boarding in Alaska

In For Life

“In For Life” is the 6th video I did with Jesse Burtner as the JB Deuce team. The video was released in the fall of 2002. I don’t think any title represents snowboarding and skateboarding better than this one. Any true skater or snowboarder is in for life. I first stepped on a skateboard around 30 years ago and my first run on a snowboard was about 25 years ago. To this day I still can’t put either of them down and I know a lot of the guys in this movie are the same way. These useless wooden toys have embedded themselves in our lives, becoming a necessity, as important as air or water in maintaining life. And what better use of life than to have and follow a passion relentlessly? 

“In For Life” was our first experimentation with holding a consistent theme throughout the movie. The titles, the music, the voice-overs, the interviews, the chalk bodies and blood were all symbolism referencing the commitment to riding a board. It’s not just the commitment to riding a board, it’s the commitment to the lifestyle, to the ups and downs, the good and bad that come with riding the board. This movie also marked a more experimental approach to the construction of the parts. The abstract can be seen when you look closely, such as switching songs in the middle of a part, but were put together in a way to only be noticeable subconsciously. We’re not talking about groundbreaking “walking on the moon” type stuff but it was new for us and we put it together in a way that was different than what was being put out at the time. I’m really proud of it. 

Let’s talk about some serious standouts. I feel as though I almost don’t need to mention Adrian Williams because it is just a given, like the sun rising tomorrow morning, that he will put out a beautiful part that makes me feel like a hack when I’m on a skateboard. The skating in this movie really surpasses expectations. I know I say that every video but that is a testament to the heart that Alaska skaters have. The skaters keep up with the industry standard and keep crushing when it would be so easy to fall back on all the excuses Alaska provides to not be able to skate at the best of their abilities. Brandon Chenault tightens up the manual game straight out of the mean streets of Nikiski. Mitch Edmondson throws down a ledge to flip out onslaught that would be bangers today and he does them on areas that people aren’t hitting now. Mitch did such a phenomenal job of mixing raw and smooth together. Anthony Black’s style and tricks were getting tightened up right along with his pants. They say that a goldfish is the type of fish that will grow larger if you give it a larger surrounding. If you take it out of the glass bowl and throw it in a pond then it will grow much larger. Jerry Smyth ventured out of the Alaskan glass bowl and into the big California pond and damn did his skating grow to the size of his surroundings. 

Jon Kooley learned frontside board slides. Haha. I think it’s safe to say he put them on lockdown. At the time we teased him a little because of how many he had when the footage all came together. It was only two years before that, when he lived with me in tahoe, that he barely knew how to do them. Fast forward a bit and he was at the front of the street-cred line. But don’t let the fs boards cloud your view of the well rounded part Kooley puts out. It’s no doubt why he went on to film parts with Mack Dawg and other big film companies after parts like this one. 

I really love the idea that the guys that would normally be stereotyped as pow riders would be out in the streets, on rail missions with us, at any given session. Spinelli, Ashley Call, and Draper all kill the backcountry and are most known for their free-riding skills yet each of them can be seen in the movie on pure rail missions. Riding everything was a common factor among our crew. We didn’t really have any single terrain riders and i think that really speaks to the heart of our crew and to the fact of being from Alaska.

Brady Farr and Brent Tumbleson really started to show what they where capable of. James Reeves stepped on the scene from Fairbanks and started the procession of Fairbanks military dudes that rip. All three feet of Jorge Comelli came out firing and left everyone yelling, “OH MY GOSS!” I have to say one of the most impressive parts came from Angel Williams. When Angel focused on his skating and not on telling us how buttery he was he could destroy any spot. Angel was a good guy with just a little too much Wu Tang in him. Haha. I hope this isn’t coming off wrong because I love him and think he had a lot of skill. One of my favorite tricks in the video, and perhaps one of the most underrated, is when he front side 180’d up the second step at Hanshew and switch flipped off. He had a style that was really light footed with just enough wild in it to make it interesting to watch. I’m really grateful he was a part of our scene for so many years. 

Ami delivers pure butter in the style department. It’s rare to find such a tall rider that looks so smooth and polished on a backcountry jump as well as rails. Kirk Stinebaugh was another guy that rode with us for years and I think I just took for granted that he was pretty good and left it at that. The beautiful thing about watching these videos years later is that they can be looked at through fresh eyes. Twelve years later I’m a much different person than I was when we made this movie. I am in a different spot in life. I have had a so many life altering experiences that even though this is the same video, it is completely different and means different things to me. I love Kirk’s style and I love that I can now appreciate his talent so much more. The thing we always tried to do with the videos, and given a thousand tries we would still come up short on, is to convey the personality and attitudes of the riders. Kirk was a glowing light shining on any session we were in. “WHAAAAAT UUUUUUP?” in a baritone voice would belt out from where ever he was. The only time I didn’t see that from Kirk was during a shoot for this movie. Sullivan arena has a double kinked rail that is pretty harsh. That rail sits right across from the old Ben Boke skate park and has just stared snowboarders in the face for a long time. There are security guards there a lot of the time as well as constant events, making it tough to set up and hit. My grand plan was to go there on New Year’s Eve, hoping that the security would have the night off. I was correct and we got the rail set up and started to hit it. The time got close to midnight and Kirk started talking about how he wanted to go and party. Haha, YEAH RIGHT! I was so anti party and so aggro snowboard that I couldn’t get on track with that. To me there was no better way to celebrate the new year than with a shot snowboarding something I’ve wanted to hit for years. Well I think I should have taken Kirk’s advice and packed it in earlier because I ended up separating my shoulder that night. The crash is in the slam section where I come into the kink at a 45 degree angle and eject from the kink to the concrete on my shoulder. Kirk was about the fun and that night I’m sure it seemed more fun to celebrate new years than to dodge security guards and get wrecked. Love ya Kirk. IN FOR LIFE!!!

I filmed a lot of Micah for this video and that will always be a cherished memory. I have to say that really rings true for the entire crew. Each guy had their own style and their own plan of attack that really complimented each other in the overall stranglehold they put on the AK skate scene. Sometimes you just end up spending more time with certain riders and micah was one of those guys I spent a lot of time around. For this video we took a trip to Fairbanks and searched for new spots. I think we found some stuff that really let Micah shine and I was happy to do the filming rather than having another part delivered to us. The one wheeled manual to ollie to manual and the shuvit to left wheeled manual at Hanshew are a couple of creative gems from the Maestro. The brilliance of Micah’s “creative” skating was that it didn’t come off as forced for the sake of being different. Micah’s creative side always seemed to come from the pureness of a skate rat; a kid that lived and died for skating and just wanted to let it pour out of him.  

I wanted to come up with a bunch to say about Lando but really, after watching his part, all i can do is smile. It’s been great to watch how much he stepped up his game from each video to the next. It’s amazing to watch as he catapulted himself from another kid riding jumps to the top of snowboard royalty and most of that leap happened in front of our cameras. Just sit back and enjoy the craftsman at work. 

As for my part, well the intro was a little throwback to a reality show I was on and my fleeting career. If you think some of those dance scenes were sketchy then you should have seen what they looked like without the filter on them. We’re talking Chris Hanson creepy. I was a little embarrassed as I shopped the thrift stores of Seattle for the stripper costume; luckily I already had the shorts. Haha. One funny story concerns the one cliff shot I have from a day filming with Robbie Sell in the backcountry about an hour outside of Mammoth. I took my sled back and turned it off after one of our first stops. When I went to start the sled back up the pull chord pulled out. The sled started but the chord was dangling loose in my hands and no longer connected to the sled. Back then this was a fairly common occurrence but it meant either a lengthy ordeal to fix or a fairly lengthy half assed ghetto fix each time I pulled it. So the rest of the day my sled never got turned off. I would shuttle myself up to a spot and leave it running while I hit the drop then get shuttled back up to it later. Luckily I had a full tank of gas to keep the sled going all day. 

Hope you liked the video and stay tuned for “Steezin for no Reason” next. 

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