Here are all the bloopers, blunders, mess ups, and just bad acting that came with making the skits for Nice!Gordon. It’s such a strange, different world than what skaters and snowboarders are used to. Everyone is so comfortable in front of a camera when they are trying to skate or snowboard but once you ask them to say a pre-written line, everyone falls apart. Big thanks to Kendall Whelpton for flying up to AK to help film, light, and advise on all the skits. Also DK Johnston was a big contributor before his days of being a main player in the AK film scene and I really appreciated that.
We also traveled down to Newport Beach to film some of the scenes. Making the movie parts of the production were some of the best times I’ve ever had making snow/skate vids. When you watch the older movies you can tell that I always enjoyed making the skits and putting a lot of work into them. With Nice!Gordon I got to take that to a much higher level and it felt awesome. It felt like it gave the movie so much more than just video clips on boards. It felt as though it brought the group together more and gave the movie a uniqueness worthy of the the effort put forth by everyone involved. As I try to figure out how to put it into words I can feel any degree of eloquence slipping away. What I’m trying to say is that I fucking love the AK scene and felt like I finally made a movie that everyone up here could show people with pride; that they felt could represent what they loved about the boarderline movies and being a part of that scene for so long. Im really proud of all the movies but making this movie, the way I did, with the effort that we all put into it, felt like a new level had been reached. I know I’m still fumbling with my words here. Part of the reason I was making a video on my own was because I wanted to continue making movies that represented Alaskan skaters and snowboarders and what it was like to be a part of the scene that was created over the previous ten years. With Nice!Gordon I felt that was accomplished more than any other production or accomplishment I was a part of.
Seems like I just cant help but get all emo when it comes to this stuff. That’s me though and it has always been that way. I hope that comes through in these videos and I hope you get a lot of laughs from my awful acting.
Here is some bonus footage of Gus from the filming of Nice!Gordon. Is that a 46 inch stance?
This is the teaser for Nice!Gordon. It features Chris Brewster as the little shredder. The teaser is from 2004 and marks the last movie I made for Boarderline. I love how this reminds people of the roots of snow/skate. It’s raw and its about doing what you love no matter what anybody else has to say about it. Please share, like, download, and tag anyone you know from the video or from that period.
After my snowboard career came to an end I played poker for a living. I stumbled onto poker in Reno and fell in love with the game. So it might be strange to know I’ve never been a gambler. I am, however, a sucker for the romance of the history, colorful characters, and lifestyle of people that made a living playing poker and gambling. The mantra of many early poker players was that if something is worth arguing about then its worth betting on. This mantra has led to many a wager on just about everything from human feats of endurance to which sugar cube a fly will land on.
This summer I spent three weeks playing poker in Vegas. I was there to play at the World Series of Poker which originally was a gathering of the traveling poker professionals. While I was in Vegas I was watching the final table of an event which was won by Ted Forrest. When i first started playing poker, about ten years ago, Ted was among a handful of known names in the poker community. Ten years ago poker really hit the mainstream huge. The known players were on tv every other day. Books about the poker’s history and personalities were being churned out as fast as a hand of hold’em could be dealt. I was brand new to the game and devoured all I could on the subject; my favorite being the books about gamblers and the crazy bets they made. Perhaps it’s because I never really felt comfortable gambling that I got a thrill reading about others doing it.
One of those stories that always stuck with me was about Ted Forrest running a marathon. He bet $7000 that he could just go out and run a marathon with no training. As i sat in the Rio this summer that story crept back into my thoughts and I started to wonder if I could do it. Could I run a marathon? I hate running. I ran everyday in high school but that was 21 years ago. I’m in decent shape but I’m also 39 and again; hate running. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m 39 and hate running that the idea wouldn’t vacate my thoughts. Perhaps this is the point in life where an aging, former pro athlete has something to prove.
I started passing the idea around with friends and they predictably thought I was crazy. Crazy or not I knew the seed was firmly planted. I also knew that I wanted money on the line or it would be too easy to give up. The word “Marathon” held a grandness in my mind that commanded reverence. What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t take this lightly. I didn’t think it would be easy. Evidently my friend Brandon didn’t think it would be easy either. After a skate session in Girdwood, we were all sitting around talking and I brought up the idea of the bet. The terms would be that I had to finish the marathon in 5.5 hrs or less and prior to the marathon I couldn’t run or go to the gym. I couldn’t train for the marathon. Basically all i could do is what I would normally do and I don’t normally run or go to the gym. I could walk, I could hike occasionally with my girlfriend, and I could eat right. Eating right would be tough considering pizza was part of my diet about twice a week and I love pepsi. So Brandon said he had a friend that ran marathons and he was going to ask him about the bet. The next day I got a text, from Brandon, saying that he would take the bet at 3 to 1 odds. I laughed and said he must have talked to his friend. He said he had and we agreed to put up $1000 at 3 to 1. That means if I win then I get $3000 and if i lose Brandon gets $1000.
As the time leading up to the marathon passed, I began to really cut out the sugar in my diet and cut back on the fats. I basically got healthy fast and shed some pounds. Kelly and I have taken walks all the time but I tried to walk a lot. I hiked maybe a total of 3 hours in the month leading up to the race. I wanted to run soooo bad. I wanted to run a mile to see how fast I could do it. I wanted to run on the downhills of the hiking. I just wanted to find out what i was capable of but a bet is a bet and my word only means something if I stay true to it.
The day of the race it was rainy which was a big advantage for me, or so I thought. I figured it was better that it was cooler but with the first steps of the race my legs never felt so tight and heavy but more about that in a minute. As the race was about to begin I was decked out and ready to run. I had a self made wrist band with the time I need to hit at each mile to finish on time. I had my interval timer (I read about a technique where runners run for an amount of time then walk an amount of time. In my case I would run 1 minute then walk 1 minute. The idea is to keep that up the entire race and the body will erase the fatigue during the walking portions). I had my gel packets for energy and my beats to keep me moving fast.
I got dropped off, near the starting line, about 10 minutes before the race started. I felt pretty excited and nervous. I was also anxious about not getting to see Kelly and my mom before the gun went off. As the announcer counted down the final seconds I resigned myself to not seeing my ladies until later in the race. Bang! And we’re off. I was warned to start slowly but all i wanted to do was run. I even missed the first two beeps on the interval timer because I was just soaking it in and feeling the run. Then, just as I started to get ready to turn the first corner, I spotted Kelly. She was holding a sign and it said, “I get 2 marry bib 141.” The strange part was that I was big 249. Haha just kidding. The truth is that tears welled up as I saw the sign. There are moments in life when you feel overwhelming love, when you really understand how special what you have is. This race brought me a couple of those moments.
Like I said before, my legs never felt so tight and heavy as when I first started running. Since I haven’t run in a couple decades I couldn’t tell if it was from the cold, damp weather or just nerves from the enormity of what I was embarking on. I also had to pull the reigns back a bit because I wanted to run too fast. I felt good though. I felt strong and light and excited about it.
The first thing I noticed was the different types of runners and different paces. Oh wait, rewind a bit. So the race starts downtown, with lots of spectators around the town square area, and wraps around a few blocks. When I got my nerves under control and decided I better heed the advice I was given, I got onto the interval program and began to walk for a minute. The problem was that the first minute I walked just happened to fall right as the course wrapped around in front of the big town square crowd. Great, now I look like the guy that’s winded after running one block. Haha, not an ego boost.
Back to the runners. As i ran then walked, I would notice that pace kept me even with a number of people and actually passing others. I even had one guy tell me that I walked faster than he ran. I noticed people pouring sweat after 3 miles and I noticed people pretty much out for a sunday stroll. I don’t really remember what mile marks I saw my friends at but i do remember that I began to feel my right knee hurting somewhere between mile 3 and mile 5. The pain in my knee was on the outside and felt like it was on the bone rather than the joint itself. Also around mile 5 my right arch started to hurt too.
The interesting part about a run like this is having nothing but time to think about everything. The time can be great if it’s used to work out social issues or a new tax platform that balances the needs of businesses and individuals. The time can be a little less constructive when every second is used to dwell on the pain shooting through a knee. My thoughts, at least in the first half of the marathon, weren’t completely dominated by what hurt. It’s funny to think about how much my thoughts changed as the run went on. In the early miles I felt like a pit bull on a short chain; I just wanted to break free and attack the course. I thought about how I would cross the finish line like Steve Prefontaine. I thought about what mile I would just break free and run the rest of the way; mile 22 seemed like the time I would strike. Needless to say my thoughts changed a little further down the course.
Around mile 10 I started to notice how much of a cushion I had built up. By mile 13 I was about half an hour ahead of schedule. I was having little dreams of breaking 4.5 hours and might even have entertained breaking 4 hours for a split second. Obviously these dreams of grandeur were crowding my mind on the intervals when I was walking because the pain was getting a lot worse when I was running. For a long time I felt no pain when I would walk and a lot when I would run. When my knee hurt I would just think about Danny Way (because I’m a skate nerd) and how when something hurts you just have to keep going because the real pain sets in once you stop. I also brushed a lot of the pain off, telling myself “It’s just pain, it’s just another feeling that’s part of the experience.” After a while the sharp pains were also joined by a weak, light feeling in the knee; almost a wobbliness. It was the feeling when something feels like it might give out.
I’m not sure what mile markers it happened at but my friend Christian was there, rooting me on, holding gear I might need, and just being positive at a number of spots along the course. About the third time I saw him I was super excited about how far ahead of schedule I was and he was telling me to slow it down. I thought that was odd. It wasn’t odd because I didn’t understand the logic or strategy behind it, it was odd because I don’t process the idea of not pushing myself very well. If I grasped that concept then I certainly wouldn’t be doing this in the first place. Prior to the race I approached things in a very logical and analytical fashion by breaking down my time/pace, planning my nutrition, planning my markers for hydration and refueling, and my gear. Once the race started and I felt the road under my feet, the dreamer took over. Once I got on the course the part of me that dreamed of being a pro snowboarder took over. I saw big things in my future even if that future was only 4.5 to 5.5 hours away. Christian saw the face of the dreamer up to this point. Around mile 20 he saw a completely different face. Through it all I’m just really grateful that he was there as a calming positive friend.
As I ran the early stages of the race I noticed that the 1 minute intervals passed so quickly. The longer the race went on the shorter the walking intervals seemed to get while the running intervals appeared to have stretched into half hour blocks. That was purely due to the knee pain but yet another interesting piece of data to analyze in this 5 hour study of my physical and mental resolve.
Mile 18. That was the point where I knew that if I ran any further that I would most likely not be able to finish the race. Both my knees were in excruciating pain. My legs weren’t heavy and my cardio was just fine. I had simply encountered a wall of pain that I couldn’t climb over. Mile 18 marked the beginning of the mind games. Mile 18 was when I knew I couldn’t run any further so I knew I wouldn’t gain any more ground on a faster time. I knew I was just in a race to finish rather than improve and for me that was gut wrenching.
Every mile slowed down considerably. I would come around a corner and expect to see a mile marker and it was not there. Mile 20 was the second turn around and as I got there I saw my mom and Kelly waiting for me. Suddenly my eyes welled up again. I was starting to get really emotional about it all. It was all happy emotion but none the less the tears came close to spilling a couple times. As I crossed the bridge I turned off my music and heard a number of people clapping and saying, “Come on Jason, you can do it!” I didn’t know most of them but they knew who I was because of Kelly’s sign that said, “Jason, you’re kind of a big deal.” Something that struck me was how positive everyone was during every part of the run. This experience gave me a peak into a world that I am not a part of and I was really impressed with the positivity. Everyone rooted everyone on. Kids from the high school x-country running and ski programs posted up all along the course and cheered just for the sake of being supportive (and they probably got some extra credit). There wasn’t any trash talking, no soccer/hockey moms, no negativity. It didn’t matter if you were first or hobbling in last, people were there to cheer you on. Perhaps there is so much positivity going on because people can sense how much darkness, doubt, struggle, and negativity can be going on inside the runners head. For anyone that pushes themselves a marathon will test you. There is simply too much time to think, too much time to question yourself, too much time alone with the truth. Most challenging events are over before you have time to realize if you left it all out there or held back, but not a marathon.
At the 20 mile turnaround I walked by and gave Kelly a kiss. She asked me if I was ok and I said no. I said no because of the pain and because I knew I couldn’t run anymore. Perhaps I should have given a more detailed description of my condition. A girlfriend (soon to be wife) doesn’t take the one word answer of “no” very well when her never running, no training guy is 20 miles into a marathon.
When I passed Christian again at mile 23 I still had half an hour cushion but my mind lingered on the pain. He was not seeing an excited energetic face. This was the point where I just wanted it to be over. I no longer had thoughts of dashing through the finish line with a thoroughbred’s stride. Now all I could think about was wanting to lay on the grass at the finish line. I just wanted to stop moving my legs, stop hammering nails into my knees. The thought of my legs just giving out became a serious fear. I started to plan out what I would do if that happened. I figured I had that half an hour to rest and try to work it out or I even thought that I could hop/limp in if I had to. One thing I never planned for was quitting. That was never an option.
As I came to the last uphill, about a quarter of a mile to go, I heard someone say, “that doesn’t look like running.” It was Beki Kelly and she was with Paul Kelly. Also along for the final push were Jason Moore and his daughter Lucy. Some of my snowboard friends had come to root the old guy on. They walked me to the corner of 6th ave and gave me the final push of encouragement to the finish line. I wanted to run the last block and a half straightaway and that’s what I attempted to do. I’m not sure you could call it running; more of a wounded shuffle. I started to feel and see my calves dimple in. The muscles were trying their best to cramp and lock up. I started to worry that I would be one of those people that collapses right before the finish line (only hours slower). I shuffled across the finish, standing up, and stopped the second my foot crossed the line. I walked a few steps and had to grab the rail to stretch out my calves so that I could keep moving. Then it was straight over to the grass in all its glorious refreshing coolness.
I did it! I finished with a time of 5:03:46. I won the bet and I proved to myself that I could do it. I know this blog is about riding boards in Alaska and you might think betting on running a marathon has nothing to do with that. You might even think it was kind of jock-ish. Well let me tell you how I think the event relates. Skating and snowboarding are activities that I am passionate about. They are also activities that push me. Every day I spend on a board I am faced with something I shouldn’t be able to do. Either I’m told I can’t do it or I question myself. I try and fail and fail and fail and fail. But I still get up and try again. I risk looking stupid and embarrassing myself. I deal with social stigmas. The point is that I DONT GIVE A FUCK about any of that stuff. The battle I face is within myself. The same way I pushed through the pain of this marathon is the same way I hang myself over a rail and push through to get a shot. The same way I want to quit running but won’t is the same way I want to quit trying a trick after the 100th try but I won’t. The same way people thought I was crazy for trying this run is the same way people (and sometimes myself) thought I was for trying to be a pro snowboarder. Everyday on a board is a test, a battle within yourself. Everyday on a board is a chance to quit. The choice is yours.
I just want to say thanks to all of those people that were so supportive. I really appreciate it. I’m really happy my mom was there to see this and I’m grateful that she has made sure to be there for so many of my events through the years. If I didn’t have such a great mom and family pushing me to follow my dreams then I never would have made it. Thanks to my wonderful bride to be for showing me every bit of how much love you have to give.
It’s taken me so long to upload this for a number of reasons. I guess I really dragged my feet because this video, while one of my favorites, carries a lot of pain with it. Steezin For No Reason is the 7th and final movie made as a collaboration between Jesse Burtner and myself. Just after the movie premier in September I was informed that the partnership was being dissolved. More about that later.
I really feel Steezin hit a spot in snowboarding, and skateboarding to a lesser extent, where it became fun to break out of the mold of accepted fashion. You might say that is what skating and snowboarding have always been about but you would be fooling yourselves. Skating and snowboarding started that way and tends to recreate itself every so often but there are armies of kids out there closely adhering to the dress codes of their peer group. Just watch most snowboard edits on TWSnow or Snowboarder Mag and you’ll see the clone wars are in full effect. First off I’m not saying because a kid clones out that they aren’t talented. Most kids these days are waging a full assault on anything the mind can imagine. Second, I’m also not saying that my time period was free of the flock mentality. In my time it was the JP/Jeremy look and I was certainly influenced by it. All I am trying to say is that I feel Steezin played a small part in saying, “Fuck it, flare out and wear what you want.” Every so often the reset button needs to be pushed so people can express themselves how ever they see fit.
As usual I think we have one of the best “Dogs” (Friends) sections in the game. I also can’t get over how sick the skaters are. Micah always makes me want to get out and skate and always makes me disappointed that nothing i ever do will look that effortless. Jerry just crushes and has such a unique bag of tricks. He really is all terrain when it comes to skating. I also think the viewer can see how far ahead of the game Kooley was as he just toyed with the rails with a bag of tricks that today’s pros would give up smoking for. Steinbaugh crushed… really crushed it. I want to say Mark Thompson could be the Jamie Lynn of Alaska in that both are sooo talented yet I get the feeling I never got to witness their full potential. It’s just a gut feeling but I really don’t think the world got to see Mark in his full glory. What the world did get to see was pretty amazing though and I’m thankful for that. And let’s not forget that Spoon Man goes hard in the paint. Andre Spinelli was always exciting to ride with. I never knew if I would see a sick corked 9 or the craziest flying fish impression. B.A.D. (big air Dre) didn’t get his nickname by coming up short on jumps so when Dre was in the line up riders had to be ready to give’r.
I will tell you some interesting notes on the filming done at Arctic Valley. I contacted the guys at Arctic and they were super helpful and friendly. They agreed to let us film up there when the place was closed, to let us bring our rails up, to move snow around for us, and to allow us to ride the back deck. Riding the back deck was a huge deal because they found and attached angle iron to the top rail for us. They didn’t so much as wince when the perpendicular section of the rail was run into and broken. Those guys just cheered us on and smiled. That attitude, that support, that approach is the same spirit exhibited by the early (late 80’s/early 90’s) Arctic Valley, both on the civilian side, run by the Hodges family, and the military side, run by Jeff Barnhart. Arctic Valley has supported snowboarding as long as it has been around in AK and their support during Steezin contributed heavily to the movie. Thank you to everyone involved in the glory years of Arctic Valley.
I got off on a “thank you” tangent there. That’s the problem with aging, I get so nostalgic and emo over it all. Let me get back on track. So in the hopes of promoting our movie and gaining some media hype we found someone at the Anchorage Daily News that was willing to go with us on some filming missions and write an article about it. In the sense that an article was written about us it was a success. In the sense of portraying the truth and giving a real sense of what it was like to be filming our movie, it was an epic fail. The reporter basically painted us as barely being able to strap into our boards or hold a video camera because our middle fingers were constantly pointed straight at society as we brashly stormed our way into any area we wanted while giving zero fucks. When I read the article I was surprised there wasn’t a quote from an old lady saying that we pushed her over and dug up her rose garden.
During our filming we decided to go up the opposite side of AV and see if the old abandoned (and yes that is a very key fact here) bunkers held anything for us to ride. The area at the top of the hill is fenced off as it is part of the military site. I know there is some sort of missile site further up there hill but I have no idea the condition or if it’s still in use. What I do know is the area we were trying to check out could have been a set location for “Chernobyl Diaries.” The fencing was falling apart with huge holes in it and gates that were open so we walked in and checked out the area. We found some cool spots to ride and there are shots in the movie from there. After getting our shots we packed up and left. The article came out shortly after that while Jesse was back in Washington and I was back in Tahoe. The season came to an end and I returned to AK for the summer to find out that the JAG (basically the legal branch of the military) had visited my mom’s house a few times requesting to talk to me. One morning there is a knock on the door and I am greeted with a subpoena to appear in court. It’s been a long time so i may have some of my jargon/facts a little bit off but the important part is that the JAG unit told me to be in court and I was in trouble. Turns out the military does not like articles in the news paper that say people can freely walk in and out of their sites. Also turns out that I wasn’t in that much trouble. When I got in front of the judge and explained what we were doing, why were were doing it, and that we didn’t have malicious intent (other than shredding) he let me go and said not to go back. I might have had to pay a fine but it was no more than $75 bucks. I think they just wanted to make make an example of me to let people know they can’t just run all over the military grounds and flaunt it in the paper. Of course that is not what we were doing but that is certainly how we were portrayed by the ADN reporter, Josh Niva. Thanks Josh. I guess any press is good press.
I mentioned in the beginning that this video carries a lot of pain for me. What i’m referring to is the break up of JB Deuce. After the Anchorage premier, outside the 4th Ave theatre, I mentioned to Jesse that we need to start talking about next years movie and I dont remember the exact response but it was not overwhelming enthusiasm. A little while later he told me he was going to do his own thing for the upcoming season and that JB Deuce was not going to continue. This blindsided me, although in hindsight there were signs, and really knocked me on my ass. As I pushed Jesse for answers I got an email breaking it down for me. Basically the email said that i didn’t contribute to the movie; in filming, in cultivating the next generation of riders, etc. This isn’t something I need to argue about through this blog. I am secure and confident in what I brought to the table over a 7 year period and, just like at the time it happened, arguing about it won’t change the other persons mind. It was very much like a break up where one person has their mind made up and the other wants to keep it going.
Jesse and I always saw things a bit differently and sometimes a lot differently. We shared a common love of snowboarding, skateboarding, alaska, and movie making. But if the parts of the movies done solely are compared there is a stark difference. I saw that difference and honestly appreciated it. I felt the movie needed it to balance out and better represent the range of people we were making the movies for. As time went on I could see that there were inevitabilities that I was fighting such as consumer buying trends. Our movies did really well in AK but only really sold outside of that because of the names we could get on the box or personal relationships with shop owners. We were told that consumers didn’t want a video that had skating and snowboarding together. These are ideas I knew were true but fought because I held close to the idea of why we started to make these movies; to showcase Alaskan snowboarders and skateboarders the way we wanted to see them (meaning more creative editing, etc.).
Jesse had gotten hurt and I think that reality set in that he needed to get this video thing to another level if it was going to support him. I on the other hand still held onto the idealism of it all. Don’t get me wrong; I am not pitting money vs ideals but it played a role and that is undeniable. And I certainly don’t speak for Jesse on this. I am just speculating and telling you my thoughts and feelings on the topic.
Jesse was always far more of an art person than I was and as Steezin came along he was spending a ton of time with Genovese whom is a very accomplished artist. I think some of Jesse’s artsy ideas ran into resistance from me and were nurtured by Geno and his other NW buddies like McCarthy that he was around all the time. Like I said, i dont have an issue with Jesse’s different view of snowboard movie making and I was happy those ideas gave the movies variety. And I don’t have an issue with Jesse wanting to hit the reset button on movie making and follow his own path. My issue is with how the break up happened. After being really close to someone for 7 years, not just close but really vested with that person on a number of levels, it truly broke my heart with the way it was all handled.
During my snowboard years I may have had an intimidating presence (not a tough guy obviously) and Jesse was definitely very non confrontational. I can only imagine that is why things went the way they did. By that I mean with no real communication of the issues he had with me. I was never approached with any of it. I never got an email or a second hand word or anything that let me know he didn’t like the path we were going down or that he wanted to make a change. I was never approached with the idea of changing any format or line ups or making it a snowboard only movie. I really feel that stems from his non confrontational nature facing squarely against my stubborness and knowing I was pretty set on the videos featuring Alaskans as well as both sports. Regardless of how uncomfortable it might of felt I believe he owed it to me to at least bring it up at some point rather than just walking without a word.
When the AV stuff went down with the JAG people and going to court Jesse didn’t seem to be involved. When I asked him about it,. it turned out he had a lawyer and talked to them independently, never mentioning it to me. That was pretty weird. When the crew came to tahoe to film they went on a mission to film a rock jib. I was told that half of us couldn’t go. I see this happen in big time movie crews but with us it was always more family style and we just let the shot quality dictate what got in the movie. When we were at Mt. Hood and the opening scene was shot, with the kids wearing different clothes, I wasn’t consulted about it and wasn’t even told the shoot was going on. Another rider came to the house I was at and asked why I wasn’t down there when they were shooting. Usually both creators of a movie come together to decide something important like the opening skit. Jesse decided that on his own and decided not to tell me he was shooting it. When the movie premiered he waited until the end of September/start of October to tell me he was out and I was on my own. If you’re familiar with making movies this doesn’t give me much time to pick myself up and figure out what to do and how I was going to do it. Jesse already had his movie plans in motion. I felt like someone challenged me to a race and fired the starter pistol while i was tying my shoes. When I got the email about how I was not contributing anything to the movie, after realizing arguing with that would get me nowhere, I offered up some alternatives but it was clear that nothing was going to happen. One of the alternatives was that JB Deuce could be the umbrella company and I would make the AK movie while he made a snowboard only movie with fresh faces. Jesse was not interested in being partners with me at all and told me that I could work for him and he would pay me for clips i submitted. That was a bit of a slap in the face.
All of these things hurt, the dissolution of the company hurt, the idea that the era of Boarderline movies had just ended hurt, but what hurt me the most was that I felt that friends don’t handle situations like that. I don’t mean friends don’t go different directions and it was clear that Jesse needed to go in a different direction. What I mean is that friends, and I truly thought Jesse was a close friend, don’t go about things in that fashion. I felt that after 7 years I was owed more than that. Maybe I’m wrong and really it doesn’t matter to anyone but me. I am just expressing where the broken heart came from. I know I can be hard to deal with and a pain in the ass but I also know that I went to bat for Jesse and a lot of people because I cared about everything we were doing and everyone involved. I know that if the shoe was on the other foot that I would have handled it differently. It’s been almost 11 years since this happened and it is something that saddens me to this day. Our movies were a unifying force in the Alaskan community and when we split things changed a lot. Couple that with Boarderline’s decline and closing two years later and our scene took a big hit and hasn’t been the same since. Changes happen in life and people go different directions. I don’t know that I’ll ever fully get over this because what we did together meant the world to me. Many people will just consider it a few videos but for me, it was so much more. We helped develop a community, give kids something positive to strive for and be a part of (and not just sponsored kids, any kid that could get in front of a camera), promote Alaska and Alaskans, and create something that represented everyone in our lifestyle. We used to pack the theatre with well over a thousand people because what we created touched skaters, snowboarders, their friends, their families, and maybe even two skiers.
We did great things with those movies and every bit of my heart is in them. And please understand that they wouldn’t have been what they are without Jesse. My pain comes from how Jesse dealt with our relationship, not with his artistic talent or choice of direction. Jesse is a great dude and has done so much for snowboarding. He has taken the idea of inclusion from our videos and presented it to the world with his continued works. He has made snowboarding accessible to the masses rather than just trying to shock the audience like the big budget movies do. And I want to congratulate him and Pika on their new child. They will be great parents.
I’m sorry if my venting of this rubs some people the wrong way but feel free to talk to me about it. On that note, I hope you enjoyed the video and again i’m sorry it took so long to put up. See you next time when I put “Nice!Gordon” up.
“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.
Here we go with the 4th video from JB Deuce Productions. SOTT was a really special movie because it marked the taking of the reigns. Up to this point our first three videos were made with us directing someone else (an editor) on what we wanted. The first movie was edited by us but had no real effects or edits to speak of. I was personally influenced a great deal by skate videos of the time and Transworld was really setting the benchmark. TWS vids were so progressive in their edits and film angles. I was just as impressed to watch the editing as I was to watch the skating. So when our editor gave us resistance on trying new things we decided it was time to pull up stake and set out to make our own future. It was understandable that Karl resisted our inundation of requests because each one just meant a lot more time, resources, learning, and effort for not much more money. We were young and progressive and wanted to explore and create so we new it was a change that had to be made.
I went out and bought a laptop (my first computer that was all mine), final cut pro, an external hard drive along with Jesse and I both investing in new cameras (the vx2000 that I bought is currently still capturing action in the capable hands of Brendon Hupp and you can see some of it at http://www.magichourmoves.com ). In the fall we both went down to southern California and planted ourselves in a hotel room, near newport beach, for a week and made a movie. In true JB Deuce fashion there are plenty of skate shots that came from breaks during the editing. Also we shot my skit in the hotel pool.
There is something really special about so-cal no matter how much everybody bags on it. I think thats the first time I had Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, i skated spots from videos with the homies, practically OD’d on Jamba Juice, and laughed a lot. We were just a few blocks away from Derek Liska’s short career at community college and he was always riding his beach cruiser to the motel trying to get spoilers for the vid. Leathard came out for a minute and dropped some skate magic.
we also spent a lot of time with Andy Simutis. I really can’t explain how important Andy was to the video. I met Andy years before at Mt. Hood. He took photos and shot video and was from the east coast. Eventually he moved out to Tahoe and also produced his own video magazine. Andy got a lot of pics of me published in mags and put me in his videos too. He was/is super cool and a tech nerd too. What i mean is he really knew his stuff when it came to everything we didn’t know about making a video. Like I said, I just bought my first computer and set up my first email just months before making this movie. Andy was our go-to guy when it came to anything we didn’t understand and let me tell you that editing programs and computers were so much more difficult to work with 14 years ago. Andy was our user manual and got frantic calls at all hours of the day and night about why something wouldn’t work and how many times we needed to hit the side of it before it would work. Andy lived in the Newport Beach area and that’s why we made our editing residence in that particular location. Thanks Andy, the vid would have never come together without you.
So you will see a lot of crazy edits; lots of rewinds, chops, and screws. I’m proud of these, not because they were ground breaking but because we figured out how to do them and by doing them we really stepped out of shackles. JBjango unchained! We also saw the quality of the riding and filming go way up. JB Deuce was gaining momentum. The crews in AK really started to take things seriously. We established something that the community knew was there for them and they worked hard to be a part of it. And by no means was that one sided. The relationship was symbiotic. I wanted to create a platform to showcase Alaskan talent. I wanted to represent the kids that busted their asses as best I could. All the kids that were in the movie made that possible. Without all the kids that had even one clip we would not have had a movie. Year after year the skaters and snowboarders of AK stepped up their game far above the expectations of anyone outside of Alaska.
So lets talk about the video. Here are some interesting things, at least I think, about the movie. Khris Bombeck, Jon Kooley, and I all lived together in Tahoe that year. We started the year living in a Motel 6 for three weeks while I was trying to buy a house in Truckee. Bombeck drove down from Montana with a rail he made. He figured out how to place the supports on the bumpers of the car and secure it with tie-downs. Bomber always had the spirit of making things happen, janky or not, against the odds or not. We would drive the rail up to tahoe, from our Reno Motel 6, ride it and then load it back on the car and head back to our cramped quarters. That rail is the rail you see coming out of the pond skim in some shots. This little pond forms in Truckee every year and as it melted I saw a little peninsula of ice left on it. I thought that we could build a jump on the ice where we would pond skim to the ice, ride up on it and hit the jump onto the rail and over the rest of the pond. So we placed the rail at the end of the pond and began to build the jump on the ice. As we built it the weight of the jump sunk the ice leaving us with a jump coming out of the water. This ended up being so much more cool than the original idea (although not much different). I had never seen anyone do this before but i did see some of the canadian guys do it a year or two later.
Oh and there was some fun being had at the pond. Mark Thompson stopped by for a session on the skim to rail and killed it as he usually does. The cops eventually busted up the party because they saw someone having fun. We also had another session on the pond skim without the rail. During that session a friend of Bombeck’s, Julian, came down to ride with us. On one of the skim runs Kooley stopped just short of the shore and Julian came in hot behind him laying down a carve that barreled Kooley like he was Rick Kane at the finals of the North Shore Pipeline Masters. As fans of Kooley know he can have a temper (usually displayed during a frustrating rail session) and he was PISSED! I’m sure matters were not helped by Julian talking shit and laughing the entire time too. That day also held one of the greatest wipeouts ever when Bombeck tried to half cab into the skim and did a full speed quarter cab to Scuba Steve impersonation. I hope I’m not mixing it up with a different trip but either way he came up with the pond’s version of sea weeds all over him.
There are some real standout parts for me. Lando’s style of big mountain domination shows it self more in each video. Mark really started taking his part to the back country yet at the same time he’s getting mixed in with some nasty kinked rails. He’s also doing tricks that rails kids of present would be stoked on. The best snowboarders have the foundational skills to be able to rip anything they come across and Mark is no exception. Another really special rider out of Juneau is Chris Currier. I feel like Chris epitomizes Juneau riding. Hard working, hard riding, no nonsense rippers with a lot of talent. Juneau always held the underdogs, the under appreciated riders. I’m sure i’ll miss someone but Lando, Firmbiz, Collard greens, Bubba, Chauncy, and just about anyone else that came out of there were really good. You could see what a difference it makes when people grow up free riding and learning how to ride their boards. When ever snowboard camp came around and the Juneau boys showed up they were a force to be reckoned with, on and off the hill.
The people’s champ also emerged in SOTT. “Double D”, Darien Draper came from Seward with a background in wrestling. After crushing kids on the mat he would crush the jumps with our crew. Darien rode with the stoke of a little kid and the power of a giant. Darien was the first person i ever saw do a double backside rodeo. I also believe that if he hadn’t gotten mixed up with a shady board company things could have really blown up for him. Darian is one of those guys that would give you the shirt off his back while breaking his back working hard for you.
Jerry Smyth also had a breakout part. Yet another skater that grew up with us from video one. He’s also in the list of guys that some how developed insane skills riding a skateboard in Alaska. Jerry always brought a laugh. The only thing that eclipsed his ability to have fun was his ability to backside tail huge ledges. Some of those ledges were practically chest high for Jerry.
Micah and Adrian continue to amaze. Micah’s skit really was as brilliant as his skating. If you know Micah then you know that he truly was in love with skateboarding. Everything revolved around skating and that was true rain or shine, good times or bad. Adrian started to blow up. This was the time that a lot of skaters that we first met when they were little started to get bigger and stronger. They grew into their frames and were able to use their talents to the fullest. When you watch Adrian’s part please remember that this was 14 years ago and that he skates almost fully in Alaska.
Pete Iversen….too smooth. This was the year that I got Pete in on some filming with Mack Dawg. So Pete and I got to go on some filming missions together and that was really rad. Everyone from AK knew Pete had the best style and serious skills and I was really stoked that the world got to see some of that. The funny thing is that Pete was in a frat at UW so I would come up to film and have to stay in the frat house with him. Im surprised he stayed friends with me over all the shit i gave him about secret handshakes and circle jerking initiations. Actually its not a surprise seeing as how Pete is one of the best people you could ever be friends with. I’ll tell you the truth about how I felt concerning Pete and I probably never told him this. We all wanted to do tricks like pros. People want to do a Chris Roach method or a Jamie Lynn cab 5. But at that time I was a pro and i just wanted to do tricks like Pete even though I knew I couldn’t. I would think about it at the top of jumps just before dropping in the same way any kid imagines themselves doing a trick like their favorite rider.
Also some other stand out moments; Jay Kuzma’s priceless commercial. Are those puka shells Jay? How about Mitch’s 180 nose grind on the round down rail at Mulcahy park? Did you know before Robi Gonzales was a famous drummer that he had snowboard skills like this? Before Andre Spinelli officially became the prince of Anchorage he was a rodeo master. And a big thanks to Kris Schutte for a solid box design.
As for my part…well I just wanted to usher in the year of the man capris the best I could. As for the skit, I have always been a fan of making myself the butt of the joke. If you can’t make fun of yourself then you have no place making fun of others and boy do I make fun of others. Back then TRL (total request live) was a video request show on MTV. I’m not talking about requesting internet videos, this was when they played music videos. You might have to check wikipedia to understand what a music video is if you’re under 20 years old. Anyway, I had fun doing the skit with the exception of having to buy that shirt and play that song loudly at the pool.
All in all this was a groundbreaking video for us but it felt like every year was groundbreaking in some way. I know that we finally started to feel a bit professional about it. I’ll wrap this up with a huge heartfelt thank you to everyone that was a part of the video, in front or behind the lens. You contributed to some of the greatest memories of my life. See you with the next video: The 49th Chamber.
100% is the third video effort between Jesse Burtner and myself. When I’m going to post these old vids, I like to watch them again and try to get reacquainted with them. When I share them I want to be able to share some of the insights or unique parts that people might not have known about the vids. At least thats the idea when I first pop in the video. What really tends to happen is I find myself smiling as the feelings of the moments captured, of that period of time and of my life wash over me. When we made the videos I think my mindset was pretty focused on delivering a package to the public. For me that package was a bundle of local talent, skilled tricks, fun, and camaraderie. What I didn’t realize until ten years later is that the importance of these videos was not in how sick a trick was or how gnarly a rail was, but rather in the feeling that was delivered when someone watched the video. The true gift comes in realizing the place in time, the place in peoples lives that the feeling will reside in. These videos will act as a bookmark in peoples lives. A dog eared page that they will hopefully turn back to, over and over, to remind themselves of what a great ride life can be. I’m really not trying to make these videos into something more than they are; please don’t think that. I know we never cured cancer or even a hangover. But i get a feeling when i watch them and that feeling is something special that I hope others feel too.
Ok, now that i’ve dried the tears, lets talk about this movie. This video marked Boarderline’s 10th year in business. I first walked into the shop just after they opened in 1989 and got my first hook-up two years later. I think thats another reason there were such deep feelings connected with the video. Many of us that were in the video, or around it, were part of the shop from it’s beginnings.
If you check out the pictures of the cover you can see that this was the first year we actually made a cover. Prior to 100%, the video covers were just a monotone cardboard cover. Jesse and I decided to go with the name “100%” because we felt that was what we gave to… well i was going to say to our riding but really it was so much more. We gave 100% of our lives to everything involved in the world you see in the video. Everything was about skating, snowboarding, making the video, being at the shop, putting on summer camp, doing demos, and hanging out with each other. If i wasn’t out skating or riding then i was at home watching videos or thinking of ideas for the movie, or driving around looking for spots. That feeling of being 100% involved didn’t just apply to me. I felt that coming from so many of the kids. Hell, even Liska was still around almost 24/7 at that time. But back to the cover. I came up with the idea to film the bloody 100% scene in the opener (We were so Dexter before Dexter) and I took that footage with me to a Burton catalog shoot in Chile. This catalog shoot was for the following season so Burton had a guy or two from their marketing company there to consult/oversee/understand the direction of the product for the catalog. One day, after getting off the hill, I showed the footage to the JDK Designs guy and he loved the concept and offered to help out. Shortly after returning from the trip I got an email with the 100% logo from Rich and Randy at JDK. I might be mistaken but I think the blood splatter was done by Chris Schutte (apologies if it was someone else). This was a huge step for us. We were starting to feel legit.
100% seemed to mark a time when some of the riders associated with the video really started to come into their own. A lot of guys really started to find themselves as riders and really let the talent bloom. Jon Kooley really shows some jumping skills. Jon is on a Burton board, which i believe means he was sponsorless. It was right after this that Jon came to live with me in tahoe and got sponsored by Atlantis. The point I’m trying to make is that he’s a super talented snowboarder and 100% was a glimpse of that just as it was starting to become really obvious to everyone that watched him. Mark Landvik was also getting on the scene quite a bit more. The free ride element that catapulted him into super star status was still a mystery to those outside of Juneau but the rest of us knew there was a style that we couldn’t turn away from.
This video also held parts from a couple close friends. Scott Leathard and I spent a lot of time riding and skating together since I was living in Tahoe and he was going to school a half an hour away in Reno. I’ve talked about Scott’s talent before but what really stoked me out and made me proud of him was that he put together a full part. Scott’s always been sick on a board but it was really impressive to see him get together a full part. I don’t know how he feels about it, I imagine he would tell you it all sucked, but there has to be some sort of satisfaction in knowing he was able to let so many different areas of his skateboarding shine.
Khristian Bombeck was one of my best friends during the last couple years of high school and for a number of years after that. After he graduated, he moved to Montana for college. I always loved riding with Khris. He was a frontside spinner while I was a backside spinner so I always got to see a different perspective when it came to attacking the hill. Khris also had a different idea of what type of tricks to do. I still cant figure out what the trick is that he does off a Montana jump, in his part, but my best guess is some sort of switch backside rodeo 7. I always rooted for Khris more than anyone. I wanted to see him make it in snowboarding because he was a good rider and an even greater person. A couple side notes about Khris and his part; Khris punctured a lung on a crash that is in the crash section, Khris had a little notoriety in snowboarding but moved on to become super successful with inventing a new type of coffee press ( http://alphadominche.com/steampunk/ ) , Khris had a hernia during one of our snowboard camps and would grunt super loud in the air when ever a trick went weird, causing a strain on the hernia, and I really miss riding with him.
Something pretty cool to think about is just how unreal the skating was back then. Maybe it’s because the park was better or maybe it’s because i’m not around it as much but Jerry, Mitch, Micah, Ant, and Adrian threw down stuff that I still don’t see being done at the rec center park 15 years later. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are a lot of really sick skaters in Anchorage. I’m just saying that I feel like i was privileged to be a part of something that was special. I got to be there, firsthand, to see some future pros and magazine cover holders really go hard in the paint. These guys were on the grind 24/7. I know Zak’s has some skaters that rip and I bet they approach it about the same as the old b-line crew (as evident in Ted Kim’s video “VX Days”) so I look forward to what comes from that camp. But I urge you to take a close look at what was really going down with the B-Line crew of old.
To be honest with you I was really blown away by the random radness I saw in the movie. There were so many people that had gems, even if only one or two, that are hard to believe now. I’m not saying every trick or line would have Jamie Thomas picking his jaw up off the floor. What I’m saying is that if you knew the person now then it might be hard to believe they once threw down that trick. For instance, Bill Preston has a 50-50 up the double kinked round bar at the skate park. If you know Bill you know he was much more known as a snowboarder and even though he skated, that trick was something rarely seen at a heavily populated skatepark. I just want to give some shout outs to some of the tricks along those lines. Burtner for one of the largest drops and funnest lines at what I think was Steven’s Pass. Deez for a sick free ride line. Randazzo for a huge blindside half cab at camp. Artie (don’t remember his last name) for a proper front flip, not one of those weak-ass nollies where the rider grabs behind their thighs like they’re a gymnast. The guy with the gold medal sun burn in the credits is also Artie. Blair Mitch’s one foot nose blunt slide on the pick nick table. There really are a lot of gems so I’m sorry if I didn’t mention them all.
I know this write up is long but I can’t shut it down without mentioning a few more people. Joe Hededus is now a loan originator but in 1999 he was another underrated Alaskan snowboarder. I really didn’t appreciate how rad he was until now. Ant came through like gang busters with the Miami Vice part. Isaac Abbott should have been called big smooth. Isaac is a stoutly built fellow that went huge on a skateboard and did it gracefully. Jason Chatfield came out of Eagle River Alaska along with Jon Kooley and myself. Chatty really got more graceful as time went by. Everything Adrian Williams skated turned to gold. Micah had the pound for pound biggest shoes of anyone and led the tech charge among anchorage skaters. Jerry crushing back tails and front blunts as well as two full moons.
I think thats about enough for now. I hope you enjoy the video and as always, please follow the blog and share it with as many people as you can. See you in a couple weeks with Survival of The Tightest.
This is the second video that Jesse Burtner and I put out. It was released in the fall of 1998. This video really represents us picking up steam and figuring things out. After Polar Bears, Dog Sleds, and Igloos we gained a bit of a following. We also realized that we could take this serious and make something of it. By something I don’t mean a lot of money. When I speak of making something of it I am talking about really representing our scene to the fullest. Polar Bears was made after the fact. It was a movie that we decided to put together after the season had started and really more so when the season was just about over. We went out and got some skate footage, mixed it with our own personal stuff we had shot and threw it together with what ever submissions we could get from anyone we knew. The videos following Polar Bears weren’t much different in that approach but the difference was starting out with the video as an end goal. As you can see this was the start of marketing (stencils spray painted on boards) and planning (with an actual logo). We were kids with a dream. Haha.
This was the year I won the X-Games big air and despite not getting an actual paycheck from Burton yet, I was able to not have to work in the shop during the summer. I was free to skate, film, and work on the video. This was really the same time that I was finally getting a taste of being a true pro snowboarder.
As I watched the video today, i really got a feeling for how amazing our scene was at the time. It was so strong. We didn’t have a great divide between the skaters and snowboarders. It felt like everyone really had each others back. The video became a centralizing component that drew everyone together towards a common goal. Boarderline was also a unifying element to the scene. Actually we can just go ahead and lump the two together because I think thats how most people saw it. Jesse and I always wanted to have it be our video that Boarderline sponsored but really it was the Boarderline video that we made. I’m more than fine with that assessment. All I really care about is the feeling I get when I watch the movie and knowing that so many others felt that as well. I know that the video captured some of the best times of my life.
Now let’s get to some stuff about the movie. First off let’s just talk about how sick it is that Belky, whom I still see all the time, started off a skate line by jumping off a two story house. I’m not talking about onto an airbag or mattresses. Belky jumped off a two story house using only the trusted tuck and roll as his exit strategy. He then popped up and ran to his skateboard and nailed a trick. Then there is Pete Iversen, Jesse, and myself onstage with Blink 182. This was back in the days of big air festivals. A promotor would set up a venue at a mountain which would include a big air jump, an area of tents for vendors to show up gear, and a stage featuring live acts. Say what you will about Blink but those guys were cool and they were down for our people back then. The video also features some people you might know before they were stars. Jon Kooley, whose name was misspelled in just about every video but his skills and style could never be forgotten. Burtners ambidextrous snowboarding was really starting to take off. A tiny Gus Engle can be seen ollieing off the first step at Hanshew along with Cody and Colton Liska. This is also the video where I think the world can really start to see the magic on a snowboard that is Mark Landvik. My old partner in crime, Stan Marsh, threw down some skating that surprises me more today than it did 16 years ago.
And if you watch the credits where I am rolling around the Girdwood park, with a boom box to my ear, you can see a tiny grom by the name of Sammy Luebke cruising behind me. Boy did that kid every grow up to make a mark on snowboarding as well as crushing it on a skateboard.
I think it’s important to think about some other standouts in the video. Pete Iversen was an inspiration. He was the original second coming of Jamie Lynn before Mark Landvik was the next Jamie Lynn. Pete was always smooth and controlled, a style that landed him on the am program for the early Ride snowboard team and some parts in Mack Dawg movies. Pete always had a great attitude and put on a fakie spinning clinic for all of us that weren’t so skilled. Sometimes you just don’t know how special someone is, and their riding, while you share a slope with them. Sometimes you have to put the footage away, in a plastic tub for a decade or two, before you realize just what they brought to the table. You were always one of my favorites Pete, and you always will be.
The skateboarding was always my favorite part of the early vids because I wanted to be as good as the other kids but just wasn’t. It was like getting to watch the unattainable right before your eyes. This video was where Adrian really hit a growth spurt and you can see that his skating showed it. Suddenly he was up on much bigger stuff and hopping off much bigger stuff. Northern Exposure really showcased the early Micah that many know as a creative genius on a board. Anthony Black also came into his own and forced everyone to see what he had to offer. I have to mention how stoked I am that i got to be good friends with Scott Leathard. We skated and shredded together and he always had the patience to try to help me move forward with skating no matter how easily it came to him.
As for me, well, I was angry. I was probably angry because I still pushed mongo footed. Haha. That was a time where I was 23, raised on punk music, and spent everyday in the streets. I’m not saying I was in the streets like I came from the hood or anything like that. Im just saying that as a skater, I was out there everyday, in a time when skating wasn’t really cool and people generally didn’t like us. I was pretty aggressive and super protective of the skaters I was with (which were always younger). So that meant a lot of run-ins with cops, security guards, jocks, drunks, and others. Just a great time to be alive and a part of what was happening in the Alaska skate/snow scene. So that’s a long winded explanation of the music selection. Haha. Don’t worry, it gets better in later vids. And for some reason I wanted to jump off everything on my skateboard. Classic case of balls being bigger than skills.
The main thing I love about this movie is that it brought us all together. There were great kids from Fairbanks, the Juneau boys were amazing, and when you throw in the talent pool around Anchorage it made for a thriving scene. I don’t know where that went or if it can be revived but I’m forever grateful that I was a part of it. I want to say thanks to every kid that held a camera, rode a board, or supported those that did. I also want to say thanks to all the parents that drove your kids to the skatepark or the hill and brought them into Boarderline or to one of our movies. You people should all be proud of what you helped make and know that I sincerely love you all for it.
Hope you enjoy the vid. Subscribe to the blog, share it, download the vid and do what ever you can to get it out there. See you in two weeks with the next one.
This video was the first collaborative effort between Jesse Burtner and myself. I graduated high school in 1993 and went back to my shop/technology teacher, Mr. Bernard, and asked to use the video editing equipment. Abe Bombeck, Khris Bombeck, and myself made a horribly janky video, filmed almost entirely on a full size vhs camera, from the 1992/93 winter, and titled it “Against the Grain.” Well, I was hooked after that. I would film skating and snowboarding when ever i had spare time and would produce a video each season of myself and a couple friends. The vids were only a couple songs long but I loved making them and would send them out as a way to show my sponsors what I was doing.
We first showed “Against the Grain” before a Boarderline movie premier at the now defunct Mia Culpa coffee shop. You’ll see how rough the video was when i post it in the near future. The part i remember most about that premier was that despite how low budget and ghetto the video was, I was so proud of it. I was proud of it because I knew the Bombecks and I were onto something. I knew we were pushing snowboarding and we were doing it from a tiny hill. We were hitting street spots and all kinds of things that people just weren’t doing in AK. Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. The point I am trying to get to is that was the night Jesse Burtner showed a movie he made too (if my memory serves me correctly). I knew, actually i think we both knew we had found a kindred spirit in the desire to make these videos.
We didn’t come together for a few years but when we did we formed something that was magic. It wasn’t magical in the camera work or ground breaking riding. It was magical in that it became something that unified the community. When i say the community i’m speaking of the snow and skate community in Alaska. We were able to capture our friends, our mountains, our town, our home. We were able to capture, box, and present that thing that makes people fall in love with riding a board in Alaska.
There are kids that will watch this that didn’t snowboard before gopro was invented. They just won’t understand how a grainy video, with sketch riding, could be anything other than a waste of server space. Hopefully most of you will look a little deeper and catch a glimpse of what it was like when everyone in the scene knew each other and rode together. Hopefully you will crack a little smile as you are reminded of what it was like when every mission was just piling into the car and bringing the camera along to catch what ever you stumbled upon.
This video was made at a time when I was still working at Boarderline. In the summer, when I came back from my pursuit of being a professional fun-haver, I would go back to my position of board slinger at the shop. It was before I ever got a paycheck from a company or had a computer to edit on. Actually it was made before we even edited on computers at all. Jesse and I returned to Chugiak High School and Mr. Bernard’s Technology lab to edit this video on a linear system. For those that don’t know what that is it is basically playing a tape in one vcr ( and if you don’t know what that is then we might be in trouble) while recording the shots you want on another vcr. You have to record each clip in the order you want it to go (in a line) and there is no going back and inserting. Think of it as putting together a string of train cars.
As you watch this video I hope you notice some things so I’ll point them out just to make it easier. The video showcases the skating of Think Skateboards pro Adrian Williams, Big Brother magazine cover shot holder Micah Hollinger, and Thrasher cover shot holder Jerry Smythe. Notice how small Adrian and Jerry are back then. Also this video has shots from what I believe was the first ever Boarderline snowboard camp. Another notable fact is that I am indeed pushing mongo in my skate shots. As a former Mongo, I can tell you that its like being left or right handed; its just how you set the board and start pushing. I can also tell you that I am proof that Mongo doesn’t have to ruin your life, it can be overcome. The first few movies I pushed Mongo then I taught myself to push the right way. Its never too late to learn to push correctly. There is plenty more to enjoy with this video but I’ll let you explore it for yourself.
This is the video of the three week road trip Kelly and I took this summer. We skated every park we could find along the Alcan. We went through Seattle, Portland, Tahoe, Vegas, LA, Venice Beach, Camarillo, up the PCH to Santa Cruz and San Francisco, and back up to Anchorage. Trip of a lifetime. Get out there and see the world.
Editors note: By no means does the author represent this to be great, or even that good of skateboarding. Its just to show the fun of a road trip. I know you can all skate better than me so don’t trip. HAHA. This video was shot entirely with GoPros and an iPhone.
I’ve driven the Alcan (Alaska Canada highway) in the neighborhood of 16 times, 13 of those have been solo trips. I’ve driven the road in beautiful sun, blasting music, and I’ve driven it in snowstorms. I’ve pulled a sled, a cargo trailer with my life packed inside, and taken the dog a few times. I’ve slept in the car most of the trips unless it was too cold. I’ve woken up to -30F temps. I woke to a flat trailer tire in a tiny town with no tire iron to fit the lugs and I’ve blown a trailer tire in the middle of a snow storm, at night, with no room to pull off the road. I’ve hit a few birds including one about the size of a hawk that smashed the passenger side of the windshield.
In the past, driving the Alcan was always a utilitarian journey. As a matter of fact I can’t even call it a journey because that would lead you to believe that there was some sort of adventure to it. Other than the inherent risks, most of which became a reality somewhere along the years of driving the road, I really just saw it as a way to get my car between Tahoe and Alaska and I usually tried to get it done as fast as possible. Admittedly I am quite a loner so there is some appeal to a week of introspection but that usually wears off around day 3.
The idea to take the Alcan trip, and let it be the journey it begs to be, spawned from a few things. Maybe it’s my version of a mid-life crisis. More likely it’s that I don’t have a rush to be somewhere anymore. More likely it’s that I met someone who’s eyes are wide to what the world holds but hides from those not willing to search for it. Yeah, it’s definitely the girl. I wanted to explore but I also wanted to share. I needed to share. There are certain times in life when I question my self worth. Sharing, teaching, and showing others what I’ve learned help out with that. So I planned a trip where we would drive down the Alcan, hitting all the parks we could find along the Canadian leg of the trip. From there we would go through Seattle, Portland, Tahoe, Vegas, LA, up the California coast, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and back to Anchorage. We had three weeks off of work, skateboards, go-pros, iPhones, an air mattress, a tent, a cooler, sunglasses, and the plan that if it looks fun; stop and do it.
A few years back, the only skatepark I knew of along the Alcan was in Whitehorse, YT. The last few solo trips I made, I decided to do some searching and each trip has uncovered a few more parks. It appears as though Canada really likes skateparks, having one in almost every small town along the way. It also appears that Canada really believes in investing in their youth because almost everyone of the parks is made of concrete rather than the plastic and metal fabrications we consider ourselves lucky to have in Anchorage. A concrete park says that the town believes in the youth and won’t be yanking away the privileges if they don’t like what they see.
The Yukon part of the drive is where most of the wildlife is. Brown bears, black bears, buffalo soldiers, maybe a dreadlock rasta, and moose all made an appearance in the Yukon. We also had a red fox run right across the skatepark in Whitehorse.
As we cruised down in to the lower 48 we managed to hit burnside and work out a meeting with one of my fellow pro shreds from back in the day. Bobby Meeks, who is now the…. well he’s just a big wig at the Nike snow program, met up with us and let us skate the NikeSB skate park! We were all alone, which is bad for seeing the insanity that could go down on those features but good so I didn’t embarrass myself. Aaaaand Mr. Meeks is no slouch on the board, throwing some tre flips up the euro gap (if you didn’t understand that sentence then just go to your local skate shop and ask). It was great seeing Bobby again after a number of years. He is a great guy and super cool to take some time off the greens to let us skate the park.
After that we were headed to Tahoe. Back to the stomping grounds that I called my home away from home for the past 18 or so winters. My old roomie, Jon, put us up in his Reno mansion, which was a nice break from the air mattress. The next morning brought breakfast with all the old crew. There are times when you realize how grateful you need to be and this breakfast was one of those times. The people I shared breakfast with; Jon, Bryce, Mike, and MJ are good people. They are the type of guys that would go to bat for you and drive to the store at 3 am to buy the bat too if thats what needed to be done. As people drift in and out of each others lives it can be easy to overlook how special that is. Having four of those guys, all at one table, laughing and talking shit again, gave me the reminder I needed of just how lucky I am.
We went up to the lake to see my old house, check out the “woodward” at Boreal (which looks like a dreamland), and jump in the water. Lake Tahoe is more than a mile deep so even when it’s melting hot out you can expect to freeze when you get in. It’s shocking how cold it is. After a burger at the char-pit and a stop at Donner Summit we hit the road to Vegas. I played poker for a living for about 5-6 years after my pro snowboarding days ended so I love getting back to the tables in Vegas. The idea, again, was to show Kelly some of my favorite spots and hopefully discover a few new ones while getting to play a WSOP event. For those of you that have some time, Vegas has a lot of concrete parks and they range from decent to amazing. If you go for a skate trip though, make sure you go when the weather is nice, usually late October through April. May through October is just stupid hot and dry. Oh and don’t forget there is a ski hill about 45 minutes from the strip that is open from about late November to the end of March. Its a small hill but they usually make a pretty fun park.
So Vegas was a mix of great food, shopping, a little poker (which didn’t yield a payday), and a last minute ditch skate session before hitting the road to So Cal. The not so funny part about California is how crowded it is. After driving for a week and just being able to camp anywhere or pull over and sleep in the car, we thought it would be no problem to drive up to one of the state park camping spots on the beach. WRONG! WRONG! As I drove from spot to spot I soon found out that these spots can be filled up to a year in advance. The only real lottery ticket you can hope for is if you show up late and there is a last minute cancellation. So no beach camping for us….yet.
Our next adventure waited for us in the mountains, the Magic Mountain to be specific. I grew up going to Magic Mountain and love it. They also have Hurricane Harbor, a water park, so we hit both in the same day. I didn’t mention it but So-Cal was going through a heat wave during our visit. I’m not talking about an Alaskan heat wave where 85 is record setting. I’m talking 107 in the parking lot. But Jason, you’re at a water park, what’s the big deal? That’s what I thought as I put my shoes in the locker and headed out to find comfort in the watery oasis. What I found instead was the smell of burning flesh as I tried to run from wet puddle to wet puddle on concrete that wouldn’t have just cooked an egg, it would have evaporated it.
The heat plays an important role in our harrowing tail and it’s role shall be revealed momentarily. Meanwhile, the fair maiden Kelly, bravely overcame her fears of nearly vertical water slides, water induced wedgies, long lines on hot concrete, and what looked like a field trip from a nike shoe factory in the lazy river (hundreds of kids). What Kelly could not overcome was gravity with a little help from heat. As we stood in line to get tubes for another water slide, Kelly leaned over and put her hands on her knees. There was no shade for the line and she was feeling the heat. She had her head down and her knees locked straight. The knees locked can cut off blood flow and standing up after having your head down can make you light headed. Have you guessed where this is going? When she stood up she wasn’t responsive to me talking to her (nothing new here since I have the same effect on most women) and her eyes glazed over. I put my arm around her just as she fainted! WOW, I’ve never seen someone faint in person. Her face lost all color and her body went limp. She slumped towards the ground and the body that I usually pick up and twirl around with no problem suddenly felt like 200 pounds. I lifted her back up and she came back to life. She asked what happened and I told her Hugh Jackman (her celeb crush) was just here hanging out but she was taking a nap.
On to the real fun; roller coasters. Not much to tell other than we splurged and got the flash pass that lets you basically skip the lines. Pricey. Super Pricey but worth it. Thrills were had and nobody fainted.
We cruised back to our hotel in LA and then to catch the tail end of the night at the Comedy Store on Sunset. If you haven’t been to a comedy club then let me help you adjust your expectations. The general thought is that seeing a comedian is like seeing a Comedy Central or HBO special where the comedian is on top of their game and killing it. When you go to a comedy club in LA or New York, this is where the best comedians live and hang out night after night. These clubs are not where they showcase their best honed act, it’s where they practice. Think of it like a skatepark. Skaters go to skateparks to practice, to learn new tricks, to see what works and what doesn’t so that when the contest or film mission happens then they can shine. An LA or NY comedy club is like a comedians skatepark. They aren’t worried about polish, they are trying out new stuff and seeing what works and what doesn’t. If you love comedy then its great to see and you will hear some great material but don’t go thinking you’ll see a polished showcase. That said, we stayed till the bitter end and I mean BITTER end. There were 4 of us left watching the last guy and he was a shock comedian that liked to talk about the rudest stuff you can imagine. I’m a fan of any comedy but that kind of stuff goes over much better when you have an audience of people to ohhhh and ahhhh about what he said. What ever, it was fun.
Venice Beach was our first stop the next day. We cruised around the freak show and played in the waves just long enough to build up an appetite for fried pizza. If you’re gonna go big then go all the way. Might as well deep fry that slice just in case there isn’t enough grease from the pepperoni. Other than my heart actually jumping out and slapping me, it was pretty good.
Someone wise once said that man can not live by fried pizza alone, so we took off to the Dodger game and crushed some dodger dogs and peanuts. Growing up in So-Cal, the Dodgers have been my team since day one. My grandma would take me to games all the time and was even cool enough to let me wait by the player parking area for autographs. Dodger games bring back everything amazing about my childhood and everything I love about So-Cal. It was a really meaningful part of the trip since my grandma has passed. It allowed me to feel a little closer to her through something we loved sharing.
Venice is such a cool place that we decided we had to go back. Actually Kelly decided we had to take a surfing lesson so back to the beach we went. We found Wagner Lima at Jay’s Rentals and he took us out for a bit. An interesting note is that there is a small jeti out in the water and evidently it’s a little easier to learn on the lookers left side. Another interesting note is that the lifeguards shut the lookers left side to surfing at noon. If you have a surfboard then you have to head to the lookers right side of the jeti. Those notes might not have been that interesting but this one is, trust me. Wagner does not like to have his students told where they can or can’t surf. The life guards love to tell people where they can and can’t surf. So a little war of wills started and Kelly and I were the pawns. The Lifeys kept yelling at us to leave the water and Wagner would tell us to not look at them, just paddle back out. He told us that if we went all the way to the beach we would have to get out but if we didn’t they couldn’t make us. It was pretty sick to see a little bit of the “middle finger to the man” mentality still left in our watered down Mt. Dew backed board sports. It really started to get heated. Some “good samaritan” kept coming up to me and telling me the lifeguard wanted to see me, that I needed to go in. After a few times of him coming up to me, I finally just said “Don’t worry about it. What do you care?” He looked a little stunned and walked away. Finally it reached a point where there were just a couple of us on boards in the water and everyone else on shore watching to see what action the frantically yelling Lifeys were going to do. We finally headed in and Wagner gave them some choice words, much along the lines of the locals telling off the haole (how-li)surfers in “North Shore”. Good times.
After catching few good waves, not just mushy reforms, we packed up and started the trek back north. We still had a week left before going back to work but the bitter sweet sting of knowing we were on the downhill of the trip was starting to bite at me. It’s easy to get fixated on how the trip is almost over and most of the specific “things” on the itinerary are in the rear view mirror but thats also an easy way to lose the rest of the trip. Ever so often I have to take myself aside and remind myself of that point, on this trip and in life. They say its not over till its over, that is unless you decide to let it be over before that.
We combed state park after state park until we found an open camp site, just as the sun was setting, at Rufugio Beach (just north of Santa Barbara). We set up the tent and I knocked back a cold one (root beer) by the fire. It was a nice little reminder that it wasn’t over yet.
All my years in California and I have never driven the PCH all the way up the coast. Damned if we weren’t going to keep the adventure going right up along the waters edge. We stopped at a vineyard for Kelly to do a tasting (strictly research for work) and then managed to find a Sea Lion rookery. I thought we might see one or two or maybe it wouldn’t be the right season and the beach would be empty. I was stoked to be wrong. The beach had been stormed by what looked like a casting call for a beach version of the Biggest Loser, tons and tons (literally) of enormous sea lions waddling around, belching out communication, kicking up sand as they jiggled in and out of the water. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
We made it to San Francisco just about 1am and found out just how true it is when people say that in SF you’re only one street away from the ghetto. We circled around looking for our last minute internet booked hotel and luckily they wouldn’t honor our reservation. We found another place that was great but the street we drove down twice to find it was pretty much a scene out of the nastiest open drug market scenes on “The Wire.” It was a street filled with Zombies waiting to erupt but turn the corner and it looked like a clean, empty, beautiful, downtown night in the city.
When the sun rose we hit the streets and walked all over town. We walked to China town, down to Fishermans Wharf, and up to Lombard Street. We crushed some fish and chips then hit the road before that city bankrupted us. We caught the tail end of some giant redwoods before the sunset, another first for me. That about wrapped it up for us as far as new places. From that point on it was back on course, with a vengeance, to make it back to AK in time for work. We still managed a stop at all the skateparks and never once threatened to kill each other, at least not seriously.
There were a lot of firsts on this trip. First road trip with Kelly, Kelly meeting my Uncle, cousin, and lower 48 friends, first time doing the trip for fun, first time all the way up the PCH, and on and on. But perhaps the biggest first was that this was Kelly’s first time in California. She had a somewhat negative opinion of the state based on, well I’m not sure what. When we left California that had changed. She loved the beauty of Nor-Cal, the beaches of So-Cal, and everything the state offered in things to do. She might have liked the weather a little bit too. I’m not telling you this because I work for the California tourist board. I’m telling you this because traveling can be one of the greatest parts of being alive; if you let it. In my younger years of traveling I would often have a preconceived negative idea about a place I was going, just like Kelly did with Cali. The difference is that she was open enough to let the experiences speak for themselves. She let the each day present her a new adventure and accepted the challenge. She opened herself to the experience and found that the joy of the journey could shed light upon the shadows of worrying about the destination.
It was the best trip I’ve ever been on. Thanks to everyone that helped make it so rad.
Well hello there folks. It’s been a while since I last posted. I simply fell behind in my writing, not my snowboarding. I’ve been trying to squeeze in every last day, hour, and run I can before the snow is gone.
Let’s ease back into things with this throwback thursday. These shots are from the Boarderline snowboard camp half-pipe at Alyeska. The shots are from summer 1996 (I’m pretty sure). I’m not sure who took the shots. Another interesting fact is that I’m riding a 162 Supermodel Burton in the black and white shots. I’m pretty sure I rode that board because I had been with Johan Olofsson and seen him rip on that board. That’s right, at no time have i ever been afraid to have heroes in snowboarding.
Finally got a day off ( I say that just as I return from a three week hiatus during the remodel where I work) and it was sunny. Kelly and I headed up to Alyeska to take advantage of spring’s arrival. It was a beautiful day but the wind and passing clouds kept things just cool enough to be pretty crunchy still. It was one of those days where it was sooo close to being sick but it just didn’t get there. Never mind all that noise though, we were just excited to get some sun. Hibernation is ending in the great white north and it’s time for visibility to come out of it’s winter slumber.
By my estimation there are two types of mountain conditions that are fun to ride in. One is powder, duh. The second is when it isn’t powder but it starts to soften up and becomes “Nook and cranny” time. Nook and cranny time is where I slow down a bit and start searching the mountain for every little spot I can find to perform some Mountain Dew inspired extreme maneuvers. On our April fools day mission I was able to find a few nooks and one cranny.
Here are some pics.
I also managed to narrowly avoid the wrath of a grumpopotimus. Kelly tends to get a little grumpy when she can’t get herself to try what she wants to try. There were some issues with the backside 360 progress and that sat about as well as a pea under the princesses mattresses. The funny thing about Kelly is her range of emotions connected to snowboard discontent. She’s grumpy when she can’t make herself try something or get it right and she gets mad, aggressively mad, when she get’s scared of something. We’ve had some interesting moments as I’ve tried to film her jump off a cliff or two that she was scare….. umm lets say she was cautious about hitting. Haha.
With all that said, I love it. I love that I get to ride with someone that is passionate and feels the emotion of snowboarding. I love that she feels the pain when she has trouble with tricks and that she explodes with joy when she conquers the task. It means that Kelly is in love with snowboarding. It means that it is deep in her heart and she cares about it. It means we are the same in that area of life. And all of that translates into me having more fun, riding longer, and being happier because I get to ride with her. That is as long as I can handle a little yelling when she gets gripped.
Here are some photos from our hike of Alpenglow. We took off up the back valley bowl, then proceeded left to the peak, and finally rode down the ridge a bit and back into the gully/bowl area back to the parking lot. All in all it was a nice hike but the lookers left side, as you hike up the back bowl was pretty thin at top and variable in spots. When I found a few windlips the snow was deep and awesome. Better route choices in future.
This is not the traditional magazine shot but the rules are somewhat loose here. As long as it’s been in print then it works. This was the promotional poster printed up for Alpenglow when they sponsored my movie “Nice! Gordon.” The main shot and the first of the three stacked photos are of myself. The karate kid is Andre Spinelli and the stylish backside 180 is Walter Bombeck. All the shots were taken by Alex “Lord have mertzy” Mertz. And only I can take credit for the ridiculous fake Burberry jacket.
I chose this one because I always have such a fond place in my heart for Alpenglow. The oh so popular diving board platform that I’m launching off seems like a great feature to mess around on but it serves as a reminder of the greatness that once occupied that space. The platform is the base of the top tower of the lift that was once on that side of the ski area. “The military side” as it was simply known was as simple as Paris Hilton’s mind yet held an endless potential for fun. The one lift was run by the military until it was shut down and the lift and lodge removed in 2003.
As I grew up in Eagle River, Alpenglow was the spot to be and the military side was the spot to get busy. The military side boasted a round lodge with a fireplace in the middle, a cook named TC that was the saltiest sweet old lady you ever met, and a manager named Jeff who’s hair-do had one of the meanest spiked parts and a solid mullet foundation. What they also had was a willingness to open the mountain to us and let a shredder shred. They gave us the freedom we sought and reeled us back in if we got out of line. And through that give and take a great deal of respect formed. It’s amazing how angsty teens will act if you don’t treat them like a fire that you’re sure will rage out of control the second you take your eye off of it.
I’m starting to turn this into a throwback thursday so I’ll try to pull it back. The photos were taken in the spring of 2004 when I was shooting “Nice! Gordon” and it was awesome to work with Alpenglow. The year before, when working with Jesse Burtner on “Steezin for no Reason”, Alpenglow also came through with help in the form of features to ride and film on. I was just really happy to be able to give the mountain some dues for all it had given me in my snowboard infancy.
I have always been incredibly proud to have come from Alpenglow and I was just as proud to feature the mountain in my movie. The coat I’m wearing…. well, I probably won’t be as proud of that down the road.
Thursday I’ll give you another shot from Alpenglow and tell some of the adventures that I’ve been through on that hill.
This shot is from the desk at Stratton Mountain where prizes were handed out for the 1997 US Open. I won the event and took home $5000.
Before talking about one of the biggest days in my snowboard career let me take you back and give you a little (probably a lot by the time I’m done writing) of my US Open history. Although I took part in the US Open in 1994, it was 1995 that was the big year. 1995 was my second season riding for Burton. When I was at the Open I heard they were about to run an event called the “Big Air” and though it was unfamiliar to me at the time it would become my snowboarding comfort zone.
The interesting part about the Big Air was that the registration staff was essentially allowing riders to campaign to be in the contest. I was told that riders could write an essay petitioning the registration panel to allow the rider entry to the contest. I was a small timer that had no real results beyond USASA contests but I would not be denied. I lit up and geeked out, channeling Jim Carrey, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?”
It was a scene straight out of “A Christmas Story” as I put pen to paper and composed my masterpiece. Point after point, tearing at the heart strings, drowning in logic, compelling and riveting, outlining my clearly undeniable destiny. A+++++++++++++. Ok so it might not have pulitzer worthy but I did pour my little snowboard heart out. I told them about how I was from the west coast and this was a rare chance for me to impress my east coast sponsor (Burton), how I was better at jumps so I had a better chance to make an impact on Burton, and a bunch of other scribblings that took up half a page. Somewhere along the line I put the correct words in and found myself cleared for entering the line up of the first ever US Open Big Air.
The way I remember it, the jump was barely two mounds of snow pushed up, a take off and a landing, and anything but big. To me it seemed about 20 feet but I believe it was approximately 42ft of gap. The take off was no more than a few feet high and the landing was about the same. It was a glorified boardercross jump in all honesty. As bas as all that sounds I couldn’t wait to hit it. Not a damn person in the world knew who I was there and I would keep it that way for two more years. Haha.
At that point Big Air was just a concept, an idea understood about as much as Alta understands snowboarding. Regardless of that we hit the jump a few times, drew a crowd, Kale Stephens flew off the side and tried to shrink the crowd by a few, and we started the ball rolling for a whole new area of competitive snowboarding. Jim Rippey got first, I got second, and Michelle Taggert got third. That’s right, a woman competed with the men, held her own, and got a podium spot.
The response was good enough that big air got a foot hold and stayed at the US Open. In 1996 the jump was huge (about 65ft cheese wedge) for it’s time. I believe I threw down something along the lines of a backside 540 but not much else and I didn’t place. I did catch the eye of Mike McIntyre, of Mack Dawg Productions, who asked me if I wanted to film with him when I got back to Tahoe (Mack Dawg Productions was the gold standard for freestyle snowboarding movies. I wore out movie after movie their productions in the VHS years.). That’s another story for another day but the point to see here is that this was just another dream coming true due to being part of the US Open.
1997! Finally the story about the picture above. Big air was a full fledged, fully respected event at this point. All the heavy hitters from the freestyle world were present. I felt like the bat boy getting to play in a real major league game. I was walking amongst giants while trying not to scrape my jaw as it was dragging on the ground. How did some kid from Eagle River, Alaska get to this point?
I was still an unknown and the thing I have found about anonymity is that its a freeroll; I couldn’t lose. If I go all out and fall then nobody knows me anyway so no big deal. There are no expectations on the unknown. Failure just maintains anonymity. But….but if I go all out and do well then there is a real story: Unknown wows crowd. If I go all out and stick everything then I will really make a splash. Well a splash was made. I WON!!!!!! Amongst the giants Peter Line and Jamie Lynn I WON!!!!!!!!!! Trick after trick was thrown, some landed, many crashed, as I did a backside 720 tail grab and a backflip 180 with a frontside grab and I WON!!!!!!!
I know, chill on the winning stuff already. I’m just trying to let you know how it felt. I really saw myself as just a kid that tried to snowboard as much as I could. This was all a dream to me, an honor to be a part of it and to ride with my heroes.
When the awards were held they lined us up on the top of the jump as people littered the flat between the take off and the landing and all down the landing. They handed us champagne and we did the spraying thing that people do on the podium. After that something happened that impacted me a great deal and really drove home how much people pay attention to athletes or public figures and what they do (and I wasn’t even a big deal like ball players or nascar drivers lol).
Those that know me well know that I don’t drink. I’ve never had a drink in my life. So as the bottles were sprayed and the foam cleared I poured out what was left in my bottle. After that I started doing interviews with media people on the edge of the landing. After about 15 minutes things died down and I was wrapping up. I noticed two kids making their way up the landing and they came over to me. They waited until they got a chance and said hi. As I said hi back the older of the two (maybe 17 or so) said he just wanted to tell me that he and his brother didn’t drink and they thought it was cool that I poured out the rest of the bottle rather than drinking it. They noticed that from the bottom of the jump and felt compelled to make their way up to tell me. That hit me hard and has always been a really amazing life moment for me.
Ok so I was freaking out about winning. I got other competitors to sign my bib and told them what an honor it was to ride with them. That’s when Jamie Lynn said “You earned it” and that’s when I had to change my underwear. I got props from Jamie twice in my life and for those that don’t understand what that meant to me it would be like Jordan telling you that you had a good jump shot. I’ll hold onto those moments like they are trophies. They’ll take center space on the mantle in my mind.
As I went to collect my prize I couldn’t believe it was cash and not a check. The cashier counted out 50 Benjamin’s and handed them over. I was officially baller. So I went out and did what any baller would do; I went to dinner, a celebration dinner. I drove down to McDonald’s and damned if I didn’t supersize that meal without even thinking about it twice. Then I went back to my room and just reveled in the moment. I counted the money a bunch of times. I am pretty sure I made it rain and in 1997 only dancing Indians made it rain not Lil Wayne. Then I arranged the bills all in the same direction and by face size. Then I did this
HAHAHA. I know, i’m a dork. I couldn’t help it. I had hours alone in my room before my flight early the next morning and I couldn’t get over what had just happened. It was my way of not letting the moment go. Another funny note was that I had to fly home with 5K in my pocket. I was sure everyone could tell I had it and was scheming to steal it. I kept my hand on it at all times to make sure I wasn’t pick pocketed and to ensure it didn’t fall out of my pocket. The most enjoyable anxiety I’ve ever had.
In 1999 I broke a rib overshooting the landing of the big air and in 2000 I got second in the event. More US Open stories another day. I’ve had an amazing unbelieveable experience with the event and will be forever grateful to have been a part of it.
The photo was taken by Alex Mertz, 2005 at Hilltop Ski Area.
This week we feature an odd creature. Gussias Shredorsus. If you don’t recognize him from his genus/species name then perhaps you will know him better as Gus Engle. If you’ve ever taken a biology class then you have probably had a bit of an introduction to evolution through the process of natural selection. If not then please allow me to butcher the concept in order to make a weak metaphor describing Gus.
The idea of evolution through natural selection is (and please understand I’m trying to make this as simple as possible rather than a detailed research project) that genes produce characteristics and those can be different among a species. The characteristics that work the best allow those that posses them to survive and most likely mate with others possessing those characteristics causing those characteristics to pass on through the population. Conversely those that don’t posses the characteristics that best allow for survival tend to take an early dirt nap. As this goes on then eventually all of the species end up with that trait. Google “Darwin’s Finches” for further explanation.
Snowboarding has always been an evolving animal. The skills have evolved, the trends in tricks change, the popular disciplines shift, and the fashions are about as safe as a kid in the shower with Jerry Sandusky. Gus also has evolved through the years from little grom, to baggy pants kid, to rail guy, to creative soap-dodging inspiration. Gus has figured out the parts of snowboarding that work for him and put a smile on his face and let those characteristics of his riding carry on while the other parts die off.
While most up and coming shredders try to figure out how to do a press like Joe Sexton or narrow their stance like Jed Anderson they seem to forget that snowboarding isn’t about being like others. I don’t think snowboarding is about not being like others either; it’s really just about being yourself. We will all find inspiration from others but a key part of snowboarding, or any other art form, is to use that inspiration to uncover our own vision. We should strive to uncover our own truth and by truth I mean seeing what is inside ourselves and releasing it. Release it not in hopes that everyone sees it and recognizes a rider for it but rather because releasing it is what frees us. Snowboarding is about freedom and making up your own rules, not caring what others think, and doing what makes you happy. If you can’t find any of those things in your riding then you are snowboarding for the wrong reasons and you should just get it over with and go buy some skis.
Gus has found his truth and his freedom in snowboarding the way he wants to. I haven’t always liked the tricks he does or the clothes he wears but I love that he has the desire to do those tricks and wear those clothes (and for the record, as well as Gus’s sensitive feelings, I do like most of the tricks he does). Snowboarding would be boring if everyone all did the same tricks and all looked the same. Snowboarding needs riders that aren’t afraid to follow their heart and snowboard on their own terms. Snowboarding needs Gus.
Now that i’ve written a novel about him, here is the short and sweet of what Gus had to say about the picture.
“Here you go Borgy:
This picture was taken by Alex Mertz back in 2005. I originally had planned to firecracker that 120 stair you can see in the photo. but due to my fear of death I decided to move the whole operation over to the to the oh-so-alluring stagnant swamp puddle and go surfing instead.”
Sorry about the lapse in posts over the last week. I’m in Colorado, visiting Kelly’s family and trying to snowboard a little bit. This is my first time back on the snow since slamming hard in the boardercross at Alyeska. The shoulder and ribs are holding up enough to allow me to ride but not enough to get busy.
Anyway, i thought I would share a picture from my first snowboard trip to Colorado. I have some others from the same trip that I will share later. The other shots carry other stories but lets explore this one for now. This Picture is of me at the 1993 USASA Nationals at Vail. I am on a Morrow race board with hard boots and plate bindings. Where to begin? Haha.
Let’s start with the race board. Most of the snowboarders out there probably don’t know what those are or can’t remember the last time they saw one. In 1993 the USASA events consisted of half pipe, slalom, and giant slalom. That’s right, two race events and one half pipe event. On top of that the Alaska region didn’t have as many competitors as other regions so riders had to qualify for an overall spot to nationals. That meant a rider’s points for half pipe and race events were totaled to determine who got the spot. I wanted to get that spot so I learned to ride a race board.
The problem with riding a race board was that it was 1993 and snowboarding was hitting its freestyle boon. It was jeans and flannels, chain wallets, nubbed boards ( sawing off the excess tip and tail to shorten the board), and it was jibbing. What is was not was hard boots and speed suits. Here in lies my personal struggle; being competitive, I wanted to win but i also wanted to keep it real and stick to my freestyle roots. The result is the outfit you see in the picture.
I wore blind jeans, Fishpaw mitts, a Plan B t-shirt that was a tall T before tall T’s existed, and my fresh Burton jacket. In my mind I was trying my best with a race board and hard boots while still keeping my street cred in the back pocket of my jeans next to my chain wallet. I remember how proud Bombeck and I felt as we patted each other on the back for not selling out like the seal skinned kooks in the speed suits. Naturally our fresh kits and street cred amounted to placings near the bottom of the results page. At the time we didn’t care much, we only cared about finding a rock to bonk or getting to the half pipe.
The next year I decided that if I was going to race then I better try to win so I found a speed suit and joined the ranks of the tighties. But for one year we kept it as real as we knew how to. Fast forward to present day USASA events and speed suits aren’t allowed any longer. I guess snowboarding imposed a speed suit prohibition in the name of all that is cool.
Just for your humor here is one more look at my kit that day.
This photo was taken around April of 2000 by Cory Grove. I’m not too sure what Cory is up to these days but I do know he is behind the Cobra Dogs phenomenon. He is also a great guy that i miss hanging out with at Hood. But enough about my bromances lost.
The picture is of the World Championships at Whistler Blackcomb. This is the one and only time I’ve ever ridden a resort in Canada. I didn’t do so well at the slope style but I was pumped for the big air. As a matter of fact i was so pumped up that I nearly popped during practice. The event staff opened up practice the night before the contest. Seeing as how this was about 13 years ago I am a tad fuzzy on the details but I’ll do my best to keep them straight.
This was a pretty amazing trip for me. First of all it was the spring. It may have been more towards the end of April because the season was pretty much done after this contest. There is always a bit of excitement about the end of the season. You know there isn’t going to be any more powder, just slush if you’re lucky, so it’s time to start enjoying the summer and getting on the skateboard. I got to skate the snake run I had seen ripped up in the Plan B videos as well as all the new park additions and they were all about a minute walk from the hotel and mountain.
This was also one of the first times that i really made an effort to be social rather than locking myself off into contest zone mode. I don’t drink and never have so typically I didn’t find a lot of joy in going out to the bars and living it up on contest nights. Whistler didn’t drive me to drink but the party environment there did inspire me to go to the Maxx Fish (the main club spot) and bust at least three moves, maybe four. There also may or may not have been a night at “The Boot” which is not a strip club but more of a bar with strip club tendencies.
Back to the hill. So practice, the night before the contest, started and this was a time where I was really in tune with my big air jumping. There were big air contests constantly and I got to hit a lot of them. I was excited to hit the jump and go through the bag of tricks. I liked to work my way up through the tricks, start with small stuff like a 180 or 360, then a 540, a 720, a 900, and flips. Well the drop in looked like it was far enough up the hill and there would be plenty of speed but looks can be deceiving. I can’t remember if it was my first or second hit but what matters is that I came up short. I believe it was a backside 180 and I landed about 5 feet short of the knuckle. Plenty of people come up short but i think it was because i was facing back up hill that I couldn’t compensate for it and everything was really compressed.
Coming up short was quite a shock to my legs and back but nothing was blown out or broken so all that was left was to complain. I called it a night after that and the hurt set in like a hipster feels when he realizes he’s not the first guy to grow a beard, wear a flannel, and part his hair. By the next morning I could barely walk. Really I’m not exaggerating; my whole body was viagra stiff. I started the Advil regimen and trying to soak in the tub every two hours. The contest wasn’t until night so I had all day to get back to riding and I needed every minute of it.
The contest finally got underway and it was a cirque du soleil show on snow. People painted silver, 6ft stilts, lights and fireworks shooting everywhere, and a dj spinning an obnoxious techno soundtrack for it all. It was a head to head format until riders got to the final 4. I warmed the muscles up and found a game face in the gift shop to put on. I ended up in the finals and landed two solid tricks to take second (backside 900 tail and switch 360 backflip; aka borgarial haha).
As you can see from the results Peter Line got first. This is twice that he squeaked past me for the win when it should have been my back pocket that the extra cash went into. Now before you go yelling about sour grapes and what not, just relax. Pete always took any chance he could, even to this day, to rub in any win he got over me (I still have a print of him that he signed saying “I beat you at MTV S&M HAHAHA”). He is a legend, an inspiration, and an innovator as well as an expert at talking shit. Haha. I am secure enough to be able to admit when he beat me and take the ribbing but it goes both ways. With that said, Pete, you can email me for my address to send the medals and check to. Hahaha.
This picture is of me, a very young 19 year old me. This is one of my first solo trips on my way to pro snowboardom. I just started riding for Burton that season and wanted to go to the US Open in Vermont. I had made friends with a couple of kids from New York state and they said I could stay with them for a bit and so the adventure began.
The kids were brothers named Jon and Matt Polhamus. I loved those guys. They were cool east coasters that were perceptive enough to know when people were getting out of line and savvy enough to dish up a serving of sarcastic comeuppance; just my type of guys. Anyway, when I went to visit them in Cornwall (Cornhole as they called it) NY, Matt was really into photography and took this picture. I thought we were just roaming the town so he could get some shots for school until the following summer when the picture was printed on a piece of poster board and sent to me as a postcard at Mt. Hood.
The thing I like so much about the photo is the focus on my eyes. I don’t like it because I have particularly beautiful eyes (unless you ask my mom), I like it because of the world that I saw through those eyes; those eyes at that moment in time.
Every so often I get a feeling of longing for those early days. I’m not talking about the days of being a pro, that’s fodder for another post completely. I’m talking about the tinge of sadness that clings to feelings of fondness, like the tail of a comet, when I think about the early years of snowboarding. Those early years of snowboarding, or anything pursued passionately in youth, are guided by blinders that deliver singular focus. I’m not even talking about when a goal is set forth like getting sponsored. I’m talking about the times when all that matters is getting on that board and making down the hill without falling. The times where if I were in the middle of a run then I wouldn’t notice a bomb going off next to the trail.
Those times on my board are invaluable because, like my first snowboard, they will never be made again. As I told Kelly, about the bit of sadness in my heart when thinking of those moments, she couldn’t understand how I could say that. “How can you not experience those moments again? You are always making new memories and having fun.” she said. It took a bit before I could explain it properly. I meant what i said but its not as bad as it sounds.
In those early years I would snowboard no matter what it was like outside. I was happy going off 3 foot high jumps and learning every possible grab I could figure out. The beauty was in the minutiae. But it wasn’t just the idea that my friends and I were new to the sport and had a lot to learn, it was that we didn’t know anything. I know those two things sound the same but they are worlds apart. I didn’t know what I was capable of, I didn’t know what the sport was capable of, I didn’t know what life had in store for me, I didn’t know how far I could take it. In things that I didn’t know laid a treasure; HOPE. In short, the whole world was possible simply because I didn’t know it wasn’t possible.
What I figured out is that those eyes saw hope through lenses clouded with innocence. The innocence came from not knowing anything about anything. The innocence came from not having a mortgage or electric bill. The innocence came from moving to Alaska and finding passion in something I had never seen or known about before leaving southern California. And the innocence was lost with each new step taken, each new barrier broken, and each new experience on the board.
I know it all sounds pretty dramatic but before you shake your head and put your face in your palm, let me try to clear it up a little more. I love snowboarding today. I love the abilities I’ve developed and the way I see and ride the mountain even if I do look like I need a lesson. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. But I also realize that the way I looked at a run at Alyeska the first time I went down it is completely different than the way I look at it and think about it 20 some years later. I can never get that back. I can never see it through the same eyes as I once did and I miss that from time to time. As I explained to Kelly, my grandma died about 10 years ago and we were very close. I don’t spend all day every day dwelling on her passing but when I do think about it then I miss her very much. The early innocence of snowboarding is a parallel to that. Snowboarding makes me happy and brings me a ton of smiles but when I think about the first years of doing it I fondly miss what I saw from behind those blue eyes.
This week Preston Pollard is featured in this photo taken by Brian Adams in Alaska and printed in The Skateboard Mag.
Preston Pollard is more than a fine dressed young man. He is also the reigning Alaska State Tanning Champion. But putting the titles and glory aside Preston maybe the hardest working skater the state has ever seen. I don’t mean to take anything away from all the other kids on the grind but Preston is hustlin’ 24/7.
Some people see that I’m talking about a skater and immediately think hustlin’ has a negative connotation. That’s ok because skating was better when they hated us but that’s not what i’m talking about with Preston. I’ve skated with preston for about ten years and he has always been hyped on it. Not the ordinary hype that just getting on a board gives you, rather you could see that Preston genuinely loved it and would fight for every minute he could be on his board.
Being a skater, meaning that is basically your job, and being from AK mix like oil and water. A few have done it but the odds are really stacked against them. That wasn’t acceptable to Preston. As you will read in the story, he is persistent and dedicated to following his dreams. Preston has carved out a niche for himself by being positive, upbeat, and talented. He has managed to do all of this while setting a great example for kids and sharing his faith.
Here’s what Preston had to say about the photo: