Quite possibly the best goggle tan ever. To recreate this magic, wear a balaclava, sunglasses and a hat. Snowboard at Hood. Repeat. Photo: NJ Petersen
Nial Romanek is relatively unknown in the Minnesota snowboard scene even though he hails from the rail Mecca of North America. He is a silent assassin that doesn’t care what is “cool” in the industry as long as he gets to ride his snowboard. You might see him lapping Northstar’s park throwing down hammers like nobody’s business or you might find him getting safe in the trees. Either way, he will have a smile on his face and the funniest tan lines you have ever seen.
It’s summertime and it’s pouring rain at Mt Hood right now. What’s up with that?
I think it always rains this time of year. All I know is that I got soaked walking 4 blocks today to get a Cobra Dog and they didn’t even take credit cards.
What are you doing up at Mt Hood this summer?
Well I just got done with session one up at Windells with Forest (Bailey), (Johnny) Lazz, and (Will) Bateman. It was super fun. For the rest of the summer I’m just going to be boarding around Mt Hood and hopefully getting a couple fun Portland trips in with the homies.
Showing the campers how mini shred is done. Photo: NJ Petersen
That’s a wild crew for a signature session. Who gets the loosest out of that group?
On or off hill? That’s the real question!
Give me the dirt on both…
Well pretty much Lazz takes the cake. He is ruthless with the campers doing things like tackling them and throwing things at them and when he’s got the megaphone, it’s pretty much game over.
I notice it’s hard to keep your attention right now and your eyes are a little red. Are you sick or something?
(Laughing)Nah not at all, I might be a little blazed.
Tracking down shots from Nial this season was tough as he only shot bangers so they’re all sitting at the mags. We got this one though! Photo: Ben Bishop
That explains things. So where are you from originally?
I’m from a small town called Hibbing, MN. It’s a little more north of Duluth. I grew up shredding Giants Ridge which no one has probably heard of, but it brought me a lot of good times shredding with my friends. Now I live in Tahoe, one of the best places ever.
What made you decide to leave the rail Mecca of the world being a jibber and all?
Minnesota is great for that but I guess I just needed more. I love the mountains and there isn’t any there. Plus it’s super cold there and I’m not trying to freeze my ass off everyday. Fuck having to deal with weather that is 30 below for 2 weeks straight. I’m over that
How did you choose Tahoe over other places like Colorado or Utah?
Well I had been out to Colorado once before and I was thinking about it, but then I was a camper at High Cascade and my coach Jared Johnson told me Tahoe was the shit so that was that.
Once a camper, always at camp. Photo: NJ Petersen
Most kids blow up in MN and then move west after. You did it the opposite way. You were relatively unknown and then you were noticed out west. Do you think it’s easier to get hooked up out west or back home?
Well I didn’t live in the cities so I didn’t really know anyone or really know anything about that process. There weren’t reps or anything really in my region because there weren’t snowboard shops but once I moved to Tahoe I met a lot of people that helped we along my way.
You are riding for Flow and we both know they don’t have the reputation of being the “coolest” company out there. Do you think they are trying to revamp their image with adding riders like Scot Brown and yourself to the team?
Yeah, before Scot and I got on the team I felt like there wasn’t a presence of urban riding on the team or in the company’s image. It seemed like a strictly contest oriented team and I think that makes a lot of people shy away or think it’s not cool but Flow is actually doing some sick shit right now. We are coming out with a movie that’s got tons of urban and backcountry in it which I feel isn’t like the old ones.
So it’s not mandatory to be able to throw double corks to get on Flow?
(Laughing) Was it before? Maybe, but I guess not anymore because they have expanded into new areas of snowboarding.
How do you feel about this push towards double and triple corks?
People can do what they want but I would rather my snowboarding look like skateboarding then aerial skiing or gymnastics.
Are you Flow for life or would you ever consider other options?
Who knows? I strapped into regular bindings the other day and I couldn’t even stand up.
This was your first year traveling around filming for a real video part. Were you stoked on the process and the final result?
Yeah for the most part. It’s a lot more work than I thought. Backcountry is kind of a bitch but other than that it, I had an amazing time. I can’t wait to do it again. As for the final result, I’m pretty stoked on it. I hit a lot of things that I normally wouldn’t hit. It’s going to be different then my Dump Em part.
There aren’t a lot of MN kids shredding pow. Besides Brisse, I cant think of any. Are you going to step up your pow game or are you going to coast by on your rail skills?
Nah, I got some backcountry skills. That’s why I moved to Tahoe. I wanted to ride pow. I filmed out there for like 3 weeks straight this year and didn’t get anything for 2 weeks. Then finally one day I jumped off a cliff naked for 60 bucks and my luck changed. I started landing things the next day.
Paparazzi are everywhere this summer. Photo: NJ Petersen
Who paid to see you get naked in the backcountry?
(Laughing) It was a bunch of dudes. It was pretty gay. Ben Birk, Drew Satin and Tim Humphreys were the ones that got me to do it. All I know is that Drew has it on video and Ben’s got the photo so I hope they aren’t doing weird things with it.
I heard you just linked up with the anonymous chick from Yobeat’s How to Pick up a Mountain Girl interview. Did that happen before or after she did that?
A lot of people commented that she was a pro ho. Are you a pro and is she a ho?
(Laughing) Yeah I’m pretty sure she isn’t a ho so that title doesn’t work. As far as me being a pro, not yet but maybe some days so that doesn’t really work either.
You have some pretty gnarly scratches on your legs. Did you bail skating in shorts or something?
(Laughing) No, nothing like that. It’s kind of a funny story. So pretty much my girl is in this knee brace because of knee surgery and we where doing some late night activities and the brace might have got me once or twice.
Oh man, the brace burn?! That’s next level. Anyone you want to thank?
Well I definitely will thank my girl for hanging tough and letting me do that. (Laughing). My parents. Thanks for the support from Flow, NXTZ, and everyone that has helped me through the years, you know who you are.
Note the face steez. Again, that’s how you get that sweet goggle tan. Photo: NJ Petersen