Alaska Bound - Tailgate and King of the Hill
April 04, 2010
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When I got the call some weeks ago from Mark Sullivan to come check out Tailgate Alaska 2010, I was instantly excited. Not only was Alaska the only state in the Union I had yet to visit and the Mecca of backcountry snowboarding, but Tailgate Alaska represented a perfect reason to go. Not a tourist filled cruise line ambling along the Alaskan coast, not a high pressure film production living and dying by sunny days and snow conditions, or a 10,000 week of heliing while rubbing elbows with Dr. D-bag from Denver, but rather a backyard BBQ jamboree style celebration in the heart of the Chugach on a budget with 200 of my best friends.
Mark Sullivan together with big mountain pioneer Nick Perata, launched Tailgate Alaska three years ago. It began as an idea, then a theory, then through sheer will and good salesmanship, the two got sponsors onboard and made it happen.
At first though it was a casual affair. A dozen or so friends camped out at Thompson Pass with a few snowmobiles and and RV. One of the first official partners was Alaska Brewing Co, who "sponsored" the "event" by sending Mark and the boys a few cases of beer.
In 2009, the Tailgate had grown in notoriety, but attendance was limited due to the tough economic times, making travel to AK a no go for most.
Enter 2010 - record snowfall in Valdez, a recovering economy and the return of the infamous King of the Hill Freeride competition, debunk since 1999, proved to be the magic recipe for Tailgate AK to blow up. Bolstered by word of mouth enthusiasm that reached some celestial tipping point, Tailgate Alaska 2010 is going off. Currently there are over 250 registered attendees of Tailgate Alaska, with likely another 50 late arrivals.
Already into its second week Tailgate AK is gong full throttle. Among the attendees are Travis Rice, Olympians Scotty Lago, Graham Watanabe and Seth Wescott, and Danny and Dingo, who are filming an episode. Big mountain legends like Shawn Farmer and Dan Treadway made the trek and even some euros are here - Anne Flore Marxer, David Pitchi and a crew from Method Magazine. That's just naming a few.
All in all it was an amazing day and welcome return to the Big Mountains.
This week is just getting going so stay tuned for daily updates from AK.
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