Winterfest showcases a new take on boarding

by Beacon Staff • February 15, 2006

Mother Nature was not the cause for such weather; rather, man-made snow acted as preparation for the inaugural Boston Winter Festival, whose festivities primarily took place Saturday, Feb.,Although flurries were not predicted to touch down until Saturday, an early snowfall dusted the Boston Common on Thursday, Feb. 9.

Mother Nature was not the cause for such weather; rather, man-made snow acted as preparation for the inaugural Boston Winter Festival, whose festivities primarily took place Saturday, Feb. 11.

The festival was themed to recognize the U.S. ski team's participation in this year's Winter Olympic Games. In acknowledgment of the Winter Olympics, many of the businesses present at the festival lent ski and snow-tubing equipment free of charge for those who attended.

Among the snow-dusted dogs and the snow-shoed children was the plethora of winter sports-related business tents, which included Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), REI, Ski Market, Weston Ski Track, Tubbs Snow Shoes and various ski resorts, all of which were sponsoring the event.

The festival provided free Green Mountain Coffee beans along with samples of Vermont Cabot Cheese and Vermont maple syrup.

Attendants were entertained by music played by the participating radio stations and by the informative address from 1992 gold medalist freestyle skier Donna Weinbrecht of the Albertville, France Olympic Games. Weinbrecht, the first freestyle skiing champion, encouraged young people to participate in sports and told of her experiences in the Olympic Games.

"I was able to do what I love doing," Weinbrecht said to the youth-filled Boston Common.

Among those in the crowd was an up-and-coming winter-sports celebrity.

In the middle of the business-printed tents was a quaint stand that read "Demo Snowskating."

Behind the makeshift stand was 16-year-old X Games pro snowskater Matthew Plays.

"Although [snowskating is] not officially recognized at [ESPN's] X Games, it's going to take off really soon," Plays said.

Aside from the four established sports (Moto X, Skiing, Snowcross and Snowboard) at the Winter X Games, there are side competitions, including snowskating, a winter sport where a skater uses a board-sans wheels-and utilizes the skills of both snowboarding and skateboarding.

The X Games were held in January of this year in Aspen, Colo., where Plays competed. After only four years of snowskating, Plays won first place at the EXPN Snowskate Park competition.

Along with the competition were demos provided by Plays' sponsor company, Premier Snowskate, which is also a sponsor for the EXPN Snowskate Park and its competition.

Plays has also competed at snowskate competitions at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire where he also won first place.

"At one competition, I won a guitar, but at Loon, I won $150 and a new board," Plays said. "The prizes at Loon were a better deal, I'd say."

Besides competing and winning accompanying prizes, Plays also creates his own documentaries and film demonstrations of his snow-sports experiences.

"That's how I got [Premier Snowskate] to be my sponsor," Plays said. "I made a demo and sent it in."

Even at the Boston Winter Festival, Plays had a camcorder in hand all while giving snowskating demos to festival attendees.

Plays' company RetrospectFilms has made two DVDs and is working on a third.