Words: Chris Roach
Photos: Aaron Chang
I met Noah Salasnek one night at Boreal in the late '80s. He saw me riding from the chair, and I guess he liked my style. We started snowboarding and skating together often, eventually living together, traveling together, doing everything together. Watching Noah develop big-mountain confidence during daily KT-22 sessions is something I remember clearly from these times during snowboarding’s adolescence.
The Noah Salasnek approach is raw. He was so influenced by skateboarding. He'd show up to a ramp, get out of the car, and annihilate. Two shirts deep from sweating before you'd even warmed up, he'd do shit exactly the way you wanted to. That raw talent from skateboarding combined with his understanding of snowboarding's fundamentals, like alpine carving, to create one of the most iconic styles snowboarding's ever seen. He took that up to Alaska, where these photos were taken. AK was the canvas Noah needed to paint masterpieces and help spark a movement toward big-mountain freestyle. I was fortunate enough to be on a few of those trips, and I remember watching him blast this backside 540 nosebone during a session on a perfect windlip.
Noah represents what is true about snowboarding. Some people are freaking out right now about where snowboarding is at, and for good reason. Things have not been run properly. But these aren't bad times. It's all going to come back to love, and the people who stay involved will be the ones who want to be here. Snowboarding is a feeling. We need to stop tripping over ourselves—building huge villages no one needs while upping ticket prices to a point no one can afford—and let it be about that feeling. People want that feeling. What's happening now is like a wildfire. But what remains and regrows will be real, and it will be stronger. Rider-owned brands will once again be able to thrive. We'll have better jumps; we'll have better terrain to ride. The most celebrated snowboarders will be both creative and gnarly—just like Noah.