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Composed above the dangerzone. Photo: Scott Serfas

From a NeoProto films novice to a seasoned storm chaser with the People Crew, Shaun McKay has been in the thick of backcountry riding for years. With winters spent in Bellingham and surf missions spent down south, McKay manages to ride a board nearly year round. Lucky dog. He’s the longest running rider in the People Crew with a new part coming out in the movie Cheers. As part of living the dream, he’s off to Costa Rica to try his hand in Spanish and surfing. But before he jetted, we caught up to see how his winter went.

What’s up Shaun? How is your summer going so far?

Summer’s good! I just got back to town, been surfing a little bit. I just ordered up a few surfboards and got a new computer. I’ve been trying to log footage and start the edit season.

How involved are you in editing the new People Movie, Cheers?

I sit down to help edit my part, as well as just giving feedback on everyone else’s part. Sometimes the editors weren’t at a specific location, so I try to give some insight and tell more stories of what went down. I’m kinda there for perspective and giving an opinion on what’s hot, what’s not, too. I don’t really do much of the actual editing for the movie, but often help do edits for the web and for the bonus content. I just sit behind the shoulder, piecing things together with ‘yays’ and ‘nays’ and offer ideas on certain edits. Sometimes I will see an edit they might not, and it just helps to have some one else there for feedback and to bounce ideas off of. I also do a lot of filming throughout the year, so I spend some time in there logging my footage and making sure they know it’s there.

You’ve been with that crew for quite a while, how long now?

Oh man, about seven years. The longest running rider in the crew.

Films crews work well when there’s good synergy and it seems like the People Crew has that. Do you guys really get along, or is it a front?

I know that Justin and Pierre take a lot of consideration in to choosing riders that want to work together.  In the past they have chosen not to film with some pretty talented riders purely because of concern that they would not fit in the crew. I think for the most part everyone gets along. During the winter I can think of a few times where different crews are doing different things and people got kinda bummed. But I think that’s a result of stressing about getting video shots. For the most part everyone gets along and is really friendly to one another.

What was your last day of shredding like this winter? Slush, beers, goggle tan? What were you up to?

It was at Mount Bachelor. We were trying to do some pretty elaborate stuff this year for the movie, I don’t want to give too much away. There were some explosions, maybe that is giving away too much. Pretty high production stuff, but we had some fun triple jump sessions.

(Speaking of explosions, check Shaun’s sled up in smoke)

How do you usually close down the season?

It usually just comes down to photo and video shoots. I usually try to take the sled out one last time though. This year I went out with a good friend, just to check out a new zone. We brought his dad’s old .22 revolver. Did a little sleddin’, boardin’, and gun shootin’. It was a good way to close it down.

How have you managed to become one of those rare ‘powder only’ pros? How have you gotten into that realm?

I don’t know really, I think I got lucky. I grew up in Washington then moved to Tahoe and that’s when I started filming with Neoproto. I went on one rail mission with Robbie Sell to this wood rail. I was young, wanted to get shots and I just started learning how to ride rails since I never rode them back home. So I went to do this rail and got pretty broke off. And I just kinda decided it wasn’t for me. At the time Nima [Jalali] was riding for the movie and obviously rode rails really well, and I didn’t. So I figured I’d let the other dudes do that stuff and focus on what I felt better at and had more fun doing. It always seems like if you like what you’re doing, it works out better down the road. That’s what happened with me.

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Up and at it in slednecksville. Photo: Scott Serfas

What keeps you going out and filming in the backcountry everyday?

I think it’s the ‘almost got’. You’re always really close to putting down that one shot, the one that gets people’s attention. It’s almost getting that every year, and being so close. Sometimes it happens, but a lot of times it doesn’t. So, it’s chasing that shot, but I mean if you’ve ever ridden powder, it’s really just that sweet feeling.

True that. What draws you there, other than snowboarding?

I think a lot of it is the search and just being out there in nature. You become humbled. You’re so far away from everything and it’s amazingly beautiful. Most of the places we go, we’re the only ones out there. We’re always trying to find new terrain to ride, so looking for that new feature that’s never been hit before drives you. Just being out there, really. It’s peaceful and vast being there in nature with big mountains and crazy weather.

Who supports your snowboarding habit these days?

K2, Dragon, Airblaster, Active, DaKine and Beta Unit.

Did you have anything to do with the K2 X Beta Unit Darkstar Collab board this year?

Yeah, those guys over at Beta Unit are my friends, and I think they make some pretty unique stuff. I thought some of their imagery was in line with the traditional graphic concept for the Darkstar, so I introduced the idea to the graphic dudes at K2 and they were in to it. I got to be pretty involved in working with both K2 and Beta Unit, going back and forth on graphics and ideas, and actually got to put some of my own photos into the board graphics. It was a really fun process and I was glad to get Beta Unit involved, I think it turned out pretty cool.

What do you have lined up for the rest of summer?

I’m heading to Costa Rica with my wife. She’s finishing up school down there so I’m gonna take a language class as well. She’ll be working a little bit and I’ll be fishing and surfing.

You’re always up on a lot of new music, what have you been listening to lately?

Hah! I hung out with Mikey Rencz a lot this year and he’s the hip-hop king, but he’s also got all sorts of rad music. We just swapped some at the Bachelor shoot. I’ve been listening to Trevor’s new mix tape. Wille [Yli-Luoma] just turned me onto White Lies, so I’ve been mixing those two up lately.