Does having the crew all together elevate the riding?
That was a like a dream come true to me, to have a private pipe and be able to invite my best friends. It was just us. Every day we’d roll up in a cat or on snowmobiles, we’d build a fire at the top of the pipe, we had a Bose player blasting tunes—it was just the best vibe, the best times. There was no pressure, no one bothering us, we were salting the pipe on our own—making the whole thing happen and pushing each other. I think it was lucky for me that Luke could already do some doubles, so he came up and just started doing them—he didn’t even use the airbag— he was like, “F—k this thing!” One day, Luke tried a switch double [Mike] Michalchuk on the wall while Danny and I were launching into the airbag. He almost killed himself—almost landed on his head. Danny and I looked at each other and we were like, “Okay, we’re pussies, we need to try these doubles.” After that we just snapped into it. We’d watch each other try and then the next person would drop in and go for it—it was crazy, there was so much energy, we were just totally pushing each other. I don’t know if I would’ve ever had the balls to step up and do that by myself if those guys weren’t there.
What’s the reality of your rivalry with Shaun?
It’s something that the media makes up—you know, show up at the X Games for the big rivalry, it’s something they’re pushing. I guess it gives the people something more to look at if there’s someone to rival Shaun, but it doesn’t feel that way to me and it never has. I mean, we’ve grown up snowboarding together, since we were eight years old at the U.S. Open, riding together. I don’t have any problem with him or anything. When we meet up and get to ride together, it just feels all positive. He pushes me, you know? This year is a perfect example. I heard about his new tricks and I feel like I have to go and learn ’em. It’s just a back and forth, pushing each other.
But if he stomps all four of those hammers, he’s gonna be pretty hard to beat.
Well yeah, that’s obviously on my mind. It’s definitely pushing me to be better and I think that’s exciting. He has that ability, where he can go up and learn all those tricks in the pipe all by himself—I commend him for that. But that’s not my style and that’s not how I’m going about it. I feel like we’re going at this two totally different ways. I guess we’ll see what happens this winter. He pushes and then I push back, that’s how it’s always been between us. Sometimes I step up and do better—he wins most of the time, but hopefully that’ll change.
What does it feel like after a big contest and you’re standing on the podium?
It’s good—those are the moments that you work so hard for. Everything—all the stress and all the pressure—is just gone. It feels good to put in that much hard work and have it pay off. I think that’s why I keep coming back for more every year and why I love it so much—it’s that feeling. I love filming and I love riding backcountry, all aspects of snowboarding—but you never get that same feeling of accomplishment. It’s a different kind of feeling.
Will you do anything else this season other than focus on pipe?
Once February has passed, I’ll be done with contests. Well, I’ll do the U.S. Open, but besides that, I’m out. It takes such a toll and it’s just such a long road. I’ll take a break after, but then I’ll hopefully be able to get back out to film with Absinthe [Films]. I had a great time with them last year. Hopefully I’ll be out riding with Danny [Davis], just cruising. Peace out, you know? Get out of the light—away from the TV, all the people trying to get on you—and get back to what real snowboarding is, back to the essence.