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.
I threw together some of the extras and funny stuff from the year of filming. And as evidenced by the last clip, I threw in some stuff that was obviously just me being a dork. Not much has changed in the dork department. The first clip of the rock in my hand was from a trip to Ohio/Pennsylvania. I jumped off the roof of a house, onto a little grass knoll, then rode it out into the street. On one of the attempts I crumpled at the bottom of the knoll, falling face first towards the street, and put my hands down to stop my fall. I had thick leather gloves on but noticed something about my palm felt strange. I took my glove off to find a small boulder wedged into my palm. The rock went right through the glove, barely leaving a trace, and was able to complete it’s task of creating stigmata.
Today I thought it would be nice to throw out a 2fer and put up 2 Nice!Gordon DVD bonus sections.
One is a tutorial on how to sticker a board. The Boarderline skate team took the RV to Seward for the 4th of July and decided to help Preston and Deez sticker their boards.
The other video is an edit from the 2004 Boarderline Summer Camp. For around 7 years Boarderline put on a snowboard camp at Alyeska. The camp always took place a couple days after school let out for summer. Over the years the camp was visited by a pretty decent amount of pros as well as showcasing future stars. It was mostly a day camp but there were over night campers too and they stayed in RV’s, Military tents, and a year or two at Gus’s family cabin. The camp had hand dug half pipes, hand dug kickers placed around the natural features, and provided summer free-riding that couldn’t be found at any other camp. The more I think about it the more I feel like I should just save this stuff for a full post about camp. That being said I will get back to telling you about this edit. I tried to feature as many people as possible. I wanted the viewer to see how much fun camp was for everybody no matter a rider’s ability level. It was a time when we were still all there to root each other on and be fans of each other.
And DAMN that park was sick. I’m still blown away when I see the overview. How is it that 10 years ago, in the summer, Alyeska had a park that amazing? Compared to what the mountain gives us now I can see why kids leave the state to snowboard. Just look at the size of the crowds, look at how many people showed up to snowboard in the summer? Alaska is typically a place where people are done with the snow once May hits and yet the camp pulled that kind of crowd. It was because of how amazing the set up was. I wish the current management could see the forrest for the trees before they get too far behind the curve. By the time they realized that listening to park staff like Glenn and Tony about building real features it’s going to be too late. The kids are going to buy split boards or sleds and stop paying for sub par facilities. Ahhh there I go again on another tangent. Ok I’ll quit and just let you enjoy the videos.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So over the last week I’ve been snowboarding a ton. There was a USASA slopestyle event, a little bit of pow, and even military mondays at Alyeska. It’s been fun riding and some not so fun riding. one thing that has become crystal clear is that Alyeska is a tough mountain when its not soft. More on that later.
Lets talk about throwback thursdays. This is the day that everyone posts photos of riding, clothes, boards, etc that are from their individual “good ole days”. The older the person is the more likely that the pictures are going to be interesting or extremely kooky. My pics tend to fall into the latter category. So for this thursday lets throw a couple up and discuss. This thursday’s shots will be from the Hilltop half pipe during the winter of 1990/91. I had been riding for about a year and just starting to compete. The pictures in the orange Patagonia jacket are from a practice session the day before a contest and the shirtless shot is, well, just being 15 and stoked i guess. At that time the routine consisted of watching Fall Line Film’s “Snowboarders in Exile” every day then going out and trying to tweak like Damian Sanders or Steve Graham. It was also a time of trying to figure out personal style while thinking I had my personal style completely locked down and dialed in. To me, I couldn’t have looked cooler than rocking a Spuds Mckenzie corduroy had with OR mitts. Looking back, I would have to say that I might taken another look at my kit and reevaluated it. But if you continue to follow this blog then my throwback thursdays will definitely show you that its been a long road of interesting style choices for me. Haha.
Another point that I find interesting is that right now I would kill to have this half pipe in Alaska. It was about 5 feet tall on a good day and usually icy as can be. But you know what? At least we had a pipe. I’m not sure what has happened to Alaska but it can be heart breaking to see how little effort is put in to the scene up here. We have three ski areas that used to all put in at least a showing of effort to fight for the snowboard demographic when it was minuscule. That leads me to believe it really wasn’t a fight for dollars or market share, it was simply an effort to innovate and provide a fun mountain to be on. I understand bottom line affects every business but I also know that being a slave to numbers, unwilling to acknowledge the subtext of the market, can be the death of a business. Right now Alaska seems to be going through a phase where one area is only open two days a week and has decided that playing it as safe as possible is the route to go. Another area is making efforts to have a park but seems to be having equipment issues. And the largest area, with the greatest amount of resources, has only put up a baby park and a baby pipe as of today. What’s going on around here? How did we have more interest in building jumps, pipes, boarder crosses, race courses, etc 15 years ago than we have now?
This subject deserves a lot more discussion and right now I have to get ready to head to Hilltop. So for now I’ll leave it alone but later tonight I’ll try to really lay some of my thoughts down. Until then I hope you like the old school pics and enjoy some of this pow thats falling.
I headed out to announce the USASA rail jam at Alyeska. I think we had a whopping 11 competitors but we surely had some fun. I got to tell Lance Armstrong and Bristol Palin jokes on the mic and watching some impressive snowboarding and skiing.
I like getting back to AK for some reasons and hate it for others. I enjoy seeing kids make the best with what they have. In that respect its the same as it was when I first started doing local events in 1991. We didn’t have much in the way of parks or pipes. We had a few mounds pushed up here and there that resembled jumps and half pipes. We happily showed up to each and every contest (including alpine events which i raced in jeans some days and a speed suit other days) and gave everything we had to it.
The thing I have noticed is that there just doesn’t seem to be the same amount of participation in events anymore. I think this is one of the negative side effects of the sport growing so large. I know that sounds like it would be the opposite but hear me out. When snowboarding and skating were something frowned upon, when jocks yelled “Go home skater fags!”, when ski patrol clipped your ticket for not having a leash, when girls wouldn’t look at you twice because you wore baggy pants, when everyone hated us it was better. It was better because it wasn’t the cool thing to do. When something isn’t the cool thing to do then you can rest assured that its being done strictly out of love. When something is that uncool it tends to, as we learned from Full Metal Jacket; “Weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved corps.” We skated and snowboarded because we couldn’t live without it, not because it was in every commercial and in every window display at the mall.
I’m really happy to see where snowboarding and skating have gone in the way of providing the athletes with the respect for their abilities and the money they deserve. What I don’t like is the dilution of the heart it took to stand against the grain. Now the sports are inundated with any kid that wants to be cool and maybe have their own line of chewing gum, not to mention hockey moms. The punk rock is gone and when you see a company that tries to say it isn’t then its usually just part of a marketing plan.
So what I’m trying to say is that most of the kids just want to get to the lodge a couple times a year, cruise the park once, drop an Instagram of their new hoody, then go home. I thank God that we still have some kids that will hike tin can, get broke on a rail, ride an icy Aly day and still come to contest hungry to push themselves and their friends. Don’t get me wrong, snowboarding isn’t dead. There are a lot of great people in it still carrying the torch; its just harder to see them through the masses of wannabes.
I’m just an old guy lamenting about the days of old when everyone came to the contests as a gathering of bros. Not frat bros but brothers united by a shared passion. You always saw the shop owners at every contest and every pow day. The Anchorage kids, the Arctic Valley locs, and the Girdwood shredders would all come together and shred, talk shit, and have a blast (and I would probably whine if I lost my division). I hope the AK scene can reconnect with some of that community feel soon. Without it I really worry that the sport will morph into something it shouldn’t be or at least our scene up here will. On that note, I hope to see as many of you as possible at USASA events this season. I’ll probably tease you a bit on the mic but its only because I’m jealous that I’m old and can’t kill it as hard as you can. Just know its all in love.
My birthday was spent exactly the way i would want to spend it: snowboarding with cool people, getting pow turns, and eating BBQ. haha.
The day started out early as I headed to Mom’s house for home made biscuits and gravy. After that I hit the road and headed to Aly with Kelly B. and Jason Moore. Riding with Moore is like finding Animal Chin if Chin had all the newest gear from pro-form. After refusing to wear the worst bearded face mask bandana and picking up Kelly’s boots from lost and found, we pulled into the parking lot.
After gearing up and heading to the top I was informed that since it was my birthday I would need to do as many tricks as I am years old. I said even in my hay-day i didn’t know that many tricks so we compromised at number of jumps/air/tricks. In case you’re wondering that meant 38 tricks. Good thing the days are getting longer and the quad is open longer huh?
I managed to get a new line off the kitchen wall cliff that pretty much made my day. I’ll try to have a shot of it on here. High traverse also opened and was pretty decent. I traversed to where 3 ski patrollers were posted up (about 50 yards from the opening) and asked if there was a boundary since there was no fencing up. The answer I got was in typical ski patrol fashion: “where you see tracks is open, where there are no tracks is closed.” That seems about right. Ugh.
I got my 38 hits in as we made our way down the last run of the day. Hit 38 was a small cliff below picnic rock: the stuff that goes right onto the trail above brown-shorts (i know, best trail name ever). Pretty much nothing but flat landings but as I always say YORYKO (You Only Ruin Your Knees Once) so I figured I would try to sneak into some transition just below the cliff. But first I had a blast watching Moore slip down until he lost his edge and ended up on the edge of the drop he wanted to hit as though he was dangling his feet off the dock. After climbing back up enough to jump into the mogul field I was pushed and pulled by Kelly yelling that everything was flat and Moore yelling that it was all good. I think I know who has my best interests in mind and who just wanted to see me splat.
I thought I spied a little pillow of pow to land on so I set forth to do so. I also wanted to ride with my new gopro stick in my front hand. Little did I know that its not that easy to try to edge out and worry about nailing a tiny area while trying to film myself. So I opted for overshooting the sweet spot and sucking up the flat landing like a man, all to the shouts of “THIRTYYYYY EIGHTTTT!!!! THIRTYYYYY EIGHTTTTT!!!!!” from Moore. Good times.
I also have to say its been a pretty amazing season to get to ride with a woman that A) is a good rider, B) wants to improve, C) will ride and search out pow days on her own and D) isn’t scared to push herself. I know there are great female snowboarders out there, Im just saying I’ve never dated one and it’s really awesome to be able to share my joy and passion for snowboarding with someone that I care about. Thanks Kelly.
After the shredding ended we parted ways with Moore and picked up mom for some amazing BBQ at “The BBQ Pit” on Dimond. Its the only place in town to get Sweet Tea, fried okra, and corn fritters. Its truly unbeatable.
Thanks to everyone that made it an amazing birthday. I appreciate you all helping me celebrate the anniversary of my 21st birthday. Haha.
Today started late. Didn’t get to the mountain until about 1 due to thinking I would be working then getting called off. I was pretty excited to ride but as time lagged a bit that internal nagging started. “Its been a while since it snowed, its probably bullet proof up there.” and “It’s so milky in town, I know i won’t be able to see a thing.” Luckily Kelly set me straight and we headed out to kick up some snow.
The pleasant surprise hinted that it would be waiting for us at about Potter’s Marsh. I could see the sun laying heavy right around the arm. Sure enough, as we got around the turn it cleared right up. So step one of a great day was complete. Step two came together as I stepped into the lodge and saw my work buddies ready to shred.
For me its nice to ride with people that are new or even if they aren’t knew to snowboarding then they are fresh enough to it that they still have that stoke to just ride, no matter what its like out. These guys have that so it helps me remember the attitude I need to have. So we rallied the troops and headed up into conditions that are as rare as finding a cheap season pass in Alaska: blue bird, warm, and soft snow. That’s right, days and days after the snow has reasonably stopped it was soft and very carveable. Thats step three, soft snow. It wasnt pow but it was soft and it was a good time.
Today was that perfect time where the jumps like half-moon are packed and big but the landings havent been run across by the zamboni yet. I even managed to throw a back flip and a 7 off half moon. I also managed to do my share of late front flips as in right after i land off the jump. All in all a great day on the hill.
I was at Alyeska to announce a USASA event. That is the amateur competition association for snowboarders and skiers as well. I like to give kids a hard time during events and show them a lot of love too. To be honest i tend to give the crowd a hard time while trying to pump up the kids. As our event went on I was drawn to check out the crowd that passes by the venue. It tends to be beginners, ski school, and a few others passing by on their way to a different lift. As I watched the crown I noticed a ton of skiers and skiers are my favorites when I’m on the mic.
I love giving skiers shit. Its not that i hate them but I love to hate on skiing for all it did to hold snowboarding down. I hate the all the hoops they made us jump through and at times still force snowboarders through. Alyeska used to only allow snowboarders to ride the hill a couple days a week and we had to prove to an instructor that we could turn and stop before being issued our “license to shred” card. That is not a joke. The LTS card was required to buy a ticked and ride on those couple days they felt we were worthy of paying for a ticket.
I hate the fact that guys like Glen Plake refuse to admit that snowboarding saved freestyle skiing. That without our way of dress, our style of tricks, our creativity that they it would have dried up and left the world with nothing more than gate bashers and moms skiing behind 2 year-olds holding them by a leash while yelling “PIZZA!, FRENCH FRIES!, PIZZA!, FRENCH FRIES!”
I love the kids that do the contests, snowboarders or skiers, but I will never miss a chance to call out my previous oppressors when I have a mic in my hand or a keyboard under my fingertips. I will also say that I do have friends that are skiers and I do try to give every individual the benefit of the doubt. That said, if the Greasers (snowboarders) square off against the Socs (skiers) then I think its safe to say which side I’ll be on. Haha.
Since the blog is new and I don’t know how everyone will take my sense of humor or opinions then I guess I better say that I am in no way endorsing violence or being a dick in general towards any group on the hill. Don’t get mad, get RAD!