By Mike Estes
I can simply say that Jon ‘Boy Air’ Boyer cracked me up. He loved to make people laugh and I was his biggest customer. Fortunately for me, he was also my Barfoot Factory Teammate for many years. I can fondly remember seeing him take his first run in the halfpipe at the Breckenridge World Champs in 1986. He soared. Immediately other riders where hooting and hollering in support. Jon had one of the BEST backside airs, he hung with Roach, Palmer, Kidwell and Kelly in that aspect. He styled out every grab. Photographers loved him, and what’s not to love about a good to honest, Canadian-raised, hockey-loving, hard-working, ethical human being. Jon and I haven’t talked in a really long time, we are both Dads now. I noticed one day on my Instagram his funny URL- @500lbguerilla and DM’d him. He didn’t reply. So after a week I hastily bitched him out. Lo and behold Jon responded and apologized for not noticing my DM. I was relieved. I consider him family, we traveled extensively together in cars, buses, trains, taxis and planes. He’s always inspired me. I’m absolutely honored to finally get all this together for you to read. Enjoy:
What was is like driving from Calgary to Breck in those early days of riding for Barfoot Snowboards?
Oh man, those were great times. Snowboarding was such a different thing back then compared to the show and glitz it is now. Ken Achenbach was this sort of pied piper of Canadian snowboarding back then. He would help all us young kids get hooked up with boards and clothes from US companies. Most people don’t realize it but he owned the first retail snowboard shop in the world. Before that you had to go direct from a board manufacturer or from Thrasher mag mail order ads in the back. I would turn around his shop all the time until he let me catch a ride with He had this awesome syncro VW Westy that we would load up and take turns driving through the night until we reached Colorado. We’d stumble out of that van at Scott Downey’s house smelling like a bum’s nut sack and barely wait until we’d hit the hill. Breck was an amazing time back then. That was the time when CK rode for Sims and Palmer was still called Mini Shred. We all knew each other back then and the pipes were dug by hand. Those trips were seriously some of my favorite memories of snowboarding ever. I can honestly say that my entire life, even to where it has ended up now, was shaped so much by the mentorship, generosity and brotherly love that I got from Ken Achenbach. I owe him everything.
How many years did you ride for Barfoot? How many signature models did you have? Who was/were the artists?
Christ, you want me to do math? I think it was from when I was 17 till about 25. By then I was kind of burnt out on being a sponsored pro. I always wanted to go to art school, and snowboarding was different back then. It wasn’t really a complete career option. I always wanted to tell stories and was into film and photography so by the end of my time as a sponsored pro I was really getting interested in writing and film. But my time as a pro was amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Geoff McFetridge did all my board graphics. He and I used to make a skate zine back in Canada and both ended up in LA. Geoff is an incredible artist who after doing my boards ended up art directing the Beastie Boys magazine Grand Royal as well as doing titles and art work for all of Spike Jonze films. He’s an incredible artist and awesome human. All in all I had 5 models. Near the end of my years as a pro though I was stoked to hook up new up and coming kids. My proudest hook up was first getting Devun Walsh sponsored. He was this local Vancouver kid who was quiet and rode unlike anyone I had ever seen. I don’t attribute myself to “discovering him,” but I definitely was stoked to see how far he went and how successful he became. Still, if I didn’t hook him up someone would have for sure.
Name all the brands you used to ride for?
Over the course of my “career” I rode for Barfoot, The Snoboardshop, Oakley, JT, West Beach, UGG… Fuck I don’t know, some other stuff too? I honestly can’t remember. Airwalk? Powerboat hooked me up with boxes of stuff for a few years too as did Swatch Watches. Nut Barefoot and UGG and Westbeach were the only ones who really paid me cash money.
Was your mind blown that you got an iconic slo-mo shot in Greg Stumps movie called the “Maltese Flamingo”? (Note to kiddies- go watch any Greg Stump Film)
Okay, I remember that day vividly. Stumpy was this weird film maker guy who was sort of this wizard of Oz character. This was kind of before snowboard films really started to take off and become a thing. Stumpy was the alt-rock version of Warren Miller ski films and back then if you got in a ski film it was a pretty big deal. I remember being in Breck during the 88 worlds (I think?) and he was shooting at the pipe. A shot of me popped up in his film later that year from that day and I freaked. It was kind of a big deal back then. Like you won the Willy Wonka golden ticket. Later that year up in Whistler, the was shooting Damien Sanders and some other Avalanche guys for his new film. Back then Damien and I were pretty tight. He invited me along to shoot for a day and that was that. Stumpy and I kind of became friends for a while and I would shoot with him now and then. He was weird guy but I liked him.
What’s your fondest memory from snowboarding?
I have so many so picking my “fondest” is tough. I liked when I lived with you that one winter in Portland. We had some good times. But honestly, my entire journey in snowboarding back then was really great. Snowboarding doesn’t really have as good a sense of its own history like surfing and skateboarding does. Now days it seems it is more like freestyle skiing and less about the freedom and ingenuity of how we saw it back then. I love what the Frends crew are doing with the Friendly Gathering though. They seem to have it down. It makes me want to be a part of it you know? The rest now seems to be all about glitz and money. I get it though. I love how people are making a living off of doing something they love. But back then it wasn’t about that. It wasn’t about the status like it is now. Of course the evolution of the sport and the Olympics have made it a world wide thing, and that’s really a great thing, but I love the fact that I was part of something during it’s inception. Back when people would see us on the ski hills and ask us; “What is that thing?”
How many covers did you earn?
I think it was 2. Definitely the TWS cover and I think one other. I was there the day Guy Motil was shooting for the very first TWS magazine. Dave Achenback got the cover. It’s so awesome. No one in this entire sport knows who he is and he has the very first cover of TWS. How about that? It kind of shows you how little anyone in the sport of snowboarding cares about the original history of the sport they love. It’s unlike surfing or skating which completely honors and remembers the sports trailblazers. But I think it’s getting better. At least I hope it is.
You traveled the world, name all the countries you got to visit?
All through Canada and the US, Japan more times than I can count. Germany, Switzerland, France, France and more France. Austria. New Zealand and Argentina and Chile. Australia, which was funny. It was the best education I ever had. Traveling the world. It gives you a humility unlike anything else.
If you could go to Japan and ride that unreal powder with a group of 10 riders from any era of snowboarding- who would you take?
Fuck me, there’s a question. That Japanese powder is unlike anything I’ve ever ridden. I would pay cash money to go back there and ride it again it’s that good. I would definitely go back there with Craig Kelly. I had a few powder days with Craig in my past. He really knew how to ride powder. It’s funny isn’t it? You see so many pros today and for some reason they ride powder with this weird style. Except Travis Rice. That kid can seriously ride. But really what I’d love the most is get my original Canadian whistler crew; Alex Warburton, Morry, Dano, and have a weekend at Bald Face Lodge. I’d seriously love that.
Your boards seems heavily collected by vintage snowboard collectors, do you have a stash to show folks?
I have a good collection that are all up at my sister’s house in Canada. I actually don’t have a photo of them to share. I have a few other sweet boards from friends like Brushie and Craig. I always wanted to get Palmer to give me one of his mini boards but it never happened.
How long have you been living in LA?
I moved to North County SD almost 17 years ago and moved to LA about 11 years ago. I have a love hate relationship with LA but lately I’ve been loving it more and more. I had to get out of SD because I wanted to move on from Action sports. I miss that world a lot sometimes but I realized that as you get older, those sports are harder to sustain a lucrative living unless you start a company that gets bought by Quiksliver or Billabong. Those days are kind of over it seems though. I always wanted to tell stories and when I transitioned from snowboarding to film making I always knew I wanted to eventually make movies. Moving up to LA was my way to make that next move. I got into commercial directing for some years and then started writing. After muddling my way through a learning process I wrote a feature screenplay which I had planned to direct myself. One thing led to another and now I’m repped by WME and have four feature films in development. I’m currently adapting a NYT Best Seller titled: The White Tiger and have another movie about to go with the producer from Life Of Pi producing. It’s strange, I never saw myself as a writer but now here I am. Hello pajama job.
Bring us up to speed on your family? I see you got 2 daughters, twins?
Twins, yes. And they’re a headache. The best kind of headache ever. My wife is from Canada as well. I had dated enough crazy LA girls I had to import. She keeps me in line and makes sure my ego doesn’t get out of hand. Seriously though, I owe everything to her. She grounds me and knows how to bust my chops. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Snowboarding is such an incredible thing. It’s a giant part of who I am and who I have become. I love seeing the progression of snowboarding and how it has become such a global sport. It is strange though for me to see how much competitive snowboarding is almost like freestyle skiing these days. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredible what these guys do in the pipe these days,and I’m in total awe, but it just seems too flawless now. Too perfect. There’s no one that really is “on the edge” so to speak. I think I still love the free riding aspect too much. It’s the purest form of snowboarding I think. But I’m not that get off my lawn guy, really. I just came from a different time. I think I would just like to see snowboarding recognize its roots more than it currently does. Sure we came up in the 80’s when style was a little whack, but it’s what it was and we were all blazing new territory back then. Without all the neon, and bad hair, and bizarre graphics, snowboarding wouldn’t be where it is today. I really believe that. It was a special time being part of such a great sport. A sport that gave me everything and introduced me to a lot of unique and amazing people.