If you took a lap through the Timberline Public park this summer, there’s a pretty good chance you saw Erik Leon. He was the one hitting just about everything at mach speed with a loose style that just screams fun. This 17-year-old from the 909 has spent the past few years of his short life chasing the slush wave from Bear to Hood and back, stopping only to fly fish and hang with his girl. If there’s a life you wish you had, it’s probably Erik’s, or at least you’ll want to be his best friend. Just don’t play rock, paper scissors against him.
You were a staple at Timberline this summer. Were you working at a camp or just lurking?
I was definitely just lurking. Spent my summer snowboarding and fishing. No job for me, I’m 17 so I can’t really apply to any of the camps and it’s too much work. I don’t really want a job.
Is that snowman drinking a beer? Photo: Kyle Beckman
What are the best and worst parts of Gov’y life?
Best part was during the summer I got to snowboard a bunch and there’s a bunch of fishing spots and I got to fish a lot. The worst part was that there’s no population there, so once everybody leaves after camp there’s just the drunks that are in town — it’s kinda like you’re there by yourself.
But the mountain gets better. Tell everyone what it’s like up there after the camps leave.
It’s perfect. There’s no lines, no problems, liftees don’t even check your passes, you just go and shred. The park was awesome. They should have made it like that all year, that’s what everyone was saying. It had a 60-foot kicker at the end of the year. Hitting a 60-foot jump in September is amazing.
Funny you mention pass-checking. I heard you got in some trouble last summer for that very thing.
Not last summer, I think it was my first or second summer up there, three or four years ago. I got caught poaching. I clipped tickets with this girl, I didn’t even think twice, just put it on and went to the lift. Loren (the liftee) grabbed my ticket and was just like, you’re poaching. I tried to talk my way out of it and everybody’s thinking run! But I was like nah, I’m not gonna do that, so I just went through with it. They took my snowboard away cause I couldn’t pay $80 for the fine. Then I paid for it and got my snowboard back.
How’d you get the money?
Sold whatever I had. My snowboard gear. I had extra goggles and extra beanies.
Why didn’t you just get a new one? Aren’t you sponsored?
Yeah, but I liked this snowboard a lot. I was just stoked on the snowboard I had and I didn’t want to give it up and go down like a failure. I needed my board back, I’m wasn’t gonna let them do that to me.
Riding LEGALLY at Bear. photo: Ben Birk
You managed to obey the law this year?
Yeah, now Loren’s like a good friend of mine, we like talk about a lot of things and he still remembers the day that I did that. Kinda funny talking to him about, he knew he scared the shit out of me cause I was such a little kid and I never got into trouble. Now I know, you don’t mess with that.
What do your parents think of you taking off and living on your own in Gov’y?
I’ve been doing it like four years in a row. First time was like a week, second time was two weeks and the third time was like two months. This time it was four months. They’re supportive of it and they’re stoked. They know where I’m from I can’t hang around there too much because it’s just really warm and really not the place where I would like to surround myself. So when I’m in the mountains they’re like, we understand, you’re doing your thing. Especially with the snowboard side. They think I’m like Huck Finn. That’s what my mom tells me — fishing every day and snowboarding when you want.
What was it like growing up in the 909. Did you listen to a lot of Blink 182 or were you more into boy bands?
I totally grew up in Southern California listening to Blink 182 and Green Day, all those bands. I was at the skateparks all the time so that kind of music was popular, but I just kinda grew out of it. Got away from the scene completely.
Are your dreads real?
They’re real. 100% real.
How long have you been growing them?
Last summer I had dreads but they weren’t that big. I probably haven’t cut them for a year, year and a half.
Are you gonna pull a Nyjah Houston and shave em off soon?
Yeah. Luckily you got some pictures of me because once I’m back in Southern California I’m gonna go get my hair cut. Get all clean so it’s not all heavy.
Just one reason dreads are cool. Photo: Jared Souney
How do you feel about white-guy dreads?
I don’t know, man. It’s so weird having dreadlocks because you actually get this certain kind of respect. A real Rastafarian will like come up and ask you about your Rastafarian beliefs and stuff, but if you’re not really dedicated to that you don’t really have much to say. When it comes down to white dreads people who have them are always like “yeah my hair’s kinda perfect for it so I just did it.” Seems like every person I meet with blond dreads is always asking me how to do it.
How do you do it then?
I went to the ocean a lot and never washed my hair. Well not never, but after I’d go surfing I wouldn’t wash it for like three days. Wearing goggles kinda natted it up and then I just had to pull it apart.
What do you do other than snowboarding?
I fly fish a whole shit ton. Every day almost, even after snowboarding. At sunset I just go fish. Skateboard a little bit at Windells, and I hang out with my girlfriend a lot.
Do you still ride BMX?
Nah, I started skateboarding. I rode BMX for four or five years, I was pretty into it. I was pretty sure I was gonna go pro, I started filming a bit and then I started getting hurt a little bit more. Overshot a couple jumps and decide, nah, this isn’t the right thing for me.
Does BMX make snowboarding seem easy?
Yeah, I think I thought that right away. This snowboard shit is pretty easy compared to BMX. I’m taking all these hard falls trying to do this simple trick that doesn’t even look that cool.
Erik is probably thinking about fishing in this picture. Photo: Ben Birk
How come you are so good at Rock, Paper, Scissors? Have you ever lost a game?
Yeah I’ve lost, but you always gotta lose to win so much. I think it’s a mind thing. If you know that you’re gonna win and put it in your head that you’re gonna win, you’re gonna win. That’s the best part about it is if you go into knowing you’re gonna win, then you’re gonna win and you get what you want.
What’s the best cereal to enjoy with Chocolate milk?
I’d say Cocoa Pebbles cause then you get double chocolate milk which is gonna be bomb. I like chocolate.
Do you ever eat cereal with regular milk?
Yeah Cocoa Pebbles, so get chocolate milk at the end. But I do OD on chocolate milk, I’ll get a gallon of it instead of regular milk. I’ve read stuff that says if you eat chocolate it makes you in the mood for things so I try to eat a piece of chocolate before everything. Especially when I go to bed. I’ll brush my teeth and then just munch on chocolate. It’s bad, I wake up and I’m like, ahh I shouldn’t have done that. Shit’s bomb. I have a Hershey’s bar at home right next to my bed.
Rumor is you used to cougar hunt for foreigners at Bear. What’s the oldest babe you ever nabbed?
Oh man. For the sake of the people that are gonna be reading this, like my family members and friends, I don’t think I can answer that.
Are you a changed man now?
I am a changed man. If anybody wants to know about foreign girls, the thing is if they’re meeting an American person they just want to marry them so they can get American rights and can come and visit whenever they want. So don’t mess with them.
Jumpin. Photo: Ben Birk
What do you love more, your girlfriend, snowboarding or spliffs?
So hard. I definitely love my snowboard more. I’m so stoked on snowboarding it just makes me so happy. not saying my girlfriend’s bad of spliffs are bad, but…
What if you were snowboarding with your girlfriend and smoking a spliff?
Then I’m like, in! I’m there, where I wanna be. And normally on the top of a mountain looking down like yeah, this is sick.
Does your girlfriend ride too?
Yeah, I met her up two years ago, snowboarding.
What’s the best part of riding at Bear?
Probably the fact that every body there is cool. So many cool locals that are really into snowboarding. It’s just fun. I like that I can walk to Bear by myself, don’t have to worry about where you’re staying, get up to the hill and the second I’m in the chairlift line I meet with a friend that I really enjoy riding with. I’m only with him for three laps and then I’m with another person that’s even more fun to ride with. So many friends and so many cool memories. And it’s really quick. Really fast laps. There’s a lot of fun to be had there.
Think you’ll ever move anywhere else?
I think I’m looking for houses in Truckee and Kings Beach right now. I just want to spend a little bit of winter somewhere deeper, with more terrain. Looking forward to do a lot of hiking and powder riding. We don’t have that down south so it’s time to explore.
This one’s for Snoop. Photo: Jared Souney
Last, and possibly most important question: Snoop Dogg is now Snoop lion. How has this effected your life?
(laughs) So much man. I’ve had so many phone calls and questions asked to me about that. It was so weird because Instagram started popping and I got one and I see someone liking Snoop’s photos so I clicked it and he has like 49k followers. Shit’s popping. I looked down and started notice he was wearing a rasta beanie and wearing rasta colors and smoking spliffs and shit and in Jamaica. Then the thing drops about him going to Jamaica and making his whole album and I was like, damn, that’s pretty tight, I back that. When he says in his trailer, “fuck the old me I’m not a gang banger anymore,” I thought that was pretty cool. People were like, you can’t cut your dreads now and I was like yeah, you’re right. I gotta rep em for Snoop Lion. I think it’s sick.
Are you changing your name to Erik Lion?
(laughs) No. But people to ask me to put it in their edits, if you watchOh Herro Buffalo my name is Jah Rasta Lion so I guess it’s gonna be there for sure. Unless I cut the dreads.
Sponsors, shout outs?
Thank you for the support Airblaster, Arbor Snowboards, Flux Bindings, 32 boots, Ema neckwear and I hope I didn’t forget anybody. Brendan Phillips, thank you, Brad Farmer, thank you, Kara and Ray from Flux, thank you. And thank you Yobeat for having me at your place!