A wildly successful turnout at the Park Shark Rail Jam at Sugarloaf, February 4th, 2017
Some of the most uplifting stories to read these days are about people giving back to their community. It is especially encouraging when we hear that these good deeds are happening right here in the state of Maine. This winter, the Riders Club organization set out with a selfless mission to expand access for Maine youth to snowboarding and freestyle skiing. We stopped by their “Park Shark” event series at Sugarloaf back in February to see what it was all about.
The Riders Club, founded in 2013 by Barry and Sherri Tripp, aims to grow board sport participation in Maine by inspiring communities to provide a positive gateway for young snowboarders, free-ride skiers, skateboarders, and surfers. The Riders Club is made up of a network of professional athletes, mentors, and volunteers, all of whom inspire the next generation of board and action sports athletes by spending time with them, teaching progression, and having fun.
This winter, the Riders Club organized a series of rail jam events and get-togethers at several of Maine’s local ski areas, with a goal of making snowboarding and freestyle skiing accessible to everyone. Riders of all ages were encouraged to participate, but the “Park Shark” event series focused on drawing a crowd of grade school, middle school, and high school students.
The Park Shark series descended upon Sugarloaf at the beginning of February, on a chilly weekend night. Despite the cold, a field of over 75 competitors showed up to participate, along with a sizable crowd of spectators, parents, and friends. The atmosphere at the event was not like most competitions, where tensions can sometimes run high. Instead, the vibe was fun and laid back, and the kids all seemed to be having a blast as they cheered each other on while hiking lap after lap on the setup. Music was pumping, an emcee was calling out the different tricks being thrown down, and there was no shortage of action coming from the skiers and riders.
At the end of the jam, a very ecstatic Barry Tripp was on scene to hand prizes out to the top performers of the night, which included some SkiME and RideME swag. At one point before organizing a group photo, he turned and said, “Isn’t this turnout spectacular? This is what it’s all about!” The energy and excitement in his voice not only showed how big of a success the event series was turning out to be, but also proved that this man’s heart is in the right place. And that place is right here in Maine.
A weekend on Mount Desert Island is a weekend well spent. The island is most notably home to Acadia National Park, but adventuring off the beaten path reveals some hidden gems not commonly seen by most visitors.