Snow Valley 1983-1984 Photo Credit: Cody Rock, Jeff Grell, Jack Coghlan, Hubert Schriebl, Burton Corporation
The following year, the Snow Valley Ski Resort near Manchester, Vermont hosted the Championships. Snow Valley was an ideal location as it “was super liberal. They didn't have like a lot of the concerns that the big mountains were concerned about.” Mark Heingartner continued “They weren't stressing about liability. They pretty much were like 'Yeah, you want to buy a lift ticket, go for it.' They didn't care if you carried the boards up, if you had a leash, if you were giving lessons - they were 'buy a ticket and go.'"[i] Carpenter recalled that Snow Valley “was so mellow you could bring your dog on the chairlift.”[ii]
By the second year of competition, Burton Team riders Steven O’Hara, Andrew Coghlan, Mark Heingartner held world records in the Championships. At the 1982 event, the organizers took a dining room table, turned it upside down and buried the top in the snow. The result was four legs sticking out of the ground, which the riders used to propel themselves out of the gate. By 1984, a crude starting gate was built out of 2 x 4s. “It was really fun. It was so small,” Jack Coghlan reminisced ,” even though you're competing against these guys, there was a camaraderie because we were all snowboarding at the time and hardly anyone did it."[iii]
The snow during the 1984 event was “solid corn snow” making it hard for many to descend down the mountain plus there was one knoll that claimed so many racers. “The top 10 guys maybe 15 would all make it down without falling and then the rest of us would take one good fall, " recalled Jack Coghlan.[iv] There were lot of hard tumbles, but just as long as the racers crossed the finish line, their score counted. Coghlan added, “if you made it down clean, you were pretty much right in the there."[v] In what may be the first US Open party, Snow Valley allowed the competitors to camp out in the base lodge. According to Mark Heingartner, "there was a crew of snowboarders from Michigan and Tom Sims came from California and his crew. There was a Rhode Island contingency a Massachusetts contingency. They all needed a place to crash."[vi] Jack Coghlan remembered that "it was just a massive party that night … people built skate ramps and they had kegs." In an image that would manifest itself a few years later in places like the Hayes brothers basement or the Crack Den, "a lot of people pulled out their sleeping bags and stayed right in the lodge there."[vii] During the competition, everyone who worked at Burton “was involved in one shape or another,” according to early employee Gilbert Debus. A student at Burr & Burton, went to work for Burton in 1982. Debus worked for Burton for about six months, working after school and on Saturdays, and making 8-9 dollars an hour. During the event. he volunteered as a board tech replacing skegs after each run. Jake and Andy Coghlan “had front line privileges” and they spent the day “trying different combinations” of wax and “trying to get it right.”[viii] Jack Coghlan remembered, "people at that time were sanding down the fins so that they get valuable time and not dig in so much." By 1984, “fins were taken off and we were screwing in actual steel edges to the bases of the board - it was it was still pretty crude."[ix] The equipment was certainly primitive as the racers wore high top sneakers and luggage straps for bindings.