling goggles, hat, and dignity all at once. Really, that’s just a painful way of finding out you’ve got some things to work on. That being said, people were going for gold or first aid. Whichever came first. The run was a prolonged gauntlet of whooping, wooden obstacles. The most challenging of which was a gargantuan staircase chipped into the icy hillside. It was like riding headlong down an undulating row of shark teeth. On the first step you saw courage. On the last carnage.
Sunday’s regatta was an invite-only affair. Select riders squadded up in teams of four. Their top three times composed their collective score. Ryan Manning, John Murphy, Jack Harris, Andrew Sarisky, Mike Garceau, Nate Haust, and Tim Major were just some of the VT speedsters present for the showdown. After all was said and done, The F.U.R.M team made up of Dave Parnell, Andrew Percival, Nate Haust, and Tim Major was crowned the winning crew of the 2016 Slash and Berm and around $1,500 was raised for The Molly Rowlee Fund. If you’re looking for a good time and a good cause and a chance to give back to the community while testing the quality of your guts, mark the Slash and Berm Banked Slalom in your calendar for next year. It’s a hell of a good weekend. Thanks to Killington, Burton and Darkside for making it happen
1st – Bradford Gill – 1:47.55
2nd – Dylan Heilner – 1:54.58
3rd – Liam Scott – 2:01.37
1st – Erin Featherstone – 2:22.88
1st – Forrest Baker – 1:38.42
2nd – Shaughn Calkins – 1:39.71
3rd – Bermie Sanders – 1:39.82
1st – Tarrah Robillard – 1:59.77
2nd – Maggie Leon – 1:59.84
3rd – Jamie Trayer – 2:04.38
1st – Tim Major – 1:27.51
2nd – Mike Fanning – 1:31.27
3rd – Tucker Zink – 1:31.29
1st – Rick Kuehl – 1:36.00
2nd – Jerry Tucker – 1:36.06
3rd – Jay Rosenbaum – 1:39.67
1st: F.U.R.M. – Tim Major, Nate Haust, Andrew Percival, Dave Parnell – 4:36.08
2nd: Threat Level Midnight – John Murphy, Jack Harris, Ryan Manning, Andrew Sarisky – 4:41.57
3rd: KSA – Mike Garceau, Mike Fanning, Jay Rosenbaum – 4:42.45
Read the full Carving for a Cause: The Third Annual Slash and Berm Banked Slalom at Killington Resort article on Snowboarder Magazine.