Posts

FRESH LITTER: The Chooches of Killington Vermont

Rebirth: (noun) a new or second birth, a renewed existence.

Featuring: Jake Fournier, Tim Major, Thomas Westcott, Will Steller, Trevor Eichelberger and Joey Leon.

Friends: Nate Haust, Max Lyons, Austin Esposito, Alfonso Esposito, Savannah Shinske, Jeremy Ellenberg, Levi Gunzburg, George McKeever-Parks, Spencer Davis, Omar Haidara

Words: Mike Garceau

Rebirth is a title more significant than the local Killington, VT crew, affectionately known as Chooches, may have realized when dropping its first full movie. To the Chooches, it meant winter of 2015/16 was basically trash on the East Coast, and for 2016/17 winter had a “rebirth.” So, they got to work filming around the Killington area and throughout Vermont.

Killington, VT is steeped in snowboard history. It’s been breeding ground for industry moguls such as Bridges, Land, Zimmerman, Geery and beyond. It’s the home base for The Gremlinz/GBP, has hosted major televised events such as the Dew Tour, and these days, is a destination for cash-hungry pro/ams looking to claim Rails 2 Riches.

In recent years though, a lull has existed. A gap in time without a recognized crew of riders, snowboarding their faces off and capturing it on camera. But that lull is over! With Chooches’ “Rebirth,” we get adolescent joy in an unpolished, feel-good flick about a group of friends making it happen. We caught up with Mr. Joey Leon, post-lecture at Groovy Uvy (UVM) where he’s currently a freshman to find out more! 

So we know the crew and why the movie is Rebirth… let’s look back at your arrival in Killington, VT.

Well, I was actually born here, and then moved to Simsbury, CT at two years old. In 2011, my family started to spend weekends and holidays back in VT at our family home. I was part of the weekend program at KMS with my sister (Maggie Leon) and that’s basically where it all began. I was being coached by Evan Ricker at the time, who introduced me to Darkside Snowboards, and from there I met Will Steller, Jake Fournier, and George McKeever-Parks. That’s really when the crew formed, when we were like 12 or 13, and we picked up friends along the way.

 

A post shared by Joey Leon (@_choooch_) on

2011, your family starts spending time in Killington, VT again. You’re all of a sudden the young bloods at Darkside Snowboards, talk about that impact on you and the crew.

Darkside has seriously been the biggest influence on my snowboarding, and everything that our crew has accomplished. The support is difficult to put into words. We’d spend hours there, binge watching snowboard movies, hanging with Ricker and Mills. If we weren’t out riding, we were at Darkside, probably being annoying little kids, but we just loved being there. That place is home. Even in the summers, my parents would go golfing, Maggie and I would just spend the day at Darkside, skating the miniramp. It’s crazy to think how it might be different if we hadn’t had the support of Darkside from the very beginning.

Darkside Snowboards has really been the ticket in Killington, VT and really across the state, supporting so many riders and the local community. What was it like coming into the shop that young, with guys like Tim Major, Ricker, Mills, and I’m sure many more having such a strong presence.

Yeah I mean, Darkside for life. It’s so sick that they support us all like they do. Ricker and Mills were a big influence on the direction my snowboarding went. Ricker was literally my coach at KMS for a few years, and Mills always had the camera out. I looked up to Timmy, I still do. He works harder than I think a lot of people realize, like insanely hard when we’re out at spots. In the beginning Timmy always supported my riding, helped out when I couldn’t get a trick, shit like that. I’ve really learned from him, when you’re at a spot the only important thing is to get the shot. Timmy is zero bullshit, it’s just hard work, the second we roll up until everyone has their shot. It’s so sick to have him in our movie now, as a homie that I can always count on, it really brought it all together for me. He’s put out some solo parts, and has had some shots in other movies, and it’s sick for me to give the dude that I look up to a spot in our movie. It really completes it.

 

A post shared by Joey Leon (@_choooch_) on


Joey, down for life with Darkside Snowboards

We’re coming into 2018, why now? It seems like it took a while to get to this point, releasing your first film as, Chooches.

Yo, well there’s more to it. It really goes back to when I met Jake, when we were like 13 or something. We have always been filming, putting shit out on YouTube, really just for us at first. We had no idea what we were doing, and we’re honestly still figuring it out. But anyways, a few seasons back, we filmed an entire movie. It was going to be so sick, Darkside Young Bloods, we were so hyped. We’ve moved on and learned a lot, so not going to point any fingers, but we lost the entire movie to a crashed hard drive. It was really, really bad. That experience makes Rebirth mean that much more to us all. We’re stoked to be releasing this, and already we know what we’re looking to change for next year.

Not talking about next year yet… What’s your favorite clip in the movie?

Timmy’s layback, back 1 out of the wooden close-out. It was so fucked. That was a two-story drop off the back, into a sketchy bank that you can’t even tell in the movie, was all ice. Gnarliest thing I’ve ever filmed, and he just rode away like a G. Oh, and I have to mention Omar! He doesn’t even really snowboard, he’s just part of the crew, and like does his own thing. The ender in the friends segment is Omar, so fucked that he landed that. We were all probably more stoked on that than anyone else putting down a trick in that whole movie.

And there were some decent bails… Any shot that was way harder to get than it should’ve been?

Definitely. We were actually right in Killington, on this wooden rail. Well, most of the movie is wooden rails, but anyways. Yeah, we were working on this rail, sawing down knobs, and yo we actually ran out of there the first day. So creepy, I looked up in this tree and this mannequin head just locked eyes with me, I swear. We literally ran. Went back the next day, the mannequin head wasn’t even there!! But this spot took both Jake and I, a couple hours to get our shots. George is so sick when we’re at spots and we just can’t get it. Honestly like George is just always down, he’s got a few shots in the friends part, and really he is always there to help make it happen. He’s actually sitting next to me right now, reminding me how hard it was to get that shot, ha.

The crew seems super close, even though you’re all spread out now at college, right?

Yeah, most of us are away at school. It was hard at first. Will was the first to head out, he’s a bit older than me and he went out to Utah. We’re still super close, and literally we film as much as we can when he is back East on school break. This year more of us are at school though, and I actually think it’s really going to help us. Jake is at URI, George and I are roommates at UVM, and Thomas is up here in Burlington now too. We’ll all meet in Killington for the most part, and we can always link with Timmy there. I’m also really stoked to be close to Maggie again, she’s here at UVM too, and we are definitely focused on a full part for her this season. It’s going to be sick to have places to stay, like go hit spots in Rhode Island now, around Burlington and really just get outside of Killington more. The fact that we aren’t around each other as much, I think we’re going to work that much harder at spots and it will all come together, just making us better.

 

A post shared by Joey Leon (@_choooch_) on

Now seems like a good time to talk about the plans for this season.

Travel. The more I think about it, the more I realize like 90% of Rebirth is on wooden rails. That’s seriously just because we rarely left Killington, and if we did, we were still really close to the area. It’s going to be sick to hit some shit we’re actually comfortable going sideways on, wood is so sketchy. We’re looking at hitting some spots in Canada, and like I said, seeing Jake in Rhode Island and shit. We got a new lens too, been a dream for Jake and I forever, that we never really expected to own. Maggie bought a HVX and her part is really a big focus. Other than that, just going to focus on getting better, filming some more b-roll, new angles… we’re learning a lot and can’t wait to keep going.

Looking forward to seeing it go down man. Any last mentions?

Shout-out to my Mom, have to start there, she is #1. Darkside Snowboards and the whole family there, Billy Langlands, Evan Ricker, Tyler Mills, Tucker Zink, Ron Chiodi for all the help on the movie, Killington Parks, and I mean you’re interviewing me, but Mike Garceau. There’s really been so many people along the way, and I know I talk for the whole crew when we say we can’t thank everyone enough for all the support. We’re stoked to start filming again, and I hope everyone has a great year.

Killington’s Loaded Turkey Rail Jam ’17 — Dinner with the Leons!?

Words and Photos: Mike Garceau

Resident airman, River Willman, probably shouting, “how ya doin?!” 

Brother and sister duo Joey and Maggie Leon and the “should be” hosts of a major “shred-giving” feast for their local crew, took home the turkey and the top spots in their respective divisions at Killington’s annual season opener on November 19, 2017. Turkey dinner at Darkside Snowboards? Looking at you fam!

The Loaded Turkey Rail Jam is a staple early season event on the East Coast. Aside from the fact it’s the first rail jam of the season, podium prizing is literally frozen turkeys, pumpkin pies and the like… the real draw for this event is simple – a free entry into Rails 2 Riches for the winners of both the Men’s and Women’s Open categories.

Each November, the Killington Parks Crew builds out a venue suited for the first drops of the season. It’s got something for everyone — mellow enough to knock off the rust but big enough for competitors to lace heavy tricks — one after the next. The venue this season consisted of a 30ft diving board rail, a 26ft up-flat built on an elevated pad, a technical transfer feature comprised of two 16ft rails with a ball jib, and finally, a rainbow box/flat box combo.

Yung Woman of the hour Maggie Leon

As the weather in New England rarely ever cooperates, prepping the venue and keeping it riding well all day was one hell of a task. Fluctuating temps and variable precipitation brought fog, rain, and eventual snow throughout the contest. A huge shoutout to Rosey and his park crew for keeping it dialed all day.

Hat’s off to the Killington Parks Crew for fighting the weather all day and keeping the venue dialed.

Riders came in from across VT, and from as far as PA. The locals were well represented with the likes of Dave Parnell, Joey Leon, Evan Bloch, River Willman, and Jake Fournier for the men, Jamie Trayer and Maggie Leon for the ladies. From within state borders, LJ Twombly, Jake Gaudet, John Garoutte and Savannah Shinske were on site. And rounding out the rider list, a Big Boulder squad made up of grom ripper LJ Henriquez, lady shred Abby Ronca, John Koch and Alex Caccamo all made the trek.

Laid back and smooth style was the ticket for Alex Caccamo all day.

It’s generally the case to say that riders took a minute to warm up, but as soon as the first session started, the hammers came out. Alex Caccamo dropped straight into the diving board rail with a smooth 270 on / 270 off, opening the floodgates as the standouts of the day began to lay claim to the venue.

The ladies brought some of the best riding we’ve seen at the Loaded Turkey. At just 12 years old, Abby Ronca merely missed out on the podium, lacing smooth spins off rails throughout most of the day. Business as usual for Jamie Trayer, consistent and aggressive riding put her in 3rd place. Savannah Shinske, an up-and-comer on the scene, displayed some clean technical riding landing her the first runner up selection. And, no stranger to the top step of the podium, Maggie Leon was on another level with no sign that she’s slowing down anytime soon.

Maggie Leon on her way to taking the turkey.

On the men’s side of the competition, the race was tight, and judges deliberated for longer than usual to decide who would make the podium. It came down to an honorable mention for Evan Bloch and Alex Caccamo, both in top form, but needing a bit more consistency over the full hour of competition to score some baked goods.

Evan Bloch sending the transfer feature.

Jake Gaudet’s style is one of its own; it’s a pleasure to watch this kid maneuver his board. Jake locked in his 3rd place podium spot with a lofty back 270-bring back, bonking off the ball jib and gapping to the down of the transfer feature. And the runner up was LJ Twombly, a silent assassin of sorts, and another young gun to keep an eye on. The kid just lands on his feet, and all said and done, check marks run across the judge’s sheets next to his name.

Landing on his feet in 3, 2, 1, stomped. Silent assassin, LJ Twombley.

Topping the podium was local-legend-in-the-making, Joey Leon, and there was no question about the top spot on the day. Joey has lurked in the shadows for a long time, behind riders like Tim Major, Billy Keil, and Nate Haust… seemingly watching their every move. Sunday showed a lot of promise for this kid, much more than we’ve seen in the past. For every drop, it seemed Joey was taking two. For every trick missed, or not landed perfectly, it was immediate redemption on the next hit. In the spirit of not jinxing a thing here, we’re eagerly waiting to see what Joey brings to the table at Rails 2 Riches. 

And with that, the Leon siblings have locked in their places on the Rails 2 Riches riders list, and a few others from the day will likely get the call up for December 9th. In the meantime, we’ll be waiting on that Darkside x Leon family turkey dinner invite.

It was happening that fast, Joey Leon laying claim to the entire venue.

 

Last Weekend, Whenever: Rust – A Killington Opening Video

Stunts: Jake Fournier, Maggie Leon, Evan Bloch, Savannah Shinske, Chris Depaula, and Joey Leon

Words by Joey Leon

The official status of KMR, as of Nov 15, 2017.

Killington finally opened for the 17/18 season on November 9, so we got up there by 8 am! At least we meant to. In actuality, we woke up around 10 and devoted a couple hours to shenanigans before actually heading up to the mountain. It took us some time to put our on boots and get up to the lift, which put us at about 12:30 by the time we were riding. Close enough.

Jake Fournier, Savannah Shinske and myself were there in hopes of getting some clips of ourselves, and we just happened to meet up with a bunch of other people we hadn’t seen in a while, which definitely added to the hype. It was also our first time using a new lens, which made for extra nervous energy about getting a lens hit. After a day of mostly slipping off and falling, we headed home – which involved a hike up the stairs to the top of the K1. This took a lot more effort than any of us were ready for.

We decided to stop for a spliff break, but right behind us was mountain ambassador (aka the fun police), who told us to keep walking. In that short time frame, our hands got so cold that we had to go into the lodge before heading back down the gondola.

In one final move of first-day-of-the-season grace, Savannah fell walking up the stairs from the lodge. We all laughed, and she almost got a shinner. After a relatively non-eventful ride back down the K1 gondola, we had to stop at Darkside (as always) because I broke my edge. Classic.

The night was pretty mellow and we actually all ended up just studying after riding. It was lit.– Joey Leon

PEOPLE’S COURT: JOEY LEON VS CONNER FELIX

The Hawaiian shirt used to be a staple look for every American dad. Throw a straw hat, cargo shorts and sandals in the mix and they’ve unlock maximum summer comfort. A perfect outfit for grilling some stakes or embarrassing your kids at the local pool. However the ever fashion forward, Jed Anderson and Nick Trepasso, dawned this classic leisure wear a few years back inspiring every young rider to do the same.

This week we face off two young riders who pillaged their father’s wardrobe before heading to the mountain. First up is 14 year-old, Joey Leon, a young East Coaster with terrible #musicsupervision and a deep bag of tricks. His challenger is 15 year-old, Conner Felix, a Canadian with a love for Juicy J and great presses. Cast your vote to decide who’s a better rider or who has the better Hawaiian shirt.

The Yobeat People’s Court is brought to you by iNi. The winner of this week’s battle will take home a “Homeslice Hat” and “Camp Jacket.”

ini_PCprize_1   Want to be part of the People’s Court? Submit your edit to [email protected] This contest is open to any amateur snowboarder. You can be sponsored, just not getting paid, son.