Oakley Week: Product testing and shredding pow with the pros at Mammoth Mountain
Every year the Oakley team takes over Mammoth Mountain for a week of awesomeness, dubbed #OakleyWeek. Aimed at giving skiers a first-hand experience with the brand, the week not only celebrates the partnership between Oakley and Mammoth, but allows skiers like you to try out and test Oakley products for free, meet Oakley’s top-name athletes and more.
The timing of this season’s event was, frankly, perfect. So far, Mammoth has received over 540” of snowfall this season—well over the mountain’s annual average of 400”. The mountain and town have received so much snow that the national guard was called to help clear out the town. It was no surprise, then, that when a massive crew of Oakley staff and athletes took over the mountain for #OakleyWeek, conditions and vibes were at an all-time high.
I got to join in on the action as the stars aligned for a trip back to my old home of Mammoth. Beyond hanging with an all-star cast of skiers, I got to test out Oakley’s PRIZM technology while skiing through a range of conditions, from stormy weather to bluebird powder days. Read on to learn more about the experience, check out photos from the trip and discover five products that I fell in love with over the course of my time in Mammoth.
The activities kicked off long before I arrived on the eve of Wednesday, March 22; the all-women’s Progression Sessions took place the weekend prior and on-hill PRIZM goggle demos had been happening daily. Eager to get on the slopes, I woke up early Thursday morning and met up with Oakley athletes Alex Beaulieu-Marchand (ABM), Joss Christensen and Colby Stevenson, as well as Abe Kislevitz of GoPro, filmer Andrew Napier and Oakley’s own Greg Strokes at Canyon Lodge. We waited in line for the lifts to start running and everyone was hyped—it had snowed overnight and a bluebird powder day was on the menu.
High on our list of zones to ski were two classic Mammoth spots: the Paranoids and Hemlock Ridge. Starting from the top of Mammoth Mountain, we traversed to the skiers’ left and made our way to the Paranoids. The Paranoids offer expert-only terrain that, on a powder day such as we were experiencing, is absolutely dreamy. Scoping out our run from above a hefty-sized cornice, ABM and Colby set their sights on a hip towards the bottom of the run. They both launched off it—much to the delight of onlookers—while Joss and I took advantage of the powder, making dreamy turns down the face. This was the first moment I came to appreciate the hell out of the PRIZM lens: The snow was varied with a mixture of fresh powder and deep tracked out snow. With the increased contrast and color, providing remarkable clarity and definition no matter the light conditions, from the PRIZM tech (locked into my Flight Deck goggles), I felt completely in control as I bombed down the hill through the varied conditions. As I and the gang approached the bottom of the run, Mammoth’s iconic Chair 23 was opening for the day. We hopped on the lift and made our way to another classic, local’s favorite spot, Hemlock Ridge.
Requiring a short hike from the backside of the resort, the Hemlocks provide steep terrain with plenty of natural features to hit. One such feature was a rock gap that Colby and ABM immediately picked out. Napier and I skied to the gap to set up our shots while Colby prepared to hit it first. Going huge, he nailed the landing and the session began. After launching the rock a couple of times, Colby sent a massive backflip to a round of cheers and it was decided that our work there was done. The video footage documenting said backflip is nothing short of extraordinary.
Once the Hemlocks had been conquered, we went to meet Oakley athletes Jackson Wells (Wacko) and Bernie Rosow at Mammoth’s Main Park, where the Mammoth Unbound crew had constructed custom features for the Oakley team to ride/destroy. With a huge booter, a quarter-pipe, wall ride and more, we were in for a fun evening. The team created a “one run edit” (featured below) and then enjoyed the private park well past Mammoth’s typical closing time of 4 p.m., with the Unbound crew shuttling athletes to the features via sleds.
As the sun began to set and the light began to change, I was once again stoked on the PRIZM technology. I had swapped out my goggles for the Oakley Latch sunglasses—equipped with PRIZM lenses—while I shot photos, and actually preferred to have them on than off. The boost in clarity from the lenses made navigating the park and seeing the snow easier in the low light than with my naked eye. It seemed that the athletes opted for a similar approach, all of them keeping on a “dark” lens throughout the shoot. Another storm was beginning to roll in, bringing with it a bit more wind than the athletes would have preferred, but they braved the weather and sessioned the park as the sun set over the Minarets in the distance. As the sun finally disappeared behind the distant mountains, the shoot came to a close and day one came to an end.
The next morning it was nuking snow both in town and on the mountain. This was the first time I doubted my darker PRIZM lens; it was a storm day with flat light… was I crazy to be wearing the same tint that had been perfect the sunny day before? I was relieved to see the athletes wearing theirs without hesitation and from the time we got to the hill until our last lap I never once had an issue with visibility. Most of the upper lifts were closed, so the crew decided to lap South Park—Mammoth’s intermediate to advanced park—which is more protected from the elements than Main Park. The athletes were champs through the weather as we cruised through South Park, Jibs Galore and even the Transition Park. Typically a lap through the skate-inspired Transition Park—filled with bowls, berms and spines—would have been uncomfortable in the flat light. But with the PRIZM tech’s boost in contrast and clarity, the heavily falling snow and flat light didn’t slow us down one bit. Even through the storm, the vibes were good as the team hit every feature in sight. With another bluebird powder day in the forecast, the falling snow had us all looking forward to the next morning.
I woke up early Saturday morning, grabbed my phone and read that 10 inches of new snow had fallen at the base of the mountain, with much more at the summit. I quickly rolled out of bed and went to meet everyone at the Village Gondola before the mountain opened. We rode the gondi to Canyon Lodge and from there decided to meet up with Bernie Rosow to shred Chair 22 and Lincoln Mountain. Lincoln Mountain provides expert terrain at Mammoth which typically opens earlier on powder days than the summit while ski patrol is doing avalanche mitigation. Once the lifts began to spin, we found Bernie and he showed us some of his favorite hits down the mountain.
After riding Chair 22, the bluebird skies and low wind drove Joss, ABM, Wacko and Colby back to the Oakley features in Main Park. As the weather warmed up, the spring stoke was high and hot laps through the park were on the menu. We also took some time to hide “Oakley Golden Tickets” around the mountain—slips that, if found by guests, were redeemable at the pop-up Oakley shop at Main Lodge for free Oakley products. Meanwhile, the Oakley reps were doling out free PRIZM goggle demos at the base of Main Lodge and Canyon Lodge to happy skiers and boarders. They had been there all week letting skiers try out the products, because what better way to show people how awesome the lenses are than how I had—by actually experiencing it for themselves? It was interesting to watch people’s reactions as they compared the goggles featuring the PRIZM tech to their normal ones, realizing that there really is a huge difference in how you can see the mountain.
As our time on the hill came to an end, the Oakley athletes headed to the Mountain Village Sports shop to meet fans and sign autographs, closing out the week by appreciating the people who make their jobs possible. It was a week than none will soon forget, with some of the best snow of the season, Oakley products flowing like water and good vibes shared by all. Now, the countdown to next year’s #OakleyWeek begins.
Five Oakley products I tested and loved…
The big thing here is, of course, the PRIZM tech, which I’ve celebrated above. I wore the same mid-level Jade Iridium lens all week, on bluebird days and on a storm day, and never once felt like I needed to swap it out. That’s the beauty of the PRIZM technology—the increased contrast makes the lens prime in almost all conditions. To top it off, the Flight Deck frame is wide, allowing for great peripheral vision. For those looking for one goggle and lens to rule them all, this will not disappoint.
I instantly fell in love with these sunnies once I saw them. Stylish and surprisingly light weight, the Latch was originally designed by skateboarders and definitely has a “street wear” vibe. It features a hidden clip on the frame that allows you to “latch” the glasses to your shirt when you’re not wearing them and—to top it off—comes with the oh-so-great PRIZM lenses.
I can be picky when it comes to outerwear, but this jacket is awesome. It’s not bulky but still manages to be warm due to Oakley’s Thinsulate™ fill, FN Dry™ 10k waterproofing and a performance lining system. It’s stylish enough to wear around town and functional enough for the mountain, with plenty of pocket space for my phone, wallet, headphones, keys and more. To top it off, the hood is nice and roomy—large enough to fit a helmet. 10/10 would wear again.
With Oakley’s recent venture into the realm of helmets has come the MOD3. One of two models currently available, comes in different colorways and, in a unique twist, also comes with interchangeable brims. With MIPS to help protect your noggin and a BOA system for a snug fit, this helmet is a win all around.
Oakley’s Silver Fir Mitt is incredibly warm and features 10k waterproofing, so even during our powder day my fingers were never cold or soggy. The mitts have small inserts inside each hand for your fingers and are also touch-screen comparable—something I find helpful while on the job. They’re also pretty stylish… Colby Stevenson checked mine out and said he wanted a pair.