2007 Road Trip Challenge: Recapping the adventures of Salomon and Volkl

2007 Road Trip Challenge: Recapping the adventures of Salomon and Volkl

Two Weeks
Two Teams
Two Vans
Four Skiers
Four Pages of Challenges
One Winner

The Mission:

Each team is given a packet of challenges. Everyone must meet at a diner on the outskirts of Boston at 9:00 a.m. on March 13. From there, each team must complete as many challenges as they can, meet at Okemo on the first weekend, go do more challenges, and conclude at Stratton the following weekend. At the end of the two weeks, whoever has the most points is the winner and gets a hand shake and the insurmountable pride that can only come from being crowned RTC champion.

The Challenges:

Four pages worth: Bestest Challenges, General Challenges, Park Jump Tricks, Urban Tricks.

Team Volkl, 1st Place:

Ahmet Dadali

Ahmet likes to refer to himself as skiing’s only terrorist. Hailing from Turkey, he can usually be found rapping Biggie tunes or calling his mom (respectfully) bad names. Ahmet can slay rails as easily as I can walk down the street. His downfall is he’s a terrible fisherman.

Scott Hibbert

Hibbert has been cruising the pro circuit for years, leaving his mark on the ski world with ridiculous double flips (way before they were cool) and unimaginable levels of alcohol consumption. He’s a ball of fun, and on the trip he played chauffeur, quick to jump behind the wheel of the van to take us to our next spot. Motivator, navigator, driver, Scott rules.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas is one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. The things he comes up with on the spot are as hilarious as they are shocking. He’s so funny that he can look at you, say a single word, and have you laughing on the floor for twenty minutes. The Road Trip Challenge would have been much less fun without him.

Matt Harvey

What is the real Matt Harvey like? He’s a pompous, egotistical, expatriate who couldn’t take a decent photograph if his life depended on it. But damn is he good looking. That’s something you can’t teach.

Team Salomon, 2nd Place:

Michael Clarke

Having spent a week in California with Mike Clarke earlier in the season, I was stoked that he was on the team. I have seen first hand what he brings to the table. He can crush urban, double-axle on skates and hit up the closest Dunkin’ Donuts to lay game down on the local talent. Mike Clarke will become a superstar.

Andrew Hathaway

Andrew Hathaway has ADD. I’m not positive if it’s clinical, but he is always bouncing off the walls, telling stories and running down 15-year-old stalkers in condos at Sunday River. His limit-less energy was the catalyst behind many challenges being completed. He also has one of the best families in the world.

Willis Brown

Willis Lindabury Brown could be the happiest person I’ve ever met. I’m not sure where this wellspring of positive energy comes from, but all I know is it is infectious. He came in at a clutch time, filling an impossible position. He has no shame and is always willing to make a fool of himself anytime, anyplace.

Sam Peters

I knew nothing about Sam Peters before this trip. I quickly came to realize that Sam has his finger to the pulse of the northeastern freeride scene. There aren’t too many people he doesn’t know or rails he hasn’t seen. One thing I did learn about Sam, he gets super cranky after three days of consuming nothing but milkshakes.

Shay Williams

Shay Will is a quick-to-laugh Korean who is apparently intimidating-looking enough to be frisked by the police during a shoot for fear he was concealing a gun… twice. He gets the shot, motivates his troops, and always has something to talk about, even when no one is listening.

Team Salomon: Don’t Stop Believin’

Words by Shay Williams

I spend my winters traveling the globe. I rub shoulders with super pros and A-list industry types. I rack up frequent flyer miles and stay in swanky hotels. Iconic ski resorts are the backdrops for my life. I attended almost every major event last season and partied as a VIP. But none of that excited me as much as the idea of Road Trip Challenge. It started as a what-if; nothing more than the possibility of a crazy, non-stop, two-week adventure. But could it actually come together in one week’s notice? From an early-morning phone call to negotiating sponsors to boarding a plane, one week was all that was needed to morph a faint glimmer of hope into a full speed junk show. Navigating the web of roads that is the northeast on a mad dash to complete these half-baked challenges was something I truly looked forward to.

Four men: two skiers, one photographer and one videographer. Traveling together, living together, working together and representing a company together. A huge corporate entity, distilled down to us, crammed into a SUV, complete with tank camouflage and bad brakes. Five iPods, two backseat drivers and a rocket box were the only comforts as we departed Logan Airport to an unknown diner in Massachusetts to begin what would become the most hectic, sleep-deprived McDonald’s-fueled days of my life.

Sleepless in Boston

This was it: the official send off for both teams. With approximately 49 minutes of sleep on the redeye to Boston, I was tired. Beyond tired. But the collective energy of both teams—think competitive spirits plus general eagerness to hit the road—combatted my fatigue, leaving me alert and lucid for what was to come. Between everyone’s cups of coffee and hash browns, manilla envelopes were torn apart and RTC packets were mulled over. Cries of enthusiasm were followed by disbelief, which were followed by murmurs of, “What the hell? This challenge will be impossible.” Ideas were thrown around and maps were plotted. Both teams left that fateful diner with no idea what the next two weeks would hold.

Hath’s First Time

The first mandatory stop consisted of a park shoot at sunny Sunday River. The park was exactly how I imagined an East Coast park would be: slushy, dirty, small and completely unlike the parks of Summit County. However, the staff was more than generous and helpful, turning a beat-up park into a decent session. Hathaway pretzeled his way down the rails while Clarke killed the photo-op on the quarterpipe with lofty 540s.

Team Volkl was probably crushing challenges in the distant lands of Massachusetts, so Hathaway geared up to go score some points. I feel inclined to mention that young Hath had never, I repeat, never, slide an urban rail before. Sunday River’s infamous wooden rail between parking lots two and three was his inaugural prey. The bust factor was a 10, the light was fading away and it had just rained. Unafraid, he slayed it five times.

My Town

I have a love-hate relationship with Lewiston-Auburn. Sam knew some locals that might know where to get points. Sounds good, right? The Flynns welcomed us with open arms and a backyard booter set up to jump over our team van. Clarke and Hath absolutely owned this challenge: 540 nose taps, hand plant 180s and switch tail taps over the Jeep. No big deal. It was then we decided to venture out of the comforting confines of the Flynn property and onto the mean streets of L-A. The first urban rail we tried to slide was a burly double kink with no speed and a crooked in-run. It also exited onto the busy main street. And was in the front yard of a condemned house. Did I mention it was raining? And that the cops came to frisk me? Twice. After being booted from the rail, we dragged our thoroughly soaked selves to McDonald’s, where we could get some love that only the golden arches can deliver.

Hassle-free Harmony

Two days into our adventure, we had tons of points. More points than Volkl had, we were sure of it. We were stackin’ chips like Pacino in Scarface. But life on the road had already started to rear its ugly head. McDonald’s had started sapping our energy, as well as our digestive systems. The tight mode of transportation was starting to lose its novelty. We’d already encountered cops at rails and on the road. Not to mention that it rained on-and-off the whole time, a trend we learned would follow us.

The one bright spot? We had decided to make our home base in lovely Norwich, VT, at the Hathaway residence. Home cooked meals, a baller-ass hot tub and Guitar Hero were luxuries that were abused throughout the entirety of the RTC. I can’t thank the Hathaway’s enough for everything they did for Team Salomon and our groupies. They certainly were the glue that held this team together.

The Buck Stops Here

Not content to sit around and photoshop our athletes into beach photos like Team Volkl, we decided to go grab some points. Our destination? A museum. An open air, outdoor gem, with little to no sculptures or exhibits that I could find. Some museum. However, it id have a down-flat-down C rail, wth a perfect in-run and grounded power; most rails in the park aren’t set up this well. The downside? Lugging generators and lights about 1,200 feet to the rails. You win some, you lose some.

Hathaway and Clarke went to work right away. Switch-ups and gaps to switch made our crew of onlookers cheer into the cold, clear night. The generators hummed, the strobes popped and points stacked up. How do you close a perfect rail session? If you’re Mike Clarke, you hit your elbow on some ice and have it swell up to the size of a tennis ball, instilling all who see it with a feeling of hideous curiosity. The newly deformed elbow was a sore spot for Clarke, as no one wants to be known as the guy who kills a session.

Shit Hits The Fan

The 2nd mandatory stop on the list was Okemo for the Fischer Super Slopestyle, so we trudged up to cozy little Ludlow, VT. Maybe it was the bone-chilling wind, or the lack of visibility or the atrocious course, but I had a feeling that this was going to be the worst day of skiing ever—and I’d only taken one run. We should have left, but Hathaway convinced us to take one more.

It’s a terrifying sight to see any fellow rider—a skier, snowboarder, tourist or local—get injured. And not just an “ow, I bruised my shoulder,” or “OMG, my ACL is blown” type of injury. I’m talking about life-altering, flight-for-life, sick-to-your-stomach injury. And it happened to Hathaway on day three. While sliding a sketchy down bar, Hath caught his edge on the rail and his head whipped into the bulletproof ice. The fall was so fast that the extent of its sheer violence was initially overlooked. As minutes ticked by, my stomach slowly crept up my throat. I managed to remain somewhat calm through the ambulance ride to the makeshift heli pad. But seeing his parents for the first time, telling them what had transpired, was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s another reminder that our sport is dangerous. Hell, it’s more than dangerous, it’s life threatening.

After four painstaking days of observation, Andrew was released into the care of his parents. The positive prognosis—that he’d have zero brain damage and would return to the same, bounce-off-the-wall Hathaway—was more than a relief. Thankfully, Hathaway has since fully recovered and has lost none of his zest for life.

Cinderella Story. Almost

I’m not too sure who had the bright idea of putting two teams up in the same condo in Okemo. It was probably a sales guy trying to cut the budget. Either way, all members of the RTC, plus a few Freeskier staff, were under the same roof, throwing around the same insults and trash-talk to one another. It was very Real World of us. There was really no way of knowing who was ahead in the standings, especially this early in the game. So why not let the points do the talking? Sunday night in Okemo held the first annual RTC poker challenge. The wager? Your hard earned points.

It’s here that I have to mention a few caveats associated with the poker game. Matt Harvey, Team Volkl’s photographer, is a poker-phile. I wouldn’t say that he is addicted, but he has a healthy obsession for it. Mike Thomas, their videographer, is pretty much the shit at everything, so we had to assume he was good at poker, too. And everyone knows Scott Hibbert is crazy; he’ll do anything to win. Why wouldn’t he? He was older than all the other athletes by six years; he needed a win. By sharp contrast, our poker team was loaded with poker noobs.

Needless to say, we got thoroughly owned. It was something like a 300 points swing in Volkl’s favor. You know how much McDonald’s we’d have to eat to make up that deficit? Clarke would somehow have to podium at both Vermont Open events to make up for our poker performance. Not to mention the endless trash talk from the other team.

You’ve Got To Bop. Bop Hard

Monday morning marked a low point for us. A friend in the hospital and a devastating point swing crushed our morale and drive. It made us hungry again, though. If we wanted to win, we’d have to work hard. Leaving the accursed Okemo, we headed easy to New Hampshire, where Sam knew of “So many rails in Manch-Vegas.” While poking around Manchester, we decided to stop at a regional ski convention.

A big thanks goes out to Fischer for unknowingly providing us with some goods that we were able to peddle in record time. Team Salomon is not a team to do just the bare minimum, either. We raised a solid $55, so that when we made it rain, it lasted $5 longer. After confusing some local Salomon reps about the RTC, talking trash to the Volkl reps, and learning about Giro helmets, we nabbed a lady in her 40s to parallel park our whip. She was surprisingly good at it. To quote Dumb and Dumber, “Senior citizens, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose.”

Ballad of Mike Clarke

Over the next two days we were robots; challenge-crushing robots with mechanical precision. Our hit list included a Dunkin’ Donuts raid, a quad-rail line that Clarke owned on his first try, McDonald’s at every turn, urban rails of every shape and size, one stoked-out cop watching Clarke slide a down bar, Clarke’s switch on the hard way to blind side 270 off an urban C rail—the best trick of our trip—and one cold night sleeping in the team van. There was no stopping Clarke, he was a one-man wrecking crew. It has to be noted that Michael Clarke is one of the hardest working skiers in the biz.

Set It Off

After going four days without a second skier, the RTC powers that be allowed us to sub in Willis Brown for Hath. Willis brought much-needed drive and new talent to the team. I don’t know how much longer Clarke could have killed it on his own. To commemorate the renewed drive, we cruised up to Waterville, where the challenges were sure to melt away.

No less than 10 challenges were finished in the four hours we spent skiing. Backflips holding hands? Willis and Clarke already hold hands, so it was no problem. Make out with a racer in spandex? I thought these were supposed to be challenges. Gagnier slide? Should be called “not a problem slide.” Waterville was our bitch. Although the double nose grab rail slide still eluded us.

Team Van 2.0

A week on the road had left our van in dismal condition. Clarke managed to blow up the rocket box. The brakes were so shot, I don’t think Midas could have repaired them. Our neat, ordered packing job from a week ago had degenerated into a pile of, wet bags and clothes. We were still cruising, barely. Then Hathaway’s mother came to the rescue.

With five days left, she offered us her brand-new, clean, spacious minivan. Navigation system, DVD player, automatic doors, and a lot more storage space. That morning the group was as giddy as schoolgirls on a shopping spree. At Versace. In Paris. The team van 2.0 was our own Mach 5. It was our K.I.T.T. Our General Lee. Our Batmobile.

Road to Nowhere

After more than a week on the road, fatigue starts to set in. Big Macs don’t give you the lasting energy that the commercials would have you believe. After a lodging debacle stranded us in Stratton for a few hours, we scored the resort for some points. What we settled on was a wall ride. Sort of. It was a giant metal structure in the shape of a very steep dome. With an in-run through a forest. An impossibly fast transition and a big drop on one side, this thing was sketchy. Did I mention it was pouring on us? We must have looked pretty pathetic.

Frustrations mounted over jump placement and the rain soaked camera equipment. Hunger set in. Attitudes took a turn for the worst. There was a decided split in the group: Clarke, Willis and I were in it to win it, while Sam sat in the van. Morale was low. The kind of low you feel when you fail a test for the second time. We were on the brink of defeat. Thankfully, Clarke managed to get the shot with a tail-pressy sort of stall, ending our time in the rain soaked purgatory.

In The Vermont Sun

Do you ever get the feeling that the day will be a good day? Perhaps it’s due to a good night’s sleep? Perhaps the sun is out? Or maybe your quickly deteriorating filmer decided to sleep in to save energy lost during the milkshake challenge? In our case, it was all three. I set out with Willis and Clarke toward Manchester, VT, the outlet store capital of the northeast.

We needed points. Badly. With the Barbie fishing rod we had purchased a week earlier burning a hole in our van, we decided it was time to bust it out. Orvis, the huge fishing gear supplier, has its flagship store located in Manchester, which was ponds stacked with trout. With no shame and the determination of an 8-year-old on Halloween, Willis charged to that trout poond, Barbie fishing rod in one hand, fish food in the other. Does it matter that a store employee scolded him? No. The only thing that mattered is that Willis was catching a big fish, with a ghetto rod.

Finished, we headed home to Stratton Mountain. Well, Clarke and I did. We needed someone to hitchhike 10 miles, so we elected to boot Willis from the van to find his own way as Clarke and I watched from a distance.

Normally, I wouldn’t leave anyone 10 miles from Stratton. Vermont is a sketchy place, filled with sketchy people, and Willis is a trusting guy. As we dropped him off on the shoulder and hid, I half expected him to be abducted by a backwoods redneck. The other scary part about that scenario? We wouldn’t get the points if he was abducted.

Going Nowhere

There isn’t much to say about the Vermont Open slopestyle. The park staff hated us, the course was in need of repair, and Mike Clarke fell in the finals. Slopestyle was a wash.

In Conclusion

During the course of the RTC, there were bigger events I could have attended. Bigger names, sunnier days, prize money and parties. For the first time in a long time—throughout the ups and downs, the hardships, the losses, the triumphs, the laughs, the rain, the sweat and the McDonald’s—I felt like I was a part of skiing. Scraping together ice rink snow to hit a rail, or begging to a stranger to buy strange cookies, all for a magazine article, in the name of skiing. I would gladly go another week without sleep or a shower. Two weeks, even. If only they could bottle the feeling of RTC and make it a pill. Completing challenges would become intoxicating, and as every new checkmark hit the list, you’d become more addicted. You could staple a warning sheet to the bottle, clearly listing all the distresses: sleeplessness, indigestion, bad weather, injury and frustration, and I’d still do another to do it again next year.

Team Volkl: It’s a long way to the top

Words by Matt Harvey

You know that scene at the end of Lucky Number Slevin where Josh Hartnett tells Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley about the reality of the last two weeks of their lives and their worlds come crashing down? It’s not an entirely original scene (think Fight Club or Ocean’s Eleven), but it is one of my favorite executions of the plot twist explained.

I like to think of the last day of the RTC as a similar scene. After two weeks of lying to a Team Salomon about what we were up to, convincing them of inane things that we had allegedly done but in reality hadn’t even considered, we let them know what was really up and their worlds came crashing down around them.

But let’s rewind two weeks to March 13, sitting in a diner just outside of Boston, MA, the jumping-off point for this whole debacle. It was dark in the diner, and old, gnarly women served us coffee and greasy food to help shake us out of our sleepy state. No one had slept for more than an hour the night before, and things weren’t about to change once we hit the road on the quest for points and the grand prize of… nothing. Some things you do in your life, no matter how stupid or ill-fated, are done out of the love of adventure and the will to win. Two weeks of consuming nothing but McDonald’s, sleeping in vans, doing rail missions until the sun came up and shacking up beside our new family in stressful situations. It’s a wonder any of us made it out unscathed.

Fast Food Nation

After opening the envelope that would define the next two weeks of our lives, we set out with one thought in mind: domination. We were so confident that we could do everything o the list that we had barely left the diner before we hit up our first McDonald’s. Then, we hit Taco Bell right across the street. It was a pattern that would continue for two weeks.

After actually enjoying our first McDonald’s experience, we headed to Fitchburg High (in Fitchburg, MA) to complete the “Old Woman Parks Your Car” challenge. We got Mike’s mom to do the deed, but she parked illegally and before we know it, officer Leroy Jackson was writing us a ticket. Not a great way to start the trip, but one little fine wasn’t about to crush our spirits.

We wasted no time by heading to Wachussett Mountain. The sun was shining and a river was flowing down the mountain, but we managed to find a couple of suitable rails. On the first run of the day, on the first rail, Ahmet decided to 270 onto a high rail from the side with no jump. His ass took most of the force. “Check it out, it’s bleeding.” But no time to dwell… he got back up and, with Hibbert’s help, knocked off so many challenges we considered taking the next day off. Pretzel, Gagnier slide, double nose grab rail slide, holding hands slide, switch on, backside switchup switch off, switch back (a trick I first saw on April 12, 1999 by a random kid who turned out to be Hibbert), zero spin double Japan and backflip ass slap. All in one day? This was going to be easy.

Riding a confidence-fueled high, we kept charging well into the night. We stopped at several more McDonald’s to fill our already addicted stomachs and went off to Plymouth State University. We tried our hand at hitting three rails in a row, but I’m embarrassed to even talk about how bad it was. We quickly gave up and found a hotel where we called it a night. We had slept one hour in the past 40, and McDonald’s was starting to take its toll on our digestive systems. After pulling out a hand from his pants, tainted red (pun intended), Ahmet went outside and slept in the van to get some points, while the rest of us cuddled up in our over-priced hotel room.

Fools In The Rain

Our itinerary said we had to go to Sunday River on the second day to do some park stuff. We were stoked to have a crew set up some features for us to get some of the harder challenges out of the way, but like during most of the trip, it was pouring rain. We’re talking flashes frying and girls crying-type rain. But we had no choice. We figured by now Team Salomon had done about as many challenges as we had and we needed to get moving.

Hibbert stepped up to the plate huge on day two with a double back (his first ever not in a halfpipe) and he even did a 360 with a legit grab on a snowboard. We got shut down pretty fast on the double flips, but the points were ours. Meanwhile, Ahmet got another 270 pretzel 270 but couldn’t bring it around to the 450, so he threw some things and yelled a lot. Ahmet is a winner, not a loser, so defeat does not come easy. With our first challenge failed and our clothes soaked through, we left for shelter.

Let me take a moment to share some important information with anyone who wants to attempt this kind of trip in the future: Leave your shit at home. Don’t bring so much as a change of socks; let alone an extra jacket. Suck up the stink and deal with it, ’cause there ain’t no room for four dudes with ski gear in a Jeep. This broke-ass living arrangement wasn’t good enough for stars like Scott Hibbert, so we whipped up to the Volkl headquarters and swapped our vehicle for a massive Volkl rep can. Only problem: no back seats. Solution: Wal-Mart. We bought the two ugliest folding lawn chairs we could find, plopped them in the back and away we went back to the condo. Our little eight-hour detour allowed us to hit up McDonald’s four times. I began to wonder if we were taking this McDonald’s challenge too seriously.

We called Salomon and told them we had been rained out, that we weren’t able to ski anything, that we had spent the entire first day trying to get the double nose grab rail slide and that were thinking of giving up. They believed us and we ate some McDonald’s one last time before passing out.

Raponda Dreamin’

What Team Salomon had that we didn’t was Sam. Sam knew spots, and Sam knew people. We got word from insiders that they were even setting up generators to light night spots. Team Volkl is way too ghetto for that kind of thing, so we woke up bright and early on the third day and headed to the one spot we knew, and knew well: Lake Raponda.

You’ve probably seen shots of this rail before: down flat down with a big donkey at the end leading into a lake.

I had met Ahmet one time before this trip when he was 4’8″ doing cork 10s. I was impressed then, but didn’t realize just how good he was until the Raponda session. Second try, natural to backside 270 out. Then unnatural, then switchup at the kink, then backside switchup over the kink, then 270 on. 270 onto a dub kink? Then, just to show how tough he was, Ahmet came off the rail and broke the bench at the bottom with his face. Ahmet doesn’t give a shit. He then proceeded to rap every word of Gimme the Loot. If it were a Guitar Hero level, he would have gotten five stars.

We had to get to Okemo for the Fischer Super Slopestyle, so we headed out. On the way, we checked off the bomb drop challenge with a sketchy-ass, 15-foot drop to crud between parking lots. Bomb drops suck.

Okemo, VT

We joined up with Team Salomon for the Fischer Super Slope in a big condo, and it was evident that they were on the brink of collapse, their somber moods infecting the room with despondency. It didn’t help that we cleaned the house at the mid-trip poker game, much thanks to Sam stepping up and gambling away 150 of the team’s hard-earned points. In his defense, he didn’t stand a chance. He was going up against Scott Hibbert, after all. He later paid for it with three days of milkshake consumption. Ew.

Jailed In The Van

After easing up on the gas a bit over the weekend, we picked it up and headed to Loon Mountain where we aimed to finish off the rest of the park challenges. In a single day, we checked off 270 on pretzel 450, 50-50 on a single barrel and a gold star at a Nastar race. Hibbert stepped up to the longest rail challenge attempting a 40-stair wood rail. After absolutely eating shit a couple of times, (first time I’ve seen anyone scorpion off a rail), Hibbert stomped it with a 270 off. Then Loon staff came up huge with a bulldozer to build as an in-run and landing. Easiest urban setup ever.

We ended the night by trying to jib something in front of a correctional facility. We pulled up in our huge Volkl-decaled van and rock-paper-scissored to see who would go ask the security guard—stationed beside a crew of gang-looking folks serving time—for permission. The security guard told us to go to hell and said that if we tried to do anything we would be arrested. So we got out of there and headed straight for Best Western.

Instead of sleeping in the hotel, the four of us curled up and slept in the van. It was the third worst night of my life. It was freezing cold. The van was actually stripped of its insulation for some ungodly reason and there were holes in the floorboards. I fell asleep tracing animal shapes on the asphalt below. Hibbert woke every hour to turn the van on for ten minutes to get some heat circulating. I don’t think I ever fully regained my energy after that one.

Scarred For Life

By the eighth day, the McDonald’s was getting downright disgusting. I’ve never had so much respect for the dude in Supersize Me. We were so messed up and sleep deprived that Mike Thomas ate a two-day old Chicken Select off the van floor. Messing with Team Salomon, however, never lost its novelty.

We headed back to Loon for the screamin’ seamen takeoff and landing. Taking off a 40-foot jump in a screamin’ seamen is one thing: landing is a whole other ball game. Got ’em! Then it was time for the 360 train over an urban set up in the park that every member of the team had to do, filmer and photographer included.

Train Wreck!

We had been falling behind miserably on the quirky challenges like selling cookies door-to-door and buying a slurpie with our skis on, which we knew Salomon was going to crush, so we put our shame and skis away and headed to nearby Lincoln, NH.

We started by going to Kelly’s Tattoo where I got a Ski Time tat and Hibbert committed himself to a life branded with Freeskier. Meanwhile, next door, Ahmet got the worst haircut ever… complete with sharpie drawings and braids. We must have looked tough, because we didn’t get out of the parking lot before a punk-ass 14-year-old on a BMX asked to race us. Was our van that ghetto? Yes. He kicked our ass.

Then we were off to Dunkin’ Donuts where a very nice store manager tried on Hibbert’s ski boots. He had never been skiing before, much less seen a ski boot. Trying to convince him to just push harder to get the damn thing on was a lesson in patience. Then to a gas station where two fine-looking employees watched Ahmet as he walked through the store with his skis on, bought on slurpee and left. It was March, there was no snow, and Ahmet is Turkish. Customers desperately avoided eye contact, pretending nothing was out of the ordinary. Awkward.

No More Snack Wraps

We were pretty sure we had crushed Salomon’s points and egos as we neared the end of the adventure, but just to make sure, we ate some more McDonald’s (our tab was nearing $400… that’s a lot of $1 snack wraps), jibbed a rail in a guy named Kyle’s front yard (Ahmet pulled his pants down for this one, and nobody is too sure why… it’s really hairy), jibbed a dumpster in the same guy’s front yard and then headed to a six-kink where Ahmet put on a clinic once again. Turns out those Salomon jokers did the same rail the next day. Way to be original, guys.

Our initial thought of knocking off the whole list didn’t even come close to being true. No one was manning up to the nollie backflip, nor was anyone about to shave his eyebrows. What if team Salomon had been messing with us as badly as we had with them? We probed their closest friends for information, but everyone was tight-lipped. For the first time in two weeks, we had reservations about our previously arrogant stance on the whole thing.

All Good Things…

On the last day, both teams were once again stationed in the same condo, and the shit talking took on a whole new form. Sam had been eating nothing but milkshakes for three days, and was pissed. Willis was as chirpy as ever, though, and as much shit as we tried to talk, he just kept hugging us. Then a Stratton employee tackled Ahmet at the bottom of the big air jump and the whole thing just got confusing.

Then suddenly like the lights being flipped off at a live performance of Hallowed be thy Name, it was all over. We could finally sleep in beds, eat salads, and best of all: tell the truth!

We shared our secrets about what we had done, where we had gone and how much McDonald’s we had eaten.

Feeling as over-confident as ever (not unlike Josh Hartnett), we were declared victorious in the first ever RTC. As Hibbert and Ahmet said about 145 times a day, “Count it!”

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