Last Sunday under bluebird skies, the third annual Has Been Never Was — a grassroots snowboarding event with a positive vibe designed to showcase riders aged 30-plus — was held in the Lower Double Feature Terrain Park at Cranmore.
The event attracted a myriad of snowboarders to show off their stuff while also raising money to benefit the recovery of Josh Preece.
Preece, who grew up in North Conway, sustained neck and spinal injuries during a June 2018 mountain biking accident near White Horse Ledge at age 42.
His wife is John Fuller Elementary School teacher Lara Preece. They have two children. A GoFundMe campaign, started soon after the accident, has raised more than $66,000.
Many of the entrants were friends of Preece who hadn’t seen each other for some time and had something of a get-together.
Organizers of the event, Jackson’s Matty Burkett and Albany’s Danny Surette, are friends of Preece who grew up snowboarding with him at Cranmore.
“He’s a legend here at Cranmore and Attitash,” said Burkett. “He was one of the big air, old school guys.”
The slopestyle contest was started a few years ago for fun.
“We wanted to do a fun event where we wouldn’t get beaten up by the little whipper snappers so we said let’s do an event for snowboarders over the age of 30,” said Burkett.
By year two, the event developed another purpose.
“It started out as fun, getting guys together to ride, but now every year we have a cause that we do it for,” said Surette.
Last year, funds were raised for the Kevin Peare Memorial State Park.
Three judges graded the riders on three runs with an eye out for style versus incredible tricks. No inverts were allowed. A break was taken for libations.
A bunch of the snowboarders were there because of Preece, having grown up in and around valley before taking different paths on the roads of life. One of those was Troy Zerveskes, who called Preece one of “our oldest best friends.”
“We mountain biked together, snowboarded together,” said Zerveskes, who attended Gould Academy and now lives on the seacoast but spends a great deal of time in Jackson. “Our kids hang out together. Most of these people have that same sort of relationship as well. It’s about being here and supporting Josh.”
Zerveskes was there to support his old friend but was also cognizant about his own snowboarding abilities before dropping into the course.
“Some of us don’t have any business being out on any of these jumps but we are here for him and having a good time,” he said.
Steve Hunt also grew up in the valley and has family here. Now living in New Jersey, he’s a Kennett grad (1994) who drove up for the weekend.
“First of all, this is a fun event,” Hunt said. “But this year it’s a little bit closer to our hearts. Our friend Josh Preece got hurt last year so all the proceeds from the event are going to help pay some of the big, expensive medical bills for him.”
There was also the rider reunion aspect.
“In addition to that, it’s just a lot of people that I grew up with coming here so it’s kind of a homecoming event as well,” he said. “Some of us don’t live in the area so it’s great to see everyone.”
They spent some time riding, not just for the event, but also for fun over the weekend.
“It’s always great to come back here,” he said. “Like yesterday we were literally in Zip’s Pub, about 10 of us, and we were looking around and figured collectively as a group we probably haven’t been in the same place together for a good 20 to 25 years. We were the group that used to raise hell here at Cranmore but we’re keeping it more mellow this time.”
Burkett says he wants to keep the event with “small, park stuff.”
“We want to get as many snowboarders over the age of 30 to come out and ride,” Burkett said.
And in doing so, lending some helping hands along the way.
It’s a pond skim weekend with slush pools planned at Attitash and Bretton Woods Saturday and King Pine Sunday. The Bretton Woods splash is part of the resort’s annual Beach Party which includes a scavenger hunt and on-snow demo.