A pipe dream
The addition of a half-pipe at Powderhorn Mountain Resort bodes well for a local shop that has stayed in business for 17 years by catering to a niche clientele — snowboarders
Nobody is more excited about Powderhorn Mountain Resort’s plan to build a half-pipe than Tom LeValley.
The owner of Traz Snow & Skate, across from Sportsman’s Warehouse at 2466 U.S. Highway 6 & 50, has watched snowboarding culture evolve in the Grand Valley since opening his store in 1994.
Initially it was “young punks” who clamored to the store looking for gear to emulate the outlaw attitude of their X-Games heroes, LeValley said.
While that’s still true to a large degree, snowboarding has begun to capture older riders — seasoned skiers “looking for something different,” LeValley said.
Those looking to break into the sport have a great local option in Powderhorn said Josh Bonnell, a recent high school graduate and expert rider who sells boards and accessories at the shop.
“Powderhorn is a great place to start out. It’s close, it’s never super packed and it’s not a hard mountain to get around,” he said.
Now boarders and skiers are going to get the opportunity to experience a half-pipe at Powderhorn.
“Most resorts have 22- or 24-foot walls, which is intimidating for beginners, so a 13-foot half-pipe will be nice for anyone who’s never done one before,” Bonnell said.
Breaking into the sport isn’t cheap, but there are advantages to buying a setup rather than renting.
“For one thing you get a boot that’s going to fit perfect,” Bonnell said. “If not, your feet end up killing you and you end going to the bottom and sitting there.”
LeValley started his business by noting the lack of “brand presence on top names of products.”
So he started carrying boards and equipment at a higher price point than what box stores are offering. The store offers Never Summer and Mervin products Lib Tech and Gnu.
The shop used to offer board maintenance like waxing and sharpening, but most riders like to take care of that themselves, so Traz now offers a wide range of do-it-yourself accessories.
If you’re interested in getting sized for a board and boots, the first question Bonnell will ask is: “What kind of riding are you going to do?”
Park riding is about hitting rails and jumps while free riding, aka “big mountain” riding, is about backcountry powder and trees.
“A bigger board provides more speed and floats better on powder,” Bonnell said. “A smaller board will be a little easier to spin and turn.”
The shop caters to skiers too, with gloves, helmets and accessories, LeValley said. Fashion is a big component of Traz’s business. Because young riders are very fashion-conscious.
“I’m far too obsessed with how I look when I ride,” Bonnell admits.
The store carries bargain lines as well as more expensive brand-name apparel.