Amid the colorful flow of action and documentary in the underground snowboard film IR77 from 2006, a kid named Austin Smith rode into focus. Calmly spinning into narrow landings at Mount Baker in a snowstorm, his abilities were plainly evident. Since then, Austin has continued to charge a confident line into the forefront of snowboarding. His opening segment in the new film, Down With People is pretty okay, man, check it out. While on a summer trip to Argentina, Austin answered a few random questions.
What does it take to be a pro snowboarder in 2008?
Either years of training in vert or jump stuff to try and outdo the contest dudes, but I wouldn’t suggest that because they are f—king good. You probably have a better chance finding some gimmick, social networking and getting that hype up. But if that doesn’t work out, try to film a video part that people will want to watch over the 500 other ones.
What is most important?
My friends and family, being healthy, as in no broken backs. I will eat In-N-Out all day long. Snowboarding and everything it entails, traveling, meeting bros and babes and good times.
What inspires you to pursue snowboarding?
It is the best life I could ask for, I get to shred 11 months out of the year, fly to the other parts of the world and have enough money for candy.
What draws you to the mountains?
It is all I know. My mom is a mountain climber, so growing up I never went to Hawaii or Costa Rica. We would go mountain climbing or backpacking, it sucked at the time but I can appreciate it now.
Are you ever embarrassed by snowboarding?
Not snowboarding itself, maybe by some of the people in snowboarding or the stereotype of snowboarders. But most of all, when I have to go on catalogue/model photo shoots, I hate that.
When did you start riding?
When I was like 12 or 13—once they started full checking in hockey. I liked to slash down the back of people’s legs but I didn’t want them to hit me back—pretty tough, huh? I grew up in Bellingham at Mt. Baker, skied most of the time, but then Lucas Debari my hockey buddy hooked me up with some shred gear and I started up.
Who’s riding blows your mind?
There’s a handful of people. Gigi is definitely up there, Benedek always had until he started riding for Rockstar. Dirksen is amazing, Huffman. JP and Jeremy are pretty insane just for the fact that they still get down on handrails along with jumps. Its not easy keeping up with that stuff, you have to learn like 5 new tricks a year and then you’re still behind, but those dudes have been doing it for decades—mad respect.
Where do you see the progression in snowboarding headed?
Into the bottom of the Grand Canyon or maybe Death Valley.
Sponsors: Quiksilver, Nitro, Nike Snowboarding, Dakine, Active, Mt. Bachelor, Cobra Dogs, Volcano Cones and Airblaster.