Empire Ghetto Games - Reaching new heights in Rigaud

Last weekend I took a whirlwind road trip to Mont Rigaud just west of Montreal. Those of you who know of Mont Rigaud might be wondering what the hell makes this event so significant? Reaching the heights of Mont Rigaud will not exactly induce high altitude pulmonary edema or cerebral edema, and the views are not exactly spectacular. However, even if you have the raddest terrain on the planet, what does that really mean without a good crew to share it with. I had been told that the Mont Rigaud crew was one of the best, so I decided to go see for myself.

Marc et Elodie à Rigaud
The Cascades contingent representing in the thin air of Mont Rigaud.

I first met part of the Rigaud crew last winter when I went to Mont Tremblant to do the course for my CASI level 3 snowboard instructor's certification. That's where I met Julien and Jeremy, two instructors from the Rigaud crew who were also there for the course. At the end, a plan was hatched for each of us to visit our respective mountains to check out the scene the following season (it was late in the season already at the time, and our respective mountains were already closed). When the right opportunity presented itself for me to make a road trip down to Rigaud, I jumped at the chance. Jeremy assured me that I was going to be “blown away”.

I'd like to digress for a second to mention how small the snowboard community really is. This season, a new coordinator started working at the Mont Cascades ski school, and thus became part of the Cascades family. As it turns out, she knew Julien through his brother from the days when she worked at Le Relais. So when she found out that I was going to Rigaud to party with the Rigaud crew, Elodie wanted to come with (see what I mean by a small community). So the stage was set for a potential unification of the respective crews: that of Mont Cascades, and that of Mont Rigaud.

ConsequencesSnaking in the park is definitely not tolerated on Mont Rigaud. Some random kid feels the wrath of Julien after snaking his approach on this box... present middle fingers.

In spite of arriving in Vaudreuil very late on Friday night due to unexplained highway closures, we still made it to Rigaud fairly early in the morning; we were ready to ride by 9:30AM after a quick introduction to the crew. They gave us the grand tour of their local mountain, sharing humorous nuggets of information and the low down on the good stashes (generally only viable when there's more snow, this winter snow was scarce). We tore up the early morning corduroy on runs such as Pepsi, Humpty Dumpty, and when we got really gutsy, we hit up Extreme which also provided access to the terrain park. This was heretofore known as the Pepsi-Extreme lap which, to me, evokes images of a new type of soft drink that has half the volume but double the caffeine (patent pending)!

To add a little spice to the road trip, Mont Rigaud was to be hosting the Empire Ghetto Games that night. So we decided to do as many park laps as we could before they closed it down in preparation for the event.

The term “ghetto”, in Ghetto Games, is meant to imply ad hoc organisation. Which turned out to be a pretty accurate description of the setup, as good as it was. However, the term could also apply to the people watching the event. The adoring fans crowded the park near the big air to watch the action. However, parent's and guardians were pretty much letting the groms do whatever they wanted, including build snowmen in the landing area of the jump while the riders were sending it for fun and profit. I'm honestly surprised we didn't witness any accidents as a result, It was one of the strangest things I'd ever seen which is why I guess it's referred to as the Ghetto Games.

Vince's Japan AirVince of the Rigaud crew getting it done on the big air with a mega tweaked Japan.

To keep things ridiculous, Empire and Capita were on hand to distribute free swag to the adoring fans, and provide boards for riders to demo. This added a certain element of humor to the event as well; every time someone would grab a box of t-shirts to give away, they became like pied-piper followed by an army of groms looking for free shirts; hilarious!

The Ghetto Games ended a little bit after 9PM, at which point we had been on the Mountain for approximately 12 hours. Naturally we were tired and decided to call it a day. Especially since Julien messed up his knee earlier in the day and his ability to walk had become very much compromised (hope you're feeling better homey). So in spite of the gentle ribbing we received from the rest of the crew – mostly from those who didn't get to the hill until the afternoon I might add – about not going to the karaoke bar for the after party, we decided to make our way back to Vaudreuil to look at the photos of the day and catch some shut eye. Elodie and I were getting up semi-early in the morning to make our way to Mont Blanc in the Laurentian Mountains anyway.

Even though Mont Rigaud may not have the gnarliest terrain on the planet, what makes this place fun to ride is definitely the crew. Christopher Johnson McCandless said it best: happiness is only real when it's shared. I'm thankful that the Rigaud crew decided to share their happiness with us.

Winter Matters Bubble

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Express!!! Not Extreme!!! hahaha, sounds better with extreme anyways!

Marc's picture

Oh snap! You're right. Brain fart! Pepsi Express sounds more like the "half size" part haha! It's the express way of maximizing your caffeine consumption.