Tahoe Talent Rising
By Cody Dresser
With a dozen resorts circling the lake and epic backcountry off the highway, Tahoe was an obvious snowboard mecca from the start. All the heavy pros rolled NorCal through the 80s into the mid 90s—they had to. Squaw Valley, or “Squawlywood,” held the snowboard community in a headlock. For media, working pros, and unknowns seeking respect, it was the place to get it done. As Oakland rapper Too $hort put it, “Get in where you fit in,”—clearly, Tahoe was the spot.
Time marches on. In ’95 the Utah shift began as Salt Lake exposed California’s weakness—the powder was often slush by noon. Utah’s dry snow and consistent conditions proved a more efficient area for modern pros, and the scene moved East. Tahoe was in a state of transition—local heroes aged, and new blood began a slow bid for recognition.
As snowboard stunts grew, Utah was quickly overpopulated—the search for larger terrain was on. Reexamination of NorCal’s vast backcountry was imminent—and with it, the discovery of Lake Tahoe’s new talent. A storm was brewing, a new wave of riders were putting the area back on the map—re-instilling NorCal pride along the way. Standing in the shadows of ghosts no longer, here is NorCal power rebuilt and redefined—Tahoe’s future, today.
Shaun Palmer and Jimmy Halopoff have done South Lake proper for over a decade now—and today, Jimmy’s South Shore Soldiers camp at Heavenly is fostering the new breed of local riders. Jimmy Tomer and Durk Dye are coming up with the help of photographer Ian Ruhter, (The Green Cowboy) and filmer Nathan Yant, both former local pros. The kids are green, with damn big shoes to fill—give them a little time.
How many hooligans can live in one crash pad? The Truckee “Mancamp” houses over a dozen. True dorm-style, frat-house living, with a stopwatch and log sheet on the wall for their longest-piss contest. Every inch of space has been converted to a sleeping area. Closets, pantries, even bathrooms are fair game—odds on someone’s sleeping in the bathtub tonight. Santa Cruz riders Stephen Duke and Robbie Sell have fanned the NorCal fire, motivating guys like Sean Tedore to step it up and realize their potential. The house is brimming with happy-go-lucky talent. Ladies—we left the address on the mailbox.
The infamous Alkasquawliks: mix Scotty Wittlake, Marc Frank, a blunt, and a brew. The motley crew runs serious game. On snow, Squaw’s terrain has lent Josh Feliciano and company the skills to destroy everything—contests, park, and the backcountry. The ghetto thugsters had so many girls around their crib we lost count. Truckfuls of ’em.
Under the watchful eye of photographer Ruben Sanchez, the Trilogy Arts crew has honed some wickedly smooth, ultra-clean manuevers. Professional influence lies in the hands of Joel Mahaffey—Ride teammate Chris Demolski, a.k.a. “Mini-Mahaffey,” is cutting a reputation on his wooden handrail antics. Ever try an air to backslide lip on timber? Dicey! Things you might find around an Incline house: basketball hoops, skateboards, and parents.
The Tahoe Transplants
Mammoth couldn’t house the entire East Coast snowboard scene—a few strays ended up in Tahoe. Alaska’s Darian Draper, better known as “Steak Neck,” moved down to more media-friendly grounds as well. There are even a few Euros and Scanners calling the land of hot powder home nowadays.