posted by Aaron Lebowitz on March 21, 2023
This March has been storm after storm, so we were stoked when we were able to escape Mammoth during a weather window to drive the 12 hours straight to Bend, OR. When we landed, a storm rolled in providing two amazing pow days in Mt. Bachelor.
The Elevated Surf Club landed in Bend from all over the world to congregate for the Big Wave Challenge and a club meet up with like minded snow surfers. We had 20 radical riders from different ages, locations and backgrounds come together and the vibe was RAD.
We showed up in mass with riders in every division from groms to women to 40+ to under 40 pro mens, and surfed the course in all of its conditions throughout the day that was blessed by sunshine.
On Sunday we had a mega group ride —collectively hunting pow across Mt. Bachelor—followed by a Chilean asado party at the club house. The congregation of the community— integrating new and old friendships— the style, the movement and the vibe across the mountain was so inspiring. It all just flowed and that’s what snow surfing and frozen wave parks are all about— FLOW.
The Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge is an annual snow surfing competition held at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon, that celebrates the art of riding waves in unconventional ways. The competition is named after Gerry Lopez, a legendary surfer and snowboarder who helped pioneer big wave surfing in Hawaii in the 1970s.
The idea for the event was first conceived by Mt. Bachelor snowboarder Josh Dirksen in the mid-2000s. Dirksen was inspired by the creative approach to snowboarding that was emerging at the time, which emphasized riding natural features and terrain rather than just hitting jumps and rails in the park. You will see features such as snowdrifts, banks, and berms and riding a course like this requires a high level of creativity and adaptability from the riders, as they must constantly read and respond to the terrain as they ride.
In recent years, the competition has also added a surf-inspired element, with a special "wave pool" feature that simulates the feeling of riding a wave. This feature challenges riders to apply their surfing skills to the snow, creating a unique and thrilling experience for both competitors and spectators.
Where the halfpipe and the rail park focus on high levels of performance and risk in airtime and balance, the flow park is designed primarily for ground maneuvers that are expressed through surfing style. Bottom turns, trim, cutbacks, slash/hacks and airs back into transition. This format of park is accessible and utilizable to all levels and forms of snow participants, increasing the user rate from 10 percent to 90 percent — anyone can roll up and down and across the walls.
Great examples of very popular and successful frozen wave features can be found in Sierra at Tahoe, Boreal, Bear Mtn and Stevens Pass along with the Frozen Wave Park at Marunuma Japan and Happo Banks. Each design is unique but all focus on surfing the walls with flow and style.
Frozen Wave Parks and Events can have such a positive impact on the snow sport community and offer another modality to floating over snow on a board. Snow surfing has given so much to so many, it is a very accessible sport and style of riding — that's why we see this type of terrain as the next big thing in snowboarding.
Shout out to our event sponsor SurfWater!