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Words by Chas Truslow
Alex Rodway reminds me of an intelligent, non-burnt out version of Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Nothing is more important to him than being able to snowboard with his friends, and he always has a shit eating grin plastered across his face while riding. His positivity and pure joy for snowboarding are contagious. On top of being an awesome person, Alex is one of the most stylish people I have ever watched snowboard. Though Alex has spent most of his seasons on the contest circuit but is beginning to move in a different direction. With shots this season in the new I Ride Park City Movie as well as Snowboarder Magazine’s The Launch and Transworld’s Aspen Park Session edits, A-Rod is about to turn some heads.
What was it like growing up in Rangeley, Maine less than 45 minutes from the Canadian Border?â€¨
I think it was good for me. I had the best times just snowboarding with my friends growing up, not really worrying about anything but having fun. Rangeley’s a sleepy little mountain town; there are only 2,000 people who live there so I’ve known everyone who lives there my whole life. Half the town is employed by the boarder patrol station and the other half works at the local mountain. On weekends everyone from town goes up to the mountain. I remember seeing my teachers, family friends, friends, people from work, everyone would go up to the mountain on weekends, it’s just what we did. Surprisingly not many people went up to Canada that often, we were close to the border but on the other side was Quebec, two different worlds.
â€¨Was there ever any huge drug busts at the border?
Not that I know of, every time I try and cross the border though, they always spend a good amount of time searching my car. I guess having no job and claiming “I’m a snowboarder” makes me look like a threat. A lot of the border patrollers that work there got sent up from the Mexican border. After you spend time down there, they send you to Rangeley for a break. It’s a pretty mellow place to grow up…a true mountain town.
Living in Maine, you must have seen a lot of Moose. How many have you seen? Have you ever eaten one?
I see moose everyday at home. In the mornings there’s usually deer and moose out in the field behind my house. My dad’s a big hunter, so we always had moose and deer meat in the freezer. I actually have two stuffed moose heads hanging in my living room at home.
How did you first get into snowboarding living in such a remote place?
It was easy, the mountains around Rangeley are big for the East and we always got a lot of snow. My mom’s a big skier so I first started off skiing. When I started getting into snowboarding my dad decided to learn with me. We flopped around for a week before we got the hang of it (laughter). I remember when we were learning, some of my dad’s friends would take laps with us and they would do nothing but lay down the deepest and widest turns all they way to the lift. They had carver board and posy posy stances and we wanted to be just like them. In the beginning that’s all I did, my friends and I would build little side hits down the trail but we never had a park.
“look ma!” Photo Owen Ringwall
Do you think growing up in an area that was sheltered from a lot of the snowboard scene shaped your riding and your outlook on snowboarding in a unique way?
Absolutely, we just snowboarded because it was fun. Maine’s “scene” consisted of like ten kids. It was cool growing up there though because the kids who did ride a lot were all sick, and they still killing it. Wiley Tesseo, Jack Kyle, Tyler Blackburn, John Poulin, You, Yeti, Ben Bisson, Jack Dawe, Alex Tuttle, ect. I think a lot of us are still on the same page too, we all feed off each other and it’s definitely shaped the way I snowboard. I’m glad I come from there. I think it’s important to stay true to your roots and do your own thing. It’s always cool seeing someone go out and do things differently, that’s what it’s all about. That’s probably what I appreciate the most, none of my friends ever tried to be anyone, you know? We kind of just did our own thing and rode because it was fun.
â€¨You eventually started going to Waterville Academy, right? What was it like having Bill Enos as a coach and riding with the 525 East Crew?
I never actually went to the Academy, my teachers from my public school allowed me to leave for five months and I would do the assignments they sent me in Bill’s basement. That’s the perk of going to a public high school of only seventy kids (laughter). Bill has helped me so much. The first time I met Bill I went with him to Loon’s Last Call and as we enter the park, Pat Moore comes and gives him a high five, Chaz Guldemond comes and gives him a hug and all the 525 riders were there. I was just blown away; I’m still blown away. I think the biggest thing Bill taught me was to not be a pussy; you have to just send it. If you look at everyone Bill’s helped, they all send it and I think that’s why he’s put out so many amazing snowboarders.
â€¨â€¨Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t all the Waterville Academy kids live with Bill? What’s that like?
Not all the kids lived at Bill’s, but a lot of the kids did. Brandon Reis, Sam Hulbert, Graham Banks, Tanner Pendleton, Tim Humpries, Nick Julius, Ian Thorley and Greg Maxwell. I just had so much respect going into my first year living there I just wanted to learn as much from him as I could. Living with Bill just engulfs you into the east coast snowboard life. His basement is a testament to his rider’s accomplishments, if there was a east coast hall of fame, Bill and everything in his basement would be in it. I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. He taught me everything about the snowboard world and introduced me to just about everyone involved in it. Living there you just feel like you’re part of something bigger. It really inspired me to try and follow in the footsteps of the riders who went there before me. Everyone there has the best outlook on snowboarding, too. Everyone rides super hard everyday and has the best attitude towards life. I feel lucky to have been a part of everything and to have so many friends from it.
â€¨â€¨Speaking of Sam Hulbert, can you tell a good High School Hulbert story?
(Laughter) High School Hulbert. His name speaks for itself. I remember last year I was in Cape Cod visiting him and my friend Graham and we were all at this house party. The house was the biggest house I’ve ever seen, and it was right on the beach. They had everything. It was fucked. Anyways we’re all having a great time until “High School Hulbert” decides to steal a beer from the kid who owned this mansion. They get into a fight and we ended up getting kicked out of the best party I’ve ever been to….
SURF STYLE. Photo:Sean Kerrick
That’s pretty funny. Now you’re living in Utah, what made you move there instead of staying on the East Coast?
I don’t know, it just kind of happened. I started working at High Cascade in the summers and I made a lot of really good friends there who lived in Park City and it just seemed like a good place to be. There are so many people out here in the snowboarding world and it’s easy to get stuff accomplished without having to travel too far. I was hoping to get some powder riding in here but the snow pack was so sketchy last year I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the west coast snow.
â€¨What was your season like this year?
I did the 3 stops of the Dew Tour and some filming/park shoots. The highlights for me were the TWS Park Sessions I got to do in Aspen and being able to film and take photos at Park City with Rob Mathis and Pat Fenelon. Then my season got cut short at the Launch.â€¨â€¨
I saw in one of the Launch videos you overshot one of the big jumps pretty much to flat. What happened?â€¨â€¨
Yeah I launched (laughter). I overshot the biggest jump there. I’m talking completely missing the landing. I rolled up to the session kind of late and I asked what the speed was for the jump. Everyone was saying, “just go straight” so that’s exactly what I did. Apparently I was going a lot faster than everyone else because I didn’t even touch the landing. I knew the second I took off I was fucked. I’ve never seen a knuckle disappear so quickly. All I could think in the air was, “something is going to break. There’s no way I’m getting out of this one untouched.” When I hit my legs just folded and I landed right on my butt. I broke my T8, T9 and T10 vertebrae in my back and at the time I didn’t realize I did it. I tried taking another lap and halfway down my back just locked up so I called it a day. Apparently that night I woke everyone at the Volcom house up because I was screaming in my sleep (laughter). The next morning I couldn’t move so I decided it was time to see a doctor and he told what had happened. Thankfully I healed in time for the start of High Cascade. Can’t believe I didn’t tell you about that! (laughter)
I mean I only saw the video and kind of just assumed that you were okay and that maybe you just shit your pants the second you landed.
(Laughter) I came real close. I could feel it coming and it took all my concentration to hold it in! I’m just glad I wasn’t “that guy who shit his pants.”
Press release: Photo: Owen Ringwall
(Laughter) That’s classic. How was working up at High Cascade this summer? â€¨â€¨
It was awesome. High Cascade is always a lot of fun, so much snowboarding. I love being up there. It has its ups and downs. Most of the time it’s the best place in the world and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I feel really lucky to have that job, super appreciative of being able to ride all summer.
Yeah, Mt. Hood is an amazing place. I know that you’re pretty influenced by surfing when it comes to snowboarding. I feel like these days most people try to emulate skateboarding. What is it about surfing that you find so appealing? â€¨â€¨
I don’t know, I just love the style surfing brings. The creativity and freedom on a wave is what appeals to me the most. Surfers can bring so much style to their turns. It just inspires me to look at snowboarding and the mountain differently.
What are your plans for this upcoming winter?
â€¨â€¨I’m going be living in Park City again, so I plan on shooting here with Pat and Rob for the I Ride Park City projects. Hopefully doing another Transworld Park Sessions. Maybe a few contests, Dew Tour, Open’s, Grand Prix’s, if I can afford to get there. Then spending some time in Whistler with K2 riding some powdah!
In the past you used to compete a lot, why do you think you are moving away from that aspect of snowboarding and filming more?
I still do some contests like the Dew Tour and Open’s but that shit’s expensive! It seems like it would cost me more money to get to some of these events than the money I would get if I won. It’s not easy to be a contest rider if you don’t have a big sponsor who’s helping you out. Plus I think the video side of the sport shows what snowboarding really is. There’s so many different types of movies and riders out there and it seems like the videos just show who the riders really are and what snowboarding is to them. The possibilities are endless.
Doing it right in Jackson. Photo: Sean Kerrick
Hell yeah. Any thank you’s or shout outs?
Yeah I want to say thanks to: My Family! Ryan Lilly, Pete Mullenbach, K2 snowboarding, Bill Enos, Dave from HCSC, EVO.com, Pat Fenelon, Rob Mathis, Jeremy Cooper, Sean Sullivan, Chris Wellhausen. Darcy Bacha, John Poulin, Hondo, Muzzey, Gunny, the Catï¬sh and his chronicles, Owen Ringwall, Greg Furey, Tanner McCarty, East Snowboard Mag, Boa technologies, Alo, Boyes, Billy at Volcom, Cyle at Electric, Yeti, Chris Clark and thanks to all the homies for making snowboarding, snowboarding!