Raul Pinto may not be a name you immediately recognize in the snowboard world; but you should probably listen to what the guy has to say. Raul, and his business partner JG Mazzotta, have built one of the more successful shops in the industry (Satellite). Raul has been a part of this game since way back and has his finger firmly planted on the pulse of the industry. Satellite has done a TON here in Colorado to grow snowboarding and skateboarding the right way by listening to the people who give a shit about skating and riding, maintaining a team of shop sponsored riders, and developing things like the LoveGames in the winter and Ride with Us skate tour in the summer. He’s the real deal and proves once again that you don’t have to be a household name to be a legend.
When did you start snowboarding?
1990? Or as we call it the glory days.
Why did you choose to get into retail?
So random! The short story. Our club house, “Brothers boards” was closing my partner JG had the idea and I just figured I could help… But it wasn’t my idea. I was recruited by Travis Towe our graphic designer now. He helped plant the seed.
You said before that people always ask you what snowboarding needs, and your reply is always what it doesn’t need; but what are you seeing today that you want to see more of?
Snowboarders taking ownership of their industry.. And doing it in a professional manner.. Take a fucking community college course organize your shit. Read a book and look at some other industries to make our shit better. And above all, be creative and inventive.
Why do you feel it’s important to keep major commercial interests out of snowboarding?
They have their place but the tastemakers need to steer the ship, those relationships should be geared to help creativity happen not stifle it.
What’s changed from when you started riding?
Everything! Except SNOWBAORDING is still rad! And right now the new bloods remind me more of back then than ever before. It’s so sick to watch!
What’s changed in the industry since you first opened your shop?
Number one. Distribution. Now you can buy a snowboard from whomever. There is a high probability the board you buy will be sold to you by somebody who has never even ridden a snowboard, much less have any knowledge.
Why do you think it is important for a shop to have a team of riders?
You need to have that youth driven attitude for it to evolve and change. The industry needs it more than the shops. But the shops need those tastemakers to influence their friends and get people wanting to be a part of it. A good team spreads the stoke thick like butter!
Do you see any parallels between skateboarding and snowboarding from an industry perspective?
For sure! 80’s vert era to the 1/2 pipe downfall…big biz jumping in and skewing its direction.
90’s small wheels and tech, to triple corks… Progression vs style.
They are all necessary growing pains, people just forget snowboarding isn’t that old. Much to learn! But it’s in a great place and what is shaking to the surface is a lifestyle an image that kids and adults can relate and want to be a part of – it encompasses Freeride, freestyle, travel adventure and family.. Much like surfing and skating have evolved.
That is to say, skateboarding seems to have balanced staying true to its core while maintaining some presence in the mainstream without becoming the weird spectacle that competitive snowboarding has become.
Don’t get it twisted.. It has its issues too. But what skateboarding has overall is community. That group is tight enough to keep things in check. Someone calls bullshit on anything out of line. Snowboarding could use a little more of that. It’s needs its voice back.
Do you feel like we need to re-visit the layout and design of slopestyle courses?
Yeah it should always change. It’s already happening the public is demanding different, Creative parks etc.. But that takes time. It has its stringent 3 jump, two rail line for comps. But if you want the masses to ride you just gotta give them a good set up and the mountain.. The average person would be thrilled to ride the hill with confidence and power. But the way things are sold most people will be lucky if they make it to the bottom much less get buck on some wild park feature. Satellite just wants to make great snowboarders.
Should we still hate skiers?
Hell no, skiing is sick! You know how fast you can go on those things with two edges. I’ve never skied but I know you can rip the shit out of those cut in 1/2 snowboards..
But cannibalizing our two of three events…bullshit! Events that snowboarders fought hard to get recognized and even respected on a competition level. Terrain that snowboarders fought hard to get built. ( Park and pipes) ones that show style and creativity only to get partitioned off to skiing as another event.
I’ve been curious if pipe riding became so uncool that all the riders were like “fuck it, Let’s race gates!” would world cup skiing would make a category? Snowboarding aerials?! Bahaaa we are almost there.
Skiing is skiing and it should just step off the tip! Give it some room and some fair playing space. From “ski school” to the notion that a little kids needs to learn to ski before he/she shreds. Let’s us do our thing and if you wanna play on our team I’ll strap you up.
You own one of the more successful shops in the industry. What have you done right? What (if anything) would you have done differently?
The best partner ever Jg Mazzotta. No chance without him. The best staff. Past and present. Always evolve. Learn from mistakes. Both Jg and I were exposed to some amazing shops growing up and going into Satellite we wanted to address the vibe (always positive) and the experience (helpful/ educational) but we also learned a lot looking at other industries, knowing that customer service is paramount.
Differently..? I don’t think I would change much. No matter what biz bs tries to cause some drama, it’s just snowboarding.. So it’s all good!
Tell us a crazy story from ‘back in the day’ that still makes you laugh when you think about it.
Well my favorite JG story to tell is when a kid shoplifted pants by replacing his on the rack then walking out. But he left his phone and we knew his friend so we called him told him if he didn’t come back and pay for em that we were gonna call the cops.
He came back with the pants. But wearing different pants. Paid for em then Jg said “you gotta take ur pants off and leave those here” he was like “what?! But I just paid for em.” Jg said, “I can always call the cops.”
Kid took his pants off. I don’t know who was more embarrassed, The kid or his friend. So kid left with a tall t stretched around his knees to cover his tighty whiteys having paid for the pants. That we got to keep and sell again. And we kept the pair he left to steal in first place and the pants he was wearing when he walked in. Margin building! That’s how you stay in business!
“That’s some Satellite family Mazzotta mafia shit”
Another kid who tried to steal from us got his leg crushed in the door and I’m sure still walks with a limp but that’s another story 😉
Satellite basically started up the ‘LoveGames’. Please explain why you felt it was important to develop and host such an event? What can we look forward to in the future from the ‘LoveGames’.
Well first off it does not take place at a resort and is “not an event” wink! Wink! it’s just a random time of year when people build and ride natural features that have been ridden for years in the side country.
If you started riding in the last decade then you grew up riding features that have been built for progression. But creativity sometimes gets lost. There is something about riding natural terrain and using the mt. In fact it makes a better rider.. There is so much great riding in Colorado, but it sometimes gets dwarfed by X Games, Dew Tours, it’s part of the rider disconnect that I spoke of. The event is meant to be more accessible to snowboarders and build that community.. Not to mention the education and history that’s so great about Colorado. It’s always a mystery what you will get at Lovegames but it will always be snowboarding..
It’s no secret that we here at Yobeat like to poke fun at Colorado and the scene here; but you chose to set up your business here and you’ve made Colorado your home for many years, so it begs the question, what keeps you in Colorado when there are other parts of the west that offer better terrain, more snow, and less crowds.
When you’re top dog you’re gonna get shit on.. Colorado is a huge state with a lot of terrain. From a business standpoint.. you are talking about 12 million skier/rider per year.. “Bookoo Dolores amigo”!
All being made by skiers…
The style, the trends that YoBeat does such an amazing job at poking fun at is where snowboarding is distributed thru..That’s the broken part of it, nobody to keep it in check , nobody to say “that shit sucks” just some sporting goods store selling another piece of equipment. No culture, no community.
That challenge is why we are posted up!
As a state .. Well just give us the opportunity to show Yobeat
Countless backcountry (virtually untouched), side country (for more novice riders) every level of park and pipe. A season that begins in October and ends sometimes in July. It is a mecca of snow sports.,
Colorado is to snowboarding what Southern California is to surfing. But without all the independent surf shops putting people in check. Currently the likely hood of you coming to Colorado and getting gear from a sporting good store is 99%. Satellite has been pinned against independent shops. But we have always made it very clear that we only want big boxes dollar so we can grow snowboarding.
Know who you buy your shit from support a snowboard shop. Riders buying their boards from skiers.. It’s insane 😉
that’s what we should be making fun of… But this is part of my why colorado is rad..
Silverton.. Steep deep and way beyond an expertise level in most states.
Telluride.. Steep and beyond scenic
Red mt pass.. Watch any old video .. It went down in CO.
Steamboat .. always consistent with powder
Monarch.. A secret I didn’t even ride until just a few years ago..
Wolfcreek.. Deep and almost untouched
Anything else you’d like to add? Shoutouts? Etc….
The entire Satellite crew from employees to Teamsatellite, you are responsible for moving the needle.. And the loyal customers that keep coming back and helping us grow! Yelp about us and use technology to change our lifestyle into something we control.