Learning Your Roots
I just got done watching the series: Guy Mariano – Life on Video. TheBerrics.com put out this series showcasing a legend in skateboarding and how he has grown up in front of lens of skateboarding. I think this is something that needs to be seen.
Here is the link: http://theskateboardmag.com/videos/?__mr_id=82550 and all five parts can be found on that site.
There is a new trend in skating and snowboarding that is pretty incredible. No, it’s not triple kinks or triple corks, it’s not tight pants, minimalist shoes, strange shaped boards, or grabbing your board when you carve. The trend i’ve noticed is spotlighting the legends of our sports.
As progression dictates; get better or get left behind (or as the tat on Antwuan Dixon’s head says, “get wit it or get rolled over bitch!”). This mandate applies for the people standing sideways as well as those pointing a lens at them. And although we will look at just about anything if the trick is amazing or new, there are lensmen that understand their art will be revered and remembered only if they dedicate the same passion to their projects as the riders do in pushing the sport. I’m not talking about just buying the best new camera and getting a clean shot. I’m talking about the thought that is going into projects and the final product that’s constructed through painstaking detail, research, and planning.
Some of the amazing new projects I see come in the form of a full length movie, some are webisodes, and some are profiles. As our sports enter the grandest of stages the production values are leading them to be presented to an ever growing, unknowledgeable, entitled audience. While some are content to throw up a snow park edit that looks like they pressed record when they got off the lift and stopped recording 10 runs later when they got to the car, others are taking the responsibility of educating and presenting what we do seriously. These artists are finding a canvas for their visions in the form of our sports’ history and pioneers. I can’t tell you how many kids snowboarding now don’t know who Terje or Craig Kelly are. Thanks to artists such as Stacey Peralta, Lucas Huffman, Trevar Cushing over at Powder and Rails, the guys at Vice, the production crew at the Berrics, along with many others, the history of our sports and the stories of our legends are being told. The value of this history is immeasurable as our sports steer away from their rebel roots and plant themselves firmly in the mainstream.
So please take some time to learn about who and where your sports came from. That thing under your feet wouldn’t be as fun or mean shit to the world if it weren’t for those that rode it before you. The Guy Mariano series has a lot of insight into the mind of a pro. If you want to know what its like or you long to be a pro someday then this is a playbook that has so much information for you.
And when you’re done with that here are a few other suggestions (and links if I can find them).
“20 Years of Chocolate”, Epicly Later’d, Vice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws-_-6BhGT8
“Snow Craft: Pioneers: Episode 1, Huffman Studios, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8oEm5r6KYE
“Snow Craft: Generations: Episode 1, Huffman Studios, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx4m8EiA6ws
Powder and Rails, Trevar Cushing, http://www.vice.com/series/powder-and-rails
Nice!Gordon Extras: Mark Thompson and Cody Liska
So here are the extra clips of Thompson Tuesdays and the Scrode. I already touched on this previously but Mark Thompson has such natural talent on a board. When you watch him you can see how at ease and comfortable he looks. I went back and found footage of a skateboard trip to Fairbanks which had to be from about 1995ish and Mark looks just as comfortable and natural on a skateboard back then. I wish we could have seen more of his skating over the years but I’m stoked for what I was able to be around. Also, after Nice!Gordon, a few of the guys like Mark, Gus, and Spinelli went on to film with Think Thank so you can check out those videos to see how their riding progressed after this point in time.
I have been around Cody, in some way or another, for most of his life. I worked at Boarderline when he was so small that Scott or Sharon would bring him in and he would make a pile of jackets to take a nap on. Since I never had brothers I adopted a brotherly role around some of the people in the shop and as you know, older brothers don’t always set the most appropriate examples. I remember when Ride snowboards sent out condoms as promotional items. We would just give them away but mostly they were just to catch people’s eye, get a chuckle, and get them talking about Ride snowboards. Well of course I would give them to Cody and tell him to go ask Sharon (his mom) what they were for. I’ve known that Cody, I’ve known the Cody you see in these clips, riding with power and grace, breaking through as a snowboarder, and I’ve known the Cody that found new interests other than snowboarding. Cody found more than the desire to couch surf and worked his way through a degree at UNR (journalism i think). Now Cody has moved back to Alaska and started a magazine. He has gone from Derek and Jake’s whipping boy (with all the love possible as older brothers pull underwear over a younger brother’s head) to a well rounded, ambitious, hard working individual with a voice and a drive to forge his own path and create his own legacy.
Nice!Gordon Extras: Gary
I met Gary some time towards the middle of the season when working on Nice!Gordon. If I recall he said he had been working on film stuff for his degree at UNR and wanted to get involved in snowboard movies. I was taking on the task of making the movie solo and knew I needed help filming so I asked Gary if he would help film. I told him I really had no money to pay but I would try to teach him everything I knew about filming, editing, and making movies. I figured all of that should be worth about $137. Anyway, Gary came up to AK and filmed a bunch during the spring and again in the summer, as well as spring in Tahoe. Gary was able to handle my stressing out most of the time and my constant onslaught of bad jokes and we ended up with some pretty good footage when the dust settled.
When it came time to do the dvd extras Gary gave me this little gem of an edit. My eyes were wide, my head shook in disbelief, and my jaw hung open in awe. I expected nothing less. Gary is always into having a good time and being funny even if its at his own expense and that’s a trait we shared and bonded over. This video really captures the essence of the Gary I knew at the time. I look at the edit now and hope the viewer can see the importance of keeping that spirit alive as the commercialization of snow/skate sports threatens to create a new breed of self important board jocks. Dont forget that we ride boards for fun not for fame. Cause if you do then you can expect to hear Gary blow the whistle and cry “FOWL!!!!!”
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: The Chinterview with Walter Bombeck
While filming Nice!Gordon we headed out to Hatcher Pass a few times. On this occasion we set up a gap over the small creek that runs parallel to the road by the upper parking lot. The only problem is that the terrain is fairly flat leading up to the gap. This means a ridiculous amount of run-in to get the speed needed to clear the gap. The area didn’t have a ton of snow on it so tundra bumps littered the path. After forty days and forty nights of trying to pack down the run in and attempting to figure out the optimal speed pumping technique we gave it a shot. This is the story of one of those shots; the shot heard round the pass.
Basically Walt is the man and never afraid to charge.
Nice!Gordon Extras: Walt, Sunny, Jed, Andre
Pretty sick crew in this section. In no particular order, this section features the prince of anchorage, Andre Spinelli. The spoon man has had a lot of names over the years but B.A.D. (Big Air Dre) is probably the most fitting. Dre has a ton of pop and no fear when it comes to hucking. I feel like its pretty much just his stoke coming through as he rides.
Jed Hoffman has always been able to find some of the most unique and crazy rails featured in the videos. He transplanted from Fairbanks to Reno. Now a days you can find him crushing live poker games and tournaments in Reno and all around the country.
Walter is the third Bombeck brother that I have had the pleasure to spend a lot of time snowboarding with. I grew up around Abe and Kris Bombeck as we went to high school together and did our best to cause as much mayhem as possible at Arctic Valley. As Nice!Gordon came around so did the next generation of Bombeck rippers in Walter Bombeck. As you can see I would pick Walt up from school then head out to hit a jump or rail. I think Walt was only about 17 when we made the video yet he tackled some huge rails around town and went nuts on the AV hip. The Bombeck’s have always had an abundance of heart, talent, and siblings. I can look back now and see what a privilege it was to share so much time with this awesome family.
Sunny was a part of our scene for far too short of a time. Sunny passed away a few years after the movie and it hit our crew pretty bad. Sunny came to the shredfest events to ride for kids, tirelessly worked on jumps and rails for the videos, was present at anything that resembled a Boarderline snow/skate function, and made people smile because he was there. Sunny lived and breathed snowboarding and boarderline and created friendships that reflected that. We will always miss and love you buddy.
Nice!Gordon Extras: Travis Reid, Matt Wild, and David Blome
This is an edit, put together by Matt, for the Nice!Gordon DVD extras. It’s pretty true to Matt’s style back then. You can see that these guys always had a camera with them and always had fun. Matt and Travis were kind of a dynamic duo back in the day. Along with giving me footage and going out filming with me a bunch they also put together movies under Matt’s company known as Buttery Fresh Productions. Travis and Matt were never hesitant when it came to getting up early, picking up a shovel, or just about anything it took to get a creative shot. These two guys have always been among the hardest working snowboarders in Anchorage and you can tell that it all stems from just loving to snowboard.
Now David on the other hand…. haha. Just kidding. Dave has been around the skate scene for a long time and as you can see from the footage, he has skills.
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.
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.
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.
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.