It all started in my college library... Sitting there trying to study math on a cold, snowy day. After about two problems, I lost my focus to Instagram (as usual...) and noticed that billabonggirls-usa had followed me. Why? I don’t know... Went back to my math, did a couple more problems, again got sidetracked and looked at my phone with a text from my friend Dan saying “Oh Woah. Did u win a trip to Hawaii...?”. Funny Dan... What are you talking about? “Idk I saw something on da gram” Go on Instagram and right then all of my wildest dreams came true (no joke) I WON AN INSTAGRAM CONTEST TO WATCH PIPE MASTERS WITH BILLABONG. And meet Jack Freestone... HOLY S***!  Don’t know if I am allowed to swear in this blog, but in real life I did... in the library... and I literally got asked to leave. Fast forward a week later and my friend Keni Maras and I are on a plane headed to Hawaii. Again, holy s***!!!



Troy Smits (Billabong’s visual graphic designer) picked us up, handed us hats signed by Joel Parkinson, and dropped us off at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore (and we are off to a great start). The next day we got up and headed over to the Billabong house with Alli Perez and Cass Husted (Billabong’s marketing managers). The house was amazing (to say the least) and the people occupying the house even more amazing. Right off the bat we met Frankie Harrer, Courtney Conlogue, Occy, and more of the Billabong crew. Then Keni and I headed to the beach to join the rest of the crowd watching Pipes go down.



Some background on Keni and I: Being from land-locked Park City, Utah, we grew up skiing. We actually both compete in half pipe semiprofessionally and we had never been to a surf competition. We were a little out of place to say the least.. Our pipe is cold, hard, and made of snow. People don’t lounge around in their bathing suits while watching us compete... Unfortunately, in some cases (fortunate in others).  Last January while training for the Dew Tour, I broke my back, had surgery, then spent the next four months recovering.  Keni followed in my footsteps after enduring a major concussion while competing in the Dew Tour.  With all of our new free time we became slightly obsessed with surfing and began to follow the whole scene - even attempting to become surfers ourselves. That is why this contest really was a dream come true for both of us!



Anyway... The first day of Pipes was AMAZING. The waves were giant and the surfing was unreal. Even though we were still trying to figure out how it all worked (like what it means when they say a surfer has priority for example... Don’t worry we understand now), the best part was seeing the people we had been following through social media, in real life and in action. Being a part of the crowd and seeing athletes like Jack Freestone, Granger Larsen, Kolohe Andino, Bruce Irons, Sebastien Zietz, Kelly Slater, John John Florence etc. in person is something I will never forget.  
That night Billabong held a birthday BBQ for the now two year old Axle Irons and we finally got to “Say Aloha to Jack Freestone”. Jack was really sweet and we all talked for a while (he is a babe).  We told him how out of place we were, he thought it was pretty funny.  We got some pictures with Jack and then danced the night away with Keala Kennelly as the DJ.



The next day Cass and our new friends Hunter Meldman and Wyatt Bloomingdale aka, “The Boys”, (who were also with the Billabong crew and were definitely a very entertaining part of the trip) headed back to the North Shore and Pipes round two was a go. We had the perfect view of the whole competition from the Billabong house and with our Go Parko posters in hand we cheered on the soon to be champion. Then after the last heat we got our VIP passes (best souvenir of the trip) and went to a local market where we got some strange looking fruit, fried bananas, and a coconut drink that apparently looked better than it tasted (Hunter). We headed back to the hotel, swam in the ocean, hot tubbed, and then sadly had to pack our bags. An hour before our airport shuttle arrived though Troy found us passes to the Mauli Ola Foundation fundraiser where pretty much every surfer in the competition and in the industry gathered to raise money for treating and promoting awareness for cystic fibrosis through surfing. Even though we were only there for less than an hour it was a really cool event to be at and we were still star-struck by all of the amazing athletes around us. Then, right as we were waiting for the shuttle to arrive, Kelly Slater was leaving and we got a picture with him (SCORE!).  And the trip was a wrap.

We headed back to the mountains and back to our final exams where we were hated on by everyone who had been studying all weekend while we were in heaven. Though going to Hawaii during finals week isn’t the best idea and though I might have gotten a better grade in math if I wasn’t always on Instagram, I would fail the math final 50 times and still not take this experience back. The people that we met were all amazing and it was truly an honor to be in their presence. The experiences shared were short but sweet and Keni and I can not wait to come visit (and maybe intern!). So thank you Billabong for the amazing trip! You guys are the best. 
Blake Peterson