Michigan Boarder is extremely happy to be furnishing you with this article. This our first piece based solely on a resort’s value. What do I mean by that exactly? Allow me to explain. I’ll try not to be too lengthy, but I want to make my point clear as this point was the absolute main reason for starting this website. Michigan snowboarding is at a very pivotal point right now. The scale is just now starting to tip ever so slightly toward the right side of things. At the forefront of this change stands a very limited group of people with such a deep seeded passion for the sport that they have managed to be the direct cause of this change. Mother Nature is only a part of it. Attitude is the rest. Making the best of what you have and most importantly being positive can do wonders for a scene.
This week we are focusing on Nub’s Nob Terrain Park and their media staff John Curtis and Sawyer Blevins. Many consider Nub’s to be the true holy ground of Michigan snowboarding. Nub’s may not have the best of everything, but they score so high in a much broader range of categories that over all we have to list them as the best resort in the state. This is a widely accepted statement, not that it’s about that. No one should get butt hurt over that comment. As a matter of fact, the other resorts that are co-leading this charge are super sick and deserve the same respect as Nub’s and they have it from us. If you are fighting the good fight; we support you and you have our love. I don’t know if I made my point clear in all of this but I feel like some of you will probably get it.
Nub’s has always been revered as a high end resort for snowboarders. The natural terrain and grade of the mountain are direct contributors to this. Over the past 5 years growing whispers have reached the ears of us southern Michigan kids of the fun atmosphere Nub’s has to offer. With events named things like “Leave your hammers at home” you can tell that Nub’s is more about the fun than the competition; a quality that so many should embrace. Aside from Nub’s main management there are two guys who are deserving of credit as some of those important people working for a positive change: John Curtis and Sawyer Blevins. John and Sawyer have been extremely kind to us and we are honored to be able to shed a little light on their good deeds. We are also excited to give you a little background into their direct effect on Nub’s and a little insight as to what they have in store for this season. Nub’s has awesome events, awesome media and an awesome terrain park. Jon and Sawyer are responsible for this awesomeness. These guys have done wonders for their resort. We hope our paragraphs may give you the inspiration to take up cause and do the same for yours.
Michigan Boarder Interview with John Curtis and Sawyer Blevins of Nub’s Nob
SB: I’m 23 now and I started in 5th grade……so about 12 years.
JC: 17 years. (Does that give me “old man” status?)
Years at Nub’s?
SB: If you mean riding there, then it’s been every year. But if you mean working, then this is my first year really working there. I was part of the park crew last year, but it was a ‘dig to ride’ type deal.
JC: 5 years working!
What is your job at Nub’s?
SB: I’m the terrain park assistant manager.
JC: Terrain Park Manager / Media Manager
Nub’s has always held a very respectable reputation, but has gained notoriety in the last four years or so as a premier shred spot. What do you guys attribute that to?
SB: A lot changed with Nub’s park when John took over. As a pass holder I was so used to seeing the park setup change like twice a season. Then, like a knight in shining armor, John flew in and the whole park got a facelift. You’d see the park crew out riding, maintaining features, and you could actually get to know the people that made your terrain park. So I think it comes from having a park crew that gets involved with its users and actually care about the park, because they’re riding it every day.
JC: I think Nub’s as whole has always prided it’s self on providing a super high quality skiing and riding experience. Our management has had really great foresight when looking at the industry, evaluating our venue and deciding what types of terrain to develop. We’ve got steeps, glades, hike access only tree skiing, awesome banks on the sides of many runs to mess around with and award winning grooming across the whole area. I think it’s that sort of progressive mindset, from our owners and management that set the stage for the last 4 years of progression inside our parks. When I hired in to Nub’s back in 2009, I think our parks were that one last thing on their list to be fully realized. JB, our GM, noticed right off the starting block, that with the right team, the right amount of follow through and a good understanding of the Mid-West snowboard scene, that we could really do something cool. When we first started talking about our game plan, bringing some exposure to the MI shred scene and even giving the Out-West resorts something to think about was the end goal. So we went about it in the most organic way we could think of……… Simply by shredding with our friends. Having a rad scene is about so much more than building ‘epic parks’. It’s about growing a community. For us it was about building things we always wanted to ride; Be it a line of small down bars to learn new tricks on, pump tracks to rally with our crew, or big jump lines to huck ourselves off of. This is where the community really comes in. With out our strong community of riders, builders, photographers, videographers, reps and patrons around, we never would have seen the exposure or success that we have. There are so many people that have made the Nub’s park scene what it is; Charlie Hoffman, Ron Rose,Tad Roberts, Justin Ducker, Dylan Riffer, Doug McKillip, Mike Harrington, Sawyer Blevins, Jacob Klute, Rich Whinnie, Jon Royale, AJ Nichols, Mike Fink, John Kerkhoff, and of course our snowmaking teams, fabricators and management.
Were there any obstacles you had to overcome to bring Nub’s to its current level?
JC: There are always obstacles when you’re talking about completely revamping an entire portion of your operations. Making parks like we do in MI is no easy or inexpensive thing. It takes a huge amount of money to blow all the snow needed to build the type of features we’ve based our reputation on, not to mention staffing a quality crew to maintain the parks, and a budget to promote them. Not to say that ‘cost’ was the obstacle. The obstacle turned out to be gathering user data that we could take to our management and justify the investments they were making for our parks to progress. Give the higher ups a chance to see concrete proof that if you build a super fun, safe park, kids will come ride it. But it was apparent at the end of my first year that it was going to be worth the investment. When you roll out to our parks on a Saturday and see hundreds of people lapping and getting after it, or you show up for Super Fun Park and there are 200 kids mobbing around, it becomes pretty hard to deny!
I notice you guys really focus on fun. For example you had a vid from an event called “leave your hammers at home”. Describe your mentality toward your events.
SB: Yeah, all of our events are geared towards fun and pretty much all of them are in a ‘jam’ format. It’s dope because it makes everything less competitive. I see our events as a way for all these different skill levels to come together, hang out, and enjoy our parks. Events that are based on how many tricks you can throw are great, but I feel like you end up cutting out a lot of riders that might not be on the same level. If we’re gonna spend a few long nights shoveling snow, making a new setup, then I definitely want everybody to be able to enjoy it.
JC: Sawyer hit it on the head! “FUN” is where it’s at!! We know that there is a whole lot of change going on in snowboarding. It’s bigger than ever, trendier than ever and with that you sometimes get this ‘vibe’. This ‘vibe’ that you have to be “good”, or ‘ride’ for a company, or ‘know’ a rep etc…. We’ve tried really hard over the years to keep our parks and events as intimate as possible. I’d say that when you come to a Nub’s event you tend to feel more like you’re just sessioning with a HUGE group of friends, rather than waiting in a drop line for 39.675 minutes so you can take a single run and hopefully throw a hammer and take home bragging rights. That shit is too serious. Most of the time we don’t even do ‘formal’ placings. Usually we just hand out an Overall Best Rider, and Best Trick at the end. We spend most of the event calling tricks we’d like to see on certain features and when kids get those tricks they get product. It keeps it pretty relaxed J
ILNP S2.EP.6 – Leave your hammers at home, have FUN riding your snowboard!
from NNWebcasts on Vimeo.
A lot of people feel that Nub’s deserves the best park in the state honor. Cannonsburg is super rad and I don’t mean anything by this question other than your opinion. Cburg is another one of those resorts actively adding to Michigan snowboarding and completely at the forefront of the momentum happening. It’s clearly you or them anyways. How do you feel?
SB: That’s pretty dope to hear. Nub’s has been my home mountain forever and I want everyone else to be able to see how great of a place it is. Hearing this shows that dedication to a park system really does pay off and lets the management see that the cost is worth it.
JC: Ahaha! I mean, this is a tough question to answer. To be direct, yes. I think we easily build and maintain the best ‘overall’ park in MI. But…. There are a few resorts in MI that are just killing it right now, Hawk Island, Cannonsburg, Holly, Brighton is stepping up their game. Awards like ‘Best Park in the state’, ‘best in the Mid-West’ are great for advertising purposes, but they rarely ever mean one resort is better than the other. My hope is that all of the resorts listed above continue to push each other to build different, more creative, bigger, cooler, shreddier stuff. Imagine if the ‘rat race’ wasn’t just about getting one resort noticed for “Best Park in the state” and instead we all worked together to get MI the title of “Best State for Park”. We have a ton of resorts, a ton of creative, motivated people looking to help our scene grow as a whole. I’m super hyped to see what exposure we can bring to MI by continuing to push one another. What do you think Marc Moline (Cannonsburg)? Scott Stebe (Boyne Moutain)? Jeff Deehan (Hawk Island)? Jason Wagner (Boyne Highlands)?
You guys have a lot good riders up there name some of the staff favorites.
SB: King Rayn, JIM BEHM, the Dobry Duo, Mike Dyke, and Big Bob aka Country Bob aka Big Truckin Bob aka Bobert.
JC: Mike Fink, Justin Ducker, Paul Dobry, Charlie Hoffman, No Tricks, No Arms, Charlie Dobry, Jacob Klute RIP, Brent Behm, Jim Behm Drag Queen, Mike Harrington and the Flanel Crew!, Jake Wellnitz, Calen Cooper, and we can’t forget our resident two planker MATTY MAILLOUX! (Don’t hate, every crew has that one friend that ski’s, buahahaha)
Do you guys have anything new for this year you’re real excited about?
SB: I’m really stoked for some of the new designs we’re working on for this season. Its dope to be able to design new features and them see them come to life! We’re working towards having some more street styled features. Think of features that are inspired by places like Bear Mtn’s Red Bull Plaza or Seven Springs’ The Streets.
JC: We’ve got a whole load of new features being built for this coming season. We like to keep our builds pretty hush until we get closer to opening, so keep checking our park website or facebook as we get closer. But expect some pretty creative features to be added to the list for this year.
We lost a pretty big part of our crew this summer. Jake Klute passed in a car accident a few months ago and he’ll be dearly missed. We are planning on having a ‘Day of Shred’ event to celebrate his life sometime in March. I’m pretty stoked to get all the homies together on hill and just send good vibes to his son Sawyer. I’m not sure on the date yet, so we’ll keep MIBoarder.com posted. Anyone and Everyone who loves to snowboard are welcome to come shralp it up and celebrate the life of a RAD DUDER.
Nub’s does a great job with its media. You guys handle that to! How’s that work?
SB: Both John and I have a background in media production. He runs his own production business and I went to school for it. I think the whole snowboarding culture makes it easy for kids to pick up cameras and start shooting their friends hitting jumps in their backyard or whatever. That’s how my friends and I started getting into video stuff and I’m pretty sure it’s the same for John. Therefore, it’s pretty cool for us to do something that benefits Nub’s and in turn is something we love doing.
JC: Thanks man! Everything media based is done ‘in house’ at Nub’s. Photo and Video is how our culture shares the stoke, so it’s a HUGE part of what we do. Back in 2009 Charlie Hoffman started his Follow Cam Friday web series that showcased our parks and local athletes. They were super fun, high energy edits that just raw dogged it. We had so much fun filming those things. Charlie did them for 2 or 3 seasons before moving down to G.R for school. When he left I knew we had to get something going again, so we started the ‘I Love Nub’s Park’ campaign. The First year we pretty much followed suit with what Charlie had been doing, local riders with a little bit more production value. Then last year we started inviting our sponsors to bring their teams for a few days of riding in our parks. We head out with really great crews of athletes and make every other ILNP Episode a ‘team specific’ edit. It give us a chance to show the best regional riders tearing our parks up and it helps them grow their names as athletes. A symbiotic approach to growing a MI shred scene. But we want to stay true to our core, so we are still out filming with the loc’s every day J
You guys are snowboarders that make a real effort in supporting snowboarding as a whole. Do you think that there is enough of this love going on in the industry?
SB: I think it’s alright. As far as the industry as a whole, I don’t really know. The whole snowboard brand owned by a ski brand doesn’t really bother me much. That’s really the biggest debate I can think of. Also, snowboarding is a business so it makes sense that not everyone can be buddies. Money trumps everything in the end unfortunately.
JC: Snowboarding is such a moneymaker now that people sometimes overshadow the ‘love’, by clawing their way up the ladder. We all share a common interest…..SNOWBOARDING. But yes, there is a lot of love out there still! We feel it from the builder side of things all the time, park crews talk, share success stories and route each other on, and that’s how it should be!
Speaking of love one of your first events of the year is a charity event. Is that your first charity event? Explain.
SB: On November 30th we’ll be having our fourth annual Manna Jam. It takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Manna Jam is a way to feel good snowboarding by knowing that you’re giving back to the community. It’s either five bucks or five canned goods that you need to bring and then you get to kick off the season shredding with your friends. All the proceeds end up going towards the Manna Food Project, which is a non-profit corp. that maintains a food bank for the area. I’m hoping we’ll get some good weather before the event so there’ll be a bit more flexibility on how we get to plan the setup. We know last year was tough, because it was slow. We had crappy weather up until the day of the Manna Jam, so we had to resort to using scaffolding for a drop in. But, a bad day riding is better than a good day not riding righttttttttttttt harhahr?
JC: Yeah, the Manna Jam is a blast! It’s all about getting kids on shred a little bit early and showing the mainstream that our community (snowboard bum community) can accomplish great things. Our MI economy has been hurting for quite a while now and there are lots of families and individuals that rely on food pantries like The Manna Food Project to nourish themselves. There are lots of resorts that just pick a charity, write a check and have their picture taken while they hand it over. What we are doing may not raise 20k a year like the checks you see from other resorts, but the place from which our 1k-2k per year comes from means a whole lot. Traditionally/Stereotypically the demographic that is hard core in to the snow scene is classified as a ‘selfish’ generation with little foresight in to others lives. The Manna Jam breaks those stereotypes and gives that generation/demographic a chance to give back in a way that they are familiar with, through snowboarding! It’s only $5 or 5 canned food items to enter and often times we get kids coming in with 50-100 canned items or dropping a $20 bill on their registration requesting to donate the whole thing to The Manna Food Project. It’s so rad! The event is just a giant gathering with music, food and a really great cause. This year we have some local Nub’s patrons that are matching whatever is raised on entrance fees. Last year we had more than 150 kids come out and show support while enjoying a great day on shred. This year we are hoping see more than 200 people on hill J
Any advice for other people trying to make a change at their home resort?
SB: Just in the things John has been teaching me, it’s pretty apparent that being close with the resort management is key. You have to be understanding that the resort, as a whole, is a business and everything costs money. So if you have a good relationship with the management then you’ll end up having a much better park.
JC: All it takes is passion. Be passionate about what you love. Put those passions on to paper and take them to your resort. Pitch a well thought out idea and marketing plan, and be prepared to answer questions. All it takes is being able to show that Terrain Parks are a viable part of a resort infrastructure. It brings people to the area, sells tickets, food and gets return visits. The biggest challenge in changing things at a local resort is breaking the stereotype that our demographic can’t be taken seriously. Do not show up with some crazy drawings of features and lead with “ this set-up will be gnarly bro”. Take it seriously, present it seriously and your results will be serious.
Whats wrong with snowboarding?
SB: Is the skinny vs. baggy thing still current? Oh, snowboarding being in the Olympics is pretty stupid. I agree with that one fo sho. Also people that hate on skiing. One of my best friends is a skier. We all ride the same park, so might as well work together.
JC: Just petty stuff, snowboarding is supposed to be fun, above all else. Don’t lose site of that.
What’s right with snowboarding?
SB: I just love riding with friends and making dumb edits. I like watching other dumb edits too. That is like the entirety of my winter haha. Also, just people that love snowboarding no matter what. Last winter ended up riding with my friend Robert a lot more and it was pretty refreshing to see someone that just truly enjoys snowboarding and doesn’t care what others might think.
JC: Snowboarding is right with snowboarding. And people who are pushing our sport to be more than just rails and jumps. TAKE TURNS KIDS! LIKE HEEL SIDE, TOE SIDE AND REPEAT! Learning to ride your snowboard before learning back tails or BS 270’s.
Also, local talent, creative people, friends starting companies together, local photographers shooting and submitting images, local videographers turning out videos of their friends, back yard set ups, road trips, 6 guys in 1 bed hotel rooms, cold pizza, The Hill Billy Shred Show, standing up for what you believe in.
But most importantly I think that having a firm understanding that ‘we create our own scene’ is what is right with snowboarding. Go out and be proactive. Be business savvy. Teach the young kids. Learn from O.G’s. Work hard. Push your local resorts to build better features. Grab a shovel and help dig or rake. Get involved with hosting events. There is so much to do and room for everyone to be involved.
Anything you would like to talk about?
SB: GOON SQUAD blap blap blap
JC: I just want to invite anyone who reads this article to come out and ride Nub’s at some point this season! We have a ton of fun at the Nob and we love to meet new shred heads.
I’d also like to give just a few big thank ya’s.
-Jim Bartlett – Thanks for believing in our vision and giving us the creative control to follow through!
-Charlie Hoffman – Thanks for helping grow such a rad community. You’re 5 years of design, digging, filming, event hosting and spreading the love has made such an impact on so many people!
-Ron Rose – Thanks for bringing such amazing cat operating skills to the table. With out your knowledge we’d be lost.
-Chad and Johnny – Thanks for all the welding and fabrication. You guys build some legit features and always take the time to make sure we’re going to be stoked on the final product.
-Snowmaking Teams – You’re what make it possible for us to do what we do. Without the amount of snow you fill our parks with it would look like 1992 all over again.
-Doug McKillip – Doug! Thanks for opening your home to all of the riders that come to shralp the Nob! Your hospitality is unbelievable!
-All of our Sponsors - You’re what makes the world go round! With out our strong connections to each and every one of you there would be no prizing for events, added exposure or word of mouth. Thank you all so much!