The Stone

Words & Photos: E-Stone
Drawings provided from the journal of Mike Rav

I’m on the bottom of the world, feeling high as I sit in the lineup to drop in on a jump named The Stone. Just 24 short hours ago I watched some of the best snowboarders in the world handle business on this feature, the likes of which I’ve never seen. In my head, I was going to drop in and shred it like they did. The energy I was feeling was real. We rallied up to the mountain early that day, but thanks to some fast-rolling clouds and thick fog our shoot was postponed, and we were given the okay to cruise until the weather cleared. I go on too many trips where shooting is the only priority, and I don’t ride as much as I’d like. Shit, on most street trips it’s not even worth it to bring my own board. Not today though.

Today, I was ripping laps with Mike Rav, Scott Blum, and Pat Moore, having the time of my life. The vibe was right. After the short time I’d spent with the Volcom team, I already felt like part of the family. Baggy jacket unzipped, paying homage to one of my favorites, MFM, I took one more rip and turned up the music playing on a large speaker jammed in my jacket pocket. I dropped in behind Rav, hoping to clone his speed and determined to match his every move. Maybe it was that joint’s fault, but as I rode into one of the most unique jumps I’ve seen, my mind wandered for a second, realizing how much it took to pull this together.
The intent in building The Stone was to create a feature that could be sessioned any number of ways, by every style of rider. It’s representative of the credo that the Creedlers at Volcom have created since their beginnings in 1991. Volcom’s skate, surf, and snow programs have always brought together eclectic styles, and this trip to Oz is the perfect example. Here, Marcus opts for the aerial route while Scotty carves.
It started months ago. Seth Huot and Jeff Kabigting from Volcom had been working on a special VeeCo production based around a trio of Norwegians they have on their program, Torgeir Bergrem, Marcus Kleveland, and Terje Haakonsen. Three generations of some of the baddest dudes to ever strap into a snowboard together at one hill in Australia. Two of them are entering one of the most intense seasons of their lives, with the Pyeongchang around the corner, while the other long ago rejected the Olympics when he was a shoe-in for gold. Getting them together would be all-time, but they’re busy guys. Seth and Jeff were tossing ideas around when Remy Stratton came to them and described something he has wanted to make happen in skateboarding: turn the Volcom Stone into a rideable feature. Then the timing lined up.

Seth’s first call was right to Chris “Gunny” Gunnarson at SPT—if you’re gonna do it, do it right. Seth had made a general sketch of the idea and passed it on to Gunny who put his guy Chris Castaneda on the project. Chris drafted up the blueprints and went as far as to start pulling up topographical maps of resorts that could handle such a feature. Maybe somewhere a little exotic. Marcus and Torgier were going to be training in New Zealand so when Falls Creek, Australia came up, it made sense. Turns out team rider Scotty James was Fall Creek’s resident pro. Everything was coming together. The final crew would be Terje, Marcus, Torgier, Scotty, Joss McAlpin, Olivier Gittler, Pat Moore, Scott Blum and Mike Ravelson. The media crew consisted of Seth Hout, Jeff Kabigting, Vernon Deck, James Lugo, and myself, all being led around the country by Aussie skate legend Shane Azar, who’s Volcom’s marketing guy down under. Heavy crew.

As we collected at the Melbourne airport after dawn, our jet-lagged crew began a seven-hour drive to Falls Creek. Luckily, we broke it up with a skate session, where I incidentally learned Shane has a pro model. Australian ripper Joss McAlpin called Shane with a heads up that one of the largest kangaroos he’d ever seen was chilling in the next town over at one of the roundabouts. Those of us who’d never seen a kangaroo in person were hyped, and those that had were glad to stop for another bag of road sodas. “Roos,” as the locals call them, are sketchy. As Oli Gittler moved in too close we all tripped as this one got ready to kick some ass. Word is they lean back on the tail and grab you with their arms, then just rip your guts out with the large claws on their feet. The road to Falls Creek is a long, winding one that rises in elevation quickly, which gave most of the crew a bit of car sickness, but when we reached the top it was well worth the drive. Having little information and no expectations about Falls Creek before we arrived made the place that much more amazing. Once they packed us into snowcats and told us we wouldn’t be needing our rental anymore we realized we were in for a treat.

Terje Haakonsen is still relevant for a reason. Aside from being the undisputed best snowboarder to have ever strapped in by many, he’s also the king at keeping himself stoked. Reason being is that he continually pursues his passions, whatever they may be. As of recent, he’s brought his trusted snowskate around the globe, always finding time to unstrap and let his boots breathe a bit. Maybe when you’re that good at snowboarding you gotta take a little break and challenge yourself, or maybe he simply just likes the new options that it provides. Regardless, as you may have guessed, he’s really good at snowskating, too.
The Andrecht. Aptly titled after skateboarder Dave Andrecht, it was originally a natural evolution of Jay Adams’ “flyaway” plant. Put your trailing hand on the coping, grab your heel edge with your leading hand and ride away in your natural stance. It’s the simplicity of the trick that makes it so timeless, much like a method. If done properly, it’s beautiful, but if fudged, it’s noticeable. Luckily for Pat Moore, he’s read the history books and studied the technique, which is why this photo is simply brilliant. No matter what an Andrecht is done on, if it’s done right, it’s perfect.
Nestled in the Australian Alps of Victoria, Australia, Falls Creek was established 70 years ago. Over the decades since, the resort has grown into a European-style ski village where no cars are allowed during the winter months, and the only transportation is via snowcat and snowmobile. Our cat dropped us off at a place called The Attunga, and after a 20-something hour flight and a seven-hour drive, it was time to crash.

The next day, Sophie, who heads up marketing at Falls Creek, hooked us up with Marcel, the park manager, and Bailey, the park builder. They toured us all over the large resort. On the last run, we dropped into a bowl, and the feature we had come to shred revealed itself. It looked amazing. Bailey had taken the notes from Chris and Gunny and created a shredable Volcom Stone. Marcel explained to us that the dimensions of jump were exact to the logo. The math was perfect, and the results were remarkable. I could see a huge wave of relief wash over Seth and Jeff’s faces as they saw the final product; their vision that started as a simple sketch had come to life. From this point, it was up to the riders.

For the next week, while we waited for the right weather, we settled in and got to know the town—bubble gum trees, wild parrots, wombats, and all. The locals took well to us, and after a few days, we were taken to a speakeasy that served drinks until dawn. The closest police were miles away, giving the town a sort of lawless feel. We were settling in and started to get invited to local hangouts like karaoke at the Trap House, where we had a song battle with the Rusty Toothbrush crew. Each night we stayed out a little later, really blending in, then it happened. The perfect weather report.We had finally drank it blue, and it was time to do what we came here for.

The plan was for a sunrise mission. We would be hitting the Stone as light crested the mountains. With little time to warm up, the sun began to pop, and we got to work. Seeing this variety of snowboarders, from all parts of our culture, come together to session the feature was something special. The idea worked perfectly. You could literally hit it from all angles, allowing the riders to really get creative. Someone like Marcus or Torgier could blast it like a tabletop, while a rider like Rav or Blum could come at it with an entirely different take. Three generations of riders sessioned the feature, all bringing their own flavor.

As I sat at lunch drinking my first Gary—see page 106—I couldn’t help but notice the smiles. This is what snowboarding is about. Just doing what you feel. Everyone had forgotten we’d woke at 3:30 am. We were already anticipating the afternoon session. The photos and clips we came for were in the bag, so anything that happened in the next couple days was just a bonus.

My mind snaps back to present. Feet from Rav, I’m following him off the lip of the Stone. I put down a 180—a small one, but enough to garner a fist bump from one of the lifties. He tells me he likes the open jacket, MFM style. I hit the jump in the smallest way possible, and it was awesome. That’s the best part about the Stone. It’s one feature that can be enjoyed by me and Marcus Kleveland alike, while someone like Rav or Blum can shred it witha special level of no-rules creativity. The Stone brought this crew together, and it’s the reason I was able lay carves and catch air on yet another continent on my list.

Generations. That’s what it’s all about, and it’s something that the Volcom squad has nurtured since its inception. In order to build a brand, you’ve gotta balance the opposites. Legends need to be loved, current elites need to be recognized and up-and-comers need to be cultivated. That creates a healthy structure for all parties involved and young Marcus Kleveland here is the new face of the next generation. The young Norwegian is a park-proficient prodigy who excels in all facets of snowboarding and although his on-hill antics may differ from the Pat Moores and the Terje Haakonsens of the snowboard world, all three are integral to how the entire operation works. Plant the seed, put water in the pot and watch that sucker grow to infinite heights. That’s what this crew has always done.
Most brands strive to create a family vibe with their team, and Volcom has accomplished it. On this trip, we saw three “generations” of professional snowboarders ripping and hanging with skateboarders, surfers, and folks that make the brand run. This is part of the family outside the Falls Creek lodge.
Why slow down when you can pop up? Rav snaps a Cab over a suggestion. Rav’s style is quite different from that of , well, anyone, and his translation of snowboarding is unique as it is inspiring. His translation of ‘SLOW’ signs is all his own as well.