It’s a strange truth that in all my years of tromping around the planet under the guise of “professional snowboard journalist (whatever that means), I’ve never stepped foot inside a propellered aircraft in the name of “heli-boarding. That is before a recent trip to Tyax Heli Guides with the Quiksilver crew. Every year Quik invites an ultra-elite list of industry family members up to the remote heli lodge for a shred adventure—and this year they showed mercy on my virgin-helicopter soul by letting me tag along. Also along for the ride were the likes of Quik teamriders Todd Richards and Robbie Sell, my fellow TWS-editor Cody Dresser, DC-Owner Ken Block, ultra-famous television personality Sal Masekela, Mervin-Cofounder Pete Saari—well, you get the idea.
Tyax is about a half hour heli ride from Whistler deep into British Columbia’s Coast Mountains. The lodge is set on a semi-frozen lake miles away from anything you’d call a town. It was nothing but our crew, the mountains, and a wolverine or two. Now, about the heli-shredding. Helicopters are truly the most badass machines ever. They’re loud and sketchy and completely awesome. As host of the trip, Quik-owner Bob McKnight chose the crews that went in each heli every day, insuring that everyone “got to know each other and also “bonded through the miracle that is snowboarding. And we did.
Imagine this: Your heart is pounding as the pilot sets the machine down, the door flies open, everything’s loud and hectic, gale-force winds from the blades bowl you over, you remember to keep your head down so it doesn’t get taken off, strap in as fast as you can, and then point it. All of a sudden, everything’s quiet—no sound but your hot breath against your jacket collar and the distant battle-axe chop chop chop of the helicopter blades as they dice up the mountain air somewhere far away. Powder for miles and it’s all yours.
Now, it is the nature of a heli trip, I soon learned, to naturally include a bit of downtime. Helis can’t fly when the cloud “ceiling is too low, so we did spend a day off-hill entertaining ourselves around the lodge. You know how when you’re bored, you become really lazy, too? It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, really. Anyway, as we all sat around waiting out the storm and consuming copious amounts of caffeine, I thought it might be fun to interview Robbie Sell. However, being too bored and therefore lazy to do it myself, I made Todd Richards do it. The result was, well, keep reading and find out. There’re more pictures down there, too.
Todd Richards: If you could do any trick awesome in snowboarding, what would it be?
Robbie Sell: A one-footed McTwist.
TR: Would you rather Cab five a 60-foot table or front board a street rail through a kink?
RS: Switch frontside five.
TR: It’s the same thing. Method or frontside air?
RS: Method, right in between the feet.
TR: What’s your favorite snowboard movie prior to 1994?
RS: The Garden.
TR: Do you know who Terry Kidwell is?
RS: Yes—he used to ride the Tahoe City halfpipe.
TR: That’s all you can give me on Terry Kidwell?
RS: Well, that’s my most memorable moment of him.
TR: Put down that he doesn’t know who Terry Kidwell is. Where did you grow up?
RS: Halfway between Truckee, California and Reno in a town called Redding. Nice trucker community—lots of hunter/fisherman.
TR: Where would you go on a trip snowboarding?
RS: I always wanted to go big mountain riding in Canada or Alaska.
TR: Who are the Neopro-hos? Just girls from Truckee on the “Neoproto tip?
RS: They’re just girlfriends of the riders, and, like, Justin Eeles’ sister. They made T-shirts that said, “I’m a Neopro-ho for the video premiere last fall at ASR. But anyway, Aaron Keene and Stephen Duke definitely have some “Neopro-hos.
TR: What’s your favorite memory from the 80s? Do you even have any?
RS: The Dukes Of Hazard? Or Inspector Gadget. I was born in ’79.
TR: Do you remember before cell phones?
RS: Yes, I do. I never had one in high school or anything. I didn’t have a computer until a couple years ago.
TR: What scares you?
RS: Everything that’s scary.
TR: Touché. Would you rather slow dance with (red-headed filmer) Jon Boyer in front of tons of people at a wedding, or let (A.D.D.-addled DC Team Manager) Brian Botts give you a reverse piggyback ride?
RS: I’ll take the ride from Brian—but I wouldn’t give him a ride.
TR: Let the record show that he went for a reverse piggyback.
RS: Whatever—he’d be down low, so I couldn’t tell what was going on.
TR: Do you ever go snowboarding by yourself?
RS: I did last week, and then ran into friends.
TR: That’s the true test of snowboarding, if you go up by yourself. Have you ever seen the Paris Hilton video?
RS: On your XBox.
TR: Bad, bad answer.