boarding in Alaska

Posts tagged “Alpenglow at Arctic Valley

Nice!Gordon

Nice!Gordon is the final movie I made for Boarderline. The movie premiered, with Jesse Burtner’s movie, on September 25th, 2004. Over the past season I have been re-releasing all the old Boarderline movies leading up to this one. Because Nice!Gordon was my final movie and this is it’s 10 year anniversary, I wanted to revisit the movie in some depth. Leading up to this I have been posting all the dvd bonus sections. I haven’t watched most of those clips in years. As a matter of fact, I probably haven’t watched Nice!Gordon in many years. As I’ve gone over it again I realized something: I FUCKING LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!!!!

As you stop shaking your head and remove your face from you palm, I can tell you I don’t mean it how you think. What I realized, when I watch the movie, is how amazing it was being a part of what was happening during that period of time. I realized how amazing all the people were. I realized these things in a way that just isn’t possible when you’re living out those moments.

My hair was a tragic mess, the acting was bad, the plot is a rip off, along with a million other things that can be knit-picked about the movie. But I don’t care. What I care about is that when I watch it I smile. And I care that others smile when they watch it, remembering that part of their lives.

I usually write a book about each video but I’m going to save that for the next post. I will go over all my thoughts on the riders and the things that happened, hopefully attached to the director’s commentary version of the movie.

For now I just want to say thank you. Thank you to the kids that supported these movies. Thank you to people that broke themselves, day in and day out, to get shots for the movie. Thank you to all the talented skaters, snowboarders, and people that filmed and worked on the movie for sharing your individual gifts with me. Thank you for letting me be there as you showed hints of the people you would grow up to be. Thank you for letting me witness your talents as they blossomed. Thank you for carrying me when my talents couldn’t be found. Thank you for being calm and patient when I was a frantic mess. So many of you let me into your lives, some for only a day while some revealed the full spectrum of their passion and pain. Thanks to all of you for helping me turn my visions into reality. And finally, thank you all for making the Boarderline years of the Alaska snow/skate scene something that I will forever look upon fondly and with great honor to have been a part of. You all changed my life, you all made my life better, and I hope that one day I will be able to return the favor.

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Nice!Gordon Extras: Mark Thompson and Cody Liska

So here are the extra clips of Thompson Tuesdays and the Scrode. I already touched on this previously but Mark Thompson has such natural talent on a board. When you watch him you can see how at ease and comfortable he looks. I went back and found footage of a skateboard trip to Fairbanks which had to be from about 1995ish and Mark looks just as comfortable and natural on a skateboard back then. I wish we could have seen more of his skating over the years but I’m stoked for what I was able to be around. Also, after Nice!Gordon, a few of the guys like Mark, Gus, and Spinelli went on to film with Think Thank so you can check out those videos to see how their riding progressed after this point in time. 

I have been around Cody, in some way or another, for most of his life. I worked at Boarderline when he was so small that Scott or Sharon would bring him in and he would make a pile of jackets to take a nap on. Since I never had brothers I adopted a brotherly role around some of the people in the shop and as you know, older brothers don’t always set the most appropriate examples. I remember when Ride snowboards sent out condoms as promotional items. We would just give them away but mostly they were just to catch people’s eye, get a chuckle, and get them talking about Ride snowboards. Well of course I would give them to Cody and tell him to go ask Sharon (his mom) what they were for. I’ve known that Cody, I’ve known the Cody you see in these clips, riding with power and grace, breaking through as a snowboarder, and I’ve known the Cody that found new interests other than snowboarding. Cody found more than the desire to couch surf and worked his way through a degree at UNR (journalism i think). Now Cody has moved back to Alaska and started a magazine. He has gone from Derek and Jake’s whipping boy (with all the love possible as older brothers pull underwear over a younger brother’s head) to a well rounded, ambitious, hard working individual with a voice and a drive to forge his own path and create his own legacy. 


Alpenglow Hike: 3-26-13

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. 

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Throwback Thursday: Who’s Craig Kelly?

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This week’s photo was taken at Alpenglow during the winter of 1991. This jump would form as you headed down the cornice line, from the top of the T-bar, in the flat area just before the top of chair 1.

The reason I like this photo so much is because its about heroes. Not the tv show and not the sandwich. I’m talking about the kind that seem to be non existent today. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. Do kids have heroes in snowboarding today? I’m sure they do to some extent but it seams that with the endless barrage of exposure that the attention span of the average fan is fried by the time they hit their third year of riding. Another facet of the current media state is that if a rider that is killing it gets hurt then he or she is basically tossed aside, in the minds of the kids, because there will be 497 other riders dropping web edits the next month. There is no build up or anticipation in waiting for the big movie part to drop because we will see another tomorrow. Its a tough world to be a pro in now. I guess its all relative but tough none the less.

There were magazines (you know, the thing that you look at on your iPad and flip the pages by swiping your finger) which we would study as though we were taking a med school entrance exam based on them. I would often read a Transworld snowboard magazine cover to cover in one sitting and then deal with the remorse over my actions, knowing that I would have to wait 30 long days to get anymore shots of Jeff Brushie poking out a trick in the half pipe.

And there were a handful of movies that came out each season. Basically the Mack Dawg and Standard films movies along with a few others; few enough that between friends someone would have every movie.

This meant there were a small number of sick riders and the majority of the media attention was focused on them.  These were our heroes. They were worshiped, rightfully so, not for slaying beasts or rescuing damsels from the clutches of evil but rather for delivering a fatal blow to the styleless. We worshiped them for their perfection of the turn, the direction they tweaked, or whether their arm was on the inside or outside of their back knee when they did a frontside grab.

The sport was new enough that every nuance was studied and followed by attempted emulation. I wanted to push my mutes out like Jamie Lynn, before that I wanted to arch my back like Damion Sanders, and I wanted to look as “skatey” as Noah Salasnek and Chris Roach. In my early years there was no bigger hero than Craig Kelly. For those of you that dont know him, well theres not much I can do for you, but let me try to help you understand. Craig was kinda like the Terje Haakonson of the early days of snowboarding. Dont know who Terje is? Hmmm, well you really might be doomed. Let me try to help you understand. Terje was kinda like my generation’s Shaun White.

I can hear the grumbling now. The OG’s and purists will say that comparing Craig to Terje is one thing but its blasphemy to compare either of them to Shaun White. Hold your horses and let me straighten this mess out. You see I’m trying to explain a generational snowboard icon to the present day masses (by masses i mean the 12 people that read this blog). Shaun is the best half pipe rider there is. He has been among the best slopestyle riders as well. Just because some kid with 4 tall T’s on things (thinks)  that Shaun doesnt have style doesnt mean its true. Maybe they are just mad because Shaun goes higher in the pipe than most of the rails are long that the gangsta shreds front board all day long. But style arguement aside, Shaun is the biggest name in our sport at the moment (even if it really should be Travis Rice). Before Shaun there was Terje. He dominated the pipe for years, had amazing style, was also accused of being robotic at times, and was the super star of my time. Before that was Craig. There was no “before Craig”, and again I know i might catch some guff for that comment but really with all respect due to the talent of the other riders of the time, nobody was as powerful yet flowed like water. Nobody had dominated contests the way he did. Nobody took the sport from flailing hucking spins to the smooth stylish beauty of a master executing his craft the way Craig did. He wasn’t the only one to ride like that but he was the first to excel at it all. He was the first star of snowboarding. Arguably Shaun Palmer was the first rock star of snowboarding but Im going to go ahead and give the crown to Craig.

Now hopefully you unknowing punks will be intrigued enough to find some old footage of Craig Kelly (Board with the world http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8IbUBtIEGE ) and try to see through the lack of corks to recognize the finesse he brought to the sport.

The point of all this is that the picture above is one I love dearly because I feel like I came close to looking like my hero in it. Just like a little kid wants to drive the lane like Kobe, I wanted to do a method like Craig Kelly. Well for one moment in time the make a wish foundation helped me out and this picture captured it. Thanks to Craig and all the other snowboarders that have and still do  inspire me and influence the style of the sport.


Throwback Thursday: What ever it takes.

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This photo was taken some time during my senior year, 1993. The spot is a crosswalk bridge, near Gruening Jr. High. There are rails on both sides of the bridge and they wrap around the walkway from the bridge to the street level. 

I didn’t pick this shot because it was particularly rad. I picked the photo because it symbolizes how much snowboarding and getting better as a snowboarder means to me and has always meant to me. It is also a great example of how constant work will lead to nothing less than leaps and bounds in ability. 

At the very beginning of my senior year I was just starting to show some promise as a rider. Boarderline had put me on the team and I was rising through the local ranks (probably because of all the time on the trampoline, haha). In late October, just after my first day riding at Hatcher’s Pass, I bent down at my locker and when i stood up my knee tore. It was a freak occurrence but it happened none the less. Within a few days I was under the knife and carrying around a little less cartilage. It turned out that my knee cap had slid over and sliced the cartilage (meniscus). The surgery was minor and consisted of simply shaving off the slice and other loose cartilage inside the knee. 

I was pretty scared by it all but having grown up in the era of Rock movies, I knew the power of a good comeback story. I might have even heard “Eye of the Tiger” playing as i went to physical therapy. The point is that I was determined to keep moving forward and improving. 

So as the winter went on, the only logical way to improve is to never stop riding. My crew, Abe and Khris Bombeck, would ride anything and anytime we could. We rode alpenglow on the weekends and the Thursdays and Fridays we could find a ride but that wasn’t going to be nearly enough. That’s when we started combing the area for rails and began hitting the Gruening overpass. 

The Gruening overpass held everything we could want. It held straight rails, curved rails, log formations, steep wooden rails, and even a couple jumps were made there. We would pull each other to everything. Sometimes there would only be two of us so we would prop up the full size vhs camera on a wooden post then run back and slingshot the other guy onto a rail. It was our “rail garden.” We learned a lot about riding rails there and we learned a lot more about how much the fire burned inside us to snowboard. Those days weren’t about sports drink contracts or x-games, they were about learning and progression. They were also about wearing as much of your skate clothes as possible when you snowboard. Haha. 

For the vintage fans out there I’m riding a Morrow Spoon 160 ( yeah that was the shorter of the two models at the time), Plan B jeans, SMP flannel, and some Save-on gloves that look like they were made for Shaq.