Thien embodies the spirit of snowboarding in the purest of forms. His cat-like balance has made him one of the best rail and jib assaulters of all time.But his mindset of having fun and doing your own thing on a snowboard is his top priority. It’s a refreshing outlook in today’s world of business snowboarding. When I first met Brian he was ruling Mike Parillo’s park scene at Big Bear. He was setting a new standard for technical jibbing with moves like nose manuals on Heine mailboxes and frontside 720s to railslides. Now, some eight years after a self-imposed hiatus from the sport, Brian is back stronger then ever. His section in Whitey’s last movie, The Kingpin Chronicles is awesome. This year we’ve been filming Brian, and it has been a pleasure to see him throwing down with new-era jibbers like J.P. Walker and Jeremy Jones. I gave Brian the cover shot of this year’s Mack Dawg video, Decade-he’s coming down a crazy kinked handrail. I am super stoked to have Chico, the wave-slaughtering comeback king, as one of my friends—Mike McEntire
Describe an average day in Brian Thien’s life.
An average day in Utah would be to wake up and go ride, come home and eat a turkey sandwich, take a nap, wake up and eat again, then go back to sleep. An average day in Orange would be to wake up, call my friends, see who’s not working that day and try to go surf or skate, come home and eat, then hook up with some friends and go to the Olive Pit.
Where did the nickname “Chico” come from?
A while back somebody put an “O” at the end of my name and started calling me Thieno. My friend Nick changed it to Chino, and then Travis Wood somehow got Chico out of that and started calling me that. It works.
What made you take your snowboarding to Utah?
I went there because there are a lot of different places and terrain to ride. Travis and Jason Bump already lived there and said it was good.
Have all the locals warmed up to you there yet?
Yeah, I get along with everyone there.
Are you in the Einstein Bagel posse?
No, but sometimes I feel like it because I hang out with Rob Mathis, who goes there every day.
Where do your roots in snowboarding come from?
From Bear Mountain in Southern California, where I lived for a couple of years.
Do you remember your first day snowboarding?
My first day snowboarding took place at Ski Sunrise in Wrightwood with my buddy Dave Post. I just remember it was so hard, and it took forever to get down the mountain for our first run. Second run, we were riding, and Dave approached a tree and jumped right into it board first-right in the middle of it and bounced right back! He really got lucky. But all in all, at the end of the day, we were carving down the hill with no problem.
Is the So Cal scene dead or is it still kickin’?
I think it’s still alive for sure, especially the way Gunny keeps up the park at Snow Summit. I can’t wait to see what he has going on there next year. He told me they were gonna be making some new stuff, so it should be good.
Where are some of your favorite places to ride?
I don’t really have any special places, as long as the mountain isn’t flat and there’s good snow.
Name a sick sesh.
Wherever it’s good, with whoever, doing whatever the hell we’re doing. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. The best times happen in the summer, though, when me and my brother Steve, my friends Hallett, Pilch, Nicko, Ulm Dog, Hodie, Gary, Jay Paul, Bowen, Mikey D, and good ol’ Meacham all go to Lake Havasu.
Have you ridden any of the new step-in bindings?
Nope, I’ve never ridden step-ins. I don’t need to get into my bindings any quicker than I already do, but some of the new ones are looking pretty good. I stick to the old Burton Customs.
What are the things you most appreciate about your life as a pro snowboarder?
Being able to travel around the world and see things I probably would never have been able to see if it weren’t for snowboarding.
Does that motivate you to keep wanting to work hard?
That’s not what keeps me motivated, but it’s a definite plus to go to those places-what keeps me motivated is the pure enjoyment I get from snowboarding.
Four years ago, you were blowing up as a rider-and then as fast as you came up, you vanished. What happened?
After hurting my knee in Big Bear, I moved to Costa Mesa, got caught up in the partying lifestyle-didn’t think about my job.
I just wanted to hang out with my girlfriend all the time. Once winter came around, I didn’t ride as much. But it was fun at the time.
How’d you get back into it?
There wasn’t one particular reason. The party scene got old. I guess I just wanted to prove to myself and others that I can compete with the best of them, and T. Wood told me to move to Utah.
Tell me about the 80-foot rail only you could finish.
The 80-foot rail in Oregon was a rail that Heine built. There were a bunch of people there-Steve Ruff, Mikey Leblanc, J.P. Walker, Joni Malmi, J2, Jason Borgstede, Kurt Heine, Cintia Schutt, Ross Steffy, and T. Wood. It was long, but I guess I just got lucky.
How’d that feel, to be the only one?
It was a good feeling to ride off the end, but the rail is really frustrating to any one of us who tries it.
What goes through your mind when approaching a rail?
Pretty much I can just picture myself doing the rail and what I’m going to do on it. It’s all about commitment.
What challenges you?
No matter what challenge I’m faced with, in any aspect of life, It’s in my nature to do my best and to do whatever it takes to come out on top. Thank Mom and Dad for that one.
What advice would you give a young slider?
Just be yourself, and respect the mountain and others around you.
Social Distortion, The Ramones, and the Supersuckers.
Who would you like to thank?
Thanks to my parents first of all, and thanks to all my sponsors. I’d like to thank Raul for my Omega, and tons of thanks to T. Wood. Also thanks to the George Foreman Grill.