Glebelands - The Bromley Year

An Excerpt from Glebelands, A Snowboard Life

I got interested in the Glebelands crew following the interview I did with Jesse for 7yW. For reasons still unknown, I proceeded to conduct hours upon hours of interviews with as many members as I could reach.

The following is a very rough cut of a very small sliver of the story. I hope to update with more interviews and eventually release the rest of the sections. For now, enjoy this bit of snowboarding history, as told by those that lived it.
-Seth

I was certainly confused, I mean I ended up in a jester hat. But luckily I met the dudes that, I don’t think they ever actually said I couldn’t wear it, but it was pointed out.

MIKE LAVECCHIA: We had one good year at Magic with all of us and the next year Magic closed. That’s when we all turned around and looked at Bromley and we were like I guess we are going to Bromley.

VINCE LAVECCHIA: It wasn’t really even a choice, Stratton had become yuppie-ville. We knew we didn’t want to go there and we couldn’t afford it. We had kind of owned Magic in a lot of ways. I am sure we had seen or met Jet and Scott but we had no idea they were filming and we had similar lifestyles.

MIKE: We knew about Jet and Scott. Rupert and Cambridge are near each other, so Randy and Shem knew them. They were not really close friends but they knew of each other. We were like, alright I guess we are going to have to go meet these guys, we sort of had these competing groups.

SCOTT LENHARDT: We were working at Bromley in the rental shop. There was this one season where the two of us were working together. And then Jesse went on to instruct. Brew, who started Vew Do, was the head instructor at Bromley. I was trying out to be an instructor and I didn’t make the cut. Brew pulled me aside and said sorry you didn’t make it but I am working on this thing and maybe you can help out. That was my first art job.

JESSE LOOMIS: So Brew is the best, Brew is the greatest. He had just invented the Vew Do balance board like the year before. He and JG worked together a lot. He was just the coolest guy you could have ever met. Grew up in Yonkers, super Italian, just bringing heat to the Bromley ski school. We were setting up Vew Do boards in the upstairs lodge and having jam sessions.

What Brew taught us all that year, the first day going through the motions of learning how to become a snowboard instructor involved learning how to snowboard. Before I met Brew, before that weekend, when you wanted to turn your snowboard, you had to throw your arms, just flip your arms and then somehow the snowboard would follow. He was like, what we are going to do is teach these kids how to lean into a turn with your shoulder and that is how you initiate a turn.

VINCE: I was an instructor there so I had to do line-up in the morning. Then you would get your lesson and I would get a group of kids. All I would do was take my group of kids and go ride with those guys. So instead of getting a one on one lesson with me, they would get thrust into this marauding group of snowboarders bombing around the mountain. That is where Tyler Emond and even Ross Powers would ride in that pack and on certain days I was just getting paid to ride with my bros. We would still be filming and hitting jumps.

JESSE: I learned how to actually turn. I got the job and I think at the end of the year I got most improved. At the end of the year Brew invited all his little snowboard guys, 9 or 10 of us, back to his apartment in Manchester, in Zippy. We had a party and a little award ceremony, he presented everybody with a little rock or whatever and a plaque. It was so fun.

SCOTT: Jake and JG, they all would be at Bromley enough that you would see them. If you saw them on the lift and there was a jump coming up, you would have to pull something out because you knew that Jake was watching. I rode the lift with Jake at Bromley once, it was first chair and he was there and it was just the two of us. There was no one around and there was fresh snow. I was shaking trying to talk to him on the lift.

VINCE: We would almost never see Jake at Bromley. We would see JG and other people from Burton. And they would see us, I feel like we got our reputation because all the older dudes would see us just marauding the mountain. I feel like there was energy in our crew, that if we were not here a big part of southern Vermont snowboarding would be missing. I feel like we had influence on Burton in bits and pieces.

JESSE: We lived in Rupert, which is this tiny town, when we went to Bromley we didn’t know tons of people up there, we were just a couple of kids running around. With Burton, you could kind of see into the outside world.

SHEM ROOSE: For me, being a kid in high school, before I got my foot in the door, Burton seemed like this really amazing, almost magical place. I just couldn’t believe it was so close to where I was living. One day, I saw Jason Ford walking up past the lodge at Bromley and thought; “What the hell is he doing here?”. It was cool to see one of Burton’s pros at “our” little mountain.

SCOTT: Back then Burton was major. It was everything to our circle. They tapped into something early on. I think you could tell with the company that they were focused on making the best stuff that they could.

MIKE: How cool it must have been to be Jake, you are not just making a product, you are making everything, a whole culture.

SHEM: And for Jake to be listening to the riders and trusting that they were the driving force of the company was inspiring.

SCOTT: Mikey was super accessible and easy to talk to. He also worked at the showroom which for us was just like, oh my god we know someone that works at Burton. I mean I filled out applications to sweep there a few times. We just wanted a piece of it. Mikey knew Jake because he worked at the showroom and all of a sudden we were that close. For Jet and I, we went from kids in a tiny town to riding with a group of guys that knew Jake and it was on.

VINCE: I can tell you that all of us respected Jake for what he did, he was our hero in a lot of ways. Jake himself was a rider who started a company and ran it the way he wanted to. He made insane product that we loved and desired and he stayed in southern Vermont. I feel like his staunch values and fighting for snowboarding at ski areas was a source of pride for us. Back then he was a huge inspiration and taught us that it was possible to start something and make it big.

SHEM: As I got to know Mikey better, I became friends with other Burton people like Andy Laats, Tim and Stephanie Pogue, JG and Emmet Manning, of course. In the early days, I remember hanging out with all of them and it was such a small company, it had a real family vibe to it. Jake was always approachable.

SCOTT: That Christmas my parents had gotten me a video camera, or they had gotten the family a video camera. It was like a group gift, but I kind of just grabbed it. So every weekend we would take turns filming, you know one of those big cameras, the RCA ones that sit on your shoulder. We would do that all day.

JESSE: We were just going up with this VHS camcorder, getting there at 9 am, take a few speed runs and then just film each other going off these jumps, one run with me filming, one with him filming. Then around 11:30 this other crew would roll in and they would be hitting the same jumps as us, but they were doing way better jumps, way better tricks. Then there would be guys yelling and other guys just hauling ass, and we were like, “Wow, those guys are awesome!” That was the LaVecchias and Randy and Shem and Gavin.

SCOTT: We would see these guys from the chairlift, we all knew Mikey from the Burton shop and Vin was instructing that year so Jet had a connection with him. The LaVecchias were just cool. They were Jersey kids but they knew a lot about snowboarding.

JESSE: It was such a charismatic crew and just a wild crew, everyone totally different, from different walks of life, and just happy, super smart dudes. Scott led the charge, he was like we need to hang out with those guys. I was intimidated by them but at the same time yeah we needed to hang out with them. Shem was the first one that I felt comfortable talking to, I mean I am a pretty shy in general.

SHEM: That’s what I always appreciated from the start of Glebelands; the fact that we came from NJ, NY and VT with various outlooks, talents… whatever… it all just clicked and we backed each other and kept each other in check. Even though we all live in different areas now, I know I can call any one of those dudes and ask them anything.

RANDY GAETANO: I don’t think I had met Jet and Scott before going to Bromley. We had this mutual friend, Jude Cleary, who was a semi sponsored rider. One day after riding, I was getting a ride home with Jude. I think Scott’s board had been stolen that day and he had just gotten a new board. On the way home we stopped at Scott’s house because Jude wanted to show me this mural Scott had done in his room. I feel like that was the first time I met Scott.

VINCE: It was that kind of assimilation thing. We were there, they were there, we were riding on the same trails, it is not that big of a mountain. They were filming and we were not at the time because Jeff wasn’t coming up at the time. Randy and Shem knew those guys better than we did because they were in the same area.

RANDY: We would see them around riding, always see Jet’s jester hat, which was hilarious.

JESSE: Dammit, you know I grew up in a town of 600 people and this was pre-internet. I bought it from a snowboard catalog, took a chance and gambled. I probably rocked it until I met someone cool and they gave me the stink eye.

SHEM: It is true, Jet used to wear one of those Jester hats, obviously we would give him shit about it. Just say NO to Jester hats. Sorry, but they sucked then and they suck now.

JESSE: I was certainly confused, I mean I ended up in a jester hat. But luckily I met the dudes that, I don’t think they ever actually said I couldn’t wear it, but it was pointed out.

VINCE: Loomis was running his jester hat and Scott had his funny hair. They were definitely more punk than us.

JESSE: I mean Damien Sanders was rocking hard boots and neon and a mohawk. That seems way more outrageous than a jester hat, a black jester hat. To be fair, Scott used to rock a headband, though I guess that was kind of cooler.

SHEM: Damien was a rockstar doing huge backflips and married to a Playmate!! He could rock anything he wanted to!

MIKE: When I first met Scott, he had leopard skin, like multi colored leopard hair. The thing about all these guys, especially Jet and Scott, they always kept things light. Those guys were just total clowns.

SHEM: One of the first things I remember about Scott and Jesse, was the fact that they made this video of the two of them dressed up, I think one was in a gorilla suit and the other in a bunny suit and they were bouncing on a trampoline and they had dubbed some mariachi music to the video. I was like, “Who the HELL are these guys??”. When we met at Bromley, it was pretty much an instant friendship

That was my favorite thing about snowboarding, I don’t care how long it takes us to get top to bottom, let’s just dick around. Let’s do little jumps and sit and watch each other do little 180s. That was so much fun.

JESSE: We just sort of started getting into the chairlift line with them and then filming them because they were way better than us. Randy just had ridiculous style and Gavin had an awesome style too. They were the heavy hitters.

SHEM: Gavin used to wear these Outdoor Research mitts that looked like they were two sizes too big. And with the way he rode with his hands out in front of him, it just accentuated their size. This was when people wore their mitts or gloves on the outside of their jackets still. We used to just give Gavin shit about his “Oven mitts”, but he never cared. He knew that they were a better material and more functional. Gav has always been one to do things his own way and you can take it or leave it.

RANDY: They always kept it super fun, super light and goofy. It was a such nice balance, Gavin and I were very serious, trying to shred everything possible.

SCOTT: We would do the same run, the same hits. Those guys were really good at fucking with that though, riding with them you would be used to riding that run and then you look over and Randy and Gavin would be in the woods and they would find the craziest rock and then you would have to go do it the next run.

SHEM: If it was a good snow day, it usually consisted of trying to keep up with Gavin and Randy in the trees, they were just so fast. One day, we ended up at Killington somehow. It might have been after a contest that got cancelled. Anyway, I always wanted to be good enough to keep up with Gavin and Randy in the woods. People talk about how certain riders can read the mountain differently and find lines that others don’t see. They (Randy & Gav) were definitely in that category. Vin would just straight up tell me that I wasn’t aggressive enough, and that pushed me, just his tone and how frank he was, pushed me just as hard as trying to keep up with Randy and Gavin and see what they were doing. Vin was great because he had a way of looking at everything and being objective. I always respected Vin for that because he could help everyone see the other side of the situation. Vin pushed me because he would give me his raw honest opinion.

RANDY: During the week I couldn’t wait to get to Bromley and all be together and ride from first lift to the last lift. Do the same thing over and over and it just never got old.
We rode in a line and cheered each other and so did they. We had this similar riding mentality of all for one and we instantly gelled. Then they started filming as well. It was a cool connection because we were all thinking about the same thing. Let’s try to get best trick on film. It was an instant connection for all of us and then it just was everything we thought about.

SHEM: The deal was, if there was a hit, the first person would go and wait at the bottom and that was how it was, you just waited for each guy to hit the jump and do whatever you were going to do. Everyone would be screaming, cheering each other on, especially Mikey, hearing his voice and having him cheer you on was just classic. And that is how the day would go, we would just make our way to each jump or jib spot.

SCOTT: That is part of where the Glebelands crew came from, not having those epic powder days all the time. Some of my most memorable days it was raining on the mountain. I had a run of Burton projects that had me in all these insane locations and I was riding alone there and I don’t really remember them. But I remember those days at Bromley when it was raining.

MIKE: That was my favorite thing about snowboarding, I don’t care how long it takes us to get top to bottom, let’s just dick around. Let’s do little jumps and sit and watch each other do little 180s. That was so much fun.

SCOTT: I remember the run, Bromley had a halfpipe that was just horrible, it was a hay bale halfpipe, but the first hit was still there. We ran into these guys on that trail and I remember seeing Randy and Gavin doing backside airs and bs 180 melons. I can still see it, they were going huge to flat. From that point we started filming them, then every weekend became filming sessions.

MIKE: When we started snowboarding at Bromley and met those guys, we basically owned Bromley and did not give a shit about anything.

They used to corral us at the bottom of the mountain at the end of the day. There would be so many reports of us bombing hills and off the trail. They would build a square with parking fences and just say “get in there.” and we would have to just sit in there and think about what we did all day. It was like time out.

SHEM: We were known as the guys that were wreaking havoc on the mountain. I don’t think we sat in the corral too many times, but Ski Patrol and the lifties definitely knew to keep an eye out for us.

MIKE: Then we would just screw off around the base of Bromley. Almost always, you guys (Jet and Scott) would take your pants off. There’s that classic photo of Gavin and Randy ollieing over all of us.

VINCE: It really all started to happen in the lodge at lunch. We would all go in to eat at the same time and that was where you would tell your stories, that’s where you would throw ketchup at each other, that is where the real friendships were born.

SHEM: Randy and Vin got into it one day, we were eating lunch upstairs in the cafeteria. I don’t know how it started but Vin pushed Randy’s buttons and Randy proceeded to dump a 3 liter bottle of root beer onto Vin’s head. There was always that sort of stuff going on, like Randy pantsing Mikey at the grocery store right in front of the cashier while Mikey’s hands were full with two bags of groceries. Randy and I were little shits giving Mikey a hard time on the way back from the mountain. He’d be driving us all to and from the mountain and we’d be in the back seat just giving him hell. Like putting spit on our fingers and flicking it at him. We were awful.

VINCE: The typical day we would head down to the showroom after riding and there were days that we would get permission to throw the tape in and watch it on the big screen. You had to fast forward and you couldn’t get the continuity. The thrill of having your riding playing on the screen in the showroom was pretty sweet.

RANDY: A full day of riding and going into a lodge was just not enough for us, because we loved it so much. To go to Burton extended the day and we could feel like we were part of it. Walking into Burton, it was just so cozy, you walk in and not only was it Burton, the spot we loved, but to be able to walk in and feel like we were welcome and they were psyched to have us. It was validating for us.

SCOTT: Then we would go to the Burton Showroom, we would get McDonalds and head there. You pull in, it was like 4:30 - 5 and it was dead, they didn’t have a lot of gear back then, just the boards and maybe a few jackets.

VINCE: The showroom was our apres ski situation. None of us were drinking or going out so it was go back to the showroom and hang out with Emmet. Showing the videos was a big part of it but another big part was staying connected to the company. Burton was a huge part of our thing, we identified with them. A lot of us were testing boards during that period and sometimes we could scam a new board.

JESSE: It wasn’t just the showroom, it was the factory. You would go in through the front door and it was really low ceilings, probably 7 and half foot ceilings. It was kind of homey, it was like a cavern you were walking into, it was dark, there were hardly any windows. It was L shaped so you would walk in the front part where the counter was and Emmet Manning would be there, he would be friendly but slightly intimidating. There was a window into the factory so you could check the boards getting built.

SCOTT: And then they had a big screen tv in the back, that was the focal point. This was before store design, they just had product and showed movies to keep kids in there. We would all just lay out and watch the day’s footage, basically as much as would fit on a tape.

RANDY: We would go in and there were always videos playing. At first we would just go and watch the video and hang out and talk with Emmet. Then we started bringing in our riding videos which sometimes were pretty awesome and sometimes just us being total goofballs. To have it up on the screen at Burton, laughing our asses off, it was so much fun. It kept the day going.

JESSE: Apparently those batteries last forever, I don’t ever remember charging it and those tapes are like 4 hours long. We would just sit there with the remote, fast forwarding through the boring parts and pausing on the awesome parts.

SCOTT: Then Jet and I would go home and either go to my house or his and watch it with our parents. And we would slow motion it cause those guys weren’t there and study those guy’s style and try to figure it out. I had the tapes so I would watch it again on Monday and Tuesday just studying the tricks.

MIKE: We had one season together in 91 before Burton moved to Burlington. I was excited personally because I had lived in Vermont for 4-5 years and Burlington was pretty fun to think about. And Vin was starting at Saint Mike’s so I knew he was going to be up there. They gave everyone the option to move and they gave everybody a little chunk of money to move, like $500, which was awesome.