Features Dan Kass

Dan Kass is the genuine article. Last season he came out of nowhere to sweep the halfpipe competition circuit, and in the space of one season amassed more victories and respect than any single rider in years. Is he the new Palmer, the Jersey devil, our great Olympic hopeful? Forget the cheap metaphors-Kass is on an ass-kicking spree and bent on being the best. That’s it. At the early-season Okemo Grand Prix last year, he stood atop the podium for his first pro win. He was the champ-and behind the mirrored lens, it was impossible for him to see what lay ahead.

Has success gone to your head?Nope. If it did, my friends would take me down by making fun of me for a while. Before I have a chance to get big headed-they just keep reminding me that I’m a shithead.

How are the halfpipes in New Jersey?They’re pretty good now. The best one was last year at Mountain Creek for the Pro/Am Pipe Jam. They stepped it up with a good halfpipe and they had a really fun park, too. Some of the local kids we grew up with helped design the park. I only rode a few days back there. I wish I could have ridden some more.

How did you end up going to snowboard school in Vermont?I was just riding in Vermont for the last few winters, going up there every weekend-then competing, doing the USASA Nationals and stuff. I kind of knew I wanted to snowboard instead of going to high school.

When did you finish high school?I’m in the process right now. I stopped going to school last year as a senior. I went to Okemo Mountain School for two winters-the first year I stayed in the dorms, the second year was spent living with my friend Chris, whose parents had a house right on the mountain-it was pretty sweet. I have about 30 more hours to go before getting a high school diploma.

How does the East Coast compare to winter in Mammoth?Well, it’s better here in California. The scene is different-on the mountain there’re so many people to ride with. You can just go up there by yourself every day, meet up with people, and ride. It’s fun, you learn a lot of new tricks.

What’s new with the Grenade posse?We finally got gloves! We’ve started our full-length video, it’ll be out next fall, it’s called Full-Metal Edges. We also went on a quick little trip down to Mexico after Mack Dawg’s premiere. A lot of people went-my brother, Travis Rice, Lane Knaack, Kyle Clancy, Gigi RÅf, Dave Schiff, and myself. We went to Rosarita Beach for the night and rode the mechanical bull at Papas And Beer. Travis Rice killed the bull, Wyoming-style. I think he’s actually ridden real ones. I didn’t do very well-I got thrown. Then, when Travis was asking for directions to the hotel, this guy held him up at gunpoint. He pulled out the gun and took Travis’ wallet, then gave Travis his wallet-sketchy.

How did you hook up with all the Grenade guys?Well, Tim Karpinski is from my hometown, so I grew up with him. Dave Schiff was from Franklin, New Jersey, and he started following us around. He’s got a funny mom-she would take us places, make us food, and drive us around. She’s crazy-my friend Kevin Casillo has some legendary stories about that lady involving Chinese food.

Who’s the biggest idiot in the crew?That would probably be Dave Schiff. He thinks he’s a posse member, but he’s just a straggler member. No, he’s really good, he helps us design gloves, but the kid is always up to something crazy and idiotic. It’s funny, until something he does happens to you-then it sucks.

Is the van still on the road?It will be on the road. We have a plan for the Grenade van-we might be stepping it up to a bus and blowing the van up, hopefully.

If you and your brother Matt got in a fight, who would win?Me-I’m going to kick his ass. He beat me up a bunch when I was younger, but when I got to about sixteen, it changed. It would be a good match right now.

How much freeriding do you do?I usually freeride in the beginning of the year. I don’t get to do that much because toward the middle of the seasoI’m traveling a lot. I try to ride a little everywhere I go. Last year I was doing way too much traveling, and if you don’t try to keep it fun, it gets boring. This year I’m doing less. I’m staying away from the Triple Crowns, the ASTs, and World Cups.

What are your goals for the year?Just to stay focused on the Olympics, stay strong. And later I’d like to do more freeriding-get a snowmobile, go to Alaska, stuff like that.

How seriously do you take the Olympics?I try not to take it too seriously. My plan is to try and qualify, then attempt to conquer the world. If I qualify, there’s going to be a lot of pressure. It’ll be pretty crazy-it’s the Olympics. People talk shit about it and some of the stuff is true, but it will be the best competition this year, for sure. Everybody there will ride better than they ever have. I rode the pipe they had last year, and it was pretty amazing-it’s steep and the transition is good. There’re going to be millions of people there, it will get hectic.

Do you have a new big-gun trick that you’re working on?I haven’t really been working on anything, but I’m going to try some new stuff. I’ve got this old trick I’m going to try and pull out-that’s top secret, too.

Are you superstitious?Yeah, I have some superstitions. I like to imagine myself getting hurt, to kind of rule out the possibility of it actually happening. I plan on falling, just imagining what could go wrong. It seems to help. And I had this lucky green thermal shirt when I was younger. I wore it during competitions-it lasted two or three years. Now it’s gone, I grew out of it or lost it.

How does it feel to beat guys who are legends in the sport?I like riding with them, it just pushes you more and more-pumping it up. I really tripped out last year at the Vans Triple Crown, every good Euro was there, every guy from the U.S.-they were just killing it, and there I was.

What do you think we’ll see people doing in pipes during the next few years?Crazy stuff. If halfpipes remain the same size, people will go even bigger. They’ll get even more hucky-spinny. The amount of tricks is endless and how big you can go … people are throwing down. Eric Jackson and this other kid, Sammy from Alaska-they’re killing. Travis Rice is going Richter. Lane Knaack is totally underrated.

Is it easier to get with chicks now that you’re an X-Games gold medalist? No. Not enough girls throw themselves at me. Sometimes girls mail letters to Gnu and say that they love me-well, they don’t say that, they usually say how they love my riding. I write back to some of them.

What are you doing with all your money?I spent most of it on the IRS, those bastards! They took my money. I didn’t have to pay taxes on winnings, but I had to pay a hefty amount-almost half of last year’s prize money. I have a condo here in Mammoth, and I bought a new truck-it’s a Chevy 2500 heavy-duty. I also bought a VW trike-a ’45 Volkswagen with a ’85 bus engine in it and a motorcycle front end. It’s got really long, twisty chrome forks with a little front wheel. It’s black and white and chrome-seats three. It was the wheelie machine, I popped a huge wheelie on it, with Kyle Clancy on the back-we ended up riding like a 60-foot wheelie into a car. It’s in the shop, but I think it’s getting tossed, it’s wrecked. I’m going to step it up to a Harley.

Do you spend a lot of time working on your image?Yeah, I’ve spent my whole life-nineteen years so far. Is it a good image? I’m a teenager, I don’t know. Some people take their image too far-it’s all about being a rock star. If people want to get thugged out and they’re getting paid, they are going to get thugged out. If they’re punk, they just get punker. I’m getting punker, it’s all about tight pants now.

You’ve said you never spent a night in jail, what’s the real story?It wasn’t really jail, it was custody. There was a party across the street, then all my friends came over to my house. The guy who lives under me complained about the noise-he citizens’ arrested me for disturbing his peace. Then he went and got the cops. Rahm Klampert got busted for asking the cops why I was getting arrested-he was interfering. Then Kyle Clancy got caught running around my house-he lost the foot pursuit.

Are you misunderstood?Yeah, I think so. People just always assume-they see something and they picture me breaking stuff and going to bars. You know, crazy stuff that doesn’t happen.

What do your parents think of all this?They’re great. They’ve supported my snowboarding for years. My mom was a little skeptical when I wanted to move to Mammoth, but now she thinks it’s good. I think it helped to have Matt out here, too. He moved away to snowboard, and I was at home going to school, then after a few years I did the same thing. My parents have helped us both out. My dad came and visited me a while back, and my mom lives here in Mammoth.

Are you at your best?No, not yet. I’m planning on taking over the world. Ski racing is next-you know, cross-country skiing and the rifle thing … biathlon.

Anyone you want to thank?I’d like to shout out my friends and family, the Grenade Posse, Chris Owen. I’d like to thank Gnu for giving me my own pro-model snowboard. Thanks to Dragon, Quiksilver, and Northwave for helping me out. I’d also like to thank all the ladies out there, they can e-mail me at torment20@hotmail.com.

Pull Quotes”I like to imagine myself getting hurt””Not enough girls throw themselves at me.””I’m getting punker, it’s all about tight pants now.””It wasn’t really jail, it was custody.””I’m planning on taking over the world.””They just keep reminding me that I’m a shithead.””I wanted to snowboard instead of going to high school.”the noise-he citizens’ arrested me for disturbing his peace. Then he went and got the cops. Rahm Klampert got busted for asking the cops why I was getting arrested-he was interfering. Then Kyle Clancy got caught running around my house-he lost the foot pursuit.

Are you misunderstood?Yeah, I think so. People just always assume-they see something and they picture me breaking stuff and going to bars. You know, crazy stuff that doesn’t happen.

What do your parents think of all this?They’re great. They’ve supported my snowboarding for years. My mom was a little skeptical when I wanted to move to Mammoth, but now she thinks it’s good. I think it helped to have Matt out here, too. He moved away to snowboard, and I was at home going to school, then after a few years I did the same thing. My parents have helped us both out. My dad came and visited me a while back, and my mom lives here in Mammoth.

Are you at your best?No, not yet. I’m planning on taking over the world. Ski racing is next-you know, cross-country skiing and the rifle thing … biathlon.

Anyone you want to thank?I’d like to shout out my friends and family, the Grenade Posse, Chris Owen. I’d like to thank Gnu for giving me my own pro-model snowboard. Thanks to Dragon, Quiksilver, and Northwave for helping me out. I’d also like to thank all the ladies out there, they can e-mail me at torment20@hotmail.com.

Pull Quotes”I like to imagine myself getting hurt””Not enough girls throw themselves at me.””I’m getting punker, it’s all about tight pants now.””It wasn’t really jail, it was custody.””I’m planning on taking over the world.””They just keep reminding me that I’m a shithead.””I wanted to snowboard instead of going to high school.”