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hood preseason

hood preseason
Photo: Drew Smalley

rainbow breck

rainbow breck

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

FWQ 16 At Crested Butte, CO

After calling Colorado my home for the past four seasons, I thought that I had explored the best parts of it. Making my way through Summit County, Telluride, and the city, it seemed as though there couldn't be anything more amazing to see. However, I was wrong. Crested Butte blew all of those places out of the water, and not just because of the skiing.
Take a step back in time, to 1960 to be exact. When men were real mountain men, there were no traffic lights in town, and skiers came to be skiers. Thats how Crested Butte still feels. The energy of this place is unlike anywhere I've ever been. Nestled away in the Colorado Rockies this massive peak of Crested Butte has a Matterhorn-like aura resonating through the town. You feel as if you could literally check out from the outside world and get lost here until you realize how forward thinking this place is.
As an athlete and someone who cares about my health and what goes in my body, it was unbelievable to see how many natural, local, organic options there are almost everywhere in town. Not to mention one of the cutest natural food stores I've ever been in. To think that this place has maintained the true mountain feel,  living up to their name "The last great Colorado mountain town," is truly quite the feat. Considering how many corporations there are in this industry and you can really feel their presence at most ski resorts in the USA. Time and time again this town and the mountain kept me bewildered with excitement and continuously shouting "This place is RAD!"involuntarily at every turn.

Crested Butte is one of the birthplaces of Freeskiing and it is clear why. The terrain here is extreme, steep, fast, and technical. It has bred some of the best skiers and snowboarders in the world. I was fortunate to not only witness the madness in person, but also get to participate in both the 2* and 4* Freeride World Tour Qualifying events here this past weekend. Nothing could have prepared us for the venues that were selected for the contest, however, I am glad that I grew up snowboarding in Montana, because it was downright intense.
The 2* contest started on Hawks Nest, a venue that is relatively mellow in comparison to the 4* venues. It was a one and done type of deal, meaning there was no qualifying round. Simply take one run through the course and the judges will decide the winners based on that one run. Watching my other competitors maneuver through the course really excited me, and I felt that I found a very original line choice. The skier women dropped first , and absolutely crushed the course, they are such phenomenal athletes and ski so fast through the icy mogul fields, it is really exhilarating to watch. After the skier women dropped, I was the first of the snowboard ladies to take my run. I came out of the starting area feeling very confident about my line choice and run. After making my way down through a few features that I had picked out, I came to my last air, which had a couple of moguls in front of it, into an air through some tight trees into another mogul field. I jumped, landed, then unfortunately caught my edge just before the finish area. I stopped, took a breath and collected myself to watch the rest of the ladies make their way down the course.

The rest of the field picked their way down the icy mogul run, doing what they could to stay on their feet, which is the name of the game at most of these contests. Unfortunately a lot of the field fell (myself included.) There were two girls who made it all the way down the course with fluidity and no falls and took first and second! Congratulations to Morgan Shippen of Durango, CO and Whitney O'Bannon from Jackson, WY for taking the top two spots! I was very honored to sneak a 3rd place podium finish even with my fall in the run.

The following day was qualifying for the 4* event, the sun was shining, the weather was sweet, and we were ready to move our dancing feet. We loaded the chair at 8am Saturday morning, and made our way to Headwall where the qualifying venue was located. Due to the enormous amount of sunshine the past couple of weeks here there were ample rocks all through the venue, making an already challenging course, a little more challenging. When maneuvering through steep icy moguls with "sharkfins" everywhere, you have to be so concentrated on each turn, never letting your guard down. The moment you do, the course will eat you alive. I'm incredibly proud and honored to ride this course with so many talented female rippers. It was not easy, and at the end of the day we can all pat ourselves on the back for handling this course and coming out unscathed.

There were 11 girls in the event, 8 of us moved onto finals. Finals took place the next day on a different venue than we had previously planned for. Myself, and a couple other competitors unfortunately did not hear that the venue had been changed from Staircase to Sock-it-to-Me until after we were already off the hill that day, which is less than ideal given the current state of the snow.

We mentally prepared ourselves the best we could, finding photos of the venue from whoever we could and studying them like we had a finals exam the following day. Blessed with another absolutely bluebird Colorado day, we made our way up for inspection at 8:30am. Thankfully, we were able to squeeze in two runs for inspection so we could make our line decision before the contest started at 10am. The skier women started the day again, and blew our minds with some incredible skiing. Next up was our category of snowboard women. Again, I am amazed at the caliber of riding that all of the women displayed and the decision making was impeccable. It was so fun to watch everyones runs, in particular Mary Boddington from Crested Butte who dominated the qualifying round on Saturday, and was sitting in first place going into the finals event. The conditions were tough, and the course took out a lot of good riders. At the end of the day you have to stay on your feet, and the riders who were able to do that came out on top. Randa Shahin rode solid through both events, coming from 7th position in qualifying all the way to 3rd place on the podium with a great finals run. Mary boddington took the win with some mindblowing riding both on qualifying and finals day. Mary had a very original line choice, and made it clear that she can handle this terrain, no problem! Both Randa, and Mary are incredible athletes, and genuinely wonderful human beings, and I was honored to be standing in 2nd place next to both of these ladies after the two day event. Congratulations to all of the competitors including Lynn Neil, and Robyn Borneman rounding out 4th and 5th position on the podium! Special thank you to Crested Butte Mountain Resort for putting on this great event and sharing "The Last Great Colorado Mountain Town" with us. I can't wait to come back next year. Another huge thank you has to go out to the FWQ16 staff, judges, volunteers, and spectators for putting on a stellar event! Thank you also to all of my sponsors for your support in getting me here, especially OUTDOOR TECH, and XS HELMETS!

Monday, January 4, 2016

New OREGins..... Start of Winter 15/16

I've said it before and i'll say it again. Oregon is such a magical place. Having never been here in the winter, let alone snowboarded here in the winter, I wasn't sure what to expect. Since a lot of contests I'm doing are in the Northwest and Canada, I thought that Mt. Hood would be a great place to call home. Once again my intuition served correctly, and I have a feeling this might be one of the best seasons yet.
The season started out a bit rocky as usual, but winter has arrived in full force and we were blessed with 6ft of snow in 5 days over the holidays! Needless to say we wanted to avoid the resorts and crowds, and decided to explore some sidecountry areas and take out the snowmobile.
The scenery of Oregon in the winter is unlike anything i've ever experienced. The trees load up with snow due to the moisture in the air, and everything looks as if its been frozen in time. Hints of green from the lush forest and the ground below poke through and give exquisite contrast through the snow covered landscape. It truly is a spectacular sight, and one that I want to share through these photos.

PHOTOS: Drew Smalley

Meadows Insta Edit:

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Summer 2015 at Windells

Being a part of Mt. Hood in the summertime is one of my favorite things in the world. The sunshine, soft snow, and all around stoke you feel through the community is one that cannot be easily mimicked. I've had the pleasure of being a part of Windells the past few years, and was thrilled to be asked back to help out with the adult campers this year. Everyday on the glacier is a blessing, and the fact that we are able to snowboard during June-August is so incredible, despite the low snow year. This summer was especially low on snow and i'm blown away at how well the diggers at Windells, as well as the rest of the staff handled the situation and in my mind, came out on top. Thanks again for another memorable summer Windells, Mt. Hood, and Timberline! Pray for snow this season!

Alaska Dreams... My trip to Haines and Heli Skiing with SEABA

For the most part, all of the stories you hear about Alaska are true. Its cold, wet, theres wildlife everywhere, its absolutely stunning and its mostly run by men. The terrain is unbelievable and it is a place many people in the outdoorsy world dream about going. I was fortunate enough to make it up there this April for some heli skiing, and it was everything I could have imagined.
Other than the ample amount of down time sitting inside due to weather, the trip was an experience I will never forget. There is something very humbling about being in those mountains, getting dropped off on top of knife edge ridges from a helicopter, and descending thousands of feet to basically sea level again. Alaska left me with an indescribable feeling of longing for more time in the mountains, but also a huge respect those pioneers who first started exploring around them, where one small mistake will cost you your life. You can bet that I will find a way to get back there every year from now on.. I suggest you do too.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

SFS BIG Sky 2015

Mother nature has been extremely fussy all year, with unusual snow patterns, or lack there of, we have all been at the mercy of a nearly snowless year here in the lower 48. Due to the nature of our sport, we have absolutely no control over whether or not it will snow, or if we will end up having to compete on less than ideal conditions. Unfortunately for the Subaru Freeride Series and Big Sky, mother nature just couldn't provide the snow needed at the proper time to warrant sending 100 plus competitors down one of the most treacherous zones on the mountain, the Headwaters.
Given the fact I grew up in Montana I was looking forward to going to this event a little bit more than than the rest of the stops, and was committed to go either way. We showed up two days early in Big Sky and were greeted with less than optimal conditions on the course (which was closed) and the mountain all around. Later that day we received an email from the event coordinators saying that the event had been cancelled, and regrettably there was nothing that could be said or done.
Determined to make the most of our time there, we decided to tough it out and go ride and keep our spirits up regardless. Lamentably, for the Freeride series coordinators mother nature had a little surprise up her sleeve and the skies opened up and dumped about 2 feet of snow in a 36 hour period of time, and I got to enjoy one of the best powder days of my life.
The terrain there is unbeatable, and with access to some really steep open bowls, cliff drops, and chutes directly from the tram, we got "free refills" and I was literally getting faceshots on every turn on every run all day long. That made up for the lack of the event in itself, and although SFS did their very best to make the event happen, sometimes things just happen don't work out as planned. I was privileged to be asked by the SFS to participate in a promotional video for the Sony Action Camera while I was up there and had an absolute blast being a part of that. Everything happens for a reason, and I would have loved to compete and bump myself up the overall rankings, however, I am very pleased to say I still ended up in 4th place overall in the series, my debut year. I am looking forward to many more Freeride events next year, and positioning myself to try to qualify for the Freeride World Tour. Thanks to everyone at the SFS for all of their hard work, my sponsors, family, supporters, and all of the new friends I've made on this exquisite journey into a new realm of competitive snowboarding. I'm looking forward to heading up to Haines, AK next week to get my fill of powder for the season- stay tuned for the next set of adventures!

Filming with the SFS for Sony Action Cam

Lone Peak behind me

Headwaters Venue Monday 3/23/15 (2 days before the storm)

Mahalo vibes

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Timberline Sidecountry

Timberline Sidecountry

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