Goon Jam Tour
Words & Photos by Keenan Cawley
Trollhaugen, WI - Jan. 29th, 2022
This recap begins with a simple sentiment: Snowboarding is unreal. What’s that mean? What do you picture? Some Gore-Tex version of a human defending their person against the weather. Menacing mountains, ranges caked in clouds and inclement weather, temperamental terrain. Or vacation. Sun-smooched summits with mimosas waiting for you atop. Goggles on. Go-pros mounted on helmets. Smile for the camera; say “Cheese!”
But ‘cheese’ triggers the brain. And since the first stop of our tour was in Vermont there’s only one other logical digression: Wisconsin. Green Bay, baby; Cheese Heads! But four hours west. That’s where we’re at. Dresser. Still plenty of cheese out there; flourishing fromage. But what does Wisco’s scrumptious dairy have to do with snowboarding? Not much. ‘Cause I wouldn’t call it snowboarding out here; I’d just call it boarding. But just like the surreal picture ~snow~boarding paints on the big screen, boarding in Wisconsin is equally as illusory.
What doesn’t make sense about it is that there aren’t mountains. There’re hills. Some big hills, even; monster hills! But they’re just shy of being ‘mountainous’. Trollhaugen is no exception. And that adds to the wonder the boarders there produce. How can you can be so damn talented without demanding geological terrain? The Goon Jam acted as a crash-course refresher and now I have a couple answers.
Blaring in the top spot is the rope tow. The rope, for those who’ve been hibernating on the midwest boarder-world, offers occupants a non-stop riding experience. Troll’s big park, Valhalla, has a couple-hundred foot long rope that’ll yank you from top to bottom in less than a minute. The trail’s moniker, in true Norse, translates to “the hall of the slain.” After an hour of riding you’ll find yourself hard-pressed to find out who’s getting slain; the immaculate features or your feet. Take a breather. Stop up top or pick your favorite obstacle and park it (out of the way!) and watch it get shredded to bits. 100 laps an hour has proven itself over the years; the kids here know how to board and they make it look good.
The other thought as to what makes this place and the boarding itself unreal is the kids themselves. It’s just like we saw at Seven Springs last weekend; a completely unique and honest boarding community. These rippers go back-to-back on everything. Get on the rope sandwiched between your homies and keep that distance as you make your way down the park.
It was actually next-to impossible to snap a photo of just one person because everyone was on everyone else’s ass. For four hours straight. No joke. Our heads were on a swivel the entire time. Luckily we had Jake O.E. and Vinny keeping watch on the day’s non-stop action. On top of those mythological midwestern winter masters, we had our traveling recruits Andrew Parsons, Eastwood Block, Michael Throck and Michelle Schlanger, Tommy Olivas, Pat Fava, and lastly, the reason for the whole kit and caboodle, the Magoons. Plenty of other homies pulled up to the tent to share their thoughts on who was riding the hardest.
It didn’t help. Everyone saw someone different do the ~coolest~ shit they’d ever seen go down in a park. We had our work cut out for us. Local legend Kyle Kennedy was flowing all day almost too smoothly. Sam Schiltgen made an impression early on in the parade with huge shifties off the pole jam. Jericho & Co. were holding down 450s and the like on the rainbow that certainly caught our attention. And how could a nod not be given to Joey Peterson’s front crooks on the 50 footer? And Craig Cameron’s entire-session-long showdown on the jump? AND the Impaler’s very own filmer Ben McCabe riding objectively better than 3/4ths of the people he films? Not to mention Colin Wilson who just exists in a league of his own, physically jumping over the crowd with the biggest smile on his face all the while.
Those killers were all in contention for the top three spots but the judges wound up ruling on attitude, style (specifically freestyle), and joy. That had the podium looking thusly:
3rd: Matt Aura, for his laughter and 900s.
2nd: Charlie Folkert, for speed, probably.
& 1st: Jamal Awadallah, for his swivels on the rainbow and his radiant smile.
For the women, the podium looked a little something like this:
3rd: Kristin Jessen, for her can-do attitude.
2nd: Emily O’Connor, for her casual greasing of every rail in the park all day.
& 1st: Jaylen Hanson, ‘cause she won, duh!
The gathering on hill was incredible; there must’ve been twenty thousand shredders shredding! For real - no exaggeration! I bet you didn’t even think there were that many people in the whole state. And there aren’t! People flocked all the way from Chi-beria for this! Turned Troll out! Unreal, right?! But sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. You should’ve been there if you think I’m fibbing. I suppose that’s the magic of Troll; some sort of spell that makes the unbelievable believable. And I wouldn’t even believe it if I hadn’t seen it; the kids, the tricks, the atmosphere… Guess we’ll have to come do it again next year just to make sure ;)
Special thanks go out to Marsha Hovey, Boody, Adam Mahler, Jake and Vin, Tanner Burch, and everyone who came out. And also to our sponsors: Sims, Slush, Liquid Death, Baker Street, Tall Truck, Nothing Limited, Dang Shades, Stinky, Union, Splinters, Hah Feelz, Sticky Brand, Vans, The Bomb Hole, Prosser’s, Third Eye Co., Snow White, Wild Mike’s Pizza, Rad Gloves, VermontLocs, Bauer’s Brew, Pseudo Corp., Park Party, CND, Dank Donuts, Always Boardshop, Moodmats, GoPro, MDiSpagna Jewelry, and Gama Printing Co.