How Place Shapes Style: The Making of Nation

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PHOTO: Frode Sandbech.

How Place Shapes Style: The Making of Nation

Words: John Poulin

For our fourth movie, Nation, we gathered a crew of personalities who would showcase snowboarding from across the globe. Some of the riders are old friends with similar backgrounds and others seem like they're worlds apart—these different styles and approaches to riding create a panoramic snapshot of what snowboarding is today. This is a look at what shaped these riders.

Nation just dropped on iTunes, download it HERE. Look for the limited edition Nation book and DVD in select snowboard shops coming soon.

 

Because of skateboarding

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Chris Brewster. PHOTO: Andy Wright.

Chris Brewster is from Anchorage, Alaska, in the city. He got his hands on a skateboard from his older brother, that's what eventually got him into snowboarding. He'd go to Hilltop ski area once in a while and go to the local sledding hills for a couple runs, but early on he got into riding street rails. That's what they did in Anchorage, far away from the big mountains seen in videos. "When the resort was bad or when you didn't have money, you rode the streets…that's just kind of how it happened."

A contest kid? 

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Stale Sandbech. PHOTO: Frode Sandbech.

Stale Sandbech split after a year of high school to pursue snowboarding on the contest scene. The idea of being able to snowboard all the time pushed him, but the prospect of being a "professional snowboarder" was an afterthought. For a kid with so much pure talent, it was natural for him and his friends he grew up with, like Alek Oestreng, to make noise in snowboarding. They used to make bets with each other to see who could land a trick first.

While Stale's always floating around the globe from bib to bib, he manages to shred with his friends, put out edits, and still keep snowboarding fun between the banners, never losing sight of why he started snowboarding in the first place. What's fun about watching Stale ride in contests is that to him, it's just another day on his snowboard.

Gulli, Eiki, Halldor, and a tractor

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Gulli Gundmunsson. PHOTO: Frode Sandbech.

Skateboarding is a common thread for a lot of riders. They pick up a skateboard first and then find snowboarding later on. This is how Eiki Helgason and Gulli Gudmunsson met, as kids, skateboarding in a schoolyard in their hometown of Akureyri, Iceland. Eiki's brother Halldor was close behind. Without indoor skateparks in Iceland and winter voiding skate plans for months at a time, snowboarding came into the picture. Eiki, Gulli, and Halldor all started riding together, without any sort of local snowboard scene to speak of and little access to videos, but with homemade rails and tractor built jumps on the Helgason farmland.

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Eiki Helgason and Thunder. PHOTO: Mark Wiitanen.

"Back then, we started filming right away and we did street rails because the park at our local mountain was like shit, and it was pretty much always icy," Gulli says. Since their days of homey edits, not much has changed. They ride, film, party and do weird shit. "It's kind of the same today, we're just doing it all over the world instead of just our local mountain."

  Two of Oregon’s finest on the next page!

Two of Oregon's finest

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Dylan Thompson. PHOTO: Andy Wright.

Flashback to Dylan Thompson's first day filming with Finger On Da Trigger—he's tagging along with buddy Jonah Owen and filmer Cole Taylor and they go to this triple kink, one with a little history. Jeff Anderson, 50-50. Deadlung, boardslide. Jonah is filming for his part in Familia. Dylan breaks his nose trying a front board and Jonah gets wrecked too. That's Dylan's introduction to filming for a real video, the first time he met Cole, who he's filmed with since, including this year for his Nation part. (Jonah was all over the place working on the Rome 12-Months project in addition to filming for Nation.) But Dylan and Cole went back to that same rail this season and he got the front board. Jonah has hammers, too.

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Jonah Owen. PHOTO: Darcy Bacha.

 Who else is in Nation? Well head to the next page and find out…

Alpine influence

Xavier De Le Rue. PHOTO: Tero Repo

Xavier De Le Rue. PHOTO: Tero Repo

Xavier De Le Rue. He's fast, a little nuts, and is most definitely in a world of his own. Trace it back to Xavier's time racing boardercross and it starts to add up—X Games, the Freeride World Tour, the Mt. Baker Banked Slalom—he's won 'em all, but now he's a more of a mountaineer in the Alpine tradition. Growing up in the French Pyrenees gave Xavier a first look at some of the world's most striking and dangerous mountains, where he learned to respect and admire them. Xavier had the instinct and the drive to get up into the mountains and see what a man could do up there. He'll probably set the land speed record.

 

The powder hound

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DCP. PHOTO: Phil Tifo.

Quebecois pipe rider turned backcountry guru David Carrier Porcheron took icy halfpipe board control into the natural environment and has been there ever since. "The backcountry opens up a lot of opportunity to be creative with the terrain that you see, to build jumps and gaps and ride lines and cliffs the way you want," he says. "Turn here, turn there, everybody rides differently. It's like painting, almost."

DCP's growing relationship with the mountains shaped his outlook on his role in the environment through years of day-long backcountry missions, and he eventually got involved with Protect Our Winters. "Climate change is affecting snowfall," he explains about the founding mission behind POW. "[We're] trying to leave a message about what you can do, no matter how small, that will help protect the environment. It's all linked together, from the ocean, to the rivers, to the clouds, and then it dumps snow on the mountains. It's a cycle."

 There’s a heavy Midwestern connection in Nation. Find out who the riders are on the next page.

The Midwestern connection

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Dan Brisse. PHOTO: Darcy Bacha.

Dan Brisse is one of snowboarding's blue-collar workingmen. So is Bjorn Leines. The dudes have real lives at home, families. They're two Minnesotans who transplanted out west to Utah in search of steeper, deeper opportunities, just at different times.

Bjorn helped pave the way for future generations of Midwestern boarders like Brisse. Bjorn burst onto the scene in the late '90s and early 2000s and made his mark on countless Utah backcountry spots, filming influential video parts that influenced a lot of our younger riders in Nation. Bjorn became a mentor to a lot of the guys in the backcountry, especially during Austen Sweetin's first trip riding lines in Alaska.

            What Brisse is doing for snowboarding today is not much different than what Bjorn did those years ago. Pushing the limits of what is possible. Both of their riding styles are about going bigger, always pushing the scale.

 

The Austins. Or, the Austens.    

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Austen Sweetin. PHOTO: Andy Wright

      

Austen Sweetin met Austin Hironaka during a contest at Snoqualmie, up the mountains from their hometown of Seattle, Washington. They were both just cruising and ended up seeing each other again on a different night, taking some more laps. That was eight or nine years ago, Hiro estimates.

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Austin Hironaka. PHOTO: Darcy Bacha.

The Northwest has a lot to teach and breeds strong riders. Sweetin thinks it's because "the weather there is just weather. When you ride pow it's not blower, it's wet, heavy pow. Growing up riding that, it makes you a stronger rider. You develop a style where you're powering through everything." It also produces loyal riders. Lifers, like these two. "I love to just go out and go boarding," says Hiro, "I like being in the mountains and being with your homies and shredding big ol' hills."

But what about Forest Bailey…

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Forest Bailey. PHOTO: Bob Plumb

Stay tuned for Forest for when we kick off our Nation weeks starting on September, 23rd.