Boarding for Breast Cancer draws crowd |

Boarding for Breast Cancer draws crowd

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – By noon, Sierra-at-Tahoe had to turn cars away.

Was it the hard rock of Linkin Park and Static-X; or a blue sky mixed with good snow and a good cause that created the sellout? The answer doesn’t really matter.

Likely exceeding the $115,000 raised last year for breast cancer research, education and awareness, Saturday’s Boarding for Breast Cancer Snowboarding + Music Festival is expected to be the most successful in the event’s six-year history.

As of Sunday afternoon, the money raised this year had not been calculated, but the event drew more than 6,000 people. The only other time the event has sold out is when Primus headlined in 1997.

“It’s record attendance for BBC … and the crowd is peaceful,” said John Rice, general manager at Sierra-at-Tahoe. “These kids are getting exposed to something they otherwise would not.”

The learning came in different ways: Maybe from a plaster cast of Moon Unit Zappa’s breasts at the Modart tent, or a quick breast exam lesson from Barton Memorial Hospital nurses. Either way people learned about a disease that’s affecting one in eight women, and one in 100 men.

Since its inception, BBC has raised more than $500,000 that’s gone directly to their cause. The organization was founded by Monica Steward, a snowboarder with breast cancer, and Tina Basich, a pro-rider.

Steward, at the age of 28, succumbed to the disease before the first festival was held at Sierra-at-Tahoe in 1996. “She’s feeling the love,” said Basich, who attends the event each year. “We are here for her and to honor her. And it’s about being aware of your body and being able to notice any changes.”

Steward’s story is tragic.

“She discovered a lump in her breast when she was 27,” Basich said. “She went to a doctor who told her it was just a cyst. She was misdiagnosed but by then it was too far along.”

The most emotional moment of the day came after the lifts stopped and just before Linkin Park played when a woman took the stage and sang a song a cappella in honor of her friend, Monica Steward. The crowd, which seemed to be satisfied all day, answered with an ovation.

“It went real well,” said El Dorado County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Watson. “The crowd was well-behaved a little nicer crowd than last year. I think part of it is that we’ve been working with Sierra ever since the event started and we’ve gotten better ironing the wrinkles out.”

Watson said this year three minors were detained for drinking alcohol, a number slightly fewer than last year’s. Both Watson and Rice said the event may have been more peaceful because beer was sold only near the lodge and not near the stage.

“We really had an organized approach to parking and we got smart not selling alcohol outside licensed areas,” Rice said. “We spent a lot of time planning with the CHP (California Highway Patrol) and the sheriff to make sure we had a good system set up.”

The only glitch of the day came during a set by the Kotton Mouth Kings.

“We want to see some snowballs flying out here,” said a band member to the crowd.

About 10 minutes later the band was stopped cold after a barrage of requested snowballs short-circuited their turntables.

The stage had to be swept clean and dried. Backstage, with their performance cut in half by the mishap, the Kings had time to warm their electronics with a hair dryer.

“We won’t know if it (turntable) works until we fire it up,” said Jonny VerPlank, the group’s sound engineer. “We’ve got $2,000 worth of new gear in there. (The organizers) aren’t mad at us. They’re bummed we didn’t get to finish the show.”

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