Nick Russell said to me a few weeks into a recent trip to Chile to test some new snowboards. My mind was clear from the prolonged time in the mountains and absence of the digital world. Forrest Shearer, Nick Russell, Chris Christenson and I had been testing a stack of different boards that had been in the making for some time and at this phase of the process we were down to the subtlest of details.
Nick’s words struck true on both a board design and mentality level. An open mind, an embracing of the journey, a thirst for the unknown and letting go of preconceived notions. It is true we are making snowboards and we practice in the sport of snowboarding. But the snowboards we ride and the act of riding them is much more than that. Snowboarding is closer to an art form then a sport and at times can transcend to a spiritual experience that boarders religion.
A snowboard is our paintbrush, our musical instrument and our key to the portal that takes us to our most creative, most present and most alive places. A tool that helps us cut through the noise, experience total freedom and to feel the heartbeat of nature. It can bring us the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. At times the act becomes effortless and precise and at other times it is our greatest challenge with fear so strong you can taste it.
It is no wonder my snowboard has been my central compass to guide through life for over 30 years now and the spell it cast on me as a kid is stronger now then ever before. I use to scoff at the saying, “It’s all about being in the mountains.” But the lack of snow in recent years has helped bring clarity to what snowboarding means to me. Bushwhacking for hours to reach the snow line for a few turns, trying to hold an edge on ice or cutting through death crust, the mental outcome at days end is not much different than the precious powder days. That wonderful after glow from time in the mountains still present.
So it is in this light that I realize why I have been so engrossed with product development for so long. My snowboard in many ways is the center of my universe and the better it performs the more vibrant my paintings become, the sweeter my music sounds and the more intimate my connection with nature becomes.