Living The Dream: First and Third

Snowboarding, snowboarding, snowboarding. That’s usually the number-one thing on my mind. Snowboarding is a fully integrated piece of my life. I don’t know what I would do without it. No matter what happens to me, it has something to do with snowboarding. I am fully and truly a snowboarder, heart and soul. That is why being a pro snowboarder is a dream come true. I can saturate my life with snowboarding. I love it.

This last week and a half has been un-be-lieve-a-ble. My first real pow turns of the season, in of themselves a good enough reason to be peaking the stoke-o-meter, topped off with a win at the U.S. Grand Prix in Mammoth and a third at the world cup in Whistler, B.C.

Life doesn’t get much better than this. Somebody up there loves me, and I’m thankful everyday for being able to live this dream.

Mammoth was definitely an experience. After arriving late Monday night (and barely escaping a speeding ticket because the cop forgot to bring any citations), we woke up to find the wind blowing and the conditions close to miserable.

The pipe wasn’t quite done, but Pat Malendowski was on the scene working hard as usual to make sure the pipe was as good as possible. Me and the U.S. team kids took a needed day off the snow, with just a short visit to the gym for a little racquetball.

The pipe wasn’t ready the next day either, so I entertained myself by riding the regular pipe. Definitely a mini ramp after the Breck hugeness.

We finally got to practice in the big pipe on Thursday, but I quit with only six runs under my belt because the wind was blowing so hard it would blow you into the flat bottom on every backside hit.

Qualifiers on Friday were fun¿the pipe was definitely big and intimidating. If Breck was 14 to 15 feet, Mammoth was 13, and a bit more squirrely to ride. Especially without much practice.

All the usuals made it into the finals¿with some definite heavy hitters including Todd Richards and Kier Dillon, who killed it and won the first round.

Saturday was a blur. I set myself up to do the finals, then hop in a car, drive three hours to Reno, fly four hours to Vancouver, B.C., and then drive two to three hours to Whistler so we could compete in the FIS World Cup on Sunday. Gnarly.

I was feeling pretty good Saturday morning¿a little nervous about the board that I had borrowed from the Burton guys the day before. I was freaking out about the 160.5 I was riding in the qualifiers¿a little big for me, and after a little begging I snagged a 157 Balance from Blotto’s quiver.

I wish I had a snowboard sponsor¿but not having one reminds me of the old days when I was hungry and had to work a bit more. Anyway, I ended up second after the first run¿and with the best-one-run-out-of-two format I had nothing to lose.

I dropped in for my second, did the biggest method I could, a satoflip, an Indy, a stalefish, a tailgrab, then a frontside Haakon (720), Cab, and felt good enough to just huck and try a frontside 900 flip. With the limited practice and the semi-gnar conditions, I hadn’t had the guts to try one yet. But no guts no glory, and I just went for it.

Surprising myself more than anyone, I actually landed on my feet. Absolutely pumped, I left the pipe, and came up with the highest score of the day.

Like I’ve said before, everyone should try winning a big contest sometime. It is the coolest feeling in the world. Plus, I was ten grand richer, which is not too bad for a day’s work.

Then we were off. Gotta love driving a cargo van over 95 mile per hour. We made it to Reno, jetted off to Vancouver, and arrived at Whistler at 2:00 a.m.

Five hours later we woke up to two feet of fresh and a World Cup. No rest for the weary. I blew off most of practice so I could take my first pow runs of the season. I was so joyful I could care less what happened in the upcoming contest.

Good thing too, because the pipe was a joke¿a throwback to 1990, and it diddn’t stop storming all day. I had fun with it and walked away with third place and around $1,500.

I didn’t care. I finally got to ride pow. We bailed to Vancouver that night, and I was on a flight to Portland, Oregon at 7:45 a.m. the next morning, on my way to shoot this crazy commercial for Nike at Mt. Hood, where I am now. I’ll tell you about it next round, because I am definitely still livin’ the dream!