Kol Horton, 24, jumps off of the pole jam at Sunset Terrain Park on Jan. 28, 2023. The competition at Sunset Terrain Park was designed to replicate a construction site. (Photo by Drake Presto/Cronkite News)
Flagstaff competitions, businesses grow snowboarding community
Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff has three terrain parks for freestyle snowboarding where riders can grind down rails, flow through halfpipes and fly through the air with various-sized jumps.
Sunset Terrain Park, the most advanced of the three, co-hosted a competition with local clothing company Collective Supply Co. in January. The season is expected to continue until May.
The event brought together dozens of snowboarding and skiing enthusiasts to compete for prizes from local and international snowboarding brands.
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Gabriel Prado, 26, won first place at the competition. He moved to Flagstaff when he was in second grade and has been snowboarding ever since. Prado said it was great to see the event come together.
“The amount of time and money I have put into my snowboarding is ridiculous,” Prado said. “I definitely went out there and gave it my all.”
Prado has snowboarded all over the world but said there is a unique quality about the snowboarding community in Flagstaff.
“There are not very many people here trying to be professional skiers or snowboarders,” Prado said. “It’s mostly a passion thing, and it shows.”
In 2011, Rich Phillips and David Hilton opened a snowboard shop named Oncore Skate & Snow. The shop’s main purpose was to reintroduce and revitalize snowboarding in Flagstaff. Phillips said there wasn’t a tight-knit snowboarding community at that time.
“After a solid eight-year run, we really grew the snowboarding community here in Flagstaff,” Phillips said, noting that Flagstaff became more of a snowboarding destination over time.
But the shop closed, and Phillips started Collective Supply Co. shortly after.
“We decided to make a run of apparel and do a pop-up shop at one of the (snowboarding video) premieres,” Phillips said. “And that was the introduction to Collective.”
Participation in local snowboarding contests has grown considerably in the past four years. In the 2018-2019 season, two contests were hosted with about 30 people in each, and this season, four events with over 65 people each have been held, according to Sunset Terrain Parks.
“Snowboarding is growing at a huge rate and obviously we are stoked on that,” Phillips said. “Snowboarding is definitely alive and kicking, especially in AZ.”