Riders to Watch

Rusty Ockenden Birth Date:April, 8, 1984

Hometown:Summerland, BC, Canada
Sponsors: Oakley, Endeavor Snowboards, Whistler/Blackcomb, Airhole, Circa, Beaver Wax
Video: People’s Pretty Wise, Snowboard Canada’s Relax
Interviewed by Gerhard Gross
Rusty has an orchid named Gary, he recently achieved his goal of catching a fish bigger than he is, and likes riding the coast from BC to SoCal on his Yamaha V-Star 650. He claimed the ender in People’s Pretty Wise this year, thanks to a deep bag of spins, a lanky but smooth style, and impeccably stomped landings. Be that as it may, Rusty doesn’t think snowboarding is something that needs to be taken too seriously. Just see his backflips in pink boxers for proof. —G.G.
The difference between an ironic spin and a regular spin are almost impossible to notice. The question you have to ask is: Is Rusty taking this trick seriously? Only he knows for sure. Whistler backcountry, BC, Canada. PHOTOS: Ashley Barker

On not stressing about filming a part. 

This season was the first time I’ve actually had companies put money into a video for me. At first I was super stressed and I was like, “I better show these guys that I know what I’m doing.” Then instead of stressing I realized, “I’m in the mountains, in some real cool parts of the world that a lot of people don’t ever get to see in their whole life.” I mean there’s no point in stressing. I used to dream about doing this as a kid and when I’m old and look back on it I don’t want to be like “That was stressful.” I want to remember how amazing and lucky we all were to be out there in the first place. That really helped me appreciate the season. I just had to go up here, have fun, and film. It was sweet.

On learning to sled at age 17.

When I was 17 I moved to Whistler and got the shittiest truck and sled. I worked all summer, laying bricks and at Sachi Sushi as a busboy to pay for them. Every time I went out, I was scared something was going to break. But at least I was going. I never went out with a Devun Walsh or someone who was like, “Hey, we’re going to go do this.” It was just kids, like lost kids trying to figure it out. I learned a lot with Mikee Pederson. We were a pretty sweet team for about five years.

On keeping snowboarding fun.

To me no other video has touched what the Robot Food movies have done, still. I want to get bangers, don’t get me wrong, but when I watch a video, especially when I watch my own part and it’s just like, here’s my tricks and that’s it, I always feel let down. There’s so much more to what we’re doing than, “Hey, look at my big jumps and tricks and shit.” When you watch a video and it has those random candid moments, it reminds me how much I love snowboarding. Instead of watching the video and being like, “This guy’s sick, that guy’s not,” you watch a video and you’re like, “I wanna go snowboarding! This is fun.” I hope other people feel the same way when they watch a video of me.

On Gary the orchid.

It seems like guys never have plants. One time this girl was at my place and she was like, “You don’t have any plants!” And then I was like, “You know, you’re right. I’m gonna get a plant.” She even gave me an empty pot. So I went to the store and I was looking at plants and the lady said, “These are orchids. They’re hard to keep alive.” And I was like, “I got this!” So I got the orchid, and I built him a nametag. His name’s Gary. He’s still doing well. But one day I put him on the deck because when I water him, the water leaks out of the bottom, and I forgot him out there all day. Gary got super sunburned and lost three leaves. Now he’s only got one leaf left, but he’s still alive, still killin’ it.

On sturgeon fishing.

Last year I went sturgeon fishing and didn’t catch anything. This year I was like, “I’m going to catch a fish that’s bigger than me.” We go fishing at Lillooet in Fraser River. It’s maybe an hour and a half drive from Whistler. I pull railroad spikes out of the train tracks and use them as a weight—they sink the bait to the bottom of the river. It’s super ghetto. Then you clip a bell to the rod, put it in a holder, and drink beers and play guitar. It’s fun because you’re basically just hanging out, and all of a sudden you hook into a dinosaur. The first fish I caught was so big it broke the line. The next day we linked up with a friend who has a boat and we went out with him and caught about 12 fish. The biggest one we got was six feet, eight inches. They’re like prehistoric. It’s insane.

On what’s next. 

There’s just so much to do. You could snowboard your whole life and always be finding new things. I would love to get off of a helicopter in a mountain in Alaska and just shit my pants. Hopefully I will get a chance to do that. I want to splitboard. I see these old dudes going up Peak Chair and splitboarding away into the wilderness, and I’m like, “That is badass!” One day, man, that will be me. I’m not there yet; I’m having fun sledding and hitting jumps and stuff, but yeah, one day. I want to do it all.

 Continue to next page to read the interview with Stale Sandbech…