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All photos: Drew Smalley/DS Imagery
Not many snowboard careers stand the test of time. In fact, out of the super talented lot of boarders in the Neoproto flicks, most have succumbed to industry jobs, or even less glamorous vocations. But Shaun McKay has managed to hold it down in the Northwest, putting out parts with the People Crew and just generally keeping the dream alive. Though we probably have a solid 5 more years to do it, we figured it was time to catch up with Shaun.
It’s been pretty much the shittiest season everywhere except Baker it seems. Make everyone jealous, how many pow days have you gotten in?
I lost count somewhere around 20+ knee deep days……..I mean, actually it hasn’t really been that good, don’t come here.
You’re pretty much the only original Neoproto rider to still have a snowboard career, how have you been able to stay healthy and progressing?
Healthy….No. I blew my ACL last year in January but continued to film on it in order to get some shots, and keep the dream alive. Progression….ahhhhh. I try to step it up every year, but it can be had to keep up with the joneses nowadays. I just try to keep having fun and it usually works out.
Who from the crew think you scored the best “industry job”? There’s some pretty serious industry heads these days…
Dang, that is a tough one. It seems most peeps have ended up with a job they are stoked on.
Next level pillow line? Photo: Drew Smalley
What was it like being part of Neoproto. Got any good stories about making those movies?
It was awesome. The first year I rented a closet in Tahoe in a house with 8 other guys, who were all filming for the movie. We were all just hungry shreds who wanted an outlet to show our stuff. We kind of just figured it out and went out and got shots. Everyone was really stoked, and I think we had a good mix of personalities and talents that made for a cool movie.
Tedore said you lived in a hallway with 12 dudes?
Maybe I should have read further before that last answer. Yeah, the hallway had a little closet nook that I turned in to a living space. It was a super fun house to live in. Maybe one of the best winters ever.
Since you’ve been in it for awhile long, settle the debate: what was the best season for snowboarding and why?
I think winter is the best season, duh. Powder! No, I don’t know. Do you mean which era, or years? 98-99 maybe. That will be a debate that has to live on.
Who says it’s never sunny in the Northwest? Photo: Drew Smalley
You’ve always seemed pretty normal-guy snowboarder, but you lived with Jon Kooley when he was a thug right? What was that like?
Yeah, I never strove to get any real gimmicks going. I lived with Kooley the first summer I worked at Hood, which was like 2002 maybe. I don’t remember Kooley being a thug. His kits were a little larger back then, but he is the same cool skinny dude under all those clothes.
What do you think of the current state of snowboard videos? You’re probably required to be stoked on the People Movies, but who do you really think is doing it right? What makes a video stand the test of time?
It is hard not to be really stoked on the video you are a part of. I think Pierre is hands down one of the best editors out there, and the People movies are always a good watch. Absinthe has one or two of my favorite parts every year. They ride the most pow, and tend to show the most raw snowboarding. My last favorite full movie was 9191. Good soundtrack, all free riding, short, raw. To stand the test of time, it has to be different and have a good soundtrack. Music is huge.
Are you filming another part with People this year? How’s it going?
I am filming with People again, and it is going good. We have a new line up of dudes this year, and it has been super fun shredding with a new crew.
You were making your own videos for a little while there cause you were hurt, right? You still break out the camera now that you’re healthy again?
No, I always have my camera out there, and always have. I put out edits every now and again, and definitely have more time to edit when I am hurt, but I film almost as much when I am healthy. I like to bring out a camera for a second angle.
You’re riding for i.n.i. Cooperative now. How did you get involved in that?
Scott Conerly called me this January and told me he was leaving Dakine to work for this company, i.N.i. Co_op that he was stoked on, that was new, and focused on doing things right, and that they wanted me to be part of it. Scotty can be pretty convincing, and I know how passionate he is about things so after checking out the product it was a pretty easy decision. The gear is sick, and they are committed to making it even better. They are using some pretty cool materials that are blends of recycled plastic bottles, and hemp. The owner Adam came out to Baker along with Scotty and some of the riders and our TM, and it went really well. We are a small crew, that all get along, and we are passionate about what we do. I am really looking forward for what’s to come.
Do they really make you pick up trash on the side of the road? How do you feel about that?
Yeah, we did a little trash clean up on the 542 Mt. Baker Hwy. I liked it. I feel like it is the least we can do. Part of iNi’s mission is community outreach, and we are working on ways to bring about more positive social change, beyond just little things like helping clean up trash on a local hwy we use to access the mountains.
Not on the chain gang. Photo: Drew Smalley
How long have you been married for? Does the wife get bummed that you’re always on the road?
I have been married for 3 years, to a girl I dated since High School, her name is Kelly and she is the best. She has been around long enough to know that my passion for snowboarding helps define who I am, what I do, and what makes me happy. She hates being alone for months on end, but she knows that it makes me happy, and being my best friend, she wants happiness for me, so she makes sacrifices to her own happiness for the winter time.
Word is you’re of the the few riders who require some fun runs before you start shooting for a day? Why?
I think fun runs are necessary for the body and the soul. Staying limber is huge, and what better way than actually riding your snowboard before you film. I think when people get caught up in filming they can become zombies who are only concerned with riding when a camera is pointed at them. I really like what goes on, on the way to the jump and after the landing. It can also be hard to just start hucking with out even riding for that day. Taking runs is also the best way to feel out the snow, and get a feeling for what the mountain is going to give you each day.
The Northwest breeds a different sort of rider. I’ve heard speculation that’s where the next “crop” of kids are gonna come from. You think it’s true? Who should we look out for?
For sure, the NW breeds a different beast. We have great mountains with plenty of snow, so people get good at riding their snowboard quick. I think for sure we are gong to see some heads come out of the NW. There are all sorts of kids with heavy shred skills, who are hungry to take the next step. I think kids like Kale Matin, are going to start making their names known.
In 2008 you stated your ambitions as “Be the first idiot to do the quad cork.” Are you still trying to pull it off?
I forgot all about that, just trying to make 180’s look good. Actually yeah, why not. Quad cork here I come.
Steep and deep, bro. Photo: Drew Smalley