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Time to shred: Damage Days hits Spirit Mountain this weekend

Eric Christopherson, snow board park builder and a Damage team rider, does a backside air out of the newly created half-pipe at Spirit Mountain Thursday. Damage Days, taking place Friday and Saturday nights at Spirit Mountain, will feature the half-pipe. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com1 / 3
Ben Olson, owner of Damage Boardshop, stands on the new half-pipe course at Spirit Mountain Thursday afternoon. Olson is organizing Damage Days at the mountain Friday and Saturday nights. Bob King /rking@duluthnews.com2 / 3
Eric Christopherson, snow board park builder, tests out the newly made half-pipe at Spirit Mountain Thursday. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com3 / 3

Damage Days at Spirit Mountain kicks off this weekend, and it's the event to attend.

In its third year, Damage Boardshop owner and event organizer Ben Olson said Damage Days takes place on "Friday and Saturday evenings, so more people will be able to come out."

"It's a laid-back style event for all ages." Olson said he's seen ages 10 and older attend in the past.

Since the boardshop opened about a dozen years ago, Olson and crew have been hosting events at Spirit Mountain, and Damage Days is just one more. "It brings everyone together to support the shop and the mountain," he said.

"We are fortunate to have such a passionate individual like Ben," Spirit Mountain general manager Jody Ream said.

This is the third year Ream and his wife, Brandy Ream, who serves as executive director, have been heading up Spirit Mountain, and Jody Ream said they wanted to reestablish ties between the mountain and other community businesses.

"He's held on (over the years), and we respect what he brings to the area," Ream said of working with Olson and Damage Boardshop.

So it is a natural fit for the two entities to be working together to bring an event like Damage Days.

"We do various events, and this is definitely a little bit of an exclusive event," Ream said of Saturday night's event being for snowboarders only. "The exclusive part is a unique deal for sure."

Damage Days begins at 6 p.m. Friday evening with a snowboarding pipe jam for all ages.

The half-pipe was removed from Spirit Mountain for a couple of years, but once it was gone, the mountain heard a lot of response, so they brought it back.

Ream said the pipe was gone before he came to the mountain's management team, but he can understand why cost would be a reason for taking it out. With millions of gallons of water needed to create snow for it, which also translates into manpower and hours to create it, it's an expensive endeavor, but one he felt was important for Spirit Mountain to bring back when he and his wife took over.

The half-pipe is 350 feet long with 12-foot walls. "We're pretty proud of it," Ream said.

This year, new to the mountain is the tow rope, and that will be utilized on Saturday night. Thi adds "a new perspective on the event, too," Olson said.

"We have been talking about a high speed rope for a long time," Ream said. "It's a perfect spot for it on the hill. It's been extremely well-received. We try to put things out there for everyone. We make the most of every foot of vertical we have."

Saturday night's event is only open to snowboarders, no skiing. It also includes music, food and drink specials at the Moosehead Bar at the mountain.

The mountain closes at 8 p.m., like usual, Olson said, and then "they groom, clean everything up." The Damage Days event is then from 9:30 to midnight. There is also no instruction of demonstrations, it's simply a time to "just ride and hang out with friends," Olson said.

And with perfect snow conditions, Ream said this is the year for people to come, and the mountain. There are both local and regional snowboarders who attend the event, a testament to Damage and the following the boardshop has developed, he added.

"It's to support the store and Spirit," Olson said of the event. "It's to have a good time snowboarding, just have fun; that's why we do this."

If you go:

• Feb. 17: Pipe jam for all ages from 6 to 8 p.m.

• Feb. 18: After hours snowboard only rope tow session from 9:30 p.m.-midnight

• Music, food and drink specials at the Moosehead Bar

• Must present a season pass or have a valid Feb. 18 lift ticket. You can also purchase Damage late-night session for $15. Snowboarders must also sign a release of liability for the the special session.