Everything you need to know about the 2018 Winter Olympian Chris Corning as he gets ready for his debut in the snowboard Big Air final this weekend.
With the men about to drop for Big Air in a few hours, we shot over some texts to U.S. team rider Kyle Mack while he was hanging in the athlete village to check in with how his Olympic experience has gone so far. He competed in slopestyle, just missing out on finals, but looks to make a name for himself in Big Air later tonight. Keep an eye out as he drops in with Mark McMorris, Marcus Kleveland, Torgeir Bergrem, Chris Corning, Red Gerard, Stale Sandbech, Sebbe de Buck, and the rest of the stacked field at the Alpensia venue in PyeongChang tonight! (Check out more 2018 Winter Olympic coverage here!)
So how is it being a first time Olympian?
It’s been amazing! It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
Everything you thought it would be?
Yeah, so far has just been a crazy journey.
How is the food?
I love Korean food so I’ve been really enjoying it, but the McDonald’s here has been on point as well.
How’s the athlete village?
It’s crazy! So many different people and country’s that all want to do the best. It’s been a pretty serious vibe but I’ve tried to be as cheerful as I can be.
Who are you rooming with?
I’ve been rooming with Red Gerard.
What was it like seeing Red medal?
It was crazy. Seeing one of my closest friends win has been so much fun.
What do you like more, slope or big air?
I like slope more because it shows more of an all around rider, but still very excited for big air.
Thoughts on the jump/landing?
The jump is really good and not too much impact on the landing. Mellow.
Were you a fan of the Olympics before?
I have always been a fan. I’ve wanted to go to the Olympics since I was a kid.
Does the arena feel different with the Olympic rings overshadowing it or is it just a normal contest?
It’s a normal contest! I compete with all the same kids all year long and it has added more pressure to some of them but for me, I’ve just been doing the same thing as I’ve always done.
What are some differences between the Olympics and X Games or other contests this past year?
It’s bigger then any other contest I’ve been to, and more people watching then I could ever imagine. Pretty insane.
What do you think about snowboarding in the Olympics?
It’s a huge showcase. Most people don’t get it like other sports, but it’s awesome to show what we do to the world.
What would it mean to medal in South Korea?
It would mean a lot. It’s a huge thing to do and would be a crazy experience.
Any tricks we can plan on seeing from you?
You’ll have to wait and see…
Enough is enough, this is how we feel watching the mainstream media’s coverage of snowboarding in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Read the full Getty A Clue: A Mainstream Photographer’s Guide To Snowboard Photography article on Snowboarder Magazine.
Anna Gasser was excited when she heard the news that Big Air was added to the 2018 Winter Olympics, and now she sits with the top spot headed into the finals on Thursday with a 98.00 after beating out the rest of the field with a cab double 1080 on her second run. The riding level was extremely competitive for the qualifier, with a 76.75 coming in as the lowest score advancing.
Already safely seated in the top five, Gasser dropped in front of a sizable crowd at the Alpensia Ski Resort, which has been used predominately for the ski jumping portion of the 2018 Winter Olympics until today, and rode away with first place firmly in her grasp after executing a stylish cab double cork 1080. It will be hard to top come finals, but the United States’ Jamie Anderson, as well as Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi and Yuka Fujimori, will battle Anna and the field of 12 for a chance at the first ever Olympic gold medal in the sport.
Notably, U.S. favorite Hailey Langland did not qualify for finals after failing to put down a second run with a high enough score, but three other U.S. riders will make an appearance in the final (Jessika Jenson, Jamie Anderson, Julia Marino). Full results below:
Words: Mary Walsh
Photos: Mark Clavin
The mainstream media would have you believe that the men’s halfpipe finals at the 2018 Winter Olympics are a battle of one. A rematch, four years in the making between one American rider and the halfpipe gold that evaded him in Sochi: Shaun White verses the PyeongChang pipe. It’s a story of redemption: Shaun earned gold in Turin in 2006 and in Vancouver in 2010, but wasn’t able to put a podium run together in Russia–he fell on his third and final run. But while Shaun was surely chasing a medal in today’s finals in the Bogwang Phoenix Park in South Korea, his story is one layer within the four years of evolving men’s halfpipe competition that has churned since the last Winter Games and was presented to the world via the whole of the twelve Olympics finals riders from the US, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, and Finland in one of the wildest pipe finals contests to date. And while Shaun’s story is paramount, the overarching theme is that men’s pipe riding is in a very incredible place, one filled with back-to-back double corks alongside massive methods and airs-to-fakie.
As the morning of Wednesday, February 14, 2018 opened up in South Korea, the men’s pipe contest was anyone’s to win and from the very beginning, the riders pulled no punches. Switzerland’s Patrick Burgener put down the first full pull. Japan’s Raibu Katayama and USA’s Chase Josey followed closely behind, moving their way up the ranking. Scotty James broke into the 90’s as the second-to-last in the dropping order when he showed up and threw down a first-hit double cork twelve sixteen feet above the lip, as well as a switch backside double cork twelve on his last hit. He was rewarded for his efforts with a 92.00. Scotty’s reign at the top was brief though, as Shaun White unleashed an enormous double 1440 on the very first wall, kicking off a run that the judges would award a 94.25 and setting the bar very, very high for the remaining two runs. But, even a run that appears practically unbeatable–like Shaun’s first go–is not invincible. On this day in South Korea, the men’s halfpipe pipe finals would be a battle until the end.
Ayumu Hirano burst onto the snowboarding scene in 2011 when, at age twelve, he won the Burton Junior Jam, flying as high as his senior counterparts. In 2013, he competed at his first X Games Aspen, clenching a silver medal. In 2014, he won his first Olympic medal in silver. And since then, Ayumu’s uncanny ability to send it clear into the stratosphere with an unflinching style has earned him not only plenty of podiums, but admiration within snowboarding. As the Japanese rider dropped into the PyeongChang pipe for his second run, he effortlessly floated a giant backside air, back-to-back double 1440’s (frontside to cab) and back-to-back double 1260’s (frontside to double McTwist). The scoreboard flashed 95.25 and Ayumu moved into first, one point in the lead. But again, it wasn’t over.
Watch Ayumu’s silver medal run here:
In likely the heaviest men’s halfpipe contest to date, the top of the podium essentially mandated back-to-back 1440s and back-to-back twelves in a single go. That is a mental concept: two double cork fourteens and two double twelves. During the third attempts, banner runs were put down by Ferguson, Burgener, and Josey–they ended fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively. Scotty James’ first run would remain his best and he ended the day with a very respectable bronze medal. Ayumu Hirano tried to better his second run score and advance his lead in his third run, but washed out, leaving an opportunity for White’s final push to regain the lead position. Shaun White performs under pressure, and as the world watched, Shaun dropped, blasted back-to-back 1440’s and followed it up with a double McTwist to a frontside 1260. The run he needed, when he needed it. The judges tabulated their scores: 97.75 and Shaun White had won his third Olympic gold. Redemption had been achieved, Shaun had risen, once again, to the top of the podium, sharing it with two very deserving peers. The collective bar of men’s pipe riding once again raised to an unprecedented level.
Enormous congratulations to every rider who dropped into the PyeongChange pipe and especially to Shaun, Ayumu, and Scotty for adding to their medal collections. Nice work, gentlemen!
Watch Shaun White’s winning run here:
Gold – Shaun White, USA – 97.75
Silver – Ayumu Hirano, Japan – 95.25
Bronze – Scotty James, Australia – 92.00
Fourth – Ben Ferguson, USA – 90.75
Fifth – Patrick Burgener, Switzerland – 89.75
Sixth – Chase Josey, USA – 88.00
Seventh – Raibu Katayama, Japan – 87.00
Eighth – Jake Pates, USA – 82.25
Ninth – Jan Scherrer, Switzerland – 80.50
Tenth – Kent Callister, Australia – 62.00
Eleventh – Yuto Totsuka, Japan – 39.25
Twelfth – Peetu Piiroinen, Finland – 13.50
Words: Mary Walsh
Photos: Mark Clavin
While a myriad of countries were represented by pipe phenoms in Pyeongchang, the American women came in hot to Korea this year, boasting a depth of talent seen in few other Olympic events across the board. Five-time Olympian and winningest snowboarder of all time, Kelly Clark; two-time Olympian Arielle Gold, who was sidelined in Sochi due to injury and eager for her second attempt at The Games; rising halfpipe wunder-rider, Maddie Mastro; and of course, reigning pipe royalty, Chloe Kim, looking to add the only missing metal to her ever-growing collection. While these four were perhaps the strongest contenders for a scounty-sweep since Powers, Kass, and Thomas took top three in Salt Lake in 2002, formidable riders, including Spain’s Queralt Castellet and China’s Cai Xuetong and Liu Jiang prepared to offfers both high airs and lofty spins to the pipe proceedings. Snowboarding legend, Todd Richards was on hand narrate the event for NBC providing a venerable voice of reason as he explained snowboarding to the better part of North America (also a nod to Craig McMorris who provided the commentary for the CBC) as one of the most highly anticipated and most-viewed events at the Olympics.
The ladies of halfpipe surely didn’t disappoint. From the very beginning of finals, the resounding message from every rider that dropped was that women’s halfpipe riding is in a very good place. 900’s were de riguer. Backside and frontside airs towered high overhead the deck. The 1080, a trick first landed in women’s competition by Kelly Clark in 2011 and first done back-to-back by Chloe Kim in 2016, was landed or attempted by nearly every rider. The tide continues to rise and while today’s Olympic event was a banner day for women’s halfpipe, the collective crew of riders involved showed the world that they’re only interested in going higher.
Four years ago, as her fellow competitors and pipe peers headed to Russia, Chloe Kim remained at home. She was technically the top qualifier to the 2014 games, but at only 13-years-old, she was just shy of being old enough to compete per Olympic regulation. Since then, Chloe’s abilities have only increased and as her riding has become progressively more explosive, the hype surrounding the SoCal-born boarder has simultaneously snowballed. But while many things fall short of the hype around them (Star Wars Episodes 1-3, staying out for one more drink, anything involving a Kardashian, etc.), Chloe Kim continually exceeds expectations and her first Olympic showing was, of course, no exception. Dropping into run one, Chloe was as fluid and collected as ever, sending it sky high above the coping for a massive method, and setting the bar with a clean frontside ten, followed by back-to-back nines. She jumped nearly ten points ahead of the next best score with a 93.75 and wouldn’t look back the remainder of the event.
Kelly Clark, whose storied contest career has garnered her a gold medal in the 2002 Olympics and two bronzes, in 2010 and 2014, ended the day just below the podium in fourth place. True to form, each run she provided stratosphere-level airs and effortlessly-landed tricks. Savant from Spain, Queralt Castellet, came out firing, not only with some of the most picturesque first-hit methods, but in her final run, massive back-to-back nines and an attempt at a 1080, though she wasn’t able to ride it out. Maddie Mastro, whose rise into the upper ranks of the competition circuit has been explosive of late, landed in last place for the day, but her unwillingness to settle for a safety run, coming out of the gates and dropping fast into enormous 1080 attempts, was a confident foreshadowing of her lofty future in the four years to come.
Arielle Gold, coming off a silver at X Games Aspen in January, was the last individual to qualify for today’s finals and kicked off the competition in South Korea with the first drop. It wasn’t until her third run that Arielle moved into top three contention, building upon the momentum from her second attempt with a 1080 to 720 at the top of the pipe and a front nine to Michalchuk at the bottom. She was awarded an 85.75 from the judges and a definitive shot at her first podium at the Winter Games. Standing at the bottom of the pipe through the rest of the contest, with just two riders to go the Steamboat Springs local was assured her first Olympics hardware, a well-deserved bronze.
Earning Pyeongchang silver was China’s Liu Jiayu. Her second run was her best, including a big backside air on her first hit that was followed up by a 720 to a 900. During her third run, she attempted to better her score of 89.75 with a ten of her own, but was unable to put down the landing gear, riding away with a respectable second place and leaving the walls open for Chloe Kim’s victory lap. For Chloe, this victory lap could have been easy airs and kicked-out methods–the crowd still would have cheered, her peers still would have hugged her, viewers back home still would have posted in their Instagram stories. But instead, Chloe dropped in and sent a front ten and followed by a cab ten, bettering her score by almost five points and earning a 98.25.
Gold – Chloe Kim, USA – 98.25
Silver – Liu Jiayu, China – 89.75
Bronze – Arielle Gold, USA – 85.75
Nestled in the Australian Alps of Victoria, Australia, Falls Creek was established 70 years ago. Over the decades since, the resort has grown into a European-style ski village where no cars are allowed during the winter months, and the only transportation is via snowcat and snowmobile. Our cat dropped us off at a place called The Attunga, and after a 20-something hour flight and a seven-hour drive, it was time to crash.
The next day, Sophie, who heads up marketing at Falls Creek, hooked us up with Marcel, the park manager, and Bailey, the park builder. They toured us all over the large resort. On the last run, we dropped into a bowl, and the feature we had come to shred revealed itself. It looked amazing. Bailey had taken the notes from Chris and Gunny and created a shredable Volcom Stone. Marcel explained to us that the dimensions of jump were exact to the logo. The math was perfect, and the results were remarkable. I could see a huge wave of relief wash over Seth and Jeff’s faces as they saw the final product; their vision that started as a simple sketch had come to life. From this point, it was up to the riders.
For the next week, while we waited for the right weather, we settled in and got to know the town—bubble gum trees, wild parrots, wombats, and all. The locals took well to us, and after a few days, we were taken to a speakeasy that served drinks until dawn. The closest police were miles away, giving the town a sort of lawless feel. We were settling in and started to get invited to local hangouts like karaoke at the Trap House, where we had a song battle with the Rusty Toothbrush crew. Each night we stayed out a little later, really blending in, then it happened. The perfect weather report.We had finally drank it blue, and it was time to do what we came here for.
The plan was for a sunrise mission. We would be hitting the Stone as light crested the mountains. With little time to warm up, the sun began to pop, and we got to work. Seeing this variety of snowboarders, from all parts of our culture, come together to session the feature was something special. The idea worked perfectly. You could literally hit it from all angles, allowing the riders to really get creative. Someone like Marcus or Torgier could blast it like a tabletop, while a rider like Rav or Blum could come at it with an entirely different take. Three generations of riders sessioned the feature, all bringing their own flavor.
As I sat at lunch drinking my first Gary—see page 106—I couldn’t help but notice the smiles. This is what snowboarding is about. Just doing what you feel. Everyone had forgotten we’d woke at 3:30 am. We were already anticipating the afternoon session. The photos and clips we came for were in the bag, so anything that happened in the next couple days was just a bonus.
My mind snaps back to present. Feet from Rav, I’m following him off the lip of the Stone. I put down a 180—a small one, but enough to garner a fist bump from one of the lifties. He tells me he likes the open jacket, MFM style. I hit the jump in the smallest way possible, and it was awesome. That’s the best part about the Stone. It’s one feature that can be enjoyed by me and Marcus Kleveland alike, while someone like Rav or Blum can shred it witha special level of no-rules creativity. The Stone brought this crew together, and it’s the reason I was able lay carves and catch air on yet another continent on my list.
The United States might not be currently first in the medal count, but they did just go back-to-back in men’s slopestyle. From it’s inception into The Games last time around, the United States holds the only two gold in the men’s category. Red Gerard followed up Sage Kotsenburg’s dramatic gold medal finish from the 2014 Games with quite the finish of his own here at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Dropping on his third and final run, and putting down his cleanest line on the day. Check out his winning run here!
Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, but currently residing in Colorado, Gerard might be one of the youngest competitors out here, but he is sure handling the pressure with ease. Casually chatting with Mark McMorris and Max Parrot throughout the ceremony, Red’s life might have just changed, but his swagger hasn’t. Already doubling followers on Instagram, Red and his family are quickly becoming America’s new favorite crew. Between cheering for the riders that dropped after him that could have unseated his position, or bashfully accepting his gold in disbelief, Red’s win was not only an important story for the U.S. to rally behind, but it is a damn good thing for snowboarding. Easy style at such a young age, we couldn’t have asked for a better champion! Congrats Red!
On his third and final run, USA’s 17-year-old Red Gerard posted the highest score of the day to take home the gold for men’s snowboarding slopestyle at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Not only was he the youngest competitor in the field, but his accomplishment also marks the first gold medal for the United States in these PyeongChang games. Canada’s Max Parrot and Mark McMorris rounded out the podium with second and third respectively, bumping heavy favorite Stale Sandbech into fourth when it was all finished. Parrot and Red both posted their best runs of the day on their third and final, making it for quite the finish with the highest score not even breaking 90.
To a packed crowd at the bottom of the slope, fans from all the countries competing and more were going wild as the riders flew into eyesight on the last jump. Heavy hitters Marcus Kleveland, Tyler Nicholson, Torgeir Bergrem all put down runs but were not able to link them together clean enough to end up on the podium. With women’s slopestyle up next, as well as pipe finals set for later this week, check back soon for your 2018 Winter Olympic coverage right here on TransWorld SNOWboarding!
Full Results below:
1. Red Gerard
2. Max Parrot
3. Mark McMorris
4. Stale Sandbech
5. Carlos Garcia Knight
6. Marcus Kleveland
7. Tyler Nicholson
8. Torgeir Bergrem
9. Niklas Mattsson
10. Seppe Smits
11. Sebastien Toutant
12. Mons Roisland (Did not compete due to injury in practice.)
Photos: Andy Wright
We knew it had been dumping in Hokkaido since November, but until you see it in person, it’s hard to explain. We’re definitely not complaining about how much powder there was to be ridden because as the locals say, there’s no such thing as too much snow. Each morning we were greeted by a foot or so of fresh in the driveway, which was promptly shoveled as we packed up the rigs and headed to our daily zone. Spending multiple days at The House of Powder cat operation was an awesome way to kick off the trip. We lapped for hours, only taking short breaks for snacks, defogging goggles, or swapping batteries.
Watch DC TRANSITORS Episode 2 here:
With so many natural features to find and hit, it was almost overwhelming. Our crew consisted of Torstein Horgmo, Anto Chamberland, Devun Walsh, and an additional rider who will remain nameless at this point in time, due to a certain Olympic rule. The core idea behind Transitors is to document the real deal behind a video production, what goes on behind the scenes, after hours, and everything in between. With two weeks to cruise Hokkaido, the crew spent time at The House of Powder, the Niseko United resorts, Rusutsu, and finding their own roadside features. After the pow settled, we came back with one extremely heavy edit that could have easily been twice as long.
A sneak peek at the 2019 snowboard and outerwear gear from the SIA trade show in Denver, CO.
Read the full New 2019 Signature Snowboarding Product—SIA Tradeshow Exclusive article on Snowboarder Magazine.
Rome Snowboards x 10 Barrel Brewing’s first ever collab, “All Ways Down.”
Read the full Rome x 10 Barrel Brewing “All Ways Down” Launch Party article on Snowboarder Magazine.
Words| Tom Monterosso
It’s every kid’s dream to become a professional snowboarder, right? Okay, so now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s be real. The chances of that happening are rather slim. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep snowboarding as much as humanly possible. Likewise, if you in fact are that good and can make it to the big leagues, the shelf life of your average pro rider is five to six years at best. Even if you manage to make a somewhat decent living for a few seasons, do you have a backup plan? Well, luckily for you, this piece delves into the pros of going to college in a mountain town so you can plan your days on hill around your days in the classroom, or set yourself up for a plush career post pro riding. We’ve queried some of snowboarding’s brightest minds about why they choose to go to school while chasing a professional boarding career as well as others who decided to go back to college once their riding days were over. Read up and make the decision for yourself.
There are so many benefits of going to school in a mountain town, even if you’re not a diehard snowboarder. The mountains are said to clear the mind, reset the brain and allow for someone to go into many situations at elevation with a fresh outlook. But the benefits are even greater if you spend the majority of your time playing in the mountains. Universities like Plymouth State, The University of Utah and Western State Colorado University are a great place to start, as many pro riders and industry veterans have emerged from these schools over the past few years. Not to mention that each of these schools are just minutes away from world-class resorts.
While pursuing a pro career, Mike Ravelson attended Plymouth State in New Hampshire from 2008-2012.
Two of the most promising young upstarts in snowboarding right now attend The University of Utah. We queried Nils Mindnich, a Mechanical Engineering student, and Griffin Siebert, an Environmental Geoscience student, and their replies were indicative of both their wisdom beyond their years as well as their far-sighted ability to focus on their education above all else.
We also spoke with some former pros who have now left a legacy in snowboarding culture. Chris Engelsman (aka E-Tree) attended Western State Colorado University and looks back on that decision as one of the best of his life.
Former Kingpin Films standout and backcountry badass Lukas Huffman spent his decade-long career in snowboarding in front of the lens. But when all was said and done, he went back to school for filmmaking and now runs his own company with his brother Jesse where they write, direct and produce narrative films, commercials and branded content. Lukas attended Columbia University in New York City–the diametric opposite of a mountain town.
If there is anything to take from this piece, it’s that higher education and snowboarding are not mutually exclusive. Dozens of industry veterans have emerged from colleges from coast to coast. If you do your research and work hard, living in a mountain town while chasing a degree is well within reach.
If you’re on the hunt for schools that mix books and boarding, make sure to check out go.western.edu and plan a visit to Western State Colorado University. When get to campus, you’ll score a half-price lift ticket to Crested Butte Mountain Resort. You can even schedule to link up with the Freeride team.
Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson are already locks for the 2018 Winter Olympics, but that didn’t stop them from qualifying first in their heats for the 2018 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Slopestyle Finals set for this Saturday…
On a warm day in Central California, the final U.S. Olympic Qualifiers started ahead of schedule. Due to an approaching storm with rumors of 85+ mph wins settling into Mammoth Mountain tomorrow, the original scheduled day of the qualifier, the field of 21 men and 12 women threw their best stuff on the slopestyle course in hopes of competing on the 2018 Winter Olympic Team declared this weekend. Under partly cloudy skies, with the temperature hovering in the forties, USA riders in both the men and women’s field took all of the spots in this weekends finals except for one. Japanese rider Takura Otsuka was the lone rider to advance from outside the United States, scoring a 78.00 on his last run to just make it in to the field of ten men set to drop Saturday.
The United States’ Red Gerard continued his winning ways from Aspen Snowmass this past weekend by qualifying first with a 94.75. After scoring low on his first run, which included a huge method on his final hit, Red recalculated and looked at ease as he sent it over the 70+ foot jumps and right into first place. Other notable standouts on the day include the young core of Hailey Langland, Ryan Stassel, Brock Crouch, Julia Marino, Ty Walker, Jessika Jenson and Chandler Hunt all qualifying to keep their Olympic hopes alive with a chance to podium this coming weekend.
Full results below–
Mens Slopestyle Qualifier:
Women’s Slopestyle Qualifier:
Vans kicked off it’s global premiere tour for their first full-length snowboarding film LANDLINE. in Europe this past weekend. The whole team got together in Austria to ride Innsbruck local’s resort Axamer Lizum, before heading to town for the first viewing of the movie at local cinema Leo Kino.
The highly anticipated movie has been in the works for two years. Shot on 16mm film, it feels like a conclusion to the trilogy of Propeller (skate) and Illustrated (BMX). It has been on a tight, no-leaks lock down, to the point that none of the riders had seen the movie before the big night. Vans opted for a mid-season release combined with a global tour, so they could share the movie and its hype with winter in full swing. As a bonus, Austria just had the best start to its season in a generation, so local stoke levels were running high.
No spoilers here, the movie is essential viewing and best enjoyed on a large screen, so check the global tour stops below. It releases on iTunes on January 26th.
STARRING: SAM TAXWOOD, BRYAN IGUCHI, BLAKE PAUL, DAN “DANIMALS” LIEDAHL, WOLLE NYVELT, MIKE RAVELSON, DILLON OJO, DARRELL MATHES, JAMIE LYNN, PAT MOORE, HANA BEAMAN, COLE NAVIN, ARTHUR LONGO, JAKE KUZYK
DIRECTED BY: TANNER PENDLETON
FILMED BY: JAKE PRICE, HARRY HAGAN, SKYLAR BRENT, HAYDEN RENSCH, AND TANNER PENDLETON
PRODUCED BY: KEVIN CASILLO
ART DIRECTORS: SHAWN KNIGHT AND JOE EDELMAN
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: STEVE VAN DOREN, DOUG PALLADINI, BOBBY GASCON
Seoul, South Korea
With Alex Lopez, Gerry Lopez, and Leah Dawson
Words and photos: Shaun Daley
Let me level here; I’d never scored first chair–not once. In fact, in two decades of snowboarding I don’t think I had ever seen it take off from the base. But on every day of the season, at every local there is a first chair. Nobody owns it. First chair is everybody’s, and I was about to be introduced to it by Alex Lopez.
It was in the heart of an all-time Pacific Northwest winter. Low elevation, cold, deep snow, and sun; Mount Bachelor was the place to be, and I happened to be there. A couple days in, I caught word that Alex was going on his sixth or seventh day getting first chair. It sounded like something I’d like to be a part of. So it was set. At sunrise in the Mount Bachelor parking lot, I was to meet Alex, Leah Dawson, an inspiring professional surfer, and A-Lo’s pops, Gerry Lopez. He needs no introduction. Dawn patrol was in effect.
While en route, the roads we were empty, the mountain glowing under early light, and the full moon lingering above the horizon. Things were so quiet and still. When I pulled up to the lodge there was one truck in the lot, Alex’s. There, him and Leah were eating oats and sipping warm drinks. We made our way to the base of the lift, where Gerry joined us to set the boards at the front of the line, securing our spot.
It was clear that my assumptions about getting first chair were all wrong. There was no anxious rush or race to get the chair, to get the best, to brag about it on any Insta-Twitter-Book. This early morning routine is simply how Alex, Leah, and Gerry prefer to experience snowboarding. They like the quiet morning, calm pace of no traffic, soft light, and starting their day with snowboarding as medicine. This dawn patrol exercise seemed so Hawaiian. I suppose when snowboarding with arguably the best Pipe rider of all time, his son, and a lady pushing surfing in its graceful form–all of whom have spent plenty of time in The Islands–it makes sense.
Alex didn’t just rush to the lift and wait for the chairs to start spinning. He pulled up his sleeves and helped the lifties do their morning prep labor. He was moving gates, setting posts, and running ropes for no other reason than to help. At 8:55, the bell rang, the gates opened, and Alex, Leah, and Gerry loaded up with one other friend. First chair, again. Crazy to me, normal to them.
It was at the second lift, which takes you to the summit, that Alex did something that would change this story. When we got there, we were first in line. While waiting, a gentlemen behind us set to ride up Chair 2 was telling a story about how he had been trying to get first chair all season to cross it off his bucket list. He’d continued to set his alarm earlier and earlier, but kept missing it. Alex overheard and insisted this stranger take his seat to the summit alongside Gerry. While this man rode up the chair in front of us, fulfilling his dream and taking selfies with Gerry, Alex turned to me with an “OH NO” apology. “Did I just ruin your first chair story?” On the contrary, I assured Alex, he did not ruin the story by giving away his seat on the second lift. If anything it made it better. Style comes in many forms; Alex has it on a board and in character. Both forms we can learn from.
Louif Paradis’ recent Rider of the Year designation was a long time coming. The quiet Quebecois is not one of the most talented street riders to strap in but one of the best snowboarders to exist. Coming off a well-conceptualized film that is equal parts cinematic and gnarly, Lou represents what is right with snowboarding. His calculated and fluid approach shuns stunts in favor of aesthetically pleasing authenticity. Below are Louif’s thoughts on several subjects, from gardening to his choice in boots.
Winning Rider of the Year
I was told that I should come to the awards ceremony, so I was expecting maybe one award, like the Video of the Year. I was shocked to win Rider of the Year, ’cause Halldór and Nicolas had such amazing years. I wasn’t really prepared to give a speech in front of that many people. That was another portion of the shock.
I didn’t prepare anything ’cause I didn’t know what was going to happen. I know that if I prepared something I’d probably stumble or make a mistake. So it was just full improvisation. I was pretty intimidated; I can speak in front of a small group of people that I know well, or I can have a good conversation one-on-one, but publicly speaking, well, that and dancing and karaoke, are my not strong suits.
I think both awards are amazing. I think both show a huge appreciation for Beacon and where we went with it.
I kind of blacked out for a second and the people I was sitting with looked so excited and to my right, there was Halldór hugging me right away. Halldór’s the man.
I tried to pitch them the idea, but it didn’t really work cause of Bode’s project, so we had a full year to think about it. The year after, Bridges came to me and said do you want to do something? We have the support of your sponsors and you can do whatever you want to do. So I talked about it with Hayden, and we knew that we wanted to make something more flowy, with as many lines as possible, with all natural speed. No winches and no bungees. And I told Hayden that I wanted do chase locations that have only natural speed. So that was kind of the whole concept. We wanted as many moving shots as possible and to make it look like we’re moving the whole film.
Lack of talking in the movie
That’s just our style, I guess. Hayden and I are both quiet guys I guess. Also with the natural speed stuff, I didn’t want to try to make a point or talk about it in the film. I was just looking for the result.
We started working together years ago. He was working for Roxy, and I was doing TransWorld SNOWboarding’s These Days. We crossed paths at the Olympic stadium at Montreal, but we didn’t really know each other. I think we just said hi or whatever. Then years after, I realized it was him. While he was working on In Color, I think, I went on a trip with Keegan Valaika, Jed Anderson, Harrison Gordon, and Tyler Verigan and those guys. We went on a super fun trip and just connected there. He was around Quebec working with Frank [April] and Phil [Jacques] and Ben [Bilocq] on some other TransWorld projects and Enlighten, that I was involved in. So we stayed connected that way, and when I got the opportunity to film a Real Snow part, he was my first pick. That was the first time it was just him and I fully working on a project together. There weren’t too many chefs in the kitchen. So I think after that we worked together for the next four years, and we just connected pretty well. It didn’t take any effort. I feel like we have similar taste in a lot of things, like in music. I always like his suggestions, and I think he likes my suggestions. It’s just a natural fit.
Above: Louif’s 2012 Real Snow part. His and Hayden”s first major collaboration.
Yeah, this last season I worked a lot with Mark Wilson and Tommy Gesme. Also Mammouth Durette and Frank Bourgeois. I really like to ride with them, and I like their riding. I tried to find people that I knew could ride without artificial speed. I was trying to go with people I knew were already applying that. Of course it’s ideal when we share a sponsor, but I also knew that my sponsors didn’t care if I went outside those parameters. I had such a big list of riders I wanted to work with, but we only did like five or six trips, and a winter goes by quick. A winter goes by quick. But I’m really happy with the people that were able to come, and I wouldn’t do it any differently.
The current season
Right now I’m on a quick BC trip with a little bit of heli time. After that, it’s open. I’m going to do some different things with different people–maybe film with Tommy Gesme, who’s doing an adidas project, and then maybe do something with Derek Lever and Jake Durham for House Call.
I was going to go on a trip to Iran, but it seems like it’s getting complicated to go there for Canadians. So we may cancel. I’m going to try to stay on the move, not really concentrating on one big project, but I would like to get on another one as soon as possible.
Getting started with adidas
I remember thinking how cool it would be if adidas made boots, and I thought it would be cool to get on that program, so I started trying. But it didn’t work. Then when Evan got the job, he contacted me at some point. And I thought, “Wow, that’s unreal.” He asked me if I would make a portfolio to send over so he could present it to someone higher up. And from then it took almost a year before it actually worked. He would call me every now and then and just say, “I want to let you know I haven’t forgot about this.”
I’ve never felt like I needed one. I’ve always worked with people I get along with. I think if I had gone the energy drink route I might have needed an agent.
I’m definitely attracted to that. I’m also still attracted to the crossover. Like whenever I can find like a mix of human structures or things that I can do a little bit of street-influenced riding but into powder, where you have like only a few tries, that’s a challenge that I’d like to find more of. I still want to do some street trips, but I want to work with as much snow as possible, and find flowy scenarios with lower impact. I’m not into full impact anymore. Lines and whatever feels… I keep saying flowy but there must be another word for it.
I really like mountain biking. This summer, I didn’t skate as much as usual and ended up mountain biking more ’cause it just kind of felt right for the body and the soul.
I like to be out in the woods and pick mushrooms. I like cooking a lot and growing food.
It’s doing ok. I think if I had more time I could get it going, But the sun goes down early behind some trees at our house. Maybe doing a greenhouse would help.
Boot: adidas Tactical ADV, 10.5
I like that it’s low-profile. I’m a size 10.5, and I can still use medium bindings, and when you look down it doesn’t look humongous. It feels like you’re just wearing shoes. They’re super comfortable and have the right flex for me. Some boots have a more square toe, but these are nice and rounded.
Board: Salomon The Villain, 158 and 155
I ride the 58 for bigger stuff. That’s mostly what I rode in Beacon. Then sometimes I ride the 55 for street stuff as well. I just find it’s a super versatile board. It ‘s definitely on the softer side of things, but it’s still got a ton of pop.
Binding: Salomon District or Hologram, medium
It’s got ShadowFit, which is the softer heelcup. I like it ’cause it’s got sort of a skate or surf feel where you can move your ankles left and right, but front and back you still have really good support. It’s definitely a softer binding, but I like it. It has a lot of freedom of movement for tweaks.
Goggle: Smith Squad XL
They’re just a simple goggle, but they’ve got the ChromaPop technology. They’re easy to take care of and remove the lens. I just like the look of them. They’re simple.
Shoes: adidas Blauvelt boots and Samba ADV
They’re really durable. They fit well. The Samba ADV kind of feels like an indoor soccer shoe. That’s kind of how they look and feel a little bit. They have the gum sole, which I like. The Blauvelt boots are nice after riding.
Photos| Jessika Hunter Words| Jenna “Owner of Dag the Dog” Kuklinski
Last month, the first ever G.W.R. snowboarding event by Nikita Clothing with Rude Girls Snow and Skate took place at Sunshine Village.
The day started off with a gathering of more than 50 girls at the top of Wolverine’s Kids Play Park. The park itself had been designed by Abby Furrer, a manager and buyer at Rude Girls shop, and the participants of the G.W.R. event had exclusive access to it all day. The regular park had been turned into a girls-only snowboarding zone for several hours and the ladies loved it. (Don’t worry folks–there were two other parks that riding patrons could visit on Saturday, Sunshine Village made sure everyone had a great day that day.) The park was the perfect mix of inviting and challenging, and the everyone took to it right away.
Nikita brought out team riders Taylor Elliot, Summer Fenton and Ari Morrone to hang out with the Rude Girls shop team riders and help teach the girls who showed up for the event a new trick or two. Nikita team riders and Rude Girls riders stationed themselves at various features throughout the park, and girls had the opportunity to cruise or session any feature they wanted. The stoke level was at an all-time high, and soon enough girls all throughout the park were pushing themselves and landing new tricks they learned that day, as well as spending time perfecting the tricks they already had in their bag. Everyone was cheering each other on after both hearty slams and victorious lands.
The morning unfolded into the afternoon, building up a huge hype-fest as the day moved on. The entire group moved further down the park to a lower section with two features- a hip and an Ollie-on rail, primed to perfection by the Sunshine Village park staff.
Nikita and Rude Girls had brought with them loads of goods to giveaway, handing them out for best tricks, for hard slams and for random requests that were shouted out by Nikita team riders. With music blaring and the on-going commentary issuing from the speakers near the Nikita tent, veteran riders and newbies alike threw down on the rail and hip, landing clean front boards, back 3’s, and the occasional seatbelt grab requested by the judges. In addition to the seasoned riding that was seen, there were girls who had never ollied onto a rail before that were greasing it with super clean 5050s. Of course, girls were taking their fair share of slams too, with lots of tacos eaten down the rail (if you know what we mean).
The jam went on for an hour and a half; and even as last drops were getting called, rippers like local Kianah Hyatt were quietly hiking back up the side to try and fit two or three more lines in.
At the end of the jam, everyone was rounded up for the announcement of some special giveaways that needed to get passed out to two girls in particular. There were some standout riders that required some extra recognition (and some new outerwear). Marley Chase and Tess [*NOTE-getting last name] impressed the Nikita team riders so much so that they each earned themselves a brand new Nikita jacket. In addition to the two overall standouts, a new pair of snowboard pants were handed to one of the youngest riders there for best trick at the event- Ava, who is just 10 years old, tried and landed her first ever one-footed air over the hip, taking some inspiration from Taylor Elliot earlier in the day when she was showing the girls a fast-plant off of the dance floor at the top of the park. It was obvious that even though she was small, she had a huge passion for riding already.
Nikita Clothing would like to give a huge shout out to Abby Furrer and all the riders at Rude Girls and Rude Boys in Banff, as well as the mountain staff and accommodations at Sunshine Village for helping make the first ever G.W.R. event such a huge success.
G.W.R. snowboard events will be popping up across the globe soon, so keep an eye out for the announcement of where we’re headed next! We can’t wait to see you out there. #forgirlswhoride