Birth Date: November 9, 1991
Hometown: Jamaica, Vermont
Sponsors: 686, Gnu, adidas, Dragon, Red Bull, Gnarly
Video: Givin’s Too
Interviewed by Ben Gavelda
Small towns have their share of freedoms and constraints. Forest Bailey, who was born and raised in the Vermont countryside near Stratton, knows this well. He was fortunate to grow up with a hill not too far from his house, offering free rein on the slopes, but stale rural schooling had him trapped. So at 17 he bailed. Now he has numerous pro model products, an ender video part, an X Games gold medal, and inked deals with big names like adidas and Red Bull. Not bad for a dropout. —B.G.
Where did you grow up riding?
I grew up riding Stratton, Vermont. I was born in Jamaica, Vermont, which is like 10 miles from Stratton. It’s just a little town with a couple of art shops, an elementary school, and a gas station. I was born in my house, and when I was three months old we moved to the house that I lived in until I was 17. My dad worked as a waiter in this restaurant at Stratton, through that I got a free pass and would just go up there all the time, cause a ruckus at the mountain. It was a pretty great childhood, wouldn’t ask for anything else.
How did you get to where you are now, what was your path?
I just noticed from a young age that what I wanted to do was snowboard, and that was all I wanted to do. I kind of just worked as hard as I could and made it happen. When I was 17 I noticed I didn’t want to do contests anymore, and I really wanted to focus on filming. At this point I had started getting paid a little to snowboard, but was still going to high school. So I decided to drop out, move to Tahoe, and start putting all my energy into filming. That season I filmed for Colton Feldman’s movie Dump ’Em Out. We had a lot of fun making that movie, and I think people were real hyped on it. The next summer Keegan [Valaika] and Jon [Francis] hit me up about riding for Gnarly. I was really into the idea of riding for a small company run by my friends, and then when the idea for making Givin came about I jumped at the opportunity to do another small film project involving all the homeys. I really didn’t want to film with random people I didn’t know; I just wanted to be with my friends. That first year of Givin was really amazing—me and Keegs went on some of the best trips of my life. I also started trying to film backcountry that year, which was a pretty funny experience. I still have much to learn on that front. Now our second film, Too, just came out, and I think it’s even better than the first.
What do you mean by hard work? Because everyone uses that term—like, “He’s a hard worker.” But the core of snowboarding is all about fun. Shouldn’t we be saying, “Damn, he’s the best at having fun!”?
Yeah [laughs]. It’s just staying motivated and making everything fun and not being too serious with anything. Not thinking about snowboarding like it’s some task or like it’s your job, just always keeping it true to your roots and just having fun and snowboarding with your friends. But regardless, filming isn’t some stress-free simple thing; you still need to put in a ton of effort and time. So really, it’s all about finding that perfect balance.
How does skateboarding influence the way you ride?
I skateboard honestly more than I snowboard. It’s pretty much where all my inspiration comes from. It’s the most free you can be on a board. Snowboarding is great, but skating is just different to me. There’s some infinite freedom to it that makes it feel so right, just endless possibilities, I suppose. I think skating is cool because it’s all man-made. And surfing is cool because it’s all natural. But what’s so sick about snowboarding is that it’s the best of both worlds. It’s all natural—riding fresh snow and hanging out deep in the woods with your friends, but then you can go to a frozen city and make it more like skating, hitting whatever crazy thing you can find.
What outside of snowboarding inspires you and stokes you out?
Music definitely. I went to a bunch of festivals this summer. And hanging out with friends that I grew up with and seeing how they live, just seeing how other people live outside of snowboarding. Not getting stuck in the industry, because it’s pretty easy to do since it’s so tight-knit. So just keeping in touch with people that I’ve been friends with since I was little and just, I don’t know, not living or staying in one place for very long, trying to stay on the move, and trying to keep moving forward all the time.