Joel’s having one hell of a year-he’s a featured rider in Brainstorm, landed the TWS cover last issue and produced a Forward. While making all the proper moves to come up, the irony is he’s five seasons tardy. It’s obvious Mahaffey’s experienced beyond his years as he reminisces about the good old days with the original Ride team in ’95. Back then everyone called him “Mini-Dale”-at a young sixteen, his hair, style, and skills were Dale Rehberg to a T. Poised for a blowup-the kid just simmered. One might suspect he fell under the influence of Dale, Jake Blattner, and Roan Rogers-whose talent often took a backseat to chillin’ out. Joel quickly dispels the comparison, “I kinda fell off the boat-but seriously, I can’t blame any of that on those guys. I could have been better about working more myself.” Joel’s the typical underachiever-awash with talent, the topic of contention has always been motivation, or lack thereof. In recent years he’s also been labeled “The Mole” a nickname he’s less fond of, “I got that ’cause I sit in my room a lot, or sit at home. It’s kind of like my cave-I’m on my own program.”

And none of this is to say he hasn’t been producing every winter-with a part last season in Volcom’s Luminous Llama and numerous editorial shots, Joel’s quietly held his ground. He just never blew the f-k up until now. Admittedly, Joel hasn’t always been the most motivated person on a snowboard, as he explains, “Many people get the wrong impression of me-they call me lazy and whatnot. But when I get my chance to go out, I go out, and I think people are starting to realize that.” With the realization that he needed to work harder at his occupation, Joel is quick to acknowledge Kingpin Productions’ support: “I haven’t always had the chance to go out and film as much as some riders. Whitey’s crew has been really nice-they’ve given me the opportunity to shoot with them even though Ride didn’t sponsor their movie. It’s just been easier to get things done now that I have people to go out with.” Ultimately the end justifies the means-it’s not so much when you make your move but whether you make it. Joel lays it down: “I plan on working even harder-I’m just getting started.” After eight faithful years at Ride, Joel is a startlingly young 23! As I picked myself off the floor, he added, “Yeah, I’m just now trying to come up a little more.”-Cody Dresser