Words/photos: Joey Leppien & Jake Brayton
Editor’s note: Here’s your mandatory snowboard history lesson for the day: The Air & Style was originally a Austrian Big Air contest, started in Innsbruck, circa 1994, by Charly Weger and Andrew Hourmont. In 2010, the event was purchased by Oakley, renamed for Shaun White, and this began the global expansion into the radical music and sports event we know today. In 2018, the event lives on under the wise guidance of Shaun and his people, and made the switch from horrifying staduim big air contest, into a street-style jam, ushering in a whole different demographic of snowboarders to L.A. I’ll let Joey and Jake take it from here. –BG
Jake and I got questioned a lot about our trip down to cover the Los Angeles Air & Style on March 3rd and 4th, 2018. The most frequently asked question was, “why in the world we had decided to head down to Los Angeles right at the tail-end of a 6-foot snowstorm hitting Lake Tahoe, right in the midst of a sub-100 inch winter?”
The only answer that I could come up with for why a snowcat operator and a snowboard company warranty manager would pass up chest deep powder turns to go pretend to be journalists for a weekend — in a city I swore I’d never go to — was this. At the ripe-old-ages of 23 and 25, Jake and I are both jaded on most aspects of current snowboarding. That’s what all the cool guys do anyways, right?
So, we packed our bags, booked our travel, and were in Los Angeles after just a few short hours of leisurely, non-problematic travel. WRONG. Our trip hit a snag just a couple weeks before the event. Jake and I, being the responsible adults that we are, waited to buy our flights down south until more than a month after we got approval for our media credentials.
This left us with the option to either pay $300 for a round trip from Reno to Los Angeles (4 hours in the air), or to get creative and find another way to get there on time. We opted for the latter, and after some searching and sneaking, we booked our tickets via Amtrak for just $70 each.
On Friday, we boarded the train and were in Los Angeles after just a few short hours of leisurely, non-problematic travel. WE WISHED. In reality, I received an email 24 hours before we were to board the train, informing us that due to the incoming storm, all travel via Amtrak was cancelled. Jake and I were back to the drawing board. Long story short, after about 30 minutes standing in a storm on the on-ramp for I-80 Westbound with a cardboard sign that read ‘SAC? WILL PAY $’, we found ourselves en route to the Sacramento airport, to rent a hybrid to shoot down the 405.
Around 3 a.m.We arrived in Los Angeles to our friend Kiley Van Alstyne’s apartment, and immediately hit the couch in hopes of a decent nights sleep before the following day’s events.