May Showers

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Spring is a funny thing. I’d spent most of April in Northern California, remembering to put sunscreen on and bring water on hot afternoon hikes and just when I was getting the hang of sunny spring days, I went to Oregon and was quickly reminded that spring can sometimes look a lot like winter. Like a lot, a lot. We were met with full on freezing cold, blustery-as-all-hell winter and had to take an extra 15 minutes in the parking lot just to brace for impact and the harsh cold reality of winter in May . In all fairness, it was fun to have a few bonus pow slashes in and to remember that wintertime stoke but, ya know, my feet had forgotten what it felt like to be cold. #wha20140513-131916.jpg

But in classic Oregon fashion, the storm blew away, the sun came out and the webcast for Snowboarder Magazine’s Superpark 18 went off with T-bird and Java testing the wit of the shredders around the globe and the following day I spent peeling off layers in Portland marveling at the 80degree heat. I wrote a full report on my new favorite blogging app, Steller, with fancy flipping pages and all sorts of fun bells and whistles. Y’all should check it out.

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The Glory Days of Shred

DSC_0181Last weekend, I was lucky enough to stumble upon the Tom Sims Retro World Championship of Snowboarding at Soda Springs. Granted, I showed up as the last of the legends were sessioning the hand dug halfpipe, only catching a few vintage airs from the last riders charging slushie highway hits but I saw enough to realized I’d totally blown it by not showing up earlier and shredding with the legends of my youth. Terry Kidwell and Chris Roach (who basically motivated a younger version of myself to get radical in the 90s) were milling about in Sims attire circe 1980-something. Palmer was there riding a Sims Switchblade with an old school Coors bib tied to his chest and Laurie Aspers was in spandex….and a flashy, pink, diamond-encrusted, thong, of course.DSC_0177

Chirs Roach keeping it old school stylie.

People were tweaking roast beefs and Japans on a schmattering of old boards from Burton Backhills to Barfoots and Morrows and I saw more old dudes on Snurfers rip past me than I’ve ever seen in my life. Beer was pounded by the twelve pack, twenty year-old rivalries reared their heads in the parking lot and all of that nostalgic goodness was floating about. It felt a lot like stepping into the magazine pages and posters of my youth, except everyone looked a bit more hagged with bit less hair.20140402-104626.jpg

It was also pretty dang awesome, funny and fitting that the same day this vintage showdown in a  five-foot high hand-dug ditch was going down the first ever 22-foot double pipe with all of today’s heavy-hitting halfpipe jocks was happening too. A happy coincidence that the full spectrum of halfpipe snowboarding from its beer swilling, florescent past to its hyper-focused, stunt monkey-ing of today was all converging on the same day. A little glimpse at how much the sport has grown and  snapshot of the ridiculousness of snowboarding past and present.20140331-094018.jpgDanny Davis and Mark McMorris opted out of double pipin’ madness to shred with legends like Hachett, Chantery, BK and Palmer.

DSC_0180Delany and Palmer battling it out for the overall….just like in the 90s.

20140402-104703.jpgThe future? Photo: Thomas O’Brien

xoxo t

Extra special thanks to Rick Shimpeno for his epic old school shred photos above and his radical shred moves on a 1990 Morrow with what appears to be a 15 inch stance below. rick_shimpeno_method_tackittphoto

Check out the full lowdown from Tim Peare on Snowboard Magazine.

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US Open: The Colorado Years

us_open_pipe_finals_taylor_gold-640x360Taylor Gold’s old-school method and winning wow wow at this year’s Open…Photo: Nick Hamilton 

After the second year of the US Open Vail Colorado style, it seems the spirit and soul of the US Open are alive and well. Although it’s probably more accurate to say that the spirit and soul of the US Open of 5 or 6 years ago are alive and well, not the early days of US Open duct tape innovation or the 90′s Opens where you could build an unsound and unsafe chicken-wire cage on the deck of the halfpipe and fill it with drunks in mascot outfits and viking helmets (but I’m pretty sure in 2014 you can’t build that thing anywhere…not even in your own backyard), but still it’s good to see that despite the venue change, the Open still has a lot of heart. IMG_5898The US Open is all rainbows and puppies for 13-year-old ripper Chloe Kim. 

It still brings the best riders together for one last whoo-hah, showcasing the season’s progression; letting all the rivalries and trick one-upping happen one last time before video parts and powder missions trump all. It still carries it’s shred klout and really means something to these riders. It is still the contest to win. If you’re the least bit skeptical of this statement with the Olympic and X hype, take a look a breakout rookie, Taylor Gold’s face after he won the halfpipe, all misty and awestruck and %100 stoke, he looked more stoked winning that then make the Olympic team (and he was pretty damn stoked to make that Olympic team).

poachers huggyAll aboard…Danny Davis, Terje Haakenson and Scotty Lago “Poaching” the Open….Photo: Huggy

It still opens your eyes to riders you’ve barely heard of, like local boy Jake Pates and let’s you seen legends like Terje sending it as a “poacher” like the good ‘ol days. And while it’s not the good ‘ol days and “poachers” aren’t actually poaching but sent during commercial breaks from a guy with a radio strapped to his chest, it’s still pretty damn awesome to see your favorite non-finals making shredders do trains of methods and frontside airs in between zillions of double corks and whirly bird spins. IMG_5849JJ Thomas came out of retirement for one last US Open run…

People are still smelling the glove and while there are a lot more fair weather fans, people still come out to bang the banners in the name of shred. Of course, the die hard, east coast, Vermont shredder girl in me misses the heart of the Vermont scene and the passion all those  tough-as-nails, rain-or-shine people have brought to the sport and to the Open, I’m just happy to know that a piece of what the Open use to be made it’s way to Colorado too and I feel extra lucky to have been a part of the Open in the days of yore.
IMG_5951Different venue. Same shitshow. #untzuntzuntzIMG_5924The main reason my photos kinda suck  and I had to poach them (in the official sense of the word) from Huggy and Nick, is because I was doing a lot of made for TV stuttering at the bottom of the course.

xoxo t

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Favorite X Games Moments 2014

X Games bitches.jpgIt’s been just about a week or maybe more since the lights went out on X Games in Aspen and I still feel compelled to write about it. Amazing feats of acrobatic shred went down with tons of dudes landing triple cork 14s and 16s (uhmm…that’s like a lot of rotations) and a couple of the slope ladies tried to double down and all that. Kelly, Lindsey and Nate added another X Games gold to each of their collections doing what they do best. But a week later, as we set up for our Olympic fan out, here are the snippets of X that still make me happy.

©2014 ChrisWellhausen.com / All Rights ReservedNumber 1, Danny Davis winning his first X Games gold. (image stolen from Chris Wellhausen)

Uhmmm, hello. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Snowboarding needs Danny Davis. He makes snowboarding look fun…really, really fun and after the past few months of homies battling tooth and nail for their Olympic dreams we need him more than ever. He even makes double corks look fun and lets face it most of the dudes landing those bad boys don’t look like they’re having all that much fun (not judging, just saying…I don’t even want to do two flips into a pile of marshmellows never mind ten feet out over an icy halfpipe). Anyhoo, I hope he rides his switch-method-train-o-fun all the way to the Olympics and back with more medals and fans and the stuff Olympic dreams are made of just for keeping the awesomeness in shred.

Gretchen Bleier X Goodbye.jpgNumber 2, Gretchen Bleiler bidding X Games adieu under the lights in her hometown.

Watching Gretchen take her last few runs of her X Games career was pretty dang special. Tears of I don’t know what welled up inside me…pride for how far she’s come since her eye injury in the last two years, sadness at the end of an era, joy for the beginning of the next…still not sure what exactly what it was that got me misty, but watching Gretchen put an exclamation point on an amazing competitive career, in front of the town that supported her every step of the way, at an event she defined for a decade is something pretty special, so tears seem appropriate….so does champagne, so cheers GB, now let’s ride powder!

beam me up.jpgNumber 3, Leaving the Target party early

X Games is an all day, all night affair so if you plan on eating dinner, having a drink or two with industry friends or celebrating at all you’re most likely going to stumble home at some ungodly more-like-morning-less-like-night hour. In all my X Games of the past, I did just that, waking up Monday morning after X like some sort of Zombie from the Walking Dead. Not this year, (hooray for me) I went out and danced and played but I also got my ass home before the amazingly awesome staff at the Target house or Escobar or Sky or wherever had to gently remind me and my crazy crew of  loud, dance machine friends that it was indeed time to go. And a week later I’m still grateful for those extra hours of sleep I got. Getting old is awesome.

xoxo t

PS. Going home early makes getting up for this so much easier20140203-184548.jpg

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The Aftermath…Olympic Qualifiers

IMG_4521The US Olympic halfpipe and slopestyle teams have officially-officially been named. The speculations and calculations are all tallied up and I’m pretty sure the level of nervous-high-stress-finger-crossing-anxiety on the planet as just been lowered…by, like, a lot. All the dark horses have made their moves and the favorites have either landed themselves on the team or are quickly sorting their Olympic-week pow missions to isolated TV-free-cabins in northern BC and hopefully, now that that’s over we can all get back to snowboarding…for the fun of it..

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In the past five U.S. Olympic qualification cycles, there are few things that remain the same; the tricks have sure as hell changed and the faces have changed too (at least some of them) but there is one thing that is always the same, that no matter what, we never know the team until the very last run of the very last event. I mean yes, there are a few stock and steady shredders like Kelly Clark and Jamie Anderson who can get the job done in two, maybe three events. But for the rest of the field, including master competitor and generally flawless shredder, Shaun White, we’re kept guessing (and stressing) until the last rider drops. This, of course, is highly effing stressful for everyone involved from riders to coaches to family and friends and fans too. And by the end of the week, our entire community is taking teeny, tiny, sip-like breaths of air to just stay alive, while we all cross our fingers and bite our nails. And then poof, it’s done and suddenly it doesn’t seem all that important. 20140122-215455.jpg

Now, we’ve had a few days to digest the results and realize that team or no team we’re all still alive. We’ve come to terms with the fact that we won’t see Elena land her double or make Olympic history like we’d so hoped (damn, she was close) or see Scotty get some much earned TMZ Olympic redemption. We’ve had time to recognize that Olympic newbie Sage Kotsenburg will showcase the creativity of shred on the Olympic stage and that wild-child, Kaitlyn Farrington, will blow minds in the village. Seriously, we should warn the Russians about this one ;) 20140122-220013.jpg

We’ve also had a chance to see the toll that competing in high-pressure, high-stakes mode from the minute the snowfalls til the plane boards for Russia, takes on us. We watched some riders, like Hannah Teter, turn it on at just the right time (like she always does #how) and watched other flawless riders not be able to put down a single run. We watched the progression of people’s stress or joy transform their faces, manifesting in cold sores, kinked necks and a weariness that wore down many a smiley face. By the end of Mammoth’s marathon week, half of our young, agile snowboarding scene looked like a bunch of 30-something desk jockies or PTSD survivors. So, as much as I’m a fan of the Olympics and the process of watching people throw down and go for the gold and dig deep and all that Olympic montage shit, I’m glad it’s done. Now, we can just have a regular old made-for-TV, one-day-only-contest under the lights in Aspen and X Games will finally feel chill.

xoxo t

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Sidenote: Making the Olympic team is always a day (or a zillion days really) filled with huge highs and huge lows. I’m so proud of all my homies who made the team and for all of those who were so damn close and of all the coaches, like Bill Enos, Peter Foley and Ricky Bower (pictured above), who weather the storm with these badasses every damn day. 
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Let the games begin…

 

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Olympic Rebate

Shaun White Breckenridge.jpgThe Olympic qualifiers always end up being an interesting affair; favorites flail, rookies rise up and some of the nuttiest shit happens. In the five Olympic snowboarding qualifier cycles we’ve endured, we’ve battled freakishly windy wind in New Jersey, survived a flu epidemic at Mt. Bachelor where nearly every single competitor barfed their way (or worse) down the pipe, we’ve had some shitty luck and some perfectly magical days but they’ve never, ever, ever canceled a qualifier, til now.20140115-234909.jpg

Last weekend in Breckenridge, CO, Mother Nature whipped up a heck of a storm, showering us with feet of snow day after day and hammering us with mind-melting 40 MPH gale force winds, deeming the pipe un-ridable and the jumps un-clearable and wreaking general havoc on our big Olympic plans.us snowboarding flags.jpg

The old adage “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” might come to mind but I’m pretty sure what doesn’t kill this crew just makes them bitch harder, and rightfully so. This was indeed a shitty situation, one where no one actually won (except maybe the endemic shred media who spent most of the canceled contest days lapping Breck’s T-bar and Peak 6 #jealous). Riders were bummed because they couldn’t ride a standard event with qualifiers and finals, women’s slope riders were bummed because they internally all agreed to count the qualifier results as the final result but the FIS ruled against it. The event organizers were bummed because they hustled like hell to move the event from Northstar to Breck (due to the lack of snow in Tahoe) and managed to pull off a solid event in zero time only to be burdened with the snow they were wishing Northstar had had a month earlier. Mainstream media was bummed because now they really have absolutely no effing idea what the hell is going on and they still are clueless on how to dress for the cold and pretty much every event sponsor was like….uhmmm where is that TV show you promised us?Kaitlyn Farrington Breck.jpgKaitlyn Farrington – frontside air in the contest that never happened.

One could say this experience creates mettle and all that tough and grit shit, and maybe it does or maybe it’s just that we’ve chosen to put our trust and our sport in the hands of such a fickle beaotch like Mother Nature and this is the price we pay, or maybe it’s some sort of doomed week in January voodoo spell that the Olympic gods bestow upon us to challenge us, saying, “How badly do you really want this whole Olympic thing?”.

HannahBut now we’re in Mammoth and the Olympic gods (and that warm California sun) seem to be smiling down upon us with a string of a perfect days ahead in the best pipe and slopestyle course (thank you Mammoth) of the season. Now the top 30 US riders have just gotta land some of the best runs of their life in back-to-back-to-back qualifiers and we can get this whole Sochi thing on the road.

xo t

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Dew Tour….Olympic Style

20131216-073824.jpgThe much anticipated Olympic season has finally, officially, Olympically kicked off with the Dew Tour. Now the Dew Tour is always the cobweb dusting off event of the season, where all that summertime shredding and those off-season workouts are put to the test on the icy, windy jumps and pipe of Breckenridge, Colorado. Only this season we’ve turned the usual early season stressfest into the first Olympic qualifying event for the US (multiple that stress by like a bajillion). Despite the visible pressure sitting firmly on most people’s shoulders, some of the shredders landed some solid stand-by runs and a handful of heavy hitters landed some progressive end of the season runs -notably Mark McMorris triple corking a victory lap.20131216-073802.jpg

Greg Bretz cooly and calmly crushed the pipe contest and a not-so flawless and kinda tired looking Shaun White mustered up the strength for second. It’s easy to sit back and hate on Shaun and be all like “so you’re human after all” and all that bullshit the drunk guy standing behind me at the bottom of the pipe kept yelling but let’s face it most mortals wouldn’t be able to practice everyday for a week in both slope and pipe, win qualifiers for both, slam pretty effing hard on their face and knees and then gain their composure (as the world collectively marvels that you just fell in a contest run, egad) and then go back up to the top and land a double Mctwist 1260.  I mean for reals, he not all that human he’s just a little tired.20131216-074458.jpg

In the ladies, the usual suspects nabbed the top spots with Jamie, Enni, Torah and Kelly landing to-be-expected top-notch runs in slope and pipe. Mega kudos to the slope ladies for riding in the end of the day December darkness….one of these days they’re gonna  hold a women’s slope contest in broad daylight instead of this dusk or dawn bullshit they get away with year after year and who knows, maybe they’ll even show women’s snowboarding on TV (GASP). 20131216-074035.jpgBut the real story in women’s shred this week is Miss Chloe Kim…this thirteen year-old wonder kid is pretty darn amazing. She easily stepped onto the podium in pipe finals and damn near won qualifiers with the biggest airs of the contest and a solid looking McTwist crippler combo and a pair of huge sevens. Luckily for the older ladies of American shred this whipper snapper isn’t eligible for the Olympics for another two years so they can just focus on beating each other til next time. It’s pretty interesting how these Olympic seasons quickly become about beating your fellow countryman for the opportunity to represent your country. This weekend we saw a lot of super happy second and fourth place finishers who were just glad to beat their teammates….oh the Olympics.20131216-073955.jpg

I’ll be standing around all season watching the Olympic awesomeness unfold, crossing my fingers that all the peeps land their runs and continuing to be amazed at the progression of shred. Updates on twitter, the gram and maybe even a few more of these sassy entries too.

xo t

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