The surf is up in the Tetons.

Or, at least, it will be this Sunday when the 2nd Annual Teton Surf Classic takes over Grand Targhee Resort.

Dialing in for its second year, the Surf Classic is a snowboard-only competition designed to sideline spectacle-oriented park competitions in favor of an all-ages, all-skill-levels contest focused on the elements of snowboarding familiar to everyday riders: turning, style and flow. The course will be built to mimic the sort of riding done by big wave surfers.

Dustin Fletcher, the marketing and brand manager at Grand Targhee who organizes the event, said the resort started the Surf Classic in 2018 because it noticed a “gap in snowboard events that were welcoming of all types of riders.”

“It’s more of a gathering than a contest,” he said. “And so, while you’re judged on how well you perform, you’re also judged on how much fun you’re having.”

This year’s event builds on that spirit of inclusion. With competitor classes for everyone from 12-year-olds to boarders who are 40-plus, the Surf Classic is designed to bring the snowboarding community together. The competition — or gathering — is jam-style, meaning that each group will compete on the same course, with several athletes running the park at once. Parents who team up with their kids to compete in the family event will run the same course that professionals will tear down later in the day.

Even the creation of the awards — Kincos gloves molded into the shape of the surf-style hang loose sign now better known as a “shaka” — has been democratized. Youth volunteers from the Teton Valley Ski Education Foundation’s snowboard team will assemble this year’s specialty trophies.

For Tim Gibbons, the executive director of the TVSEF, which will be the beneficiary of this year’s raffle, the mountain’s decision to pull in his snowboard team as award-makers was consistent with the openness he associates with snowboard culture.

“Some snowboarders have come from skateboard culture, and I think that’s different than other sports,” he said. “It just seems more inclusive.”

Gibbons said last year’s Surf Classic was a resounding success, judged both by crowd size and the amount of money the raffle raised for his nonprofit, nearly $3,500.

“Last year, everyone was blown away,” he said. “Part of it is that it’s a spectacular event to watch, whether you’re a skier or a rider.”

Last year’s Surf Classic sold out, with 100 riders competing for their chance at winning a shaka glove. This year registration has expanded but will be capped at 150 competitors.

Fletcher recommended registering in advance. The limit is firm and helmets are mandatory, especially since Targhee is planning to continue the Surf Classic for the foreseeable future.

“The format might change, but we want to make sure this is an event that’s always representative of the people who want to participate in it,” he said.

For Targhee that sort of people-first approach mirrors its desire to make the Surf Classic a focal point of the community.

“At the end of the day, when people are standing around and high-fiving, that’s the ultimate gratification because we’re giving the riders what they want,” Fletcher said. 

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7062 or entertainment@jhnewsandguide.com.

Scene Editor Billy Arnold covers arts and entertainment. He apprenticed as a sound engineer at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio before making his way to Jackson, where he has become a low-key fan of country music.

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