No Coast

No Coast

Intro by Pat Bridges

Story by Melissa Larsen

There is no denying snowboarding is a sport of the privileged. The question is whether or not everyone who excels at snowboarding has the same opportunities to succeed and make a name for themselves within the sport.

The object of this article is somewhat of an experiment, an experiment on the basis of opportunity. If a writer and photographer can go into New Hampshire and find a handful of young riders with some real potential and then place them where others have broken out, will these kids also rise to that level of excellence? We chose the unknown cream of the “Live Free or Die” state’s crop and brought them to Utah for a week-long romp through the Wasatch’s legendary breeding grounds. Our test subjects hit the same hero kickers of the Grizzly Gulch that Bjorn hit as a rookie and they rode the same rails as a young J.P. did in the New Age Mecca of jib in Salt Lake.

We gave no airfare or free rides. We even held a four-day tryout back east before gracing anyone with this trip. In fact, all we provided were the photographers and the access beyond the velvet rope of pro-dom. Then the ball was in their court; they could either dunk, dribble, or sit on the bench. Initially, the following people in this story will have little meaning to you, and in the end, they may still be insignificant, but if our hypothesis is correct, then perhaps a little recall will be in order.–Pat Bridges

A five-and-a-half-hour drive away from the airport where Dan Garrity would be arriving in six hours, I found myself on the phone with a frantic Aaron Diamond, who, due to a lack of monetary resources, hadn’t purchased his plane ticket yet. Two days earlier, Brian Barb had left a message on my machine stating that he and Scott Arnold were going to Salt Lake City earlier than we’d planned to hang out with a friend. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that friend’s number or any clue how to find them once I got there.

With no time left to wait for Brian’s call, or deal with Aaron’s crisis, I gave Aaron my best wishes and credit-card number so he could buy a last-minute plane ticket to Utah, hopped in my car, and sped to the airport to meet Danny. Attention to detail in snowboarding, like physics or hippie rock, is something I’ll never be able to grasp. It’s snowboarding. Chaos is standard–fun even. Apparently, though, when you’re taking four kids who’ve never traveled on their own before halfway across the country, their parents expect you to have your shit together. At the very least, they expect when they put their kid on the plane, you’ll be at the other end, and if you’re not, the kid will know how to get a hold of you. Ha, ha. Oops.

Scotty’s mom really thought it was funny, too, especially when she found out I had no idea Scotty decided to stay in New Hampshire for a contest, instead of traveling to Utah with Brian. Scotty must have thought it was hilarious, also, when he got off the plane I didn’t know he was on, and no one was there to meet him. I was definitely amused when I found out how pissed Scotty’s mom was and how much trouble I was in.

Luckily, the emotional damage inflicted by the previous day’s incidents were counteracted by our stay in the luxurious accommodations at The Lodge At Snowbird. Danny and Aaron spent the evening (and every night after) running around the hotel. Doing what, we could never figure out, but they seemed to enjoy “wandering around the hallways and playing in elevators”–good, clean, Utah fun.

Over breakfast we decided to drive up the road and check out the possibility of hitting some kickers across the valley from Alta. Unfortunately, the plan to set the Right Coasters loose on Utah powder was being held back by one thing:he snow sucked. For Snowbird, the conditions were horrible–high pressure, the mountain was a tracked-out mogul field, and the weather channel showed only a slight possibility for a future storm.

I soon realized none of this mattered, though. On our hike up to the guys’ first-ever quarterpipe session, they all kept telling me how amazing the crunchy, sun-crusted, corn snow we were trudging through was. “This is powder on the East Coast,” was an often-repeated statement. I couldn’t believe it. The lamest conditions outside of flat light and rain and they were stoked. Brian quickly became the group’s emotional cheerleader, talking the rest of the guys through the frustration of learning something new, and then charging so hard they couldn’t sit back and make excuses for not trying. Then he over-rotated some insanely huge misty flip- type thing, landed hard on the deck, ripped a binding off his board, and broke his foot.

Getting injured on the brink of a big career break is apparently a pattern with Mr. Barb. Besides bursting at the seams with style and talent, Brian’s probably one of the most positive, enthusiastic guys to ever strap on a snowboard. His energy is as impressive as it is contagious, and when he was taken out of the group dynamic equation, his absence was definitely felt. Brian dealt with his injury like a true champ, and never complained about being stuck in the hotel for the rest of the trip.

Since a bad landing off an icy park jump on the East Coast usually results in some type of bodily trauma, the idea that they could practice tricks, land on their heads, and be okay was more than the guys could handle. Brian’s injury aside, all the rest of them wanted to do from this day forward was go find a little kicker and practice inverted flip tricks. Trying to make them understand the point of the trip was to get good pictures, not dink around on fun, but cheesy, backflip hits was next to impossible. I finally had to get mean and bum them out by dragging them to Brighton–poor kids.

Since the guys were no longer stoked about the kind of jumps we were building, and were slow to take instruction on proper backcountry kicker construction, Kevin Zacher had to take over as the mean one. Zacher had as much success explaining why the little jumps they were trying to build weren’t conducive to good pictures, as I had explaining why they had to quit having fun to take the pictures in the first place.

Their frustration was understandable. Back in New Hampshire, these guys are the upcoming rulers of the pipe and park. But we weren’t riding pipe and park, and having to haul ass down a bumpy runway with a compression at the bottom, to hit a blind, straight-air kicker that ended in a goal post between some trees, wasn’t amping them in the slightest. Crashing while trying to pull a method, when back home you can stomp 720s wasn’t the coolest experience. Zacher and I weren’t doing much to mend their slightly bruised egos, either.

They pulled it, though, and managed to regain some of their original enthusiasm on the ride down when they realized how much of Mack Dawg’s Decade was filmed at Brighton, and excitedly pointed out all the different spots we passed, and whose video part each belonged to.

The gods smiled, and we woke up to a sunny powder day, not a great powder day by Snowbird standards, but getting to ride it with a group of people who’d never experienced anything close to Utah snow before was truly a gift. On the boys’ first-ever ride up the tram, I listened to them freaking out about the terrain below us.

“Look at the trees!” Aaron exclaimed.

“Yeah,” chimed Danny. “You can ride through the trees here.” Novel concept. I can’t wait to ride the East Coast.

Added to the day’s list of first times were the rock drops Zacher took us to. Danny quickly became the hero of the day by riding off any and everything we told him to, and then hiking back up to do it again. Danny’s unbridled enthusiasm about being the designated guinea pig actually made him the hero of the whole trip. Scotty and Aaron were a little freaked out about it all, and Zacher’s sarcastic heckling of, “Come on, guys! Tina just jumped that last week, and she’s a girl!” didn’t do much to make them feel better. Danny talked them through it, and went first so there was no way they could back out. The looks on their faces when they finally went off were priceless. We just cruised the rest of the way down–smiles on everyone’s faces.

The boys’ pleas to go practice tricks in soft snow finally won out, and we freerode for the remainder of the trip. In the end, Scotty and Aaron’s biggest complaint was people out west have no idea how to build even halfway-decent halfpipes, though Brian and Danny both agreed they’d give up good halfpipes for good snow. Maybe it’s not everyone in the east’s dream to ride out west. That’s all right, it was a good learning experience for all of us.

So did they pull it? Did they prove themselves worthy enough to get coverage? Apparently, or you wouldn’t know this story even happened. We gave them their chance, it’s up to them now to take it to the next level, and prove it to the rest of you. Good luck, guys.–Melissa Larsen

For reservations at any of Snowbird’s four lodging properties call

1-800-453-5000 (the lodges that accommodated the riders are The Cliff Lodge and The Lodge At Snowbird).

Or go to www.snowbird.com.

Special thanks to Kim Peterson and Snowbird for making this story possible.

d to the day’s list of first times were the rock drops Zacher took us to. Danny quickly became the hero of the day by riding off any and everything we told him to, and then hiking back up to do it again. Danny’s unbridled enthusiasm about being the designated guinea pig actually made him the hero of the whole trip. Scotty and Aaron were a little freaked out about it all, and Zacher’s sarcastic heckling of, “Come on, guys! Tina just jumped that last week, and she’s a girl!” didn’t do much to make them feel better. Danny talked them through it, and went first so there was no way they could back out. The looks on their faces when they finally went off were priceless. We just cruised the rest of the way down–smiles on everyone’s faces.

The boys’ pleas to go practice tricks in soft snow finally won out, and we freerode for the remainder of the trip. In the end, Scotty and Aaron’s biggest complaint was people out west have no idea how to build even halfway-decent halfpipes, though Brian and Danny both agreed they’d give up good halfpipes for good snow. Maybe it’s not everyone in the east’s dream to ride out west. That’s all right, it was a good learning experience for all of us.

So did they pull it? Did they prove themselves worthy enough to get coverage? Apparently, or you wouldn’t know this story even happened. We gave them their chance, it’s up to them now to take it to the next level, and prove it to the rest of you. Good luck, guys.–Melissa Larsen

For reservations at any of Snowbird’s four lodging properties call

1-800-453-5000 (the lodges that accommodated the riders are The Cliff Lodge and The Lodge At Snowbird).

Or go to www.snowbird.com.

Special thanks to Kim Peterson and Snowbird for making this story possible.