Minnesota Vacation by IV Stuart — PlanetZebulon Video and Recap


Words from IV Stuart

Growing up in North Carolina, the idea of a ski area at an elevation less than 5,000 feet is nothing new. The idea of a ridiculous crew of people and wildly fun terrain thriving from such a small area is viewed less than foreign. But to some folk in the snowboard world, the idea of this type of terrain is something completely foreign, nothing short of other-worldly. For example, the ‘Yawgoons’ crew thrived in Rhode Island of all places, showing the snowboard scene, and the world, you do not need a huge mountain to thrive.

It's not a party without a Zeb backflip // p: Peter Cirilli

While there are many things underappreciated in this world of snowboarding we have all grown to love, nothing is more underappreciated than the midwest snowboard scene. Video parts to the land-of-rope-tows, the midwest has been an unsung hero of snowboarding for the past 15+ years at least. Two of the most popular resorts in the midwest, Trollhaugen and Hyland Hills, have produced a list of street-snowboarding titans in the past few years. The likes of Tommy Gesme, The Michilot Brothers, and Danyale Patterson aka JibGurl, are all locals of Hyland Hills and even have their boards mounted in the lodge. Trollhaugen Ski Area in Dresser, Wisconsin, touts just as impressive a list of professional snowboarders. Recently the midwest has continued to supply, spitting out future/current pros left and right. Grace Warner, hailing from Michigan originally, has burst onto the snowboard scene full-force, setting the internet on fire for the past few seasons from Instagram clips, to footage in full length street-snowboard videos such as ‘Hot Coco’.
Squad rolls deep // p: Peter Cirilli

As Red Bull Slide-In Tour Stop 1, in Copper Mountain, Colorado, was winding down, the crew was looking for a brief hiatus. Bogged down from a week of riding hard, signing autographs, and staying up until the mandatory 2 am, leader-of-the pack Zeb Powell, scopes his options for a down-week. “North Carolina or Minnesota”, Zeb contemplates in his hotel room two days before the end of Stop 1, the rest of the crew surrounding him. Dylan Demers, (Zeb’s head-videographer and editor), logs footage at a desk in the corner; Peter Cirilli (professional photographer and Zeb’s current business manager), on the adjacent bed, Lightroom-ing away on today’s folder of photos. Joining us also in the room is Alex Caccamo, (hype-man extraordinaire and all around ripper), recently fresh off a Burton Mystery Series stop in Minnesota; all egging Zeb on with his big decision.

“Bojangles and Cheerwine”, jokes Demers, referring to some of North Carolina’s biggest staples; fast food and a classic southern soft drink. After recently learning Cataloochee Ski Area (Zeb’s local mountain) had recently closed operations for the season due to lack of snow, the crew wasn’t certain how we had felt about the upcoming week. Duke it out in NC for minimal footage but certain good times? Or head to the land-of-rope-tows, Culver’s, and uncertain good times-but certain familiar faces? It was at that moment we had all learned Zeb had never been to Trollhaugen, the midwest staple. In an instant, as if a light-switch had been switched, it was decided. Minnesota. Not for the potential of more footage, but for the idea of something new. The crew was set; Dylan Demers, Peter Cirilli, Alex Caccamo, Grace Warner (who Zeb had been talking to throughout Stop 1 of the Red Bull Slide In Tour coordinating Stop 2), Holden Barth (who was out in SLC for a Vans Snow competition & wanted to link up for some family fun), and Zeb Powell; the destination, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Need music on vacation // p: Peter Cirilli

Fresh off the high altitude and high Colorado vibrations, the crew was looking forward to the possibility of a new-found promise land. After waking up at 5:00 am to drive back to Denver from Copper, the crew was in for quite the travel day. Overstocked with luggage, including boardbags, suitcases, backpacks, duffle bags, and JBL speakers, the crew made its way through the treacherous airport vortex, avoiding any and all Denver Airport bad juju along the way. Once in Minnesota, the vibes were high. A quick 15-minute trek from the Minneapolis Airport awaited home-sweet-home, a delightful 2-story Airbnb for the whole crew, a lovely homebase for the on-slaught of midwest rope tows to come. With the rental minivan booked, the crew looked forward to smooth sailing from here-on-out.

Day 1: *The smell of potato hash fills the room*
It’s Trollhaugen Day. You peek through the curtain; the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the temperature is in the mid 30s, with almost no wind chill. It is going to be a beautiful day at Trollhaugen (or “Troll” as the locals call it). The crew slowly starts to trickle in, one by one making their way through the kitchen to enjoy Peter’s lovely breakfast spread of eggs, bacon, potato hash, orange juice, and a fresh assortment of fruits. All gathered around the dining room table, excited and giddy about the day and the future madness sure to ensue. We all load up the minivan for the trip to the mountain, a solid 1 hour drive from our home-sweet-home, but an hour drive that is sure to fly by when endlessly exciting for the day. And also watching SpongeBob off of Holden’s iPhone. Once on the hill, and connected to the JBL Boombox, you realize how amazing the day is going to be; with the sun still shining, the tow rope firing, the snow conditions primo, and the set up looking fuego, you know today will be second to none.

Grace Warner locked in // p: Peter Cirilli

Once at the top, the heads start to flow through like it's automatic. First off the rope is Joe Sexton, midwest local, Public Snowboards founder, and most recently an event coordinator in the midwest for Red Bull. A few warm up laps is all you need, and boom, right into filming. With the rope constantly spinning, there is no need to put off breaking out the cameras, something could go down before you even get the chance to set them up. As the clips begin to get stacked, the crowd behinds to build. The flow of locals and kids coming up to Zeb & crew is almost endless, with constant amounts of autographs and selfies; nothing new to the X-Games Gold Medalist.

Tommy Gesme was there // p: Peter Cirilli

At around a little past midday, the clips have been stacked and the autographs have been signed. The day is far from done for this crew though, Zeb and Alex make their way down to the jump situated at the bottom of Trollhaugen’s main park with a big duffle bag full of Smith goggles, JBL speakers & headphones, and Happiness Project merch. The crowd begins to build around this small crew, all the kids yelling and shouting to Zeb about how they could win some product at their feet. “Try something you’ve never done before,” explains Powell, “and just have a good time,” and with that, they were off. A delightful BS 180 knuckle-huck was the first thing to kick things off, the rider copping a selfie and a nice Happiness Project sweatshirt. The JBL boombox blaring, and vibrations high, the talk of double flips going down starts to be whispered amongst the crowd. “Two or three days a year the dubs start to come out,” exclaims Garrett McKenzie (aka JuiccyJoker), midwest local, “towards the end of the season”. Well it wasn’t exactly the end of the season, the beginning of March, but with that, the crew was off to the races. First up was a person-first double backie, followed by a season-first double backie, and with that finale, we thought the doubles day had concluded. After a few more laps, and a quick photoshoot airing over the crowd on the knuckle, the energy was right back up again. And that’s when it happened. A personal-first, and probable first double front-flip of the 2022/2023 Trollhaugen season. The crowd erupts. Zeb and crew chant the rider back off the tow to the knuckle to receive his prizes. And with that, the day was done.

Day 2: *sore*
It’s Day 2 in Minneapolis. You’re tired, you’re sore, and you had more than a few Modelos last night. You also ate approximately your weight in Chinese take-out. But you’re in Minnesota, the land-of-the-rope-tows. Situated a convenient 10-minute drive from our quaint Minneapolis Airbnb lies another staple of midwest snowboard culture, Hyland Hills. Zeb and crew’s first time back together since last spring, when Zeb set the internet ablaze with the pants-around-the-ankles FSBS flip-out, and first time trip for filmer Dylan Demers in general to Hyland Hills, we all still looked forward to the day ahead. The forecast was looking a bit more choppy that day; chances of snow showers in the afternoon, compounded with the possibility of high wind-gusts, but knowing the city has such easy access to the hill, it’s more than worth the trip regardless. We all load up the van for a quick trek over to the hill, no time for iPhone Spongebob this morning, only time for a few of Zeb’s Greatest Hits.

Brady Lem's home turf // p: Peter Cirilli

Once in the parking lot of Hylands, and connected to the JBL Boombox, the vibes are right back to where they were the day before. A quick stop inside to grab tickets and hi-vis vests for the media crew, (it can get hectic out there some days for the filmers), passing by Brady Lem along the way, midwest local and street-snowboarding legend, we make our way to the tow-rope. And after a quick spin up the rope tow to drop off bags, and the stream of familiar faces coming up shortly behind is nothing short of endless. First ones off the rope are Tommy Gesme and Riley Nickerson, followed shortly behind by Peter Limberg, midwest legend and all-around nicest guy. On a day like this, with this amount of legendary riders on hill, it’s another day the cameras cannot wait to be busted out. With potential poor weather encroaching on the day, photographer Peter Cirilli gets right to shooting on one of Hyland’s infamous rainbow boxes. Videographer Dylan Demers works his way on-down the hill, posting up on fisheye every feature, on every tier, along the way. Both media members swiveled left and right, right and left, to make sure they weren’t missing a shot, dodging the stray kid’s board every now and then. After continuously bouncing from feature to feature, the Zeb and crew plus additional midwest legends lapping through the park all morning, we continue to make our way over to the larger jump. Peter Cirilli’s limitless excitement to snap a pic of the riders on Hyland’s most infamous rainbow box with the Minneapolis cityscape in the background fills the air.

With both rope-tows spinning, moving to the other side made the crowd thin down, giving the riders enough time to stack on the rainbow box and 70-foot downbar. That was until then the crowd too moved over to that side, but at that point crew’s day was winding down; or so we had thought. Zeb off-to-the-side of the main knuckle letting kids take his board for laps, Peter (C) was down below chatting up Peter (L) about further plans for the evening. One thing led to another and we learned Peter (L) was serving at a classy restaurant in town, the same restaurant that Tommy Gesme had turned pro at for Adidas years prior. And that was that, if it was good enough for Tommy turning pro, it was surely good enough for us.

After quite a few cocktails with names we all struggled to pronounce, and a few appetizers such as cinnamon dusted calamari, and a healthy helping of braised rabbit with casarecce (an Italian pasta we all struggled to pronounce other than Caccamo) and bacon lardon, the crew was ready to turn in for the evening. But Peter (L) insisted we try dessert. So after delightful sorbet and more than a few digestives, the crew was back off to the Airbnb. After a long day of filming and good eats, not a lot more was to be done, just to pack up and knock off the rest of the Modelos laying around in the fridge. The flights home were booked, and the crew was ready to head their separate ways. Alex would head back to Philly, Grace back home to Michigan, Zeb to North Carolina for a few days to see friends and family, and the media team back up to the northeast, all soon to be united again for Red Bull Slide-In Tour Stop 2 at Boreal Mountain, in Lake Tahoe, California.

Riders: Alex Cacamo, Grace Warner, Nixon Johnson, Jake Antisdel,Garrett McKenzie, Riley Nickerson, Tommy Gesme, Brady Lem
Film: Dylan Demers and IV Stuart
Edit: Dylan Demers