My life is great. You might say I see the world through rose colored lenses most of the time. I always wear goggles when I’m snowboarding, and that is usually five or six days a week. Which gives me a pretty unique view of the world- I really do see the world through rose colored lenses most of the time. Maybe that is why snowboarders and skiers are usually just a bit happier, a bit more laid back.
When you pull your goggles down and drop in, your whole perspective changes. Everything is just a bit better. The sky is brighter, the snow and the trees have more definition, everything is a cheery orange, yellow or vermilion. We are lucky, those of us who know the secret pleasure of escaping to the mountains, changing our perspective from the mundane and ordinary to the extra-ordinary. Whether you get to do it six days a week, or just a few times a season, that change of perspective is always a welcome part of the experience. I’ve been on the road a long time, one month and fifteen days to be exact. I’ve been traveling to contest after contest, trying to make some cash, be a better rider, and have fun.
I’ve gotten used to living out of my bag all the time- it is almost easier to go on the road and stay on the road for a while because I only have to deal with a certain amount of stuff- what comes out of my bag always has to go back into my bag. If I come home all the time I am always trying to put too much stuff back in when I leave again.
Staying on the road makes it easier to keep going and to keep up the momentum, but holding on to the creative spark that makes snowboarding fun gets tough sometimes. When that spark is gone, it is time to go home and quit living the dream for a week. It is a time for me to change my perspective again, so that I can appreciate all that I have as a pro snowboarder.
But back to the dream. Last week I got to go heli-boarding with a Warren Miller crew at North Cascade Heli in Washington. Definitely a dream come true. Ever since I was a kid I have loved going to Warren Miller films. I went to college to get a film degree because I wanted to make movies about skiing and snowboarding. Warren Miller films are legendary, and to be a part of something with that kind of history is definitely an honor. Riding untracked heli access powder is also an honor. Boy am I stoked I chose the life I lead.
The heli dropped me off on top of a mountain all by myself. The film crew was across the valley; Julie Zell and Barrett Christy had a different peak picked out. So I was all alone. As I stood on top of my line, ready to drop in, I realized how many choices lay before me. I could go left, jump over a band of rocks, bank right and squeeze through a chute. Or I could go right, point it, lay down two fast turns, cut through a gap in the rocks and blow out of there going 60 mph. I had to choose. You are given so many choices when you are at the top of a mountain. There are so many decisions to make, sometimes instantaneously as you haul ass down the mountain. Make the wrong decision and you might die; make the right one and you might have the run of your life. That is what I love about snowboarding: you must decide and take what comes at you- good or bad.
After being on the contest tour for so long, I had kind of forgotten what that freedom feels like. You ride so many halfpipes, you do so many runs in that controlled environment, that you sometimes forget to make new choices- you just keep making the old ones. Everything becomes a bit blurred, a bit the same. You practice your run over and over- trying to put together your best possible run. It doesn’t matter if you are in Park City or Japan. You just want to do your run so you can win, but that is wrong. That is not what snowboarding is about for me. For me, riding is about making new choices and being an individual, interacting and playing with the mountain, not just performing for the judges and being a halfpipe monkey.
Johann Olafson once said tto me, “pick your own line.” That was the new perspective I got while standing on top of that mountain that day- I was reminded that I had to choose where to go. No one told me what to do or where to go, it was all up to me. I stood there for a second, frozen with so many possibilities. It was quiet up there all alone, when I suddenly heard the camera guy’s voice over the radio, “ready when you are, just give me a count down.”
“Three, two, one,” I said. I chose my own line. Don’t forget to choose yours.