Maryhill Ratz RVOD Freeride 2017 Recap
Ahhhh, a sigh of relief and joy. The Maryhill RVOD Freeride is over, and with nothing more than memories in the books, we can sit here happily and content knowing one of the best events in the world went as smoothly as possible.
For those that don’t now, the Maryhill Freeride is an action packed weekend full of downhill skateboarding with your friends, delicious lunches, hay bales as far as the eyes can see, and a sense of serenity that comes with being just out of reach from civilization. But the RVOD Freeride has a special aura about it. The RVOD Freeride is dedicated to a special rider that’s near and dear to the hearts of the Maryhill Ratz. This event is dedicated to Ryan Vanderveen and is named after his catchphrase, Ryan Vanderveen Or Die; which was his mantra to live life to it’s fullest. For those of you who knew Ryan, he was one of the most stoked riders the hill has ever seen. Always ready to throw hay, take runs, and get into burly packs, all with the biggest smile on his face. Sadly, not all great stories have a happy ending. Sadly, after a prolonged, hidden battle with depression, Ryan took his own life. Heartbroken, Dean Ozuna, head of the Maryhill Ratz, wouldn’t sit idly by. He loved Ryan, and knew Ryan’s legacy must live on, thus, he dedicated the summer Maryhill Freeride to his honor and the RVOD Freeride was born! This event holds a special place for the Ratz. Focused on newer riders, the pace is slowed down a bit, but the stoke is brought up to fever pitch, just like Ryan always carried with him. Betty Vanderveen, Ryan’s mother, still comes to the event every single year with a special cause. Words cannot explain the pain a mother feels when losing her son, and she hopes that no family has to go through the pain her’s did. That’s why this year the Vanderveen family donated $20 per rider to Forefront, a University of Washington Suicide Prevention organization to educate and innovate ways to prevent suicide. This year the money will go towards implementing Forefront in the Schools, a three year suicide prevention education program. You are missed every single day Ryan, but we know we can still see your smile on the hills every time we see Betty Vanderveen, and the curves of the corner Never Ending Left.
This year was exceptionally special, with our honorary guest Joe Lehm, of Skate School Santa Fe, introducing the Maryhill University. The specialized class helps riders learn to skate the hill, with some of the best teachers the Maryhill Loops Road could ever have: Joe Lehm, Robin McGuirk, Billy Bones, Ryan Ricker, and Max Capps. Robin and Billy are Portland locals with hundreds of miles on the road, Ryan is one of the most articulate riders around, Max is one of the fastest guys down the course, and the head instructor of the Maryhill University, Joe Lehm has over a decade worth of downhill skateboarding instructing. And we guess with this university, that would make Dean Ozuna the Dean of admissions!
There couldn’t have been any better instructors in the world for this event and this team of instructors ensured every skater graduated the course. Which was to make it down the hill without footbreaking at all. We’re happy to report that every single student graduated this weekend, with no drop outs!
When we asked Joe, headmaster of what could only be the greatest school of all time, his favorite thing about the University, he had this to say:
“I really enjoy teaching people fundamentals that they may have skipped, and then telling them that it’s now their homework. I also like yelling “Bend your knees” all day, every day at everyone. I find it rewarding to watch people slowly get the hang of a new drill and then see how it fits into the skill set that they already have. The idea of Maryhill University came about because Skate School needed an institution of higher learning! As Headmaster I get to choose the Curriculum, the Professors and who will work with whom on what skills. I think this year’s class did really well and my repeat students impressed me with the fact that they had actually done their homework. I’m already looking forward to next year!”
It was a wonderful weekend with a ton of runs, minimal injuries, and smiles all around the site. But we took notice of the people who were attending this freeride. There were people of all ages, sizes, genders, and life situations. It made us joyous to see that people from all around the world were able to attend over the same love of downhill skateboarding.
Every single person who attends a Maryhill Freeride becomes near and dear to our hearts. But one story stood out to us. Amy Shaver is a recent nursing school graduate reigning from Spokane Washington. When we saw her at the Maryhill Loops Road and knew her story must be told. We asked her what it was that drew her to Maryhill and she said:
“I hadn’t been on a board in 3 years. Haven’t bombed anything resembling a hill in 5 years or so. Then I see the Maryhill RVOD G-ride pop up on Facebook a week before the event. I didn’t have gear, needed a new board, not to mention didn’t skate anymore but I kept toying with this far off possibility that maybe I could just try.
Then I learned about RVOD. I read on the event page about Ryan Vanderveen and suicide prevention awareness, and I had to go. I was still super nervous and honestly didn’t think there was any way I could ever skate Maryhill. My Dad had been pushing for me to go the whole time, and once I told him about RVOD he immediately started making plans for us to go.
I just lost my big brother, Terry Shaver to the same circumstance. Losing someone is the worst thing we will experience. The pain of losing someone to suicide is beyond the emotional capacity of the human heart. My brother is the one who taught me to skate. I broke my first bone on his longboard. He is the reason I skate.
Riding Maryhill instantly became my way of processing this immense loss. It became my way of honoring him, remembering him, and having something to direct all my emotional energy toward.
I would have absolutely NEVER been able to skate Mary without Joe Lehm of Santa Fe Skate School and his team of coaches. I was totally unprepared and had no idea what I was doing but I called him up and he gave me so much support and encouragement that I signed up right after talking with him. I’d figured I probably wouldn’t ride from the top, but would go and learn new skills and have fun. By the end he had me skating the whole thing from top to bottom without foot breaking! This accomplishment meant more to me than just progress with skating. I wanted to do this for my brother, and I am forever grateful to Joe for teaching me how.
Because of the immense longboarding Maryhill “family” love I experienced I’m now wanting to pursue longboarding even more seriously. I even plan on taking lessons with Robin McGuirk of Eastside Longboards, and even going down to Santa Fe to learn other style of skating with Joe Lehm.
The Maryhill G-Ride was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The awesomeness of the people around me meant more to my Dad and I than anyone could’ve possibly known.
Maryhill was one month, to the day, of my brothers death. That hill and that community are now a part of the love and memory of my brother.”
What a wonderful weekend it was. The atmosphere here is unlike anywhere else in the world. We hope you enjoyed the stories told through every rider on the hill, and we hope to see you at Fall Freeride! If you would like to know more about the Maryhill Freeride events and Joe Lehm and his skate school below.
Maryhill Ratz: http://maryhillratz.com/
Joe Lehm and Skate School: http://skateboardsafety.com/in
And we have included the link to Forefront, the suicide prevention organization if you would like to donate. In the words of Betty Vanderveen, “Thank you for remembering Ryan and spreading the word about mental health and suicide prevention. Just like many other diseases, mental health issues can occur at any time to anyone. No one is too cool or too smart or too together to struggle with anxiety or depression. There is no shame asking for professional help. If you see a friend struggling, please reach out to them. If you think someone is suicidal and need to know how to help, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline – 1-800-273-8255 for guidance.”
National Suicide Prevention: https://suicidepreventionlifel
Shred In Peace Ryan. We will see your smile again soon.
One final note… (from our Facebook)
Contrary to popular belief, downhill skateboarding events don’t just happen on their own. There is a lot of people who put their blood, sweat, and tears into these events. Why? Well simply because not having these events happen, is NOT an option for us. It’s in our blood, our DNA, our very being as skateboarders. And we want to show you the faces that make the Maryhill Freerides come to fruition. And what better way to start, than with the King Rat himself. Dean Ozuna of the Maryhill Ratz. Better known as DeanO! He is the organizer, leader, and dictator that rules over everything that is Maryhill. Dedicating both his time and money to making these events happen. From being on the Maryhill Board of Directors, to a smiling face at these events. No task is to big or too small for the big man himself. Nearly 10 years of Freerides, Deano has given up countless runs to make sure everyone else has a smooth running event. Oh yeah, and he’s still one of the fastest guys down the Maryhill Loops RD. If you’re lucky enough to catch a run with this guy, when he’s not too busy organizing, consider yourself skating with a legend.