Bliss: Jake Blauvelt and Friends Chase the Feeling in Naturally

Naturally is premiering to the world wide super web on Monday, October 14th, only on TWSNOW.COM. To hype up its release, we thought what could be better than putting our feature about Naturally, from our brand new November issue on the internet. Take a look, watch the teaser, and get stoked because after two full years, Naturally is finally out!

Bliss: Jake Blauvelt and Friends Chase the Feeling in Naturally

Words: John Poulin

Natural: Existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.

Naturally: Without artificial aid.

 

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Jake Blauvelt. PHOTO: Scott Serfas

Naturally—it's a movie, a way of looking at the backcountry, and it's a little how Jake Blauvelt leads his life, with fun and personal expression as the principle keys to happiness.

"Snowboarding is about having fun and being creative," he says, "it's not about doing the hugest air or the gnarliest line, but being creative with the terrain in front of you and riding with your friends. When we go out into the mountains, it's about finding that balance between nature and snowboarding, as opposed to just going out and changing the terrain and trying to dominate it. It's taking a little more of a Zen approach to snowboarding… and it's also a good approach to life in general. Going with the ebb and flow of things and not constantly fighting the current."

 

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People have always found wisdom in the wilderness. As they say in Jake’s home state of Vermont, take a hike. Jake Blauvelt and Eric Jackson. PHOTO: Scott Serfas

When it came to the project, Naturally, it was easy to get the right people on board. Bringing the focus back to creativity and exploration, as opposed to the ol' build, huck, repeat formula, is a refreshing approach.

"The cool thing about backcountry riding is that it's always changing and there's always new terrain to explore," Eric Jackson says, "crews get stuck in this rut of just building cheese wedges and getting double corks. To me, that can only take you so far. I feel like there are so many new trees to bonk and pillows to explode. It's all about getting creative."

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Jake’s five pillars: health, family, friends, happiness, positivity. Finding refuge in a Hokkido, Japan wellness lodge. PHOTO: Scott Serfas.

Really, really refreshing…

"I think finding new ways of riding terrain and looking at the natural side of snowboarding is definitely going be the future," Shane Pospisil says,   "anyone can build a cheese wedge and do a double cork these days but not everyone can go find that perfect natural feature that requires barely any work at all and go bang out tricks and hammers without putting the three hours of work into it. It really just makes it more fun and I think it looks so much cooler."

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You can plan and assess all you want, but spaces like this require full commitment to the unknown and trust in everything around you, including you. Blauvelt finding the balance in Hokkaido, Japan. PHOTO: Scott Serfas.

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How did they get here? For Jake, he's just been following his line and progressing as a person, through a young snowboard career that has already solidified him as one of the great riders of his generation. The movement towards natural terrain was just that, natural.

"I'd say when I started listening to myself, as opposed to following the pack, that's when my riding changed," Jake says, "when I first started filming in the backcountry and building wedges, I was just learning how to stay alive out there, and learn how it's all done. While we were building jumps there was always a voice in the back of my head saying, 'Go slash that windlip over there!' Once I broke away from the cheese wedge program and started riding natural terrain, there was, and still is, a lot to learn. At first I would ride stuff straight down, top to bottom. Now I like playing with gravity more and using my edges to work from side to side of the mountain, as opposed to just letting the mountain take you straight down at Mach 10. I kinda think of it like Pacman, where I try to rack up as many hits and slashes on the way down, while still keeping good flow."

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Jake calls Freddi Kalbermatten’s riding “Swiss percision.” Fitting for Sass-Fee’s favorite son. His riding style was a perfect match with the crew. Areches-Beaufort, France. PHOTO: David Tchag.

You can only go bigger for so long before physics eventually shuts the body down. That's when style, creativity, and technical skill become more important than ever before. It's about a personal experience you take away from every moment you strap in. Blauvelt took his riding in this direction because it was fun. If he felt like there was more personal room to grow in building kickers, he'd be doing that. But this is where he ended up.

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Shayne Pospisil, backside seven just like he’d be doing on a lap by himself. Eagle Pass Heli, BC, Canada. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen.

"The base of any art is learned technical skill, but the only way to break away from the pack and let yourself be noticed is to dance to the beat of your own drum," Jake says, "really listen to what your body and mind are telling you and go with your gut…your instinct. That's what makes any art form so beautiful to me is when people don't copy other styles, but they really listen to themselves and let their genuine creativity flow. At first it may seem weird to people, but if you really follow through with your own beliefs, what once was looked at as 'weird' or 'not cool,' can transform into the new 'it' thing to do. Everyone has their own energy they put into the world, but not everyone believes in that energy they have."

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Work with the mountain and follow its lead. Eric Jackson’s eye for terrain comes from the lifetime he’s spent in them. “You just gotta know where to look,” he says. Pemberton backcountry, BC, Canada. PHOTO: Scott Serfas.

Snowboarding is an escape. It's different than other day-to-day realities.

"When I got to team up with Jake we basically would go to a spot and pick out a bunch of different lines and features to get shots on," Shane says, "it was definitely way more fun being able to strap my board on and actually ride and use my edges and pick out lines than just bombing it into a cheese wedge jump. We live in a crazy, hectic world full of non-stop worries, but when you're out in the mountains riding and filming with friends there's no better feeling than being one with nature and doing what you love."

 

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Jake Blauvelt doesn’t claim to be a purist, but he embodies a school of thought that is. Chicane flip. Eagle Pass Heli, BC. Canada. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen.

"I think sometimes it's scary for people to live in the moment, because they can't plan what will happen next," Jake says, "it's the fear of the unknown. Snowboarding teaches me to be more mindful on what is happening here and now."