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.

ride please

The start to our trip; very cold, very snowy.

The event was enormous, much larger than either of us expected. LAPD helicopters circled continuously in the air, hundreds of sassy women directed the foot traffic, and girls (basically children) wore borderline irresponsible outfits for the impending cold of the night. Skateboards, snowboards, VIP lounges, live-art graffiti artists, vendors, $10 PBR’s: it was a lot to take in. Jake and I immediately made our way to the snowboard venue and set up shop.

In just a short period of time, the guys from Bear Mountain and California Skateparks, had created two very heavy-yet-fun looking set-ups for the skaters and snowboarders to rip all over. We spent the majority of both days bouncing back and forth between the skating and snowboarding contests, while casually sprinkling in a few stops in between to catch any live performances that we could. The crowds were as ecstatic as they were large, shouting and cheering for the brave competitors, who were somehow willing to chuck themselves all over the setups. Their end goal was to standing on the podium in front of Shaun White himself, the cheering fans from all over the country, and score a fat handful of cash to get them back home to wherever they came from.

@jmorse_ laying down a heavy move at @airandstyle last weekend 😝🤘

A post shared by Jesse Paul (@jedipauls) on

Amongst all the chaos and craziness surrounding the event, we were lucky enough to spend the weekend surrounded by great friends, greater athletes, at least three or four famous people, and many many other event-goers. Jake and I will happily take on the honor of covering the absurdity of next year’s Air & Style, powder at home or not.

Thanks Ronald

The kind man who picked us up, Ronald, was the janitor at the Thrasher mag warehouse in San Francisco 15 years ago. He saw our skateboards and Jake’s Thrasher hat, and decided to help us out.

who wouldnt pick us up

It worked!

Advantage- hybrid!

George, at Advantage car rental, hooked us up with a free upgrade to a hybrid car after hearing our travel situation. It cost us $32 to rent from Sacramento to L.A., and $35 in gas the whole way.

Venice baby!

We spent the morning before the event being kooks on Venice Beach and skating the famous, yet hugely-overrated Venice skatepark.

Which way to Air & Style??

VIP ACCESS

High-level journalists only, please.

Johnny O’Connor, ready to drop.

Blue light

You thought flat light on a cloudy day was bad? Imagine being Lenny Mazzotti in this blue light venue.

Nate Haust, VIP

Nate Haust livin’ that VIP life, Air & Style apparently loves blue lights.

Drayden Gardner showing off his battle scars.

hiding from the rain

It rained for a bit during the Saturday night snow event, so all of the athletes and friends of athletes partied on the stage.

Heimana Reynolds

Heimana Reynolds during the Swatch best trick skate contest.

Shaun makes dreams come true

Shaun White, making dreams come true.

Best trickers

Best trick champs! Jordan Morse in 3rd, Nate Haust in 2nd, and Francis Jobin in 1st.

tiger eyes

Eyes of the tigers. Jordan Morse, Jordan Small, Ozzy Henning, and Kyle Mack.

The boys of Bear Mountain keeping the set-up crispy.

Spent the morning of day 2 getting some fresh ink from Stephan Carballo, a.k.a. @thelosangelesriver. Later in the day, we found him in the VIP tent at the snowboard venue, followed by him taking his 7 month old child to see Gucci Mane, with hearing protection and other safety precautions in place for the child, of course.

Fancis Jobin?

Possibly the only half-decent photo of actual snowboarding I took. Francis Jobin, maybe?

Johnny O'Connor snowboarding

Oh, wait! Johnny O’Connor is snowboarding in this photo…kind of.

Jodan Morse, blurry

Jordan Morse is blurry in this photo, but it’s not a butt shot and the smoke cannons are going off. Making this, sadly, the best snowboard shot I got all weekend.

post show blues

Post-show blues? Lenny Mazzotti, Johnny O’Connor, Nate Haust, Darcy Sharpe and Francis Jobin.

Joey and Shaun

The man who made it all possible! Air & Style, I mean. Not snowboarding as a whole

day 2 winners

Day 2 champs! Johnny O’Connor in 3rd , Kyle Mack in 2nd  (not another Olympic silver, but it’ll do), and Darcy Sharpe in 1st .

Gucci

Gucci

Big thanks to everyone who made this weekend possible!

Shane at Grandstand Media
Brooke at YOBEAT (duh)
Shaun White, for starting the event and essentially pioneering the sport of snowboarding (jk lol)
Ronald, who picked us up in Truckee
George, at Advantage Car Rental
Kiley, for housing us and dealing with us for 5 days (also the roommates, Jess and Carly)
Every LYFT driver we annoyed
Stephan Carballo for the tattoos
Gucci Mane, for wearing a full-grey sweatsuit
All the kids who clearly ate too much molly before Zedd and all the guys mall-grabbing the skateboards they brought to the event for whatever reason, for the entertainment
All of the snowboarders and skaters
Bear Mountain and CA Skateparks
Ryland West for letting me borrow his camera, which only had a wide-angle lens (lol)

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