boarding in Alaska

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Survival of the Tightest

Survival of the Tightest from jason borgstede on Vimeo.

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.


Throwback Thursday: All or Nothing

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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. 

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Throwback Thursdays: Behind Blue Eyes

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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.


Magazine Monday: Mr. Preston Pollard Esq.

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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:

I was just featured in The Skateboard Mag this month!  What a lot of people don’t know is that it has taken me years to get into this particular magazine. I met Grant Brittain, one of the best skate photographers in the world, at a Ollie contest when was I was 20 at ASR Trade Show in San Diego.  After getting his card I looked at it and it said that he was the senior photographer and half Business owner of the Magazine. From that day forward I was persistent to get in to this magazine, I would email him any time I got new photos. He would tell me, nice photos but I have seen something like that before. I’m not going to lie I got discouraged.
This winter when I was in Anchorage I had an idea to Ollie over a creek but I didn’t know where I would do it until I found a perfect creek while driving. I came out a day early just to look at it and I was like wow I think it will work out. I ended up having some wood already but I bought some more wood just to make sure I got enough speed because I did not want to fall into the cold water.  I didn’t tell many people of my idea because they would think I was nuts, so I just told my sister and photographer Brian Adams.
We came out to the creek at 10am and it took about an hour to set up all the wood for the ollie. I was so thankful I had my sister to help me haul all those pieces of wood. I had a plane to catch around at 3pm so I had to hurry if I was going to do it. Brian came around 11am and he had a face of “I hope you can do this” look. He set up his camera and all eyes were on me! It actually didn’t take me to long to get over the creek, the only problem was that it was just so cold, “my hands and feet were numb and my grip tape felt like ice”
I ended up making my flight and when I got to my destination I was emailing different magazines about using the photo. What you might not know is that I didn’t have any sponsors at this moment I wasn’t going ask The Skateboard Mag because I got so many no’s. I said to my self what the heck why not ask again! I’m happy I did because that night Grant got back with me and said he wanted to use my photo. I didn’t give up even though I got discouraged. I believe God’s timing is perfect, for whoever is reading no-matter what your dream is don’t give up. The response to your dream could be 24 hours way!
Here is the video meeting Grant after!

Magazine Mondays: Jerry Smyth

Magazine Mondays will be a new post every Monday featuring a picture of an Alaskan skater or snowboarder that has been published in print form. This means a real life, hold in your hands, tear it off and put it on a wall picture. There will also be a story or any interesting details about the circumstances of the picture as told by the rider. The idea is to show what Alaskans can and have accomplished in their struggles to live their dreams. I hope it also serves as a little inspiration to all the other kids that are trying to get sponsored, make it in the game, or just have something to show the girls so they can hook up.

This feature starts off with a bang. The first Magazine Monday is Jerry Smyth’s cover shot. “Lobster” is one of the funnest people I’ve ever skated with. He’s got a ton of energy, amazing skills, and a huge heart. Enjoy.

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Photo by Tony Vitelo

Jerry Smyth: “This was shot by Tony Vitelo, Fausto Vitello’s son who owned thrasher at the time. He had not shot a cover up until then. Jake Phelps didn’t want to use it because I was some un heard of dude. Tony didn’t care and got it ran. Right place, right time, right person…rather be lucky then good any day.”