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A Snowboarder’s Guide to Couch Surfing

After spending the last six years basically a homeless vagabond — bouncing from couch to floor to closet to shared bedroom, to tent, to shared bed (insert slut joke and assumptions about my promiscuity here), to several months on the road in a cramped truck with three other chicks — I feel worthy of proclaiming myself an expert couch surfer. By letting go of some pride and dignity there are ways to keep a roof over your head with the limited funds you make being a snowboard bum. And the more money you save on this basic necessities of life, the more you have to spend on boarding, so here are my tips.

Keep your shit tight. If you’re living in a closet under the stairs, probably best to keep your shit contained to your closet, not spewing into the living room.

Embrace the gossip. If you’re living on a pull-out couch or futon, and bring someone home from the bar, accept the fact that your whole house will be privy to your exploits.

Become a minimalist. Mo’ possessions, mo’ problems. Living on a couch doesn’t give you much closet space and as a transient, you want to be able to pack up your entire life quickly and easily (into your Honda Civic) and move on to your next home.

Beggars can’t be choosers. Be thankful for anything soft to lay your head on — Bean bag, hammock, lay-z boy, carpet under the coffee table, etc.


If nothing else, do it for the pants.

Learn to love yoga and stretching. It will correct back problems that occur as a result of sleeping on a bean bag, hammock, lay-z-boy, carpet under the coffee table, truck bed, bath tub… etc.

Invest in good headphones. Your roommate with the actual room and bed is getting laid a lot more than you, you’ll want to drown out the sound effects that will remind you of this sad reality. These will also be useful when the 15 Australians renting the upstairs part of your house decide to party to dubstep until 6am.

Girls: When sharing living space with boys, there is a good chance they are going to get drunk and pee somewhere that is not the toilet. I speak from multiple experiences. I don’t know why this happens, I’m not a boy, but if you accept it, it will be easier to brush off.


Jess Kimura’s been car camping since before it was cool. Photo: Jeff Holce

Living in your car is great in the summer. Make sure to keep it organized. Find a public gym with a cheap membership fee so you won’t even have to sacrifice daily showers.

Learn to adjust to roommates schedules. If they’re partying, you’re partying. Don’t bother trying to resist and go to sleep. You will end up having a lamp fall on your head, or being mistaken for a pile of blankets on the couch and sat on.

That should get you started and take it from me — over the years I’ve almost learned how to be a grown up and live conflict-free with other humans. If you chill the fuck out and enjoy life, you too can have a cost-effective and drama free season! Good luck.

Hump Day Goes Couch Surfing with Madison Ellsworth

Sun, fun and snowboarding. Photo: Matt Alberts

Facebook might be good for keeping in touch with people you never really cared about in the first place, but you really can’t deny the magic of the snowboard event for reconnecting you with old friends you actually want to see. That’s what happened at the Holy Oly, where I ran into Jason Speer, a friend from Baker and my college days at WWU. Jason happened to have a couch surfer by the name of Madison Ellsworth. “You should interview him for your site,” Jason told me, “ he’s an up and coming park rider and a pretty cool guy.” Being lazy, I told Jason, no, you should interview him for my site. To my surprise a few days later, he actually did. A few quick follow ups and thanks to the magic of REAL human interaction, here’s Hump Day with Madison Ellsworth.

Jason: How did you end up on my couch?

Madison: I’m on a long road trip to check out the Northwest. My first plan was to be staying in Whistler. I was up there for a few weeks and the weather would not give me a chance. I came down to Bellingham for a 686 shoot at Baker, and since then we have been getting a lot of stuff done and the weather has been awesome so I haven’t come up with a good reason to leave.

Jason: You’ve been hanging out in Whistler this winter, how’s your French coming along?

Madison: Whistler is English based so not a good place to practice French. I have gotten pretty good at Australian accents though.

Madison and his stunt doubles. Photo: Matt Alberts

Jason: Best thing you’ve done this season/in your life?

Madison: The best thing I’ve done this season is going on a road trip with no plans at all.. Just getting out of CO and adventuring!

Jason: Worst thing about this season?

Madison: Sitting in Whistler for 2 weeks and not being able to snowboard because of weather.

Jason: How did the Holy Oly go for you?

Madison: It went great. It was my first time being there and I decided to take the spectator route and cheer on my homies. They killed it!

Enjoying a wiener. Photo: Jason Speer

Jason: Who is the biggest pro that you ever beaten in a contest?

Madison: My favorite pro to ever see at a contest is Jamie Lynn at the Holy Oly. I don’t know the biggest pro I have ever beaten though. I beat David Gravette in a skate contest once. hah that’s my claim to fame.

Brooke: Do you actually like competing or is that just what you do when you grow up riding Breck?

Madison: I think it is a big part of growing up in Breck. I like to compete, but I would much rather just do all back country. It’s way more peaceful and less stressful.

Brooke: After riding at Breck, what is your take on the “park jumps” at other mountains? Does anywhere else you’ve been compare?

Madison: The jumps at Breck are definitely the best. They are consistently perfect and never really get icy. I think most mountains are starting to figure it out for shape, but have to deal with warmer weather and rain so they will never have the consistent soft snow that Breck has.

Who needs park jumps? Photo: Matt Alberts

Jason: What’s the last trick you learned? What’s the next trick you want to get?

Madison: backside trendeighty double cork was the last trick I learned, And I would like to learn a cab 9 double dip.

Brooke: People keep doing triple corks. How long do you think it will be before it will be expected and not a “twsnow.com exclusive” novelty? You planning on learning them?

Madison: Triple corks are lame I don’t ever want to do one and I don’t think that they will ever be a standard in contests. I hope not at least. That’s not snowboarding, that’s aerials

Brooke: Does it suck have a gender neutral name? Has anyone ever assumed you were a chick?

Madison: you tell me…. hahahah



King of the mountain! Photo: Matt Alberts

Brooke: Do you still live with your parents? Being a reasonably attractive man with snowboard skills, have you ever been forced to sneak babes in?

Madison: Well thank you… I lived in a house for a while with some buddies right in town so that was good for a while. When I moved back in with my parents I had a girlfriend so she was always over and they were cool with that. I’m freshly single now…

Brooke: What are the pros and cons of living with mom and dad?

Madison: Free rent and food is nice of course. They are hippies so they are just like any other roommates I would have in Breck haha.. they are really cool and know a lot so I love living with them, not really many cons to it actually. I would rather live a little closer to town though.

Brooke: How did your parents feel when you dropped out of dropped out of school? Did you get your GED or do you just plan to “get an industry job” when your done snowboarding?

Madison: They weren’t surprised. My school sucked and the teachers would have the option to fail me if I missed more than 20 days a semester and I was traveling a lot back then too, so the really mean teachers could just fail me. They didn’t really like me there either, so I was over it. I got my GED right when I dropped out. I’ll go to school someday too, I want to fly helicopters after snowboarding.

Brooke: How did you get on the YES program? What’s it like having legends like DCP, Romain and JP as your bosses?

Madison: I was introduced by Nic Drago to Joe Timlin who lives at DCP’s house in Vail. Joe went on word of mouth basically and got me in touch with DCP on the phone, They were looking for an am from the states to put on the team. I just had the right contacts and the right people backing me up so they chose me. It was a bit intimidating at first but once we went to El Salvador for the sales meeting and I got to know them better than I wasn’t as worried about it. They’re rad! I just knew I had to prove myself. If I wasn’t doing something right than I’m sure Romain would have something to say… haha

Boostin. Photo: Matt Alberts

Jason: I hear you’re moving to Hawaii, have you really thought that through?

Madison: Making last minute decisions seems to always work out for me so I won’t quite think that one through until its time too book the ticket. haha I would like it to happen though for sure it would be so sick!

Jason: Time to give shout outs to anyone you haven’t mentioned already.

Madison: Of course my parents and friends at home Love you! Drago is the man too! P mac for letting me crash at his house for three weeks and Dubs and Speer for putting up with Pat’s mistake haha. Mikee and Logan too for letting me crash on their floor for a few weeks in Whistler, wish we got to go out buds…

Sponsors:

YES. Snowboards, 686, Dragon, IFound, Breck, and Drop.

Under Review — Stoked: Big Air Edition

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by Jim Ferrigno

My initial plan with this review was to have this done in time to save many a virtual-shredder from the agony of receiving or purchasing a copy of “Ginger Kid: Pro Snowboarder” this Christmas. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances leading to riding of the oh-so-crowded couch wave, many of you will have undoubtedly opened that promisingly shaped present, only to find the trademark face of the Flying Tomato staring back at you in that cold, soulless way only a ginger can. Surely you will have to make the same frustrated decision I did to return the game less than nineteen hours after purchase and pick up some other hopeful selection from the 17.99 bottom-of-the-barrel barrel at your local gamer emporium.

But what’s that you say? Most store return policies last 30 days and include the ability to apply an item as a credit or a better, more expensive item? Well my friend, it seems there may be hope for you yet… Why don’t you mosey on over to the glossy-skinned sales nerd and tell him you want a copy of Stoked: Big Air Edition.**

The biggest feature that stood out to when I popped this one in was the climate. Now I’m not talking about Al Gore’s tree-hugging hunt for the man/bear/pig type of climate, I’m talking about an actual climate system specific to each mountain. No global-warming here folks, the snow falls in heaps! That’s no lie either. On your main screen, you can choose between (several) different mountains including Laax, AK and the legendary K2 (among others), each with its own unique weather system pumping at any given time. It even conducts day/night cycles, getting orange at sunset, and extremely dark for a short period of time at night if you stay at one mountain long enough

The second thing I noticed was the wealth of challenges given to you, and effort you have to put in to unlock a new level or sponsor. It takes quite a few victories in various challenges to get noticed, unlock a sponsor, and finally advance to a new level. You’d better show some commitment too, if you slack off on a sponsors offer for too long, they’ll yank it and you have to earn it all over again. Best of all, you can get your Heli license! Of all the features in this game, this one has to be my favorite. After you beat every session challenge a mountain has to offer, you gain access to a pilot’s license, allowing you to take the controls of your helicopter and fly yourself to pretty much any peak that you can see and shred on it.

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The graphics in this game are utterly mind-blowing. Everything from the rider and gear, down to the flakes of snow and rotor wash of the pursuing helicopter is sickeningly realistic. And if you really like what you see, you can whip out your camera and enter “photographer mode,” allowing you to take a snapshot from the riders controllable perspective (meaning when you shred with your friends online, you can pretend you‘re some kind of Robbie Sell-esque pro shred/photog).

Speaking of perspective, unlike the aforementioned Fire-Fro pipe-jockey alternative, Stoked offers an incredibly realistic scale when standing atop a peak. If you let yourself really relax (inhale) you almost forget it’s a game. Pillows and spines seem menacingly inviting, and if you pick up enough speed down a steep flute, you almost get a real sense of vertigo. The gravity isn’t so unbearably magnetic as SWSB either. Flight time is lofty and realistic, as opposed to the “Holy shit, here comes the ground!” approach taken by Burton’s favorite son.

As far as the pitfalls of this game goes, there aren’t really that many. The one I do have though, I feel is worth pointing out to the serious shred community. Once you try to really cork something out, trouble rears its ugly head. The controls seem to have conflicting loyalties towards flipping and spinning, making it virtually impossible to smoothly accomplish one at the same time as the other. The pre-wind feature allows you to do basic rodeos and McTwist’s, but pretty much anything after a 360 while flipping and the rider tends to abruptly stop momentum mid-air, and change hard to the new direction, causing jerky and disorienting inverts.

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The only other complaints that I can really muster regarding this game, would be the following: The “Blue Tomato Customizer,” as it’s called in the game, provides little in the way of facial customization aside from a few basic grills and a bandanna or two for your player. Also, when hiking instead of the player taking off the board and walking like any normal snowboarder, he duck-waddles around the world like he’s competing in some kind of absurd new Special Olympics event.

All that in mind, and more that I’m sure is to come considering there’s always new things to explore and unlock in this game, I have to give it four out of five stars (SWSB getting a pitiful one out of five steaming piles of fecal matter on a similar scale). The gameplay is sick, the challenges are exciting, and the features are un-paralleled. Now all they have to do is get on the truck with smooth corks and double-corks for Stoked 3 (or whatever the hell they call it), and they may just have the best snowboard game of all time…

** Or you could just go snowboarding

Editor’s Note: Shortly after this review was posted, we saw the television ad for Stoked: Big Air Edition. It “cleverly” edited together clips of riders talking about riding powder with clips from the game, as if that’s what they were talking about. We almost pulled this down on principle, but we’ll let you make the call yourself.