Two years ago, “the industry” had never heard of Chas Guldemond-our wake-up call was a series of moves topped by a Cab 1080 into a second-place finish behind Shaun White at the U.S. Open Slopestyle. Chas had been flying under the radar, earning his own way to the top-moving from the slopes of New Hampshire to Tahoe, buying season passes and contest entries on his own dime. Chas is still getting comfortable with his own good fortune, he says, “Two years ago I didn’t even know you could make money and do this professional thing-I was just snowboarding to get by. I never knew what it was before it happened to me.” Believe it-Chas continues to make his own calls and forge his own path in directions that we’re (now) following closely.—Annie Fast
Hometown: Laconia, New Hampshire.
Sponsors: DC, Rockstar, Electric, Grenade, Kicker Speakers, New Wave Sports.
How did you make it to where you are now?
It was kind of a long wait for me, but I just worked really hard from when I graduated high school until now. I worked hard outside of snowboarding just so I could support my snowboarding, and finally I started podiuming at the contests. At the 2006 Vans Tahoe Cup I got third and then I did the U.S. Open after that, and it was just a good end of the season. I hadn’t gotten paid a cent in my life before that day for snowboarding.
What do you think you’d be doing if you didn’t get into snowboarding?
Probably remodeling and refinishing bathrooms and kitchens-that’s what I was doing before that and I probably would have just stuck with it.
Who influences you?
Damian Sanders, Devun Walsh, and Chad Otterstrom.
What scares you?
The industry. I’ll just leave it at that.
What’s more important-contests or filming?
What’s important for me is to try to do both of them. I guess it’s cool to be well-rounded, but the videos are only seen by snowboarders and people that are really into snowboarding, but at a big contest, anybody can go out there and watch it and you can develop such a bigger fan base and get people stoked on it that haven’t really seen it before-and then boom, there you go, you have world-class snowboarding right on the side of the hill.
What’s your idea of a successful snowboard career?
While you’re in it and while you’re getting paid-while you’re on the scene-just each year step it up and don’t milk anything. If your time is done, it’s better to burn out than to fade away. Just have it be strong and as long as you can-just get better every year, and then when it’s time, it’s time.
What direction do you think snowboarding is headed in?
I think it’s going in a huge direction toward the general public, and I think more people are realizing how cool it is. It’s going to be huge-it’s going to be one of those big sports, the competition part of it is going to be up there with like football one day … maybe not football, but at least hockey.
The videos will still be doing their thing, but the contests are what are going to make this sport so huge. I think contests are coming back, they’re stepping up nowadays and people are earning more respect for each win.
How has snowboarding changed your life?
Well, I pretty much live the dream-this is my dream. It’s crazy because I didn’t realize that I could be twenty years old and owning a house in Tahoe and just doing well for myself. It’s crazy and I respect it. It changed my life completely. I’m so lucky compared to all my friends I grew up with. I take full advantage of everything-I don’t take it for granted.
What is the job part of your job?
When I go out, no matter what I’m doing, I’m giving it a hundred percent, like, full out, from doing contests with separated ribs and shit just because I think that I should. I feel like if these people are supporting me, I’ve got to definitely be out there no matter what the conditions. So, when I go out on my snowboard, I beat myself up and I come home f-king super tired because it’ss just like, work hard or go f-king do something else.
What’s next for you in snowboarding?
To keep improving and having solid seasons and hopefully winning some more contests here. I want to win a halfpipe contest-that’s my goal for the next couple years: to win a big halfpipe contest like the Tahoe Cup or the Open or something like that. I hope to get some solid parts for the next couple years with Standard, too. And I’ve never been in a helicopter or anything like that before, so I hope to hit up some crazy backcountry-that’d be cool.
Chas Gouldemond, Deadhorse Gap, New South Wales, Australia. PHOTO: Johnny McCormack