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The Retro Pipe Lives at the 2015 Vermont Open

You’d be hard pressed to meet a snowboarder from the East Coast without some sort of US Open memory. For nearly 30 years, the event was a annual gathering of debauchery and progression, which any self-respecting snowboarding enthusiast would be a fool to miss. As the Open grew at Stratton, bag checks tightened, the halfpipe walls doubled in size, and legends were made year after year. That is, until three years ago – when the Open moved to Colorado. The decision was based on many factors including money, terrain, weather, but mostly money, leaving Stratton locals with nothing but memories and the Stratton staff with a few less headaches.

But now that the US Open is just another snowboard contest in Vail, and the east coast spring party has moved to New Hampshire for Last Call, some worried Vermont’s legacy as the home of competitive snowboarding would soon become a distant memory. However, something much more magical has happened. Stevie Hayes and a group of dedicated Southern Vermonters have kept the dream alive with the Vermont Open, a three-day event that features a rail jam, slopestyle, banked slalom, snufer races and concerts, on par with those of the US Open glory days. For 2015, instead of a big air, the retro pipe was reborn.

Much to my delight, the hand-dug dude tube was on East Byrneside – otherwise known as the original location of the US Open halfpipe – before it was moved to Sunrise, out of the way of the general skiing public, or whatever. With walls topping out at 12 feet and several man-made one hitters carved into the uneven surface – the chances of anyone being able to double cork were slim (although those Japanese kids probably could do it.) It was a specimen straight out of the late 80s, which riders young and old struggled equally to negotiate, but still managed to put on a show and finish with smiles on their faces.

In the tradition of classic Vermont weather, mist fell from the sky on March 14, 2015, and fog shrouded the well-lit halfpipe, illuminating the scene, which no matter if you were there or not, harkened back to the good old days. Local legends like Jerry Tucker, Seth Neary, Charlie Cavanaugh and Ross Powers joined the new guard of Vermonters such as Jack Kyle for a perfect lesson in “how things used to be.” Some riders opted for retro boards, or dressed in classic Craig Kelly attire, and the only thing there to really reminded you it was twenty years later were the ubiquitous GoPros. There were no 1620s and no rehearsed routines. Just tweaks, grabs and the occasional 720.

The Vermont Open is still small, but as history has a tendancy to repeat itself, growth is inevitable. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get there next year so that you can be the one who says, “Remember when?” Maybe we’ll bring the cage.

Chris Roach Talks to Buoloco: Part 2

The crazy Spaniard that is Buoloco continues his chat with the living legend that is Chris Roach. If you missed part 1 watch it here.

Link: Buoloco

A Hump Day History Lesson with Brad Steward


Did someone call the snowboard police? Photo: Jared Souney

Burton. Sims. Morrow. Barfoot. You know all those names because they have been printed in huge letters across the bases of countless snowboards. You may not be as familiar with the name Brad Steward — founder of Bonfire Snowboarding and Salomon Snowboarding — but don’t assume he’s had any less impact in this crazy world we live in. The first kid of the second generation of snowboarding, Brad was there for the days when snowboarding wasn’t allowed at resorts, and has bought, sold and run more of snowboarding than you’ll ever even know existed. Be warned, this interview is long, but it’s worth it, so read up and learn.

Tell me about the history of Bonfire and what was the original idea behind starting the brand back in 1989.

Actually the original idea of the company that existed are in some ways really similar to what I had in mind, and in a lot of ways different to what I had in mind. The original company name was Bonfire Think Tank Designs Inc. At that time I’m coming out of film school, coming out of being a pro rider, had a little bit of corporate experience with starting a couple of brands but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do yet. So the original idea was, why couldn’t you start a clothing line, be a film company, maybe be an ad agency, and do something that was way more creative than just making stuff and selling it? I was really trying to stay out of that business model, without even really being smart enough to know that was a business model. I was just thinking how do you stay creative and active and keep on the road. Which was a big goal of mine actually, just to keep on the road, shooting, living, riding, and having fun.


Matt Goodwill, Bonfire model/boarder circa the 90s or something.

So how would you say that Bonfire today compares to that?

Well, we existed kind of in that way I just described. We existed in that way probably for the first 7 years of the business. I had started it under kind of weird circumstances. I was sitting at Morrow one day and I discovered, via a call from one of the people that worked at our bank, that there was something going on that probably wasn’t very ethical, and that I wasn’t aware of what’s happening. And I always had this thing where I didn’t want my time in snowboarding to be tainted by anything at all, you know? So I confronted the owners of Morrow and said, hey, this is unethical. They said, that’s just the way we work and I basically handed them 6 million bucks worth of stock back and said I don’t work this way and literally walked out. Grabbed a couple family photos, split. I went to the Mac store down the street, bought a computer, went to my house, and started a new company. It was a really different company from the beginning because my attitude was kind of, I have to make this work. And even our first labels have a little thing at the bottom that just says “Make it work” and it was just a little message to myself to that it’s up to you, you can make this work or not make it work.

So, how does that pertain to what we are today? About 7 years into it I realized a really, really simple thing. If Burton was going to be the Coca Cola of snowboarding that represented everything to everyone in snowboarding, then I need to do something different to be successful. Chasing them and doing it the same way that they had done it would never work.

One of the basic business questions I always try to ask myself is what would the competition never do? And at that time something that no other snowboard company would do would be to partner with the worlds biggest ski company. And I thought, this is the reason that it will work, is because there is no precedent for it, nobody knows the ground rules or how it can all happen. And I always say that I kinda came to that realization, but during that same time the Salomon guys had come to me and said that we want to buy your company. I had sort of re buffed them 3 or 4 times and said no way, this is business suicide, career suicide, brand suicide, this will never work. And literally just one day I thought, actually wait a minute. This totally will work. So that’s kind of the beginning of the relationship. Going from a no way in hell, to a hi, nice to meet you.


Yeah, he ‘boards.

So how did the ski company effect everything? Do you feel like they changed your original idea?

In some ways yes, and in some ways no. The original proposition was, we’re going to buy Bonfire and we’re going to start Bonfire Snowboards. And Bonfire Snowboards will be cool because Brad’s legit, the company is credible, and everything will be good. I talked to them for a little bit about that, and as I learned more about it I just kind of came to the table and said hey man, I don’t think you should start Bonfire Snowboards. I think you have to re-invent Salomon. My image of Salomon in the 90’s was a ski instructor in red pants and I just said you gotta rebuild that, and if you rebuild that successfully, Bonfire will follow. It seemed like they were kind of asking the tail to wag the dog a bit, and I thought we’re going to be in this small company and we’re going to create this completely core company and nobody is going to understand what it is, why it exists, how it’s important, or what it even means to the people who snowboard. So I really started out on this mission to try to change Salomon. Years down the road where we are now, my day to day work at Bonfire is really bringing back to Bonfire that original flavor that we had. You know, we were making award winning commercials, little movies, and doing all sorts of crazy stuff and people knew Bonfire to be a smart brand. It wasn’t a company for people who wanted to wear a snowboard uniform or just being the goofy kid in big pants, we were always a little smarter then that.

Not so trend focused, would you say?

I think that we were trend aware, but my orientation was more, if that’s the trend what can we do to buck it? And that’s actually caused us some really good benefits to happen at Bonfire and also some really bad benefits. A great example is when tighter pants and that whole look came around. We introduced it at least 3 years before the competition. We took it to snowboard trade shows and people said, you are crazy, those don’t even fit. And we’re kinda sitting there thinking, well, yeah they do, you just have to start seeing things a little bit different. We had them for two years, then we killed them. The staff that created those left Bonfire, started Holden, and came back with a brand that had that whole perspective and turned out to be a major competitor to us. It was just kind of a lesson of that we can be kind of far ahead, but we kind of damage the brand sometimes by being too far ahead — where people were looking at it saying no, no, no, that’s not what snowboarders use. And my perspective is the Northwest is the only place in the world where snowboarders outnumber skiers, and we have a different viewpoint. We see it differently. Myself and the other people in the company, we’re not really interested in hitting what’s out there. We’re interested in trying to find something that people don’t know they need, and build it for them.


Just one stoked dude. Photo: Jared Souney

That’s interesting you mentioned Holden, with them recently moving to L.A. What is your take on that?

Super smart guys, super smart move. And because I know them personally, I’ve never really seen them as a snowboard company. To me the d.n.a. of that company has always wanted to be a street wear company. I think they are good guys and good friends and I wish them success.

It just comes down to what you want, you know? And with Bonfire, what I have always wanted for the brand was just dumbed down and simple. Because I’m kind of a dumbed down and simple guy, and that is — I want a group of people working together to make something that’s cool, artistic, interesting, and ahead of the curve. And that’s it. And inside of all of that, you can do a ton. There’s all the movie projects, the writing, the visuals, you know the whole way you build a brand and you build a life. All of that is inside of that. That’s very different from saying, we want to sell our company to a big surfing company. We’re going to move to L.A. and we’re going to plop right in the middle of their neighborhood so they can all smell our brand and ask themselves, do we need a little serving of that? That’s a very different goal. And neither one is right or wrong, it’s just a different thing. For me, I’m just looking to stay creative and keep people engaged and to be valuable to the riders that ride our stuff and for the people that buy it. READ MORE

CONTINUE READING BRAD’S THOUGHTS ON THE GOOD OLD DAYS, SELLING OUT, THE KIDS TODAY AND MORE

Postland Rail Riots 2012

We organized this event to bring back the good ol’ days where young rippers came together to ride without pressure, Read more

A Hump Day History Lesson with Dale Rehberg

How it was done, as demonstrated by Roan and Dale. Photo courtesy Roan Rogers.

Snowboarding as it is known now was once called “new school riding,” and not just freestyle. All the rails and jumps that are so graciously setup by resorts weren’t always there. We used to have to go out and find rails to hit. If we wanted to hit a kicker, we would have to build it. The year was 1991 and the place was Breckenridge, CO. Dale Rehberg was one of the first punk kids in big pants and a flat brim to do it. In other words respect your elders kids, cause if it wasn’t for us you might be in a speed suit, running gates!

Russ: How’s life down in the So Cal?

Dale:  Life in So Cal IS life in So Cal…what you make of it.  Try to avoid the rat race and stay true to the roots.

Russ:  Perfect. A lot of people don’t know that you and I go back like sweat socks. I think the first time we met we were 15 or something. So I would say we know each other pretty well. You agree?

Dale:  HA!  If people only knew….YES Russ, we go way way back, that’s for sure…the good the bad and the gnarly!

Russ:  Yes, the good the bad and the… lol. Now speaking of So Cal. We were probably the first pros to transplant to So Cal. I have a lot of fine memories of that first summer. Which one sticks out in your mind?

Dale:  Yeah. I would agree that we were some of the first snow heads to roll into So Cal and post up.  Some of my best memories in So Cal happened at Pacific Drive…our little hang out.  The crew in that place at that time was classic, everyday was something new for sure.  I also remember a lot of parties for some reason..HA.

The PD Days. Photos: Yago

Russ:  Yeah PD is one of those places that’s like the oasis in the middle of the oasis, if you know what I’m talking about. Kinda like the VIP oasis. I do remember knee paddling skateboards home one night too, I think? Or maybe that was a dream.

Dale:  No dream Russ. Hitting up the local watering hole was an everyday occasion, and getting home was always a chore. I think Milo picked us up that night actually?  That guy is great and still a good friend!

Russ: So since the OG Ride days, what do you feel has changed most in the industry?

Dale:  Since the days at Ride… I think a lot has changed!  I mean, I’m not sure of too many pros who have unlimited travel budgets, no requirements other than to show up and party. We did ride of course, but we didn’t have to huck off 100ft jumps and spin like ballerinas either. Anything we did, we could successfully do with a hangover. HA.

Russ:  Amen to that.

Dale:  The other thing that I think has changed is that most of what we were doing at that time was all new. The places we were riding, the equipment we were on etc. etc. now-a-days most shit has been done…Sure people find new zones to explore and push the limits, but in general nobody is doing stump lines for the first time, that’s for sure.

Russ:  So in other word same pony, different rider?

Dale:  Not really..but kind of.  Everything was fresh in the sense that it was all new…not just to all of us but to the industry.  Fresh as in totally different — different style, different fashion, different in general..not sure how much stuff is too different today?

Russ: I like your answer Homie! I want to talk with you a bit about pro models. I have a feeling that since so many of the pros that had models weren’t really designing there stuff just “signing off” on it, the companies didn’t see the total value of it, but I would like to hear your opinion.

Dale:  Ok, pro models. My opinion is simple…snowboarding has gotten to a point that it is a mainstream sport, something that anyone can do.  So the value of the rider is not so prestigious really (except for the few who have the ability to still sell products) so the consumer demand for pro models is not as big as it was in the past.  I think riders nowadays are more about the company they ride for than the person themselves. Good point too Russ.. I know that we DID design our boards from shape to graphic to construction etc.

The O.G. ride team (minus Russ, plus the Pouges) with pro models! Photo: Mike Leblanc

Russ:  For me it was all about expression back in the day. From the fashion to the tricks to the way it was thrown down. I feel that the shape and graphic of each of our boards also played a major role in that.

Dale:  For sure it did.  Agree!

Russ:  It seems today it’s hard out there for a pimp

Its Hard Out Here For Pimp-Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow)

Dale:  haha yeah…We had pagers suckas. That was classic. No cell phones..pagers! thought we were rolling…

Russ:  What I mean is that a lot of the companies are more worried about a degree then real life experience.

Dale:  Oh for sure..it’s part of the industry growing up.  I hope it (the industry) doesn’t lose touch with where things came from and how it got to where it is today…that’s for sure! I see certain brands losing some of this for sure..while others embrace it.

Russ:  I think you’re right.. It’s funny the ones embracing it seem to have a true following of people while the other companies cant really figure out why??? Fuckin rocket science huh……….Let us converse on a dear friend of both of ours, Roan Mutha Fukin Rogers. I remember Ed did the whole thing on core. To me core and hardcore are two different things. Core is just being true to what you came into the game to do and Hardcore is being Roan Rogers. If you don’t wanna do it you ain’t gonna do it!

Dale:  Roan (Rogers) and I grew up together since we started to walk…we pretty much did everything together.  Roan was always a small kid and didn’t come out of his shell until late teen years, then it was on.  We moved out to Breck and he just went fucking crazy with his riding.  His style to still top notch and in my opinion still better than anyone…point.  Roan is Hardcore for sure and there is a difference here.  He does things he likes and does them better than most (he will kick your ass X-country skiing as well!)  and he never sold out for the money and he never did anything he didn’t feel right about…ever. Roan to me is what a real person is. Doing things out of passion and not to make others happy or prosper from. Hardcore to a fault (in a good way of course.)

Russ:  To all of you yungstas out there listen to what was just said might be the most important piece of info you get all week.

Roan and Dale, learning to kickflip?

Dale:  I have a very small list of who I think is Hardcore for sure..most others are core.

Russ: What have you been doing since you hung up the pro boots?

Dale:  I’ve worn a few hats since hanging up the proverbial “hat” as you say.  But as of recent I am brand manager for NXTZ an accessories brand under the Flow Sports umbrella.  Making quality accessories for winter and diving into the Spring/Summer world as I type. Oh yeah..let’s not forget about the Russell special edition NXTZ coming in HOT this fall!!

Russ:  That’s right people. I did a few special edition NXTZ pieces. If wanna look as good as me well, you better cop that ish! **Shameless Self Promotion**

Last but not least I wanna talk about one of the many subtleties that set Ride apart from the others. Flat kicks. I used them because they floated well and it made me fell more like I was skating how bout you? Oh and they look way better.

Dale:  Flat kicks look WAY better and work just as good as the other stuff out there… way more skate looking for sure (that’s why I did it on my board. I remember sitting with you and going over this for hours and hours coming up with some of that stuff.

Russ:  We pioneered some tech that we didn’t even know about that is being used right now.

Dale:  For sure, and for good reason.  I think we did a lot of things on pure feeling vs. engineering. some worked and some didn’t, and that is how it should be.

The days they always refer to when they say “back in…” photo: Tom Grace.

Russ:  You are right. Some of it really worked to the point where it is coming back today! Before I sign off.. Whistler Ride camp?

Dale:  HAHA. Can’t remember much. I think we terrorized that place a bit. Too many stories to start about. We could do a whole summer article on that stuff!

Russ: Well Reh, this was a good time for me and I hope to hookup in the real world soon man! Give the wife a hug for me and high five to the kids!

Dale:  Sweet Russ..always a good time for sure.  I’ll be in touch and hopefully we can go shred soon together!  PEACE.

Road trip! Photo: Pat A

 

 

Story Time with Uncle Russ Russ: The Final Am Stand

Have you ever woken up late for a cross country flight being stared down by an 8ft snake wondering, where what why and how???? Well that’s the way my trip to my last Am contest started.

The night before the flight me and some so-called buddies went out for some dinner, drinks, dancing and some more drinks. Needless to say, as an 18 year old I took it way too far. I woke up a half hour before I was supposed to be on my flight about 25 in the wrong direction from my luggage. I cant really remember the load that I fed the lady at the check in counter but she got me on the next flight outta JFK heading towards Portland with a bunch of random stops in between. To add insult to self-inflicted injury I arrived in Portland with no ride to Hood and no idea where I was staying.

Will Jesus save Russ? Keep reading…

I sat on the curb lit a smoke when I saw a group of people with a few hot teenage girls amongst them who happened to be on a church trip to Mt Hood. “Thank you Jesus, double thank you!” I told a cleaner version of my story and now needed to get to Hood. Like good Christians they offered me a ride and we were off. I think by this time everything I had ingested the night before was starting to wear off and the last thing I wanted was to be a Shiny happy person amongst the Shiny happy people, but I needed the ride and didn’t want to get kicked out in the scary northwest woods! I’d heard stories about the crazy lack of race relations in the woods in the NW and really wanted no part of it. Luckily, I made it to the Huckleberry Inn where I found some of my teammates who just started laughing…

Back in the day you had to do all three events: Slalom, GS and the Halftube. The first day was one of the race events. At this point I was completely over the racing and there was powder. Dale Rehberg was there with the Midwest boys and we decided after one run through the race course that we were going to go freeriding. I remember rippin through some powder field then getting down to the trees and knowing I needed to go left. I was screaming at Dale but he was just have way too much fun and kept going right almost all the way down to Gov’y! That was the last I saw him til later that night. After another run or two I ran into my coach who wasn’t really that pleased with me not taking my runs, but I told her that I really didn’t see much future in racing for myself. She looked at me and giggled and said ok.

This is where the magic happened then, and sometimes still does.

Back at the Huck after riding it was time to PARTAY!!! My boy Rocket was there, a big ass dude who ripped. I hadn’t met him before but birds of a feather! We started drinkin’ and it was on, but the next day was the halfpipe and I really wanted to win. I woke up, or came to, however you wanna say it, and went up to the hill. I looked at the pipe and it was less then average… I don’t think any of the kids today would even drop in. It was maybe a 6ft ditch with highway hits in it. Still, I think I was in the top three going into the finals, Rehberg and Rocket were right there too, so we all went and talked to the people who put on the contest about the quality of the pipe.

Me: Yeah, Hi, I was just wondering if you realized this pipe really is bad.
Contest admin: I don’t know why you’re bitchin’ you are riding it great…
Me: Great is a relative term..

The contest admin made a scowly face then walled away from me with disgust. I don’t know if he smelled all the booze or just couldn’t believe that I was such a little fucker. Either way I went out took my last run. I did pretty well, or so I thought, and went back into the lodge to hang with the homes. When the final scoring came out I didn’t have a score and if my memory serves me right, neither did Dale or Rocket. I returned to the same contest admin for another conversation that went something like this

Me: Umm.. Why did I not have a score
Contest admin: I don’t know

Me: How do you not know this is complete bullshit!
Contest admin: I don’t know what your bitching about the nationals are going to be at your home mountain next year.
Me: I don’t give a fuck where the contest is gonna be next year! I’m turning Pro next week and I’m done with this bullshit!

THE END of my Am career


Sadly, Russ doesn’t have any photos of this event, but here’s one we found on google image search of what snowboarding looked like back then to help you imagine.

Stay tuned next week for the start of Russ’s pro career…

Storytime with Uncle Russ Russ: Euroland 1.2

Last week Story Time with Uncle Russ Russ launched. Russell Winfield, snowboarding’s greatest Black rider of all time and legendary party animal, began Part 1 of his first trip to Europe. The story cut off with Russell and crew being ditched by the French Ride distributors in some abandoned hotel in Sweden. With a camp to coach and good times to be had the boys woke up, found their campers and continued their absurd journey through Europe. Uncle Russ Russ will take it from here…

Think this is an exaggeration? Nah, here’s proof in print form.

Early the next morning we found our Swedes, who were headed by Gregor. He was a huge Swedish influence in action sports and a solid dude. We went to the hill and started to do some big backside 180’s off this cat track into the flat. Woo-HOO fun! There was this one kid who really got our attention. He goes by Ingmar “Buckshoot ” Backman! Yup, backside air Backman! He was killing it to the point where we called Steph, out team manager and had to tell her about this kid!

You know there is something about them Scanners, they seem like kindred spirits to us Americans. We seemed to have the same agenda! We not only coached these kids on the hill but also at the club. At the club Dale came up to me while I was working on finding myself a “female workout partner for the night” and told me that one of the bouncers (a dude) was blowing kisses at one of our campers (another dude). Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with man-on-man love as long as that’s what both parties want, but this Swedish kid was feelin’ kind of uncomfortable, so Dale and I decided to go and have a talk with the bouncer. The camper must have liked what they saw because the next thing I knew there were glasses, then chairs and finally people flying all over the place.

The fight spilled out into the streets of Tignes. Cars were being flipped over, the Police were called. I remember lookin’ back through the blonde mob and seeing a camper hanging from the club sign until it let loose. The sign came crashing to the ground with him still on it. Needless to say, I had never been a part of an all out riot and was stunned by it. Somethings don’t change though no matter where in the world you are. In this case it was the age-old adage, “Blame it on the black guy.“ And that’s just what they did.

Stock Swedish Polis shot.

When the police show up they very quickly surrounded me. Unlike US cops they didn’t jump on me and press my face into the ground, but instead got on each side of me and very lightly grabbed me by the elbow. At this point the blond mob decided that they were not in favor of me being detained, so they decided to flip the cop car over. Dale looked at me and said, “Dude, they don’t have any guns.” I looked down and he has right, all they had was pepper spray with pistol grips.

So, I decided to break free from them and sprint like Husain Bolt. I ran and jumped off this dirt cliff that I thought was about three feet, it ended up being about 10. Thank god there was a good landing and I have a background in baseball. I slid it out and was now on the lower level of the town. Mind you by this point all this running and fighting is wearing my buzz off. Not good. The police caught up with me and we did the Looney Tunes thing of chasing each other around a car for a minute or so. I decided that I wasn’t going to get away. Luckily they didn’t arrest me but they did make me promise that I wouldn’t start any more riots while in their town. Needles to say the Swedes thought that was the best trip they had ever been on and I was with them on that. We did things different in our day. It was more about connecting directly with the fans! A bit more intimate!

-Uncle Russ Russ