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.
Nice!Gordon Extras: “Sellers, Pollard, Tenge, Stanfill, and Walker” and “Friends”
Two bonus sections for you today. The first features Johnny Sellers, Preston Pollard, Trevor Tenge, Shaine Stanfill, and Ryan Walker. Pretty rad skate section for just bonus clips.
The next is basically an extra friends section. It has skate and snow footage. One thing I always loved about “Boarderline Videos” was that not everything had to be a after black banger. Sometimes it’s just fun to watch the different places and the different styles of your friends. The videos I made were always pretty heavy with that element. After all, it’s this great big group that makes the scene what it is.
Nice!Gordon Extras: Slams
The kids went hard for this video and when the dust settled I had enough slams for two slam sections. This is the slam section from the dvd bonus material.
Nice!Gordon Extras: Borg, hot n fresh out the kitchen
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.
Nice!Gordon Extras: “How to sticker a board” and “Summer Camp”
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.
My First (and probably last) Marathon
After my snowboard career came to an end I played poker for a living. I stumbled onto poker in Reno and fell in love with the game. So it might be strange to know I’ve never been a gambler. I am, however, a sucker for the romance of the history, colorful characters, and lifestyle of people that made a living playing poker and gambling. The mantra of many early poker players was that if something is worth arguing about then its worth betting on. This mantra has led to many a wager on just about everything from human feats of endurance to which sugar cube a fly will land on.
This summer I spent three weeks playing poker in Vegas. I was there to play at the World Series of Poker which originally was a gathering of the traveling poker professionals. While I was in Vegas I was watching the final table of an event which was won by Ted Forrest. When i first started playing poker, about ten years ago, Ted was among a handful of known names in the poker community. Ten years ago poker really hit the mainstream huge. The known players were on tv every other day. Books about the poker’s history and personalities were being churned out as fast as a hand of hold’em could be dealt. I was brand new to the game and devoured all I could on the subject; my favorite being the books about gamblers and the crazy bets they made. Perhaps it’s because I never really felt comfortable gambling that I got a thrill reading about others doing it.
One of those stories that always stuck with me was about Ted Forrest running a marathon. He bet $7000 that he could just go out and run a marathon with no training. As i sat in the Rio this summer that story crept back into my thoughts and I started to wonder if I could do it. Could I run a marathon? I hate running. I ran everyday in high school but that was 21 years ago. I’m in decent shape but I’m also 39 and again; hate running. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m 39 and hate running that the idea wouldn’t vacate my thoughts. Perhaps this is the point in life where an aging, former pro athlete has something to prove.
I started passing the idea around with friends and they predictably thought I was crazy. Crazy or not I knew the seed was firmly planted. I also knew that I wanted money on the line or it would be too easy to give up. The word “Marathon” held a grandness in my mind that commanded reverence. What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t take this lightly. I didn’t think it would be easy. Evidently my friend Brandon didn’t think it would be easy either. After a skate session in Girdwood, we were all sitting around talking and I brought up the idea of the bet. The terms would be that I had to finish the marathon in 5.5 hrs or less and prior to the marathon I couldn’t run or go to the gym. I couldn’t train for the marathon. Basically all i could do is what I would normally do and I don’t normally run or go to the gym. I could walk, I could hike occasionally with my girlfriend, and I could eat right. Eating right would be tough considering pizza was part of my diet about twice a week and I love pepsi. So Brandon said he had a friend that ran marathons and he was going to ask him about the bet. The next day I got a text, from Brandon, saying that he would take the bet at 3 to 1 odds. I laughed and said he must have talked to his friend. He said he had and we agreed to put up $1000 at 3 to 1. That means if I win then I get $3000 and if i lose Brandon gets $1000.
As the time leading up to the marathon passed, I began to really cut out the sugar in my diet and cut back on the fats. I basically got healthy fast and shed some pounds. Kelly and I have taken walks all the time but I tried to walk a lot. I hiked maybe a total of 3 hours in the month leading up to the race. I wanted to run soooo bad. I wanted to run a mile to see how fast I could do it. I wanted to run on the downhills of the hiking. I just wanted to find out what i was capable of but a bet is a bet and my word only means something if I stay true to it.
The day of the race it was rainy which was a big advantage for me, or so I thought. I figured it was better that it was cooler but with the first steps of the race my legs never felt so tight and heavy but more about that in a minute. As the race was about to begin I was decked out and ready to run. I had a self made wrist band with the time I need to hit at each mile to finish on time. I had my interval timer (I read about a technique where runners run for an amount of time then walk an amount of time. In my case I would run 1 minute then walk 1 minute. The idea is to keep that up the entire race and the body will erase the fatigue during the walking portions). I had my gel packets for energy and my beats to keep me moving fast.
I got dropped off, near the starting line, about 10 minutes before the race started. I felt pretty excited and nervous. I was also anxious about not getting to see Kelly and my mom before the gun went off. As the announcer counted down the final seconds I resigned myself to not seeing my ladies until later in the race. Bang! And we’re off. I was warned to start slowly but all i wanted to do was run. I even missed the first two beeps on the interval timer because I was just soaking it in and feeling the run. Then, just as I started to get ready to turn the first corner, I spotted Kelly. She was holding a sign and it said, “I get 2 marry bib 141.” The strange part was that I was big 249. Haha just kidding. The truth is that tears welled up as I saw the sign. There are moments in life when you feel overwhelming love, when you really understand how special what you have is. This race brought me a couple of those moments.
Like I said before, my legs never felt so tight and heavy as when I first started running. Since I haven’t run in a couple decades I couldn’t tell if it was from the cold, damp weather or just nerves from the enormity of what I was embarking on. I also had to pull the reigns back a bit because I wanted to run too fast. I felt good though. I felt strong and light and excited about it.
The first thing I noticed was the different types of runners and different paces. Oh wait, rewind a bit. So the race starts downtown, with lots of spectators around the town square area, and wraps around a few blocks. When I got my nerves under control and decided I better heed the advice I was given, I got onto the interval program and began to walk for a minute. The problem was that the first minute I walked just happened to fall right as the course wrapped around in front of the big town square crowd. Great, now I look like the guy that’s winded after running one block. Haha, not an ego boost.
Back to the runners. As i ran then walked, I would notice that pace kept me even with a number of people and actually passing others. I even had one guy tell me that I walked faster than he ran. I noticed people pouring sweat after 3 miles and I noticed people pretty much out for a sunday stroll. I don’t really remember what mile marks I saw my friends at but i do remember that I began to feel my right knee hurting somewhere between mile 3 and mile 5. The pain in my knee was on the outside and felt like it was on the bone rather than the joint itself. Also around mile 5 my right arch started to hurt too.
The interesting part about a run like this is having nothing but time to think about everything. The time can be great if it’s used to work out social issues or a new tax platform that balances the needs of businesses and individuals. The time can be a little less constructive when every second is used to dwell on the pain shooting through a knee. My thoughts, at least in the first half of the marathon, weren’t completely dominated by what hurt. It’s funny to think about how much my thoughts changed as the run went on. In the early miles I felt like a pit bull on a short chain; I just wanted to break free and attack the course. I thought about how I would cross the finish line like Steve Prefontaine. I thought about what mile I would just break free and run the rest of the way; mile 22 seemed like the time I would strike. Needless to say my thoughts changed a little further down the course.
Around mile 10 I started to notice how much of a cushion I had built up. By mile 13 I was about half an hour ahead of schedule. I was having little dreams of breaking 4.5 hours and might even have entertained breaking 4 hours for a split second. Obviously these dreams of grandeur were crowding my mind on the intervals when I was walking because the pain was getting a lot worse when I was running. For a long time I felt no pain when I would walk and a lot when I would run. When my knee hurt I would just think about Danny Way (because I’m a skate nerd) and how when something hurts you just have to keep going because the real pain sets in once you stop. I also brushed a lot of the pain off, telling myself “It’s just pain, it’s just another feeling that’s part of the experience.” After a while the sharp pains were also joined by a weak, light feeling in the knee; almost a wobbliness. It was the feeling when something feels like it might give out.
I’m not sure what mile markers it happened at but my friend Christian was there, rooting me on, holding gear I might need, and just being positive at a number of spots along the course. About the third time I saw him I was super excited about how far ahead of schedule I was and he was telling me to slow it down. I thought that was odd. It wasn’t odd because I didn’t understand the logic or strategy behind it, it was odd because I don’t process the idea of not pushing myself very well. If I grasped that concept then I certainly wouldn’t be doing this in the first place. Prior to the race I approached things in a very logical and analytical fashion by breaking down my time/pace, planning my nutrition, planning my markers for hydration and refueling, and my gear. Once the race started and I felt the road under my feet, the dreamer took over. Once I got on the course the part of me that dreamed of being a pro snowboarder took over. I saw big things in my future even if that future was only 4.5 to 5.5 hours away. Christian saw the face of the dreamer up to this point. Around mile 20 he saw a completely different face. Through it all I’m just really grateful that he was there as a calming positive friend.
As I ran the early stages of the race I noticed that the 1 minute intervals passed so quickly. The longer the race went on the shorter the walking intervals seemed to get while the running intervals appeared to have stretched into half hour blocks. That was purely due to the knee pain but yet another interesting piece of data to analyze in this 5 hour study of my physical and mental resolve.
Mile 18. That was the point where I knew that if I ran any further that I would most likely not be able to finish the race. Both my knees were in excruciating pain. My legs weren’t heavy and my cardio was just fine. I had simply encountered a wall of pain that I couldn’t climb over. Mile 18 marked the beginning of the mind games. Mile 18 was when I knew I couldn’t run any further so I knew I wouldn’t gain any more ground on a faster time. I knew I was just in a race to finish rather than improve and for me that was gut wrenching.
Every mile slowed down considerably. I would come around a corner and expect to see a mile marker and it was not there. Mile 20 was the second turn around and as I got there I saw my mom and Kelly waiting for me. Suddenly my eyes welled up again. I was starting to get really emotional about it all. It was all happy emotion but none the less the tears came close to spilling a couple times. As I crossed the bridge I turned off my music and heard a number of people clapping and saying, “Come on Jason, you can do it!” I didn’t know most of them but they knew who I was because of Kelly’s sign that said, “Jason, you’re kind of a big deal.” Something that struck me was how positive everyone was during every part of the run. This experience gave me a peak into a world that I am not a part of and I was really impressed with the positivity. Everyone rooted everyone on. Kids from the high school x-country running and ski programs posted up all along the course and cheered just for the sake of being supportive (and they probably got some extra credit). There wasn’t any trash talking, no soccer/hockey moms, no negativity. It didn’t matter if you were first or hobbling in last, people were there to cheer you on. Perhaps there is so much positivity going on because people can sense how much darkness, doubt, struggle, and negativity can be going on inside the runners head. For anyone that pushes themselves a marathon will test you. There is simply too much time to think, too much time to question yourself, too much time alone with the truth. Most challenging events are over before you have time to realize if you left it all out there or held back, but not a marathon.
At the 20 mile turnaround I walked by and gave Kelly a kiss. She asked me if I was ok and I said no. I said no because of the pain and because I knew I couldn’t run anymore. Perhaps I should have given a more detailed description of my condition. A girlfriend (soon to be wife) doesn’t take the one word answer of “no” very well when her never running, no training guy is 20 miles into a marathon.
When I passed Christian again at mile 23 I still had half an hour cushion but my mind lingered on the pain. He was not seeing an excited energetic face. This was the point where I just wanted it to be over. I no longer had thoughts of dashing through the finish line with a thoroughbred’s stride. Now all I could think about was wanting to lay on the grass at the finish line. I just wanted to stop moving my legs, stop hammering nails into my knees. The thought of my legs just giving out became a serious fear. I started to plan out what I would do if that happened. I figured I had that half an hour to rest and try to work it out or I even thought that I could hop/limp in if I had to. One thing I never planned for was quitting. That was never an option.
As I came to the last uphill, about a quarter of a mile to go, I heard someone say, “that doesn’t look like running.” It was Beki Kelly and she was with Paul Kelly. Also along for the final push were Jason Moore and his daughter Lucy. Some of my snowboard friends had come to root the old guy on. They walked me to the corner of 6th ave and gave me the final push of encouragement to the finish line. I wanted to run the last block and a half straightaway and that’s what I attempted to do. I’m not sure you could call it running; more of a wounded shuffle. I started to feel and see my calves dimple in. The muscles were trying their best to cramp and lock up. I started to worry that I would be one of those people that collapses right before the finish line (only hours slower). I shuffled across the finish, standing up, and stopped the second my foot crossed the line. I walked a few steps and had to grab the rail to stretch out my calves so that I could keep moving. Then it was straight over to the grass in all its glorious refreshing coolness.
I did it! I finished with a time of 5:03:46. I won the bet and I proved to myself that I could do it. I know this blog is about riding boards in Alaska and you might think betting on running a marathon has nothing to do with that. You might even think it was kind of jock-ish. Well let me tell you how I think the event relates. Skating and snowboarding are activities that I am passionate about. They are also activities that push me. Every day I spend on a board I am faced with something I shouldn’t be able to do. Either I’m told I can’t do it or I question myself. I try and fail and fail and fail and fail. But I still get up and try again. I risk looking stupid and embarrassing myself. I deal with social stigmas. The point is that I DONT GIVE A FUCK about any of that stuff. The battle I face is within myself. The same way I pushed through the pain of this marathon is the same way I hang myself over a rail and push through to get a shot. The same way I want to quit running but won’t is the same way I want to quit trying a trick after the 100th try but I won’t. The same way people thought I was crazy for trying this run is the same way people (and sometimes myself) thought I was for trying to be a pro snowboarder. Everyday on a board is a test, a battle within yourself. Everyday on a board is a chance to quit. The choice is yours.
I just want to say thanks to all of those people that were so supportive. I really appreciate it. I’m really happy my mom was there to see this and I’m grateful that she has made sure to be there for so many of my events through the years. If I didn’t have such a great mom and family pushing me to follow my dreams then I never would have made it. Thanks to my wonderful bride to be for showing me every bit of how much love you have to give.
The 49th Chamberhttp://vimeo.com/87724262″>49th Chamber</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user6413922″>jason borgstede</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Lets see if I can get this one out there in under 4000 words. The 49th Chamber was an idea I came up with while on an airplane. Obviously we were all pretty into Wu Tang back then and it influenced the initial thought for the video. I’m having a hard time remembering who did the art work but I believe Jesse lined that up and put that part of the concept together.
As we released more videos we became more comfortable in the process. The 49th Chamber really let us start to step out with different titles and musical choices. We really peppered in a lot of graphics. I also feel the overall look of the video became much tighter.
I think one thing that really shines through for me was how important and valuable snowboard camp was. The set up, at camp, was better than anything we’ve seen in Alaska to this point. With all the technology and industry direction towards park building and promotion, it’s still a little board shop summer camp, with a 150 kids, that has produced the best man made terrain ever seen in AK. I know there are cat drivers that can build the stuff so I guess we have to question the mountains and the value they put on providing for a consumer. I’m sure they will tell us that there are a million reasons and rules that prevent them from making a decent park. My answer to that would be that not only do numerous lower 48 mountains do it everyday but ALASKA has done it before. The mountains that deny us today have previously provided us with the best terrain we’ve seen. Gotta wonder where our hard earned dollar is going. Anyway, i’ll step off the soap box for now and get back to the video.
This video contained a lot of riders that threw down. Some went on to pro careers, a couple of them are team managers now, and all of them left a mark on the scene. I know i’ve said this before but its really hard to believe what people were throwing down back then. Representing our scene and our riders spurred my drive to make the videos. There was so much talent that just never got a shot to be seen. These movies were about showcasing their talents in a package we put together. As riders, Jesse and I got to do our snowboarding but making the movie brought the real happiness. When the premier night came I was excited about my footage but nothing like the excitement I felt for the movie. I was never much of an artist as far as traditional art. I cant pick up a brush and create anything more than a mess. I never learned to play musical instruments. But what I felt like I was decent at was putting together a few minutes of footage in a way that really let people see the light inside someone. It might sound corny but it is the truth. Making videos has always been my art.
Like I was saying, this video had quite a pool of talent. I think the “Dogz” section was one of the best we ever had. I also think the skate section with Brant Schalk, Belcourt, and the others really opened eyes, if you wanted to see it, to how good a bunch of Alaskan kids could ride a wooden plank. Brant and Belcourt were great examples of sick skaters that really never got any attention outside of AK. I filmed most of Brant’s section and you can notice that we never had shots at the same spots. If you knew me as a skater, at that point of my life, then you know that I went for it. I was willing to slam and willing to drop off big stuff. So when I went to film Brant it’s not like I didn’t think about or try to skate the stuff he skated; I just couldn’t. I just wasn’t in Brant’s league when it came to skating. The spots were so difficult to skate because of cracks, short runways, rough ground, etc. When you have true talent it just doesn’t matter. The thing about videos is, if filmed right, everything looks easy. I want to let you know that it isn’t. Belcourt was the same way but being from Juneau kept him and I from skating much together. You can see from the footage that he is just a pure natural. I’ve had the pleasure of watching a lot of naturals ride skateboards and that is an art that I can truly appreciate.
Speaking of naturals, Micah didn’t have a long part but as usual it was gold. Micah has an aesthetic to his skating that is best described as natural. I skated with Micah a lot over the years and I noticed something about his skating. When I show up to skate a spot I try to figure out what tricks I can do at the spot. Usually the routine of trick selection consists of running down the list of tricks I can do and seeing what can be made to fit the spot in question. Micah’s trick selection seemed to follow a different path. Nothing Micah did at a spot looked forced. On the contrary, the tricks Micah chose looked as though they were the absolute best choice to flow with the spot. The tricks he did belonged at that spot. He just uncovered the tricks and let them happen the way nature intended.
Darian “Double D” Draper was the first person I ever saw do the double backside rodeo (his opening shot). I guess the trick could be called a double backflip backside 180 or a double roll 180 but no matter what you call it riders are doing it in events today. Darian is one of the greatest people you’ll ever meet until you need your face pushed in. Seriously though, Double D dropped hammers in this part and had no sponsors at the time.
Jon Kooley moved to Utah for the winter this video was filmed and ended up parlaying that choice into a full blown career. Just last week, at Alyeska, I ran into Jake Randazzo ( an old snowboard friend from high school) and he told me how stoked he was on Jon. He said, “I told Jon he’ll never make it in snowboarding by riding rails.” That’s a pretty funny story considering that Jon did exactly that and even funnier that Randazzo was giving snowboard career advice. Also of note, Jon is one of the first people that ever did a proper one footed board slide on a street rail.
My section was a pretty fun one for me if you try to forget the fact that i was no longer really sponsored by anybody. I went from head to toe burton to grabbing a few sponsors like Pro-tec, osiris, and oakley. I know, poor me. I’m just saying it was a new experience after 7 years on burton. Another new experience was shaving my legs for a skit that probably made a few people throw up in their mouths a little bit. Once you get past the vomit there were some fun sessions in this part. The picnic tables with a rail in the middle was a session at Boreal. The people at Boreal have always been so cool about letting riders set up interesting things. Boreal has backed snowboarding to the fullest from the start. This video also marked a session at the infamous rail gardens in SLC. I did a one footed 5050 on the rail and kept it proper with my unbuckled foot never touching my board while it was on the rail. I also managed to do a frontside crooked press on the flat rail at boarderline camp. It wasn’t a trick that ever caught on but it was an idea that I had to see if I could figure out.
The video held some real standout moments that I want to share. Matt Wild doing a one footed backflip pretty much made him Bode Merrill before Bode was around. This video has the best crash section hands down. Lando’s pillow hop to backside 180 could be one of my favorite shots ever in a movie. Drinking a cup full of water wrung from the gloves of every summer camp attendee in the lunch room will go down as a tough but respectable path into the video. And I don’t think HCSC will be holding “Marine Sit-up” contests anymore (in the credits: hold a kid down with a towel over his eyes and forehead. Tell him to try as hard as he can to do a sit up while someone moves their bare butt over his head. Remove the towel letting the head take it’s natural course and watch as hilarity ensues).
There was just so much “good” in this video. It’s impossible for me to mention everyone and how great they were. Just watch the video a few times and try to wrap your head around how rad it all is. Thanks again to everyone that was a part of it.
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.
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.
Road Trippin (the movie)
This is the video of the three week road trip Kelly and I took this summer. We skated every park we could find along the Alcan. We went through Seattle, Portland, Tahoe, Vegas, LA, Venice Beach, Camarillo, up the PCH to Santa Cruz and San Francisco, and back up to Anchorage. Trip of a lifetime. Get out there and see the world.
Editors note: By no means does the author represent this to be great, or even that good of skateboarding. Its just to show the fun of a road trip. I know you can all skate better than me so don’t trip. HAHA. This video was shot entirely with GoPros and an iPhone.
I’ve driven the Alcan (Alaska Canada highway) in the neighborhood of 16 times, 13 of those have been solo trips. I’ve driven the road in beautiful sun, blasting music, and I’ve driven it in snowstorms. I’ve pulled a sled, a cargo trailer with my life packed inside, and taken the dog a few times. I’ve slept in the car most of the trips unless it was too cold. I’ve woken up to -30F temps. I woke to a flat trailer tire in a tiny town with no tire iron to fit the lugs and I’ve blown a trailer tire in the middle of a snow storm, at night, with no room to pull off the road. I’ve hit a few birds including one about the size of a hawk that smashed the passenger side of the windshield.
In the past, driving the Alcan was always a utilitarian journey. As a matter of fact I can’t even call it a journey because that would lead you to believe that there was some sort of adventure to it. Other than the inherent risks, most of which became a reality somewhere along the years of driving the road, I really just saw it as a way to get my car between Tahoe and Alaska and I usually tried to get it done as fast as possible. Admittedly I am quite a loner so there is some appeal to a week of introspection but that usually wears off around day 3.
The idea to take the Alcan trip, and let it be the journey it begs to be, spawned from a few things. Maybe it’s my version of a mid-life crisis. More likely it’s that I don’t have a rush to be somewhere anymore. More likely it’s that I met someone who’s eyes are wide to what the world holds but hides from those not willing to search for it. Yeah, it’s definitely the girl. I wanted to explore but I also wanted to share. I needed to share. There are certain times in life when I question my self worth. Sharing, teaching, and showing others what I’ve learned help out with that. So I planned a trip where we would drive down the Alcan, hitting all the parks we could find along the Canadian leg of the trip. From there we would go through Seattle, Portland, Tahoe, Vegas, LA, up the California coast, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and back to Anchorage. We had three weeks off of work, skateboards, go-pros, iPhones, an air mattress, a tent, a cooler, sunglasses, and the plan that if it looks fun; stop and do it.
A few years back, the only skatepark I knew of along the Alcan was in Whitehorse, YT. The last few solo trips I made, I decided to do some searching and each trip has uncovered a few more parks. It appears as though Canada really likes skateparks, having one in almost every small town along the way. It also appears that Canada really believes in investing in their youth because almost everyone of the parks is made of concrete rather than the plastic and metal fabrications we consider ourselves lucky to have in Anchorage. A concrete park says that the town believes in the youth and won’t be yanking away the privileges if they don’t like what they see.
The Yukon part of the drive is where most of the wildlife is. Brown bears, black bears, buffalo soldiers, maybe a dreadlock rasta, and moose all made an appearance in the Yukon. We also had a red fox run right across the skatepark in Whitehorse.
As we cruised down in to the lower 48 we managed to hit burnside and work out a meeting with one of my fellow pro shreds from back in the day. Bobby Meeks, who is now the…. well he’s just a big wig at the Nike snow program, met up with us and let us skate the NikeSB skate park! We were all alone, which is bad for seeing the insanity that could go down on those features but good so I didn’t embarrass myself. Aaaaand Mr. Meeks is no slouch on the board, throwing some tre flips up the euro gap (if you didn’t understand that sentence then just go to your local skate shop and ask). It was great seeing Bobby again after a number of years. He is a great guy and super cool to take some time off the greens to let us skate the park.
After that we were headed to Tahoe. Back to the stomping grounds that I called my home away from home for the past 18 or so winters. My old roomie, Jon, put us up in his Reno mansion, which was a nice break from the air mattress. The next morning brought breakfast with all the old crew. There are times when you realize how grateful you need to be and this breakfast was one of those times. The people I shared breakfast with; Jon, Bryce, Mike, and MJ are good people. They are the type of guys that would go to bat for you and drive to the store at 3 am to buy the bat too if thats what needed to be done. As people drift in and out of each others lives it can be easy to overlook how special that is. Having four of those guys, all at one table, laughing and talking shit again, gave me the reminder I needed of just how lucky I am.
We went up to the lake to see my old house, check out the “woodward” at Boreal (which looks like a dreamland), and jump in the water. Lake Tahoe is more than a mile deep so even when it’s melting hot out you can expect to freeze when you get in. It’s shocking how cold it is. After a burger at the char-pit and a stop at Donner Summit we hit the road to Vegas. I played poker for a living for about 5-6 years after my pro snowboarding days ended so I love getting back to the tables in Vegas. The idea, again, was to show Kelly some of my favorite spots and hopefully discover a few new ones while getting to play a WSOP event. For those of you that have some time, Vegas has a lot of concrete parks and they range from decent to amazing. If you go for a skate trip though, make sure you go when the weather is nice, usually late October through April. May through October is just stupid hot and dry. Oh and don’t forget there is a ski hill about 45 minutes from the strip that is open from about late November to the end of March. Its a small hill but they usually make a pretty fun park.
So Vegas was a mix of great food, shopping, a little poker (which didn’t yield a payday), and a last minute ditch skate session before hitting the road to So Cal. The not so funny part about California is how crowded it is. After driving for a week and just being able to camp anywhere or pull over and sleep in the car, we thought it would be no problem to drive up to one of the state park camping spots on the beach. WRONG! WRONG! As I drove from spot to spot I soon found out that these spots can be filled up to a year in advance. The only real lottery ticket you can hope for is if you show up late and there is a last minute cancellation. So no beach camping for us….yet.
Our next adventure waited for us in the mountains, the Magic Mountain to be specific. I grew up going to Magic Mountain and love it. They also have Hurricane Harbor, a water park, so we hit both in the same day. I didn’t mention it but So-Cal was going through a heat wave during our visit. I’m not talking about an Alaskan heat wave where 85 is record setting. I’m talking 107 in the parking lot. But Jason, you’re at a water park, what’s the big deal? That’s what I thought as I put my shoes in the locker and headed out to find comfort in the watery oasis. What I found instead was the smell of burning flesh as I tried to run from wet puddle to wet puddle on concrete that wouldn’t have just cooked an egg, it would have evaporated it.
The heat plays an important role in our harrowing tail and it’s role shall be revealed momentarily. Meanwhile, the fair maiden Kelly, bravely overcame her fears of nearly vertical water slides, water induced wedgies, long lines on hot concrete, and what looked like a field trip from a nike shoe factory in the lazy river (hundreds of kids). What Kelly could not overcome was gravity with a little help from heat. As we stood in line to get tubes for another water slide, Kelly leaned over and put her hands on her knees. There was no shade for the line and she was feeling the heat. She had her head down and her knees locked straight. The knees locked can cut off blood flow and standing up after having your head down can make you light headed. Have you guessed where this is going? When she stood up she wasn’t responsive to me talking to her (nothing new here since I have the same effect on most women) and her eyes glazed over. I put my arm around her just as she fainted! WOW, I’ve never seen someone faint in person. Her face lost all color and her body went limp. She slumped towards the ground and the body that I usually pick up and twirl around with no problem suddenly felt like 200 pounds. I lifted her back up and she came back to life. She asked what happened and I told her Hugh Jackman (her celeb crush) was just here hanging out but she was taking a nap.
On to the real fun; roller coasters. Not much to tell other than we splurged and got the flash pass that lets you basically skip the lines. Pricey. Super Pricey but worth it. Thrills were had and nobody fainted.
We cruised back to our hotel in LA and then to catch the tail end of the night at the Comedy Store on Sunset. If you haven’t been to a comedy club then let me help you adjust your expectations. The general thought is that seeing a comedian is like seeing a Comedy Central or HBO special where the comedian is on top of their game and killing it. When you go to a comedy club in LA or New York, this is where the best comedians live and hang out night after night. These clubs are not where they showcase their best honed act, it’s where they practice. Think of it like a skatepark. Skaters go to skateparks to practice, to learn new tricks, to see what works and what doesn’t so that when the contest or film mission happens then they can shine. An LA or NY comedy club is like a comedians skatepark. They aren’t worried about polish, they are trying out new stuff and seeing what works and what doesn’t. If you love comedy then its great to see and you will hear some great material but don’t go thinking you’ll see a polished showcase. That said, we stayed till the bitter end and I mean BITTER end. There were 4 of us left watching the last guy and he was a shock comedian that liked to talk about the rudest stuff you can imagine. I’m a fan of any comedy but that kind of stuff goes over much better when you have an audience of people to ohhhh and ahhhh about what he said. What ever, it was fun.
Venice Beach was our first stop the next day. We cruised around the freak show and played in the waves just long enough to build up an appetite for fried pizza. If you’re gonna go big then go all the way. Might as well deep fry that slice just in case there isn’t enough grease from the pepperoni. Other than my heart actually jumping out and slapping me, it was pretty good.
Someone wise once said that man can not live by fried pizza alone, so we took off to the Dodger game and crushed some dodger dogs and peanuts. Growing up in So-Cal, the Dodgers have been my team since day one. My grandma would take me to games all the time and was even cool enough to let me wait by the player parking area for autographs. Dodger games bring back everything amazing about my childhood and everything I love about So-Cal. It was a really meaningful part of the trip since my grandma has passed. It allowed me to feel a little closer to her through something we loved sharing.
Venice is such a cool place that we decided we had to go back. Actually Kelly decided we had to take a surfing lesson so back to the beach we went. We found Wagner Lima at Jay’s Rentals and he took us out for a bit. An interesting note is that there is a small jeti out in the water and evidently it’s a little easier to learn on the lookers left side. Another interesting note is that the lifeguards shut the lookers left side to surfing at noon. If you have a surfboard then you have to head to the lookers right side of the jeti. Those notes might not have been that interesting but this one is, trust me. Wagner does not like to have his students told where they can or can’t surf. The life guards love to tell people where they can and can’t surf. So a little war of wills started and Kelly and I were the pawns. The Lifeys kept yelling at us to leave the water and Wagner would tell us to not look at them, just paddle back out. He told us that if we went all the way to the beach we would have to get out but if we didn’t they couldn’t make us. It was pretty sick to see a little bit of the “middle finger to the man” mentality still left in our watered down Mt. Dew backed board sports. It really started to get heated. Some “good samaritan” kept coming up to me and telling me the lifeguard wanted to see me, that I needed to go in. After a few times of him coming up to me, I finally just said “Don’t worry about it. What do you care?” He looked a little stunned and walked away. Finally it reached a point where there were just a couple of us on boards in the water and everyone else on shore watching to see what action the frantically yelling Lifeys were going to do. We finally headed in and Wagner gave them some choice words, much along the lines of the locals telling off the haole (how-li)surfers in “North Shore”. Good times.
After catching few good waves, not just mushy reforms, we packed up and started the trek back north. We still had a week left before going back to work but the bitter sweet sting of knowing we were on the downhill of the trip was starting to bite at me. It’s easy to get fixated on how the trip is almost over and most of the specific “things” on the itinerary are in the rear view mirror but thats also an easy way to lose the rest of the trip. Ever so often I have to take myself aside and remind myself of that point, on this trip and in life. They say its not over till its over, that is unless you decide to let it be over before that.
We combed state park after state park until we found an open camp site, just as the sun was setting, at Rufugio Beach (just north of Santa Barbara). We set up the tent and I knocked back a cold one (root beer) by the fire. It was a nice little reminder that it wasn’t over yet.
All my years in California and I have never driven the PCH all the way up the coast. Damned if we weren’t going to keep the adventure going right up along the waters edge. We stopped at a vineyard for Kelly to do a tasting (strictly research for work) and then managed to find a Sea Lion rookery. I thought we might see one or two or maybe it wouldn’t be the right season and the beach would be empty. I was stoked to be wrong. The beach had been stormed by what looked like a casting call for a beach version of the Biggest Loser, tons and tons (literally) of enormous sea lions waddling around, belching out communication, kicking up sand as they jiggled in and out of the water. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
We made it to San Francisco just about 1am and found out just how true it is when people say that in SF you’re only one street away from the ghetto. We circled around looking for our last minute internet booked hotel and luckily they wouldn’t honor our reservation. We found another place that was great but the street we drove down twice to find it was pretty much a scene out of the nastiest open drug market scenes on “The Wire.” It was a street filled with Zombies waiting to erupt but turn the corner and it looked like a clean, empty, beautiful, downtown night in the city.
When the sun rose we hit the streets and walked all over town. We walked to China town, down to Fishermans Wharf, and up to Lombard Street. We crushed some fish and chips then hit the road before that city bankrupted us. We caught the tail end of some giant redwoods before the sunset, another first for me. That about wrapped it up for us as far as new places. From that point on it was back on course, with a vengeance, to make it back to AK in time for work. We still managed a stop at all the skateparks and never once threatened to kill each other, at least not seriously.
There were a lot of firsts on this trip. First road trip with Kelly, Kelly meeting my Uncle, cousin, and lower 48 friends, first time doing the trip for fun, first time all the way up the PCH, and on and on. But perhaps the biggest first was that this was Kelly’s first time in California. She had a somewhat negative opinion of the state based on, well I’m not sure what. When we left California that had changed. She loved the beauty of Nor-Cal, the beaches of So-Cal, and everything the state offered in things to do. She might have liked the weather a little bit too. I’m not telling you this because I work for the California tourist board. I’m telling you this because traveling can be one of the greatest parts of being alive; if you let it. In my younger years of traveling I would often have a preconceived negative idea about a place I was going, just like Kelly did with Cali. The difference is that she was open enough to let the experiences speak for themselves. She let the each day present her a new adventure and accepted the challenge. She opened herself to the experience and found that the joy of the journey could shed light upon the shadows of worrying about the destination.
It was the best trip I’ve ever been on. Thanks to everyone that helped make it so rad.
Throwback Thursday: All or Nothing
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.
Throwback Thursdays: Behind Blue Eyes
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.
Throwback Thursday: What ever it takes.
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.
Magazine Mondays: OH SHIT!!!!
This photo was taken by Ryan Hughes (now the Snowboarder Magazine photo editor) and appeared in my interview in Heckler Magazine, 2003. The rail is in Portola California. I did the rail for the JB Deuce (Boarderline) movie “Steezin for No Reason”.
Now I’ve given more than blood, sweat, and tears in my pursuit of snowboarding. I’ve also given a crap. I’ve given a crap three time to be exact and I’m not talking about caring about three different areas of the sport. I’m saying that I’ve crapped my pants three times during my 23 years of snowboarding. I would say, all things considered, that’s not a bad average.
The other two times were both during boarder-cross events. The first time was in Maine at the CBS “Masters of the Board” event where the riders competed in boarder-cross, slope style, and half pipe all in the same day. During practice I overshot a jump and landed way out in the flats. The force was more than my weak colon could handle.
The second time was during an MTV winter event at Snow Summit. Boarder-cross and slope style events took place back to back on the same day. Again during practice I watched some riders and thought I had the speed mapped out. I was wrong. I overshot a steep volcano like jump and dropped about 15 feet to complete flat ice and wrecked myself. Rectum? Damn near Killed ’em. The details can be left for another time but I did well at the event. But really, who gives a crap?
This all leads us to the fecal hat-trick, the triple crown of crap that was completed in the picture above. I’m shaking my head as I type this; what a proud moment in life. Haha. Anyway, we drove about an hour or so to get to the rail and took another hour to set up the ramp and shovel snow into the landing and take off. At the time I had a signature model helmet with Pro-Tec and wanted to get a photo for them so I decided to do the warm up shots with the helmet on. Little did I know that my head wasn’t where I needed protection. “Depends” who you ask I guess.
I dropped in, planning a 50-50 (riding the board down the rail just like it is in the picture for those that might now know). I ollied up and slipped out right as my board touched the rail. I stayed in the air until my stomach hung itself over the flat section of the rail like a towel over the clothes line. Basically i flew down 14 stairs to my stomach. Now if you have any doubt about what happened then I have an easy exercise that can demonstrate things very clearly. Take a full tube of toothpaste and remove the cap. Now grab it by the bottom end, opposite of the cap. Raise the tube over your head, grit your teeth and tense your shoulder muscles to make sure you get the maximum amount of energy built up. Now turn that potential energy into kinetic energy as you slam the tube, with all your might, onto the edge of the sink. Thats about what happened to me.
With all the dignity available in the moment I told everyone, “hold on and I’ll be back.” To be honest, I was more concerned about internal injuries than a cheap pair of Gap boxers. I walked over into the bushes, took my underwear off, cleaned up with some slushy snow, put myself back together and got back to hitting the rail. After all, Im not going to drive that far and go through all that effort just to let some little turd ruin my day. I ended up getting the shot for the magazine and video part so I considered it a win. In my eyes it was just one of the many small tolls we pay to pursue our dreams and push ourselves. Yes it’s embarrassing and humbling but I’m not ashamed of it. Snowboarding is something that I would die for. It truly means that much to me and I am pretty sure that each of you has something in your lives that you love that much. I walked away to snowboard another day so now it’s just another funny story.
Until next time my friends, go get some turns.
This week’s Throwback Thursday is from the fall of 1991. This is a trampoline contest. Back then it was all the rage to duct tape your edges up and hop around on the trampoline. When a bag of tricks was composed more of grabs than corks and flips (corks hadn’t even been invented yet) the trampoline helped develop some serious game. As you can see from the photo, it didnt do much for developing the wardrobe.
All the snowboarders from Eagle River would gather at someone’s house each day after school and the tramp sesh would be on. Due to the fact that people dont really jump on trampolines with their snowboards much may lead you to think in a different direction when I say “tramp sesh.” Fear not, we weren’t on the football team so it was just practice for snowboarding. I also had my own trampoline and was on it all the time, mostly because Craig Kelly once said in a video that it helped with your balance and improved your snowboarding. Who was I to argue with the living legend?
As the fall grew colder and Boarderline announced the contest , we all got excited. It was the time when the air grows crisp and termination dust starts appearing on the mountain tops. Kids would start buying and watching the few videos that came out each season and talking about what tricks they would throw down as soon as the mountains opened. The trampoline contest was the time when all the shred clans from every area came together and felt the hype of the upcoming season. Talk of who would do well in the contests that year, who had or would get on the Boarderline team, and who was going to throw down filled the air like the flakes of a dumping snowstorm.
The day of the contest I can remember that Jay Liska and Jimmy Halopoff were judges. I also remember that when the trampoline dust settled I ended up in second place. I believe first place went to Jake Liska. Naturally I was convinced that a conspiracy on the scale of the JFK second shooter had occurred for those results to have been posted. I tried my best to pick up my dignity and my new Kombi gloves ( which were awesome because they had Kevlar on the fingers in case I needed to stop any further bullets coming from the grassy knoll) and headed back to Eagle River in time for my shift at Pizza Hut. Oh the glamorous days. Haha.
Oh and one last thing. I want you to notice that the Boarderline sign had Bart Simpson on it.
Hot Laps with Roger Post
This is a video I made for Heckler.com when I was working for them and living in Tahoe (Make sure and check them out cause their site is tight and they have the finger on the pulse of Tahoe). The video is from Boreal last spring. It features Alaskan Roger Post, music by the Alaskan band “Lavoy”, and myself. All of it was shot on a ContourHD cam on my goggles and a GoPro mounted to the nose of my snowboard.
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.
USASA Rail Jam!
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.
(Kelly, Me, Jason Moore at Alyeska)
Shooting the shooter; Turnagain sunset
(Mom, Me, Kelly at “The BBQ Pit”)
“Kitchen Wall” photo grab from GoPro at Alyeska
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.