Nitro Camp: Day Five

Eve and Philip Ardelt, sons of Nitro Co-Owner Sepp Ardelt, start into the lead riffs of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. Sepp joins in on guitar, while Nitro’s other owner, Tommy Delago, starts banging the drums. With this, The Almost Pretty Good Band continues to practice for its show that will close the Nitro camp tomorrow night. It’s a night of anticipation because the band, formed by Nitro owners and their sons, has only played four other times in the last couple of years. A buzz is running through the camp.

That was about all that was running through the camp today, as a number of the pros (who will go unmentioned) skipped riding because of activities that took place late last night and early into the morning. This happens with snowboarders, but the bosses weren’t pleased. They wanted the pros up on the glacier of Zugspitze, filming, training, and riding with the 50 German retailers who had made the trek down to Garmisch for the camp. Later that night at the evening dinner and party, everyone was on their best behavior. A few beers were had, but most everyone was back at the hotel by midnight, ready for the last day of riding.

I had spent the day in Oberammergau, Germany, a town not far from Garmisch. It’s Tommy’s hometown, and where the main Nitro offices are located. It’s also home to a world-famous play that has happened once every ten years since 1650. It’s a Passion Play, the story of Jesus Christ and his crucifixion. The Germans began performing the play as a promise to God in exchange for being spared from the plague that spread across Europe that year. It’s been going ever since, and this year it will play through the entire summer to already sold-out crowds. Tommy scored tickets for me and injured team rider Jesse Huffman. It was amazing to see a play that’s been running longer than the United States has existed. Broadway’s got nothing on this show!

Tommy’s on stage for about two minutes and even has a speaking role. One wouldn’t think that this former pro snowboarder and snowboard company founder would also be an actor. But Tommy’s quite the Renaissance Man. He races cars, collects Hawai’ian Koa guitars, runs a snowboard company, surfs, skateboards, plays in a band, and manages to live in the same house that he grew up in, with his parents downstairs, he and his seven-year-old son upstairs.

Talking with him late in the afternoon in the office behind the house, it became apparent to me that he and his company has soul. A lot of soul. It’s something you can’t buy or attain, you’ve either got it or you don’t. He loves his life and his business and you see it all around him. Along with Sepp, he’s personal and intimate with the people he works with. It’s contagious and refreshing. It’s why we all got into the snowboarding business a long time ago — to hang with friends and have a good time. It’s nice to see some companies have kept it that way.

Things wrap up at the Nitro camp tomorrow. Stay tuned for the wild ending.