The Vermont Open and the Path to the Top

With the Vermont Open coming up on the horizon, we thought what better than to catch up with Steven Hayes himself on how this event got started, and why it’s such a great competition for riders of all ages.

As a native Vermonter, Hayes grew up at Stratton. He reminisces about watching Phil and Steve Mahr take the World Cup Podium at Stratton in 1976, and has always appreciated Stratton’s supportive nature in regard to hosting events.  Hayes reflects on how Stratton was really the first mountain to get behind snowboarding and snowboard competitions.  In 1985, Steve and his brother took 1st and 3rd in their first US Open junior competition and landed a spot on the Burton team.  During his career with Burton, Hayes worked to test and market many snowboards, paving the way for competitive snowboarding to become an Olympic sport.

With the goal of getting together celebrating snowboarding and springtime, Hayes was part of the group who put together a GS-style race known as the “Washed Up Cup.”  This event provided a cool and competitive environment for legends of the sport to come together and get back in the game.  Hayes considers “Stratton Mountain to be the birth place of competitive snowboarding.”  As competition circuits progressed, Hayes made an effort to keep the “Washed-Up Cup” a core annual event here at Stratton, and that’s just how things shook out.  Now known as The Vermont Open, this event provides a platform where riders of all levels can come together to compete and celebrate snowboarding.

“The Vermont Open gives young riders the opportunity to compete alongside some legends of the sport and learn from some of the best,” says Hayes. By providing riders with the opportunity to compete on a pro-level without having to fund the fees often associated with sanctioned events, the Vermont Open works to keep the door open to the sport of snowboarding and inspire young riders to pursue their dreams.  Over the years, many riders have used The Vermont Open as a way to rise through the ranks of competitive snowboarding and earn sponsorships from leading industry brands.

There is no age limit or designative restrictions to enter the Vermont Open, in fact each year we see a handful of multi-generation families enter events and compete alongside each other. The community really comes out for the event given the strong connection between snowboarding’s history and Stratton Mountain.  There is a three day musical line up, including the Metropolis Funk All Stars, DJ Joe Bell, Saints and Liars, Lustre Kings, Rage Against the Machine Burning Monk and American Made.  Cash prizes totaling $20,500 are given to the top three Pro-Class finishers in each event along with a Vermont Open Special Edition Never Summer Snowboard.

Interested in competing? Register today and secure your spot in one of Vermont’s Top 10 Winter Events awarded by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

About The Author:

portrait1Libby Dalziel | With the mountains calling and her passion for adventure, the perfect storm swept Libby off to Vermont, and she hasn’t looked back. After earning her degree in Economics and Communication from Denison University, the New Jersey native made her way back east where she now calls Stratton home.  Libby has always strived to live her life outside, and as an avid snowboarder, road cyclist, hiker, swimmer, and photographer you will never find her sitting still.