COLERAINE — A long-time tradition will continue at Mount Itasca in Coleraine on Feb. 13 and 14, when the 21st annual Rex Montis Big Air Snowboard Competition will be conducted.
Back in 1998, Jeff Fortune was involved in snowboard rentals at Mount Itasca, and he was asked to promote a snowboard event to be held in Coleraine. In Latin, Rex Montis means “king of the mountain” and Fortune decided on that name for the first Mount Itasca competition.
Fortune said the event will serve as a qualifier for the Giants Ridge event slated to be conducted on March 13 and 14. The event will consist of two disciplines, the aerial discipline with a jump, and rail jam, which is encompasses some street style skateboarding. Based off the results, point totals are accumulated to move onto the finals at Giants Ridge.
“We have seen peaks and dips in interest in competitive snowboarding,” Fortune said about the first 20 years of the competition. “I think right now it is peaking again. It is really cool to come back to Mount Itasca and just have it there.”
Those interested in competing in the Mount Itasca competition can register by going to the Rex Montis Snowboard Competition site on Facebook.
“We are over two decades deep doing this event and it seems everybody wants to be outside right now,” Fortune said. “I think the last Rex Montis competition at Mount Itasca was in 2018 with the last couple years being at Giants Ridge. It is going to be a good time. The kids are amazing; they are out there every day with nobody coaching them. They are working off of each other just like we did back in the 1980s. It’s really amazing to see what they do out there.”
According to Ryan Mogan, operations manager at Mount Itasca, there is no admission fee for the event and he encourages the pubic to come and view the competition. Concessions including grilled food will be available.
“There may be ski jumping going on as well,” said Mogan.
Mount Itasca Operations
Mogan said it seems like Mount Itasca is not “our little secret anymore” because of the interest it receives. He said he has been working at Mount Itasca for six years and when he first started people from Grand Rapids didn’t even know where the facility was located.
“This year our season pass sales are through the roof and sales are amazing,”said Mogan. “We are making more on tubing than we have ever made. It’s like people have found out we are here. I think people have gotten the word out to like the hockey teams that come into town. When they are between games they come out and play. I have seen more people at the hill this year than I have ever seen.”
Mount Itasca offers snow tubing, snowboarding and skiing with rentals available. There are six hills available for Alpine skiing along with a biathlon course and ski jumping.
“It’s a winter facility,” Mogan explained. “We do anything you can think of. I would say the condition of Mount Itasca is the best I have ever seen. We blew snow from November right up until Christmas break so we have a really good base of snow all over the place. I think we will be able to sustain until almost April with the base of snow that we have.
“Then we have the Mesabi Trail right at the end of the driveway for the snowmobilers and bike riders out there.”
Mount Itasca is in the best position it has ever been in regards to rental equipment. Mogan said there is more quality equipment available for rental for those of all ages, and much more equipment in general.
“We are able to facilitate the majority of the people,” Mogan said. “I haven’t run out of rental equipment like we used to in years past.”
Mount Itasca is open whenever children are off of school and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Alpine skiing and tubing. He said there will be some night skiing this year and added that training is underway for ski patrol members which will allow for more night skiing at Mount Itasca in the future.