Written by Isabella Gomez
I first heard about Low Maintenance through Katie Kennedy. The entire concept of 12 pros mentoring 12 amateurs seemed like an incredible experience that I knew I wanted to be a part of. The only caveat was that I didn’t have an invite, and I had no idea how I was going to get one. So, half-jokingly, I turned to Katie and told her I’d start scheming for a spot. And then, a few days later, by some divine intervention or sheer luck, I somehow found myself getting an invite by none other than Stefi Luxton.
I first met Stefi back in 2015 as a mere grom, still growing into my body, feeling awkward with a full face of braces. I remember being in awe of her poise and elegance. Over the years, I continued to run into Stefi at events, and I always enjoyed the time I got to spend riding with her. After an amazing day with her and Katie during one of Brighton Resort's deepest days, I couldn't stop thinking about our trip up North.
Fast forward to getting dropped off at the Baldface Lodge in a helicopter – which was far bigger than the little log cabin I had imagined. As I looked out, I saw the rope tow flowpark and a fleet of private cats waiting for us. Instantly, I knew this week was about to exponentially exceed my expectations.
So, bear with me as I, an amateur boarder and humble intern, try to narrate my favorite week of snowboarding ever and one of the best experiences of my life.
One of the craziest sessions that went down was during our morning at Scary Cherry. I’m not really a morning person and somehow missed the memo that we would be heading there that day. Now let me tell you one thing, if any of you were watching Natural Selection thinking “Ah that doesn’t look too bad, I could probably ride that course, think again. Get back to me once you are standing above the pitch wishing you would’ve bought another pair of snow pants.
Anyways, the whole cat ride up felt like a pre-battle ritual, with Rob Roethler playing "Master of Puppets" by METALLICA, fueling the adrenaline rush. Standing above a convex roller, we tee’d up the lines we were going to hit, but ultimately, we were going in blind.
Riders started calling their drops on the radio one by one, and as they made it to the bottom, we could hear the hoots and hollers of celebration from the peanut gallery below. When it was my turn to drop, my only hopes were to keep my breakfast down and stay on my feet. I must’ve blacked out, because before I knew it, I was at the bottom riding away with a sigh of relief and a massive grin on my face.
I took a seat next to everyone else who had survived the gauntlet and watched as all the other riders took on the course. Last to drop with a standout performance was Rob’s launch off a ramp and tap on a perfect mushroom pillow being a massive highlight. Trust me, watching this clip on your tiny iPhone does not do it justice.
But hands down my favorite part of the experience was the supportive and kind community of riders who showed up as their authentic selves. There was no elitism or gatekeeping; instead, there was a constant exchange of knowledge and praise, with some of the best snowboarders in the world gracefully taking their rookies under their wing. Under the guidance of Stefi and Katie, I was able to land my first 360 into pow. After a week of endless ragdolls and hot tubs, you best believe I fully claimed the landing, riding away with both fists in the air and screaming "woooohoooo!!"
By the end of the week, my sore body was screaming at me, why do we do this again? But my heart was telling me, you just had the best week of snowboarding in your life! The experience I had at Low Maintenance was one of a kind and a dream come true. Comfortably speaking for everyone else who attended, I want to extend a massive THANK YOU to Estelle Pensiero and Baldface Lodge for hosting us and cultivating a space that allowed for guidance, support, and growth. I'm incredibly grateful for the experience and hope there are other events in the future that use this one as the blueprint. Shout out St. James Iced Tea and Vans for supporting Estelle to make this happen!
- Baldface is a slice of heaven on Earth
- Steezyneeve helped us all celebrate passover by buying everyone their very own bottle of wine, though im sure some wish they would’ve celebrated a little less. Cough cough Austin Smith.
- Robs performance on scarry cherry was incredible, that mushroom tree tap does not do itself justice on your tiny little iphone
- Watching Jamie Lynn method tap a tree about 20 feet in the air
- THE FOOD!
- Stefi convincing me it was a good idea to pow surf down the worlds iciest pitch
- It was Ivy Leipheimer and Devin Desean’s first time ever riding pow. Although they’re rookies, they both came to play
- Curtis and Austin absolutely eating shit on the pow surf boards back to back
- Playing CRUD in the lodge
- Katie sizing up a cliff for me the first run of the day, she said it was 10 feet, it was more like 25. Almost rode away but instead ragdolled a few times and got a free chiropractor appointment.
- ICING MFR at 8 in the morning before our last day in the cat.
- The jam room in the lodge
- Ragdolling everyday of the week will only make you want to land more