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.”