This past Saturday I made the trip over to Pando. I had never been there before this event. I always thought it was just a place to go when you’re in high school with your buds, bring a fifth of choice, and fly down the hill in an inner tube. I was totally wrong. Pando is small, there’s no arguing that, but the shreds that call this place home are very passionate about snowboarding. They fight for everything they have and make the absolute best out of what they’re given. This is one of the main reasons why Occupy Pando was able to happen this year.
We haven’t had any new snow in a while, but Pando was doing their best making as much snow as they could. Just two days before Occupy, the heart of Pando’s snowmaking broke. The main pump went out and had to be shipped to Connecticut to get fixed. They didn’t let this didn’t stop them. They pushed some snow around, set up some rails and were good to go again. Then came the rain; it rained on and off all day. Most would have thrown in the towel by now, but not these guys. They groomed and raked until an hour before the start of Occupy. The setup was nothing fancy, just gnarly, because of lack of snow. There were about 40 riders in attendance that were ready to shred. With very little snow, the rails were tall and chances for injury were high. This didn’t stop these kids from throwing down.
The Mullet Chicken crew was going all out. Avery Erickson, Brandon Vandyke, Jeremy Vandyke, and Kyle Caswell swept the podium. The overall riding was top notch, as usual. I say this at the risk of sounding cliché, but I can’t get over how good these guys are. The tricks being done were insane with high consequences. There were some real close calls, but no one got broke off too bad.
Pando is raw; it’s the backbone of Michigan freestyle snowboarding. Some of the best snowboarders I have met grew up riding Pando. Nothing there is ever perfect, but it’s doable. It forces kids to step up their game and take chances that they wouldn’t have to take at other resorts. Pando has a cool vibe and good people that run the park. I had a great time and can’t wait to go back. A big thanks goes out to the park crew, Zeppelin Zeerip, and Andy “Rollin Dice” Smith for not giving up and putting on a great event!
All images by Jon Mollema