STRATTON — The 11th annual Vermont Open will hit the slopes this weekend at Stratton Mountain, honoring Vermont’s rich tradition in snowboarding.
The field of competitors is broken up into two divisions based on age group. There is a 17 and under division and an 18 and over division. Within each of those two divisions, there are three separate subdivisions providing a broad age range of competitors.
“I would say it’s pretty huge and the competitor field kind of proves it,” said Stratton Digital Marketing Manager Andrew Kimiecik. “You have 6-year-olds running the course and you have 66-year-olds running the course. So, the fact that there’s three generations of riders kind of coming down the same course kind of shows how long we’ve been involved and where we’re trying to go to push the sport forward while also keeping those who have been a part of it from the start engaged and interested in the event as well.”
A few years ago, Stratton changed the format of the event to just a two-day (Saturday-Sunday) banked slalom event. In previous years, the event also had halfpipe and slopestyle components to it as well.
The scoring format has also changed over the years, Kimiecik said, to give competitors a better chance over varying conditions.
During the first day of competition, on Saturday, participants will take four timed runs, but will only keep one.
“Day two, you get another time because we actually find that the course will run faster or slower between Saturday and Sunday,” said Kimiecik. “Then those two times qualify you for Sunday’s afternoon finals.”
Trophies will be awarded for first, second, and third place in each division, and the top male and female rider in the 17 and under and the 18 and over division will receive a special prize.
“The large prize overall is the build-your-own experience with Powder Jet (Snowboards),” said Kimiecik. “They’re a local company. So, basically you go in and from the wood core all the way until mounting inserts and choosing your shape, you actually get to build your own board with Powder Jet, which is super cool.”
The partnership with Powder Jet began last year for the Open’s 10th anniversary. Kimiecik said the relationship the owner had with Stratton Mountain led to the partnership.
“I really think it’s just a strong tie to the community and really an ode to them for supporting snowboarding and youth snowboarding in Vermont,” he said.
There are 300 spots available for riders to compete in the Vermont Open. While Kimiecik said it is possible for riders to sign up the day of the event, he said that it will be space-dependent as the event typically is sold out by that time. As of Monday, Kimiecik estimated that there were already about 150 people registered for the event.
Although Kimiecik said he was not aware of any “big names” competing in this year’s event, the Vermont Open has a long-standing history of the same riders competing against one another.
Kimiecik said he hopes attendees realize the event’s close connection to the community and the strong ties that Stratton still holds to the sport of snowboarding.
“The Vermont Open, it started here. It started for snowboarders. It’s a very kind of grassroots event. Even the prizes are coming from local companies,” Kimiecik said. “There’s been people who have been doing this event since the start of it. There’s an over-45 division, which has people all the way up into their 60s that are riding. So, it does have strong ties to the community. It’s been a long history of competitors that come back season after season.”