Under The Influence: Erik Leon

When you watch Erik Leon ride it’s easy to pick up on the influence 90’s snowboarding has played on his style. Boned out grabs, tweaked handplants, double pokes and his surfy style all come as tributes to the days of Salasnek and Sanders. Watching him ride it’s easy to forget that this SoCal ripper is only a mere 19 years young. With a mature style and trick selection it will be exciting to see what comes from Erik in the future.

So Erik, what video part would you say has been the most influential for your riding?
I don’t know about a part but recently Fall Line Films Critical Condition from 1991. I just saw it for the first time last winter when one of my roommates got a VHS of it and a VCR of it. We started to watch it every time before going riding this winter. It made me think about the development of style and how it all started. The pokes in that video are just insane and next level.

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P: Tyler Orton

Is there just one rider in the video who really stood out to you or maybe one of the trips that they went on?
There is a handful, but I think definitely Damien Sanders really set himself apart. I mean just the way he tweaks his snowboard, even in hardboots, is just insane. Like the way he grabs his taipans and the way he drops his knee doing them is so sick. Also seeing him make the switch from hardboots to softboots in the movie is really cool. Then Noah Salasnek, he has just like these timeless backside 180s with so many different types of grabs, tweaks and pokes.

Would you say seeing the way people did grabs and tweaks back then has made you try to imitate them?
After watching this, I definitely took some of it to my boarding. A lot of the triple pokes, double pokes with spins but mainly I tried to do taipans like Damien’s. I took them into handplants this year and would like loosen up my bindings to be able to try and tweak them as well as he did.

In the movie watching them just try and figure out what the limits of what they could do on a snowboard opened up my mind. It got me go up on-hill and not even spin for an entire day. I’d just go up and grab and tweak, trying to explore everything that I could do with my body. Whether it was a quarter pipe, jump or roller I wanted to just see what I could do.

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P: Stephan Jende

Say someone doesn’t want to sit through all of Critical Condition; is there one segment that you think people should watch?
I mean all the video is great, but if you can only watch a little bit…I’d say the part when they go out on cross country skis then session that perfect natural jump.  I think about that part a lot. It reminds me of hitting my favorite side hit every time I take a run. I might do the same indy on the same side hit over a hundred times in a season but each time it’s as fun as the last time. You can tell that this hit is the same way for them. Salasnek does a back one triple poke at least four times in the section. They’re just having fun and enjoying the feeling of the tricks they’re doing.

I thought it was pretty funny how much bleached and dyed hair there was in this movie. It’s crazy how that’s become a thing again.
It’s funny because around the first time I watched this video I noticed like everyone in Salt Lake was coloring their hair and even like my friends like Zander Blackmon have been doing stuff to their hair. They don’t even come close to level these guys had especially Sanders and Palmer. Seeing how that’s like come full circle is pretty funny.

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P: Stephan Jende

Do you think snowboarding/snowboarders benefit from taking a look at older videos?
I really think everyone should definitely watch some old retro videos or even like early 2000’s. It just puts into perspective what it was like for them that you can take to your riding. Before everything wasn’t about one-upping everything that was done the season, it was all about style. This video I think didn’t have any spins over a 360. They’re all just poking methods and trying different tweaks, it really simplifies snowboarding and makes it easier to get into. People’s styles are also more noticeable. Each rider you can just tell exactly who they are without any titles or even if they do the same trick. Watching the old stuff really makes you realize how you can hold your own style.

I grew up riding Bear Mountain and I would just learn trick after trick, trying to learn heavier and heavier tricks. When you have that mentality, you never really focus on learning how to make the basics look different or your own. You never really fully understand your board riding like that. I mean it’s cool, all I ever wanted to do was learn more tricks back in the day. However eventually it gets to a point though where you realize the importance of style and board control.

Where there any riders who first made you think about style and changing your mindset about riding?
I think Jonas Michilot was one of the first people that made me think about it. Watching his part in These Days with the front one tuck knee, I had never seen anyone do that. I had never thought of putting those two together, and it ended up becoming one of my favorite tricks to do. Nobody was even doing front ones then, let alone a really cool one. Also growing up, Chris Bradshaw played a big influence, just being at Bear and watching him ride was huge.

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P: Erik Hoffman

Who’s video part(s) are you excited to see this year?
I’m excited to see Hans Mindnich’s part he is just an animal. Spencer Schubert is always fun to watch and has a different take on riding than everyone else. Brandon Cocard because he’s a friend and I love seeing his stuff. Forest Bailey’s stuff I’m excited to see because he’s always been one of my favorite boarders to watch.

Thank yous? Shout outs?
Thanks to all the believers out there. All my friends and family, girlfriend, and my future dog. All the snowboarders who work there asses off, and all the company’s that support there riders. Chas for being a cool dude, and Yobeat for being my favorite snowboard website.

10 replies
  1. TROOF
    TROOF says:

    CRITICAL CONDITION MADE VIEWERS REALIZE HOW INCREDIBLE SNOWBOARDING COULD BE IF YOU KNEW WHERE TO GO, WHEN TO BE THERE, AND WITH WHOM YOU NEED TO BE THERE WITH.

    SHAWN FARMER WAS DEFINITELY THE RULER BACK THEN ON MANY FRONTS, NO FOOLIN’ AROUND. NICK PERATA WAS JUST AS DOWN AS FARM WAS TO CHARGE HARD AT ALL KINDS OF UNDONE STEEPS & CLIFFS PRETTY MUCH WHEREVER THEY WERE RIDING. SHAUN PALMER WAS STEADILY OUT PSYCHING EVERYBODY WITH HIS FULL-ON-BADNESS. THAT FILM WAS THE START OF IT FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE.

  2. TROOF
    TROOF says:

    THEN THERE’S THE NOAH SALASNEK FACTOR THAT ERIK IS DISCUSSING IN HIS INTERVIEW HERE, WHICH IS MEGA CRUCIAL TO THE SKATEBOARDING INFLUENCING SNOWBOARDING HISTORICAL CORRELATION. SALAS WAS UNTOUCHABLE SINCE HE WAS ACTUALLY A SUPER SICK PRO VERT SKATER FOR H-STREET AS WELL. HE MADE SNOWBOARDERS STEP THEIR SKATESTYLE UP 100%.

  3. jason borgstede
    jason borgstede says:

    CC was one of those movies we watched everyday til it practically wore out. We quoted the lines every chance we got and emulated the riding the best we could. I think Erik made a great point about the focus on the style of each trick back then. The riding was based more on fundamentals and the minute details mattered. It’s cool that a young trickmaster gets that.

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