By Michelle DeLong
This Saturday, Melvin Brewing’s hometown of Jackson Hole will host the ultimate type two fun/adventure/suffer fest with après bragging rights: the 43rd Annual Rendezvous River Sports Karen Oatey Pole Pedal Paddle. The race, one of the longest running events in Jackson with quite possibly the longest name, heralds the coming of spring with a mashup of winter and summer sports. It kicks off with a downhill ski race at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and ends with a celebratory soak, party, and awards ceremony at the Astoria hot springs.
Some competitors come with the eye of the tiger, decked out in full on GS spidey suits. Other unsung heroes rock up in a mullet and Canadian tuxedo, drinking a Hubert MPA, of course. Competitors range in age from 10 to 80, and they all compete as individuals or teams in a downhill ski race, run, Nordic ski race, cycle, and paddle down the Snake River. Defending champ and absolute ledge Johnny Springer explains, “In the Pole Pedal Paddle, you get to do all the sports you do in Jackson anyway, but in a competition format. It can be brutal. We love it.”
Melvin’s down with PPP, yeah you know me. Our love for a good collab doesn’t stop at beer; we have sponsored the Pole Pedal Paddle since the early 2000’s as part of our longtime partnership with the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club. They produce the event as a fundraiser to help winter sports stay affordable for local kids.
Let’s back, back, back it up. Picture this: it’s the late 90’s, before Thai Me Up was a twinkle in founder Jeremy Tofte’s eye. A friendship blossomed between our field hoperative and follow snowboard bum Jeff Moran over good booze and deep pow. From the sound of it, the duo basically reenacted scenes from “I Love You, Man” all winter long, with Moran on drums and Tofte on bass. Music and beer bring people together, people.
When Moran left his snowboard bum days behind to become a freeride coach for JHSC (Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club) and Tofte started Thai Me Up, the two maintained a friendship, love of snowboarding, and common goal to spread the stoke. Moran, who is now the chief marketing officer of JHSC, says, “We have worked with Melvin for many years now, on a bunch of events. Melvin supplies the championship prizes for our grassroots Wednesday Night Lights Rail Jam Series, allowing us to award young athletes between ages 5 and 18 with prize money.”
Melvin is also an official sponsor of JHSC’s Triple Crown Series, which includes the Moose Chase nordic race, the town downhill, and finally, the Pole Pedal Paddle. Supporting the series is a natural and easy way for Melvin to give back, because like Moran and the folks at JHSC, we believe skiing and snowboarding objectively rule and can even make you a better human.
This Saturday, competitors will come from as far away as Alaska to compete in the race, which has two divisions: the Racing (spandex, moms and dads who secretly crush) division, for serious athletes who come for blood, and the Fun (Hawaiian shirts, floatillas, copious amounts of Melvin beers) division, for the rest of us mere mortals. Even if you aren’t competing, cruise on over to cheer on competitors and join the after party at Astoria hot springs from 11 am to 1pm, where awards will be presented and a king and queen will be crowned.
Moran, who is currently stress eating Thai Me Up dumplings and fisting Killer Bees (his fave) until the series finishes up, says “everything Melvin and our other sponsors give, goes to making these events run smoothly, and adds value for our spectators and participants. Every cent goes directly to us being able to provide better programming for all of our youth athletes.”
That’s a cause Melvin can get behind. So don’t hate, pole, pedal, paddle, PARTY!
Melvin’s PPP Fantasy Team
No, we don’t actually have a team in the running this year, we have been too busy brewing delicious beer, planning an epic 2x4 Day, and battling WorldBev. You better believe we would come in hot, though: trust and fear our stacked fantasy team. Put me in, coach!
Downhill Ski Race: Jeremy Tofte, Melvin’s fearless leader. Yeah, he’s technically a snowboarder, but 80’s race skis are just two really skinny snowboards, right?
1.5 Mile Run: Heather Newman, aka HayHay, aka social media extraordinaire, will Snapchat you ugly crying and crossing the finish line behind her while she calmly sips her Heyzeus.
Nordic Race: We volunteer Travis Cook, Sales and Marketing guru, as tribute. We are pretty sure he has some Viking ancestry, so he should take to nordic skiing like a fish to water.
Bike Race: Danielle Caruso, the Unleasher of the Madness, aka the one who is planning the dopest Melvin parties. You’re welcome. This mamacita comes in at 6 feet tall and even cut her hair into a lob (long bob) for superior aerodynamics.
Snake River Paddle: Hacksaw Jim Duggan is forever Melvin’s anchor. Voted most likely to crush a 6-pack of 2x4, captain a raft with a floating dance party, and paddle that thing to the finish line with his pinky finger.
Photos: Wade Dunstan, David Cleeland, WRKSHRT; and Jeff Buydos, Cloud Level Creative; courtesy of Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Team.