Meet the Yawgoons
Words by Kevin Susienka
This is the short story of a top notch snowboard crew from one of the most unlikely places on earth. Yawgoo Valley, with an elevation of 310 feet at the tippity-top, is the only ski and snowboard resort in the state of Rhode Island. The Yawgoons, a group of five snowboarders who all grew up less than 10 miles from the hill, claim Yawgoo Valley as their home mountain with as much pride as those from Mammoth, Big Bear, or Park City and, technically, it’s not even a mountain. Dylan Gamache, Brendan Gouin, Marcus Rand, Mary Rand and Brian Skorupski are a rare breed of snowboarders from one of the smallest states in the continental United States, and their snowboarding speaks volumes about two very important subjects. The Yawgoons are present day masters of making due with what you have and living examples of the fact that working class snowboarding is not dead. They are regular people that you could meet any day in the lift-line, with one exception; Their snowboarding talents are a match for what one would expect from snowboarders who get paid to travel the world.
Dylan Gamache is a landscaper on weekdays and “a quiet killer” during the hours that he gets to snowboard, according to Marcus Rand. “His actions speak louder than his words”, as Brendan Gouin says, due to his shy nature and utterly ridiculous display of board control on a snowboard. Of Brendan, Dylan stated that he is “the man behind the camera, who is always coming up with stuff to set up and do”. This is completely fitting, because, by day, Brendan is a dentist who is constantly setting up procedures. His filming and editing process is really no different, as his obsession with detail and full commitment shows through in each of his projects. Yes folks, the man known as Dr. Brendan Gouin really is a doctor.
“Marcus Rand is my best friend in a way I would only imagine brothers to be” says Brendan. And, like a brother, Brendan has taken it upon himself to get together with Marcus, a mason by day, and showcase his snowboarding talents to the world. Rand, who was born and raised in Narragansett, RI, was a snowboard prodigy at the age of twelve. He describes being a Yawgoon as “someone who puts style long before difficulty. A Yawgoon stays true to his or her friends and family. And, most of all, a Yawgoon is someone who will never stop having fun.” This is true, in more ways than one, because Marcus Rand has stayed true to having fun with his family for many years, namely, his sister, Mary. Mary Rand, a waitress at Narragansett’s exclusive Dunes Club, is sure to be at the top of anyone’s list of up and coming female snowboarders, in part because she rides with an all-male cast who are doing their best to push the limits of what they know to be possible. The rest she credits to the rope tow at Yawgoo, upon which she takes “100 laps per hour”. It enables her to be creative and hone her own style of snowboarding, which is “pure talent and inspiring to watch”, says her brother.
To Brian Skorupski, the recent notoriety of the Yawgoons stems from “growing up at such a small mountain with few features to hit. It made us always try to think outside of the box”. Skorupski, who is a lifeguard during the summer to pay for his winters on a snowboard, “knows how to get stoked on snowboarding and it always rubs off on you when he’s around,” as observed by Marcus Rand. And that is the Yawgoons formula summed up by two of its members. Find and make your own spots (as snowfall permits) and feed off of one another when riding them, as evidenced in any of Dr. Brendan’s videos labelled with the Yawgoons’ signature skull.
Yawgoons is not just a crew of talented snowboarders from a land not known for gigantic mountains with abundant snowfall. More than that, it is the type of movement that snowboarding needs right now. Dylan Gamache, Brendan Gouin, Marcus Rand, Mary Rand and Brian Skorupski are living proof that quality snowboarding does not happen because of perfect conditions on the world’s most scenic mountains. In happens because when people are determined to progress at any and all cost, they find a way. What the world has seen from the Yawgoons is more than the most inspiring riding that one could imagine from the small towns and cities of New England. They have collectively gathered consequential and stylish footage from spots that are, in most cases, only around for one or two days. The Yawgoons have made due with what they have, in between nine to five jobs, all for the sake of snowboarding and the good name of their crew. In doing so, they have carved a niche for the 310 foot hill that they call home and set themselves up to shut down any spot that the snowboard industry ships them to in the future.