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Setting Up: A Profile of Tommy Gesme

Tommy Gesme is mellow as they come. His modest Midwest mentality comes through when he speaks, understated and unpretentious. That he comes from Minnesota makes sense given the legacy of rail talent the state has produced, but Tommy’s style is original and not easily pinned to one specific region. Perhaps his time in Tahoe played a role in shaping his unique approach. But there’s a bit of Bear Mountain in there, and at the same time, his execution is proper enough to stand alongside the Quebecois Louif Paradis. What you’ll find below are insights into the eclectic and indefinable Gesme, from his induction to the adidas AM team to the oversize overalls he wears. It’s tough to put a finger on what it is, but Tommy has it.

Tommy, a long way from Hyland. Half-cab 50-50 in Otaru, Japan. PHOTO: Julien Perly Petry

Hometown

Deep Haven, Minnesota. It's a suburb just west of the Twin Cities.

Home hill

Hyland. It was cool growing up there. It was so close to my house. I'd see Jonas [Michilot], and Joe [Sexton], and John Hodge, and all these local dudes who were a bit older than me, just ripping. I had a lot of good inspirations growing up there. Jonas was a huge inspiration. They just opened up for the season, and it was a blast. I've got a snowboard on the wall there with all these guys I looked up to. Froni has a board on the wall, and Danimals, and Jonas, Joe, Zac Marben, Those are the dudes I grew up idolizing. So that's pretty amazing.

Getting started

I moved to Tahoe to go to school with my good friend Brady Lem. I ended up dropping out to do that Dragon "We Are Frameless" tour. That was like a four or five week tour, and I talked to my teachers and I couldn't miss that much school. That's when I just pulled the plug. I knew I wanted to be a part of that tour, and we ended up doing it for three years, which was amazing. So basically I moved back home from Tahoe to Minnesota and moved in with my parents to save some money. Free rent.

Derek and Tommy. PHOTO: Julien Perly Petry

Getting on adidas

It was at Mt. Hood, Oregon. I had just got done with the Knowbuddy program, and I was at Hood staying at the Demo Center, and I was talking to Evan [LeFebvre] through text. Derek Lever definitely was the plug for that. He'd been riding flow for them for the past year, so he had like more than a foot in the door. And he basically put the connection in. So we're hangin' at Hood, and Evan was like "Yo, you should come do this adidas event with the campers." So I did that and just talked to Evan, and we got dinner that night, and that was kind of the start of it all.

Filming for Beacon

I got an email from Louif [Paradis] probably about a year ago around this time. I think it was early December. He just said like, "I'm doing this project, and I'm wondering if you want to be a part of it. We're going to Russia." And I was on a trip with Mark Wilson, and he got the same email, which was amazing 'cause I'm very good friends with Mark. We were both like, "Holy shit, we're about to go to Russia with Louif." I mean, he's the best to do it. I'd spent some time with Lou before, but I'd never been on a full-on film trip with him. He is one of my biggest inspirations. Just seeing how hard he works for everything—he's definitely an idol. But I didn't know what to expect from the movie. I obviously knew Lou was sitting on heavy footage, but we didn't get leaks, and I only went on one trip. It was amazing to see it come out and realize how insane of a film they had made. I'm grateful and honored to be a part of Beacon. That movie is incredible. Hayden did an amazing job.

Air-to-fakie in Otaru. PHOTO: Julien Perly Petry

Japan this past season

We went twice. I think we went in January and in March. It ended in a scary way, but before that it was good. We were dealing with a lot of kickouts, but that's part of the game as well. It's always fun going to Japan. Ordinary things are so different, like going to the 7-Eleven—it's vibrant with crazy food and anime. It's just cool. We always stick out like a sore thumb. There was so much snow. One night we went to the resort and rode night pow. I'm from Minnesota; I don't get into powder that much, so that was an amazing experience for me. That was the best snow I've ever ridden, and it was at night, and were just duckin' ropes and going under the chair and whatnot. We eventually got yelled at, but we kind of just played the ignorant American card. That night was amazing.

The adidas AM team

We're all boys and we all jive. We were all friends before this.

2 AM + 1 TM. Tommy in Japan with Alex Sherman and Derek Lever. PHOTO: Julien Perly Petry

The mishap

Wizard [Alex Sherman] got injured on our second trip to Japan. That was crazy. Just full-blown worst nightmare type of deal. It was a pretty high-consequence spot. Like if it goes it goes wrong, it's going to go really wrong. Then worst-case scenario happened, and Wizard broke his leg. Obviously none of us speak Japanese, but we flagged a guy down who luckily spoke English. And we're like, "Ambulance, right now!" Just in panic mode. And thank God for Joe Carlino, 'cause he handled it very well. I was all over the place. I was like ten feet away when it happened. Almost fainted. When we got him to the hospital, we were like, "Alright, he's going to be okay." So then we booked tickets for the next day and flew home with him to Salt Lake, and we got there and were like, "We made it; we did it."

“This was actually a very stressful day. This rail was two blocks away from the Airbnb we were staying at. Joe saw it driving in. We set it up and went the next day, but it was a bit of a bust. It was in a neighborhood, just the most mellow spot, and then all of a sudden pedestrians were looking at us, and nine cops roll in, and it was a pain in the ass. I didn't get what I wanted, but it kind of worked out.” PHOTO: Julien Perly Petry

Stance: Regular, 22.5", 6, -6

Boots: adidas Tactical ADV, size 9

It's a normal lace boot, a little on the stiffer side, more than soft, which I like. It's got the Energy Boost sole, and it’s super comfortable. I like the colorway and the simplicity of it. I like more structure—with a nice medium or stiff boot, I feel like your presses are all fat, and you have a lot more control.

Tommy’s setup: adidas Glisan bibs and Tactical ADV boots + Salomon Sleepwalker and District. PHOTO: Adam Moran

Board: Salomon Sleepwalker 155

It's my style of board. Classic shape with regular camber. Not too stiff, not too soft. It's just what you would picture a snowboard being.

Bindings: Salomon District, size M

They've got the loose heelcup. It's kind of funny. I'm in Duluth right now, hanging with all the Impaler kids, who I grew up with, and every single one of them ride the Salomon District. Some of them are so beat up; they're like five years old, and they still run 'em. It's the binding of choice. With a little bit stiffer boot you can do a loose binding and it's the perfect combo.

“I like this kit. That's what I've been riding at Troll and Hyland this year. I like the vest. Obviously, the hoodie's classic. That's a timeless look. The vest adds a little flare to the get-up, and it's pretty functional. It keeps me warm but doesn't constrict me.” PHOTO: Julien Perly Petry

Sweatshirt: Blackbird Solid Hoodie, size XL

It's a classic. Riding rails with a jacket, I feel constricted, and I like being super loose. I've always been a hoodie guy.

Hat: adidas Cane Beanie

It's normal and warm.

Gloves: Nolan Athletic Mitt, size M

I met Brandon, who runs Nolan, when I moved out to Tahoe, and he's a rad dude. He's a good friend and started that brand. Nolan's actually his middle name. That's where it comes from. It's the homie company that I back.

“I was super hyped on this. We'd see these tunnels everywhere 'cause Japan gets so much snow. Dream spots. Films cool, photographs cool. It's amazing. A rail in a tunnel that's buried in snow! So we were seeing a lot, but they were kind of endless, or they'd go down and then elbow. Or they'd end it in another tunnel. They just didn't work. Then we were cruising through a neighborhood; I was in the back seat, and I just looked up and saw the end of this and knew right away it would work. I didn't know how big it was or anything, but it turned out to be the perfect rail. It was long and pretty spooky. I fell off a couple times, and it was so loud, being in the tunnel. It was raining outside at the time. We had our whole squad there, and Joe was filming at the bottom with the trunk of the van open, just in the car, trying to stay dry. Then Jon Ray was in the tunnel filming fisheye, so he was out of the rain. But every time I was strapping in, I was just getting downpoured on. It was a cool experience. This was the highlight of that trip for me. ” PHOTO: Adam Moran

Sunglasses: Dragon Marquis

Good look. They're polarized, and I do a lot of fishing the summer. They're bomb for that. And then I wear the NFX2 goggles. I don't wear goggles too much in the street, but at the resort I like runnin’ 'em.

Pants: adidas Glisan bib and rider pant, size XL

I like the loose, kinda baggy fit. I like the bibs cause I can get 'em in a bigger size, but because they're bibs you don't have to wear a belt. And they're basic. Just black or tan. It's a pretty simple pant that looks good.

Jacket: adidas Glisan jacket, size L

This one goes with the bibs. It's dope. It's got a nice workwear-style texture. But it's waterproof. It's a good matte black, not shiny. I like that.

Tommy and Keegan Valaika in Otaru. Keegan in the adidas Civilian Jacket. PHOTO: Julien Perly Petry


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