Originally published in the November 2017 issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding, Lyon Farrell’s interview is the fourth of eight conducted with up-and-coming riders over the course of a week in Aspen, Colorado in April 2017. Check out Red Gerard’s interview here!
Lyon Farrell stands out. Not because he's from Maui; you wouldn't guess it. Not because he dresses wild; he doesn't. And maybe that is, ironically, what is so noticeable about Lyon. He's low-key. He carries himself with a level of maturity that would have you pin him at least five, maybe ten, years older than his 19. Lyon doesn't seem concerned with trends or doing anything on the premise that it is what the crowd is doing. Most up-and-coming snowboarders didn't grow up on Maui with a vert ramp in their backyard, but his whatever-it-takes tenacity and sun-up-to-sundown work ethic are undoubtedly doubt what have carried him from a tropical island to his place on the roster of snowboarding's next defining generation. — Taylor Boyd
Where are you from?
How did you get good at snowboarding?
So basically, my dad was from New Zealand and during our summer breaks, we'd fly down and kind of turn this three-week holiday to visit our grandparents into a snowboard trip. I would go for those three weeks out of the year, and then when I was like 10, I spent six weeks living with my grandparents and taking the employee bus up the hill every day, and I'd ride from seven in the morning all the way until close. Then I went to Snow Park and bumped into this dude named Colin Bartlett. He said that he was going to be coaching kids in Colorado, and I thought that was a really cool idea but didn't really think it was realistic.
So then what?
Somehow I convinced my mom to send me to Colorado. I still don't know how. So we went out there for three weeks. All I could do was a backside 360, but I learned how to do all four 540s in those three weeks. My mom started talking to this guy Colin, and she was like, "So do you think he could actually do this?" And he encouraged her to let me start traveling with them, so I went from that three weeks, straight into a four month full season in New Zealand. I was 13, and I was living with 16 and 18-year olds like Mikey Ciccarelli, Tyler Nicholson, and those kids. Being able to ride with them every day, they were so much better than me, so I just picked up on some stuff and learned like three 7s or something in New Zealand.
And how did you meet this crew here?
I ended up spending more time in Colorado when I turned 14, so I started hanging out with Redmond and all the kids. That's when I learned three 10s and just started progressing really quickly.
Wow, so things happened fast.
Oh yeah. After meeting all the American kids I got invited to The Launch at Mammoth when I was like 16, and then I got invited to Superpark the next year and it kind of all just happened. So crazy. It was all so fast; within two years I was sponsored, and it was crazy.
I would say ability on a skateboard, which you have, and had, is the biggest predictor of ability to snowboard well.
Yeah, skating was the biggest thing I think. I grew up skating my whole life, and all I wanted to do was be a pro skater. So I started skating a lot of vert, and that translated to halfpipe in snowboarding. It's just so easy to relate. We had another house, and when my dad sold that house, he ended up building a vert ramp in our backyard. It was 10 feet—not true 12-foot vert—but still super fun. So I just started skating that thing a shit ton.
And where does Mike Ranquet come into the picture?
Yeah, so that's how I met Mike Ranquet. I bumped into him at my local skatepark right after he got his hip replaced, and I just thought he was some old dude, and then his buddy Steve came up to me with him and was like, "Yo, I was wondering if Mike and I could come and skate your ramp." I'd known Steve for a while, so I was like, "Sure." Then he showed up and just started ripping. Absolutely ripping. My mom knew who he was because she snowboarded for a bit, and she recognized his name. He ended up becoming my skate coach, and we would do trips to California and do contests and stuff.
Wow. That's a pretty funny scenario.
So funny. Out of all people! He used to tell me like, "Yeah, I was kind of a big deal back in the day," and I was like, "Sure you were, buddy." Then I realized how much of an impact he had on snowboarding. Kids would tell me "You don't know anything!”