How was your summer? Have you done much training to prepare for the coming winter?
Summer was great. I spent most of it finishing up my final semester at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. But now it’s Fall which marks the beginning of “serious” training. I personally have never really been into the Jock approach so most of my training means playing. Lots of hiking, running, skateboarding and bouncing on the trampoline.
Last year was your Rookie season on the Freeride World Tour, how does it feel to be getting a second season on tour?
I couldn’t be more stoked about it! My only goal at the beginning of last season was to re qualify for 2014 so to be back is huge for me. Im stoked to be able to take everything I learned last season and apply it this year. Experience is a huge factor in these events.
You’re dropping into the monster face of the Mac Daddy at Revelstoke on your first Freeride World Tour contest, how were the nerves?
I was a nervous wreck. Nothing in my snowboard experience up to that point really compared. 2000ft of steep gnarly Canadian backcountry. I dropped in 2nd out of everyone so I couldn’t just follow the tracks to my line. 100ft above is a helicopter broadcasting to people all over the world. I really felt like I was in way over my head that morning.
What were the highlights and lowlights of last year’s tour?
My Second place finish at Courmayeur was easily the highlight of my season, maybe even my life, I’ve never had a run come together like that. Lowlight would probably be the following week falling at the very top in Chamonix, and then again in Kirkwood... The mountains have a way of keeping you humble like that. But I can’t really be that bummed, all of last winter was a highlight of my life.
Last winter was your first time riding the European Alps, how did you find the terrain and did you need to adjust your riding style at all?
The European approach to snowboarding is a lot different than what I’m used to back home. People get gnarly, they wear harnesses and ride no fall zones like its nothing. That was a huge shock to me because I’ve never been much of a mountaineer. Then all of a sudden I’m self repelling for my first time in La Grave down a 30 meter cliff face. For me it was really far outside of my comfort zone, I don’t think I’ve ever been as scared as I got last winter. I spent less time trying to ride well, and more time making sure I didn’t mess up and kill myself.
From riding with the world’s best freeriders you must have learnt a lot last winter. Are there any simple tips that really helped you to improve your freeriding that you can share with the readers?
I learned more last year than the 4 seasons before it combined. I feel so fortunate to have had to opportunity to spend time in the mountains with such an experienced and skilled group of people. The most import thing for me was to really look at every day as a learning experience. Pay attention to what other guys are doing, ask questions and don’t get discouraged. You learn a lot more when things go bad than you do when they go well.
Now that you have a season on the tour under your belt how will you approach to riding the faces change? Will we see an even more aggressive Rodo next year or will your approach be more calculated?
I don’t really like the word calculated when it comes to these events. Everyone here is “calculated” to a certain degree. With a one run contest there are just more variables than you can possibly hope to control. Last season I was really intimidated and it definitely showed. I want to focus more on how “John” would ride this face and not how the guy who won last year rode. My whole game plan this year is to be more aggressive, ride like I want to win and not like I just don’t want to fall.
You and your partner in crime Sammy Luebke are responsible for a bit of freestyle renaissance on the Freeride World Tour, but isn’t adding flips into your runs just adding unnecessary risk? It’s not something you see a lot of from traditional big mountain riders.
I don’t see it as an unnecessary risk at all. For me, that’s just how snowboarding is supposed to be. It’s how I’ve always approached the sport and something I think the FWT could use a lot more of. If anything, I let the approach of other riders get into my head last season. When in reality, the one time I said “fuck it” and rode like it didn’t matter I had the run of my life.
Which tour stop are you looking forward too the most next winter?
I think each stop has the potential to be the best event of the season, it all depends on the conditions. Doesn’t matter if its the best looking face ever, bad conditions are bad conditions and sometimes we have to compete regardless. I have my fingers crossed for Kirkwood though. Home court advantage can be a major factor.
Which Amplid shreds will you be packing in your board bag for this winter’s tour and why?
I’m pretty set on the 163 UNW8 as my go to board for this winter. It’s a powerhouse, so much pop and stomp, and with the core it’s lighter than your average 148. But I hear rumors of a partially cambered Creamer... Time will tell.
Your time at last winter’s Baker Banked Slalom got comprehensively smashed by Amplid’s owner Peter Bauer, who won’t thank me for saying is twice your age... please explain yourself?
Please, take a moment to view this video-
I have absolutely no negative feelings about losing in a timed race against the yodeling, hard booting, neon sporting, gate smashing legend that is Mr. Bauer. That being said, I’m really looking forward to crushing his time in this years Baker Banked so I can give that old fart a taste of his own medicine! And yes Peter, That was a challenge
What other projects do you have pending for this coming winter?
In the last couple of years I’ve really put my nose down and focused on the contest thing. As a result I haven’t really done any filming in a long time. There are a few projects on the horizon that have me really excited. Hopefully Sammy and I will be creating a video series throughout the season giving people a look into what its like to pack up your bags and follow a contest series around the world. Whatever happens, I’m putting a priority on getting footage in the bag this winter.