Life is a story created by our actions-told not only by us, but by those affected by who we are and the way we live. In the library of the world, in the “Stories In Progress” section, filed under “L,” is a book entitled Erik Leines. Contained within its many pages is the tale of an exceptionally cool and bright nineteen year old. At present, his tall and lanky, ever-growing body moves quite awkwardly, as if he’s still getting used to it. Strap the feet of that body to a snowboard, however, and the awkwardness is replaced by a deliberate power and grace that’s almost as impressive as the inhabitant of the body itself. The following is an excerpt from the novel of Erik’s life …

***

They had me on top of the tractor-tire inner tube. Previously, it had served on Billy’s grandfather’s farm-Grumpa, we used to call him. He ruled the farm with an iron fist and usually chased us before we could execute our planned mischief. There was something with him and kids.

“No, no, no!” I yelled in terror, trying to stop my impending doom. I knew fate was taking me for a ride no matter how hard I yelled-still, I squealed like a pig. The tube felt comfortable flying through the snow-the speed was exhilarating. Then it felt like I hit a brick wall. Pain shot through my leg. I looked up and saw a giant tree. My brother and his buddies bent over me, their faces full of worry.

“All right, let’s get some X-rays of that leg. What’s his name?”

“Erik. Erik Leines-L-E-I-N-E-S.”

“Age?”

“Five.”

The diagnosis-compound fracture.

***

“Erik. Some of you know him as ‘The Mule.’ I know him as my brother-formerly as ‘Lizard Boy.’ We called him Lizard Boy as kids because he didn’t have any front teeth. I think they melted or something crazy like that. He would stick his tongue in and out of his mouth quick like a lizard. Yeah, he thought he was real cool.”-Bjorn

Yup, my two front teeth were missing for five years, so I just made the best of it. I became the Lounge Lizard. They melted because I was allergic to milk as a kid-they just disintegrated. Finally, though, I got the Hollywood smile-I got caps.

***

Predators-Torsten and Bjorn (my brothers) and I thought they were the dope bikes because we didn’t know any other brands. We were like, “We’ve got Predators. We’re going to tear it up.” We’d cruise around and build jumps. Mom used to take us on missions-we’d be huffin’ and puffin’ riding behind her to T-ball. “Can we take the car next time, Mom?”

“We’ve had fun and adventures together for as long as I can remember-except for when we had to do some kind of work. Erik always got out of it. His favorite excuse was, ‘Hey, I’m going inside. I have to go to the bathroom-number two.’ That was it. He was gone for the day. A pretty weak excuse, but it worked.”-Bjorn

We got into skating because we saw plans for a ramp in Thrasher. When construction started I spent most of the time in the bathroom, emerging only when there was some tranny to ride. Standing on the top of the ramp looking down, we were like fourteen feet up. Who was going to drop in first? Nobody, until my mom came up and told us to put on our pads and start sliding down the walls on our knees. That was all we needed. Before we knew it, we were shredding the thing on our boards. (Thanks, Mom.)

Smalltown, U.S.A.-Football players, baseball players, and cheerleaders. What’s up with that skateboard, kid? My brothers and I were the only ones skating in town. After a while we quit because there was no one else to skate with, and we’d get sick of each other.

***

Year twelve-We discovered dirt bikes, Kawasaki 60s. For months The bike’s flyer was our favorite reading material-we could have recited the whole thing, including specs. Spoken word, grease-monkey style. My parents were down with the program except for the financing aspect. Dad said, “Yocan work on the pipelines to earn the money for it.” Oklahoma. 98 degrees. Humid. My brothers and I were welder helpers-up at five in the morning, working ’til seven at night grinding the welds after they were done-straight up manual labor. Hot-shit, it was hotter than hell. The child-labor people used to come down all the time:

“You don’t have to work. Is anybody forcing you to do this?”

They were convinced we were part of an illegal child-labor ring. But hey, we were just working for our Kawasaki 60s-the big payoff was coming. We went back every summer, too, because after the 60 there was the 80, and then the 125, the 250-you know the deal. We participate in our consumer society-there’s always something bigger and better. We’re all-American.

After we started getting paid to snowboard and didn’t have to work the fields anymore, I realized that riding a dirtbike in the summer was a good way to sharpen my skills to pay the bills. Riding trails keeps you connected with jumping and flying through the air, and it’s good practice for knowing when to gun it-and when not to. Gotta keep an eye out for them trees, boy. My brothers’ suggestions taught me caution. That inner-tube ride taught me respect for trees.

***

Minnesota winters, super ice cold-Minus-30-degree weather for three months straight sometimes. We’d gear up and ski the 70-foot-long, 30-foot-high hill behind my parents’ house-built a jump at the bottom and hucked ourselves, trying to learn helicopters.

I couldn’t wait to start hanging out at Mickey D’s, my two-year-older brother’s hangout. Because he was about sixteen, it was time for him and his cronies to move on to Holiday’s gas station-then my crew and I could take over.

I’ll never forget my first night there: Billy, the one-eyed thespian, let us in on his first sexual escapade. He had done it with Tiffany, an overweight beauty in our class. I had more fantasies about Tiffany’s mom-fantasies, despite the fact that I was pretty much in the dark about anything that had to do with sex. Billy’s tale didn’t really enlighten me, either. I’m not sure now if his claim was true or just a story based on Grumpa’s pornography collection, but we all had slurpies and celebrated Billy’s devirginization anyway.

The next two years were spent waiting for the time we could hang out at Holiday’s and try to get the older kids to buy us beer. Nothing was better than hanging out tipsy at the gas station, waiting for something to happen (even though nothing ever did). That was the life.

***

The gas station with all its temptations was slowly replaced by airports, airplanes, motel rooms, and rental cars. Though it only exists in my memory now, the smell of fumes sometimes brings back intense visions of times past. This gas station in Kaunertal, Austria-I can see Billy right here, bobbing back and forth like he was in a Biggie Smalls video, his language a combination of urban hip-hop and farm talk.

As I look at my new posse, Billy disappears in a dissolve-cross-fade to a language I don’t understand. The pipe was perfect today. At first the walls scared the shit out of me-the pipe was dug deeper than I’ve ever seen. But as I dropped in and started hitting the walls with straight airs, each time landing perfectly in the tranny, I knew it would be a day I’d remember. Everybody was going off. On the way back from the glacier it was the topic of conversation being held in four different languages.

I’ve seen so many different cultures since I hit the pro circuit. I’m absorbing as much as possible, using all my opportunities as education, but having fun along the way. My life has taken a certain course-at first I was just along for the ride, but now I’m at the helm. My eyes have been opened to a lot of things. I’ve realized that there is a lot of America in the world, but not a lot of the world in America.

***

“We’d see them just rippin’ at the ‘Bird with Hetzel-groms goin’ off. They were like fourteen and already off the scale. We knew what was ahead: a new age coming.”-The Guch

When my family moved to Snowbird, we rode every day-the quest for powder finally at my fingertips. These days I can usually be found hiking Grizzly Gulch with my brothers, picking lines. We hike for hours, our brains blending. Taking in the huge mountains and insane views, words would be wasted. Our thoughts are one-interchangeable. Out here, we’re free. The silence is soothing. Nothing matters except the moment, nothing compares. The only trace of civilization is us-weird-looking spacemen, bundled up, goggles, boards, backpacks. Strap in, do a ritual tranceiver check, and I’m hovering above, watching as three alien creatures make their way through the white landscape, leaving long tracks behind. Then I’m back in my head, surfing the great Utah powder, hitting windlips, trying new tricks. Ecstasy-no chemicals involved. Just naturally produced adrenaline.

Back at the crib, kickin’ it, listening to some fat beats-reliving the day in the backcountry creates the desire to do more, to go back there again and again. This is our true passion-riding with friends out in nature, leaving everything but the immediate moment behind. The mountains have become the place we want to spend most of our time. They remind us to never lose sight of our quest to stay positive and live life to the fullest without hurting others or ourselves.

***

On a plane again-Headphones feeding sound, eyes out the window watching the worldgoing by. Flying is surreal. You’d think the more you do it, the more normal it’d become, but being propelled in a steel tube from one time zone to the other is becoming more and more like being in a Salvador Dali painting-a great dream, but a weird reality to be a part of. Every trip makes me long more for the days spent in the backcountry.

Please fasten your seatbelts, and put your seat in its locked, upright position. We’ll be landing at the Tokyo Airport in fifteen minutes.

Out of the metal tube into a totally different culture. Promo tour-all these kids know my name. I’ve got rock-star status here. I don’t think I’d have ever made it to Japan if I wasn’t sponsored. I look out over Tokyo from my hotel window with horror and excitement-Blade Runner in effect. Being here is good, but confusing. If I didn’t have the balance that comes from living in the mountains, I wouldn’t be able to deal with this. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the mountains are a part of me. Or I’m a part of them, because what are men to rocks and mountains?

***

This excerpt was made possible by grants from Airwalk, Oakley, Nixon, and Volcom. Hetzel-groms goin’ off. They were like fourteen and already off the scale. We knew what was ahead: a new age coming.”-The Guch

When my family moved to Snowbird, we rode every day-the quest for powder finally at my fingertips. These days I can usually be found hiking Grizzly Gulch with my brothers, picking lines. We hike for hours, our brains blending. Taking in the huge mountains and insane views, words would be wasted. Our thoughts are one-interchangeable. Out here, we’re free. The silence is soothing. Nothing matters except the moment, nothing compares. The only trace of civilization is us-weird-looking spacemen, bundled up, goggles, boards, backpacks. Strap in, do a ritual tranceiver check, and I’m hovering above, watching as three alien creatures make their way through the white landscape, leaving long tracks behind. Then I’m back in my head, surfing the great Utah powder, hitting windlips, trying new tricks. Ecstasy-no chemicals involved. Just naturally produced adrenaline.

Back at the crib, kickin’ it, listening to some fat beats-reliving the day in the backcountry creates the desire to do more, to go back there again and again. This is our true passion-riding with friends out in nature, leaving everything but the immediate moment behind. The mountains have become the place we want to spend most of our time. They remind us to never lose sight of our quest to stay positive and live life to the fullest without hurting others or ourselves.

***

On a plane again-Headphones feeding sound, eyes out the window watching the worldgoing by. Flying is surreal. You’d think the more you do it, the more normal it’d become, but being propelled in a steel tube from one time zone to the other is becoming more and more like being in a Salvador Dali painting-a great dream, but a weird reality to be a part of. Every trip makes me long more for the days spent in the backcountry.

Please fasten your seatbelts, and put your seat in its locked, upright position. We’ll be landing at the Tokyo Airport in fifteen minutes.

Out of the metal tube into a totally different culture. Promo tour-all these kids know my name. I’ve got rock-star status here. I don’t think I’d have ever made it to Japan if I wasn’t sponsored. I look out over Tokyo from my hotel window with horror and excitement-Blade Runner in effect. Being here is good, but confusing. If I didn’t have the balance that comes from living in the mountains, I wouldn’t be able to deal with this. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the mountains are a part of me. Or I’m a part of them, because what are men to rocks and mountains?

***

This excerpt was made possible by grants from Airwalk, Oakley, Nixon, and Volcom.