Writing – Photos – Travel – Crafts

Be sure you’ve already read Part 1, so you are not totally lost.

As our giant conversion van pulled onto Canadian soil, I started to get a little bit excited. My first trip as a real photographer—I hoped I wouldn’t blow it. We picked up Kalle Ohlson at the airport and then headed to our first hotel. At the desk, Josh asked how much it was, and then said, “We’ll take three rooms. I’ll split the first with Nova.” I was confused, but bit my tongue. The older Justin spoke up and said we’d probably only need two because they were on a budget, and then asked me to pay for a third of my room for the next two nights. Interesting, because “lodging was paid for,” but I was already there. $77.92 after the Canadian exchange rate.

The town we were in was called Trois-Rivières. It smelled like a paper mill and was blanketed in about six feet of snow. The next day we would meet Max Baillargeon, who was nice enough to take us to a few spots. Of course, I didn’t learn Max’s full name until after the trip, since Josh never bothered to learn how to pronounce it.

The first spot we hit was called “The Perfect Rail.” After three hours of digging, we uncovered a low down-rail that looked like it could easily have been in any snowboard park. I figured it was a warm-up rail, and/or some seriously tech stuff could go down, which made sense for the first spot on the trip. As I tried to figure out a way to make it look decent in photos, including attempting to dig myself a hole at the bottom of the rail so I could shoot up at it with a fisheye, Josh just shook his head at me and said, “Brooke, I’ve never seen a photographer shoot from there.” Yeah, photographers never shoot from the bottom of rails… But I hoped he was just concerned for my safety, and tried to ignore it.

AS YOU CAN SEE, THE PHOTOGRAPHIC POSIBILITIES WERE ENDLESS

AS YOU CAN SEE, THE PHOTOGRAPHIC POSSIBILITIES WERE ENDLESS

I TRIED TO GET ARTSY. IT DIDN'T REALLY HELP

I TRIED TO GET ARTSY. IT DIDN'T REALLY HELP

I ASKED THE DUDES TO WALK UP THE OTHERSIDE SO THEY WEREN'T IN THE SHOT. THEY SAID NO, NOT THAT IT MATTERED.

I ASKED THE DUDES TO WALK UP THE OTHERSIDE SO THEY WEREN'T IN THE SHOT. THEY SAID NO, NOT THAT IT MATTERED.


A few hours later, it had already become very clear that the only one in this crew that could really hit rails was Nova. Unfortunately, he also fell super-hard on his shoulder, and didn’t think he’d be able to ride for the next few days. After a while attempting to make turds look like diamonds, I went to sit in the car. Josh, who’d already landed some hideous spinny trick, was already there. I finally asked what, exactly, they were filming for. I mean, it certainly wasn’t Mack Dawg. I’ll admit, my phrasing probably wasn’t the most gentle, but Josh’s response was basically, “Why do you think we have a 16mm and an HD filmer here?”

I HAPPENED TO SHOOT A SEQUENCE OF MY HOPES AND DREAMS BEING CRUSHED

I HAPPENED TO SHOOT A SEQUENCE OF MY HOPES AND DREAMS BEING CRUSHED

After The Perfect Rail, we went to check out a double kink. More digging. (I should note that it never occurred to me to bring a shovel, so I couldn’t really help—and I got a lot of dirty looks for it.) Josh got mad at me for asking if I should try and build a kicker at the top of the rail, saying, “OBVIOUSLY.” I’ll spare the gory details, but the only ones who ended up hitting this thing were Max and the injured Nova. No real tricks went down, and Josh and Kalle claimed they wanted to come back tomorrow.

THE MOST ACTION THE STUPID DOUBLE KINK SAW

THE MOST ACTION THE STUPID DOUBLE KINK SAW

INJURED NOVA STEPPED UP AND THE LIGHT GOT GOOD. LUCKILY THERE WAS A SOFT LANDING PAD INCASE SOMETHING WENT WRONG.

INJURED NOVA STEPPED UP AND THE LIGHT GOT GOOD. LUCKILY THERE WAS A SOFT LANDING PAD INCASE SOMETHING WENT WRONG.

Tomorrow came, and we went back. The rail was too frozen, or something, so no one hit it. No one hit the triple kink we went to next, and the last rail was too buried. We decided to just head to Québec City, where plenty of spots were fabled to exist. We drove around the historic city for hours. We saw a few spots (most of which had been hit in various videos over the year) and marked them in the GPS. The snowboards never came out, though. Eventually it started to get dark, and it was time to give up pretending we were going to snowboard. I suggested we book a hotel room; maybe even a suite, so we could all split it. I was shut down by Josh, who said, “We’re staying at the Ozone. It’s where everyone stays.”

THE TRIPLE KINK WAS A NO-GO

THE TRIPLE KINK WAS A NO-GO

Of course, finding the Ozone was the first challenge. We had a GPS, but Tom-Tom didn’t seem to know where the Ozone was (Not a good sign, right?). So, being the only one with a Canada plan on my phone, I called information and got the address. Unfortunately, the free text message with the info didn’t come through, so I had to try and remember the exact address. After the boys were sufficiently pissed that I failed them by trying to help, we finally arrived.

QUEBEC IS A COOL CITY

QUEBEC IS A COOL CITY

WELL ACTUALLY COLD. FREEZING COLD

WELL ACTUALLY COLD. FREEZING COLD

BUT THERE WAS PLENTY OF STUFF TO LOOK AT

BUT THERE WAS PLENTY OF STUFF TO LOOK AT

I TOOK THESE PICTURES WHILE WE WERE DRIVING AROUND ALL DAY.

I TOOK THESE PICTURES WHILE WE WERE DRIVING AROUND ALL DAY.

Sure enough, two other film crews were also staying at the hotel: Runway and TransWorld. I must say I was excited about the prospect of seeing other people I knew on this trip, because at this point I was trying to plan my escape. I never really intended to end up this deep in Canada, and the plan had always been that one of the crew would drive me back to Burlington in time to catch my flight. But now we were five hours away, and Josh suggested there were probably buses. But, I thought, maybe having other riders around might make the trip a bit more bearable.

I dragged my bag through the biting cold to the warm lobby of the hotel. There, it had already been decided that I would room with Justin and Nova (it turned out he snored, so Josh didn’t want to share a room with him, but he pretended he was trying to split his time evenly…or something.) At this point I was over it, so as they told us we had to pay in advance, I told the guys I would probably only be there one night, even though they would be there for three. They looked at me, then at the girl behind the counter, and just said, “Yeah, can we split it in three?” So, another $100 worth of “free” lodging, most of it for days I wouldn’t even be there.

That night I went to hang out with Leanne Pelosi and Raewyn Reid. They showed me their pictures from that day—the day we’d driven around and done nothing because the weather wasn’t perfect. They had tons of pictures using the amazing scenery—tail blocks in front of horse-drawn buggies, etc. Nothing super epic, but man, it looked like they were having fun. After a little venting, I headed back up to the room, where I was happy to find no one was around. I did my best to sleep in the loud, drafty hotel, and tried to figure out how I was going to get home tomorrow…

TO BE CONTINUED.

Check back for Part 3, the conclusion of the trip, and my snowboard photography career, next Monday.

Not so long ago, I worked at Grenade. My career started when Matt Kass decided to open a third Grenade retail store in the Portland area, this one adjacent to Windell’s Snowboard Camp. Given my stellar background in retail (I wasn’t exactly fired, but didn’t exactly quit my jobs at Zumiez and US Outdoor Store,) I was an obvious choice to help run this store. That summer Joe Carter and I ate Windell’s food, and hawked stickers and leftover gear to Windell’s campers. There were ups and downs, but overall it was a fun summer.

JOE CARTER HARD AT WORK

JOE CARTER HARD AT WORK

The only real issue with working at the store was that hour commute, so I was excited when Matt started having me do other things, such as drive him around town. This was right after Grenade (meaning Matt) had moved from Mammoth to Portland, so there was a lot to do. A warehouse had been purchased, but leased out while in escrow, so Grenade was pretty much operating out of Matt’s house and a storage unit. I helped him line up temporary warehouse space (that would be 122nd) and a design office, which is still what I am most proud of in my Grenade career.

As shipping season began, Dave and I pretty much took care of everything on the business end of things. Bayne handled inside sales, and Jesse was in charge of getting all the boxes packed. We tried really hard, so if your order was screwed up, I’m sorry. This was probably the best time I had at Grenade. We were making it happen, and it felt great. Once all the orders had shipped, and the other company’s lease ran out on our official warehouse (82nd) it was time to move.

My job had now become payroll, collections, human resources and self appointed public relations. One of my first initiatives in the new space was to get Shane Flood’s mini ramp moved into the warehouse. Things were looking up, despite the pile of shit in the middle of the new warehouse.

THE WAREHOUSE. A PLACE OF BUSINESS

THE WAREHOUSE. A PLACE OF BUSINESS

The crew at 82nd was a funny one. Towards the end of my career, I started writing a blog about it. I did an awesome run down, which I think should finally see the light of day. So here goes:

There is AJ. He is “customer service” I think. I’m not really sure what he actually does, but when it involves professional snowboarders, he makes sure to think out loud. “Scotty Arnold says he wears Bob Gnarly’s, but I am not sending him gloves no one will publish.” He definitely has Grenade tattoos. If you sit anywhere near him, you know all about his two trucks, and his awesome hangovers. Oh and his dog Pandora is pretty cool.

Bayne hasn’t come around much lately. Bayne is from my hometown. He was really good at skateboarding. Now he runs the shop downtown. It’s some sort of outlet that sells long boards and spray paint. People steal stuff all the time. Theoretically, he handles inside sales. Occasionally he is on the phone shmoozing people to buy SP bindings, which we licensed, but didn’t bother to market. He is also in charge of RAs (that’s return authorization). Though he keeps a record of it, no one really ever knows what’s going on. He has a shoe with a bamboo plant on his desk.

Downstairs Jesse is the king. Well, actually Matt is king of everything, but if Matt isn’t paying attention, Jesse is in charge. Jesse, or House, as he’s also called, has a stripper girlfriend who keeps him out until 5 am. He acts tough, and doesn’t change his clothes very often, but deep down he is nice. I think he might also be a pro snowboarder, or former pro snowboarder. He hates packing boxes and always talks about how much more he got paid at Betty Rides. He used to have a den downstairs where they kept snakes and dogs and smoked weed, but Matt made him clean it out. Now there are just a few shirts hanging from the ceiling.

Then there are the grunts. The grunts are amazing, because none of them have any idea what they are doing. It will take them a week to paint one wall. Putting a sticker on the door is a two-man job. They spend most of their time a Rosco’s, the bar across the street. A few of them have been temporarily banned from the establishment. A quick breakdown of the grunts:

Cole– Spends most of his time air drumming. Often comes upstairs to announce his latest great idea. “Balloons made out of bubble gum” being my favorite.
Jamie– The smartest of the grunts. I think he may actually be going to school and trying to better himself.
Curtis– A total rocker. Long hair, tight jeans. Funny dude, not much of a worker, the secretary definitely has a crush on him.

Oh yeah, then there is Forest. Dark Forest to be exact. At one point we had three Forest’s. This one is the most amazing though. He’s maintenance supervisor I guess. He is allowed to have assistants. He worked for months without getting paid because he was on workman’s comp. He built the entire skatepark and probably some other stuff to. Then, when he was no longer getting workman’s comp, he asked if he could get paid for all those hours. Apparently he had gotten more product than he needed and the guys at the shop were over it. Now he gets paid, is a staple at Rosco’s and is always good for entertainment. Oh yeah, and he has an awesome mustache.

THE VIEW FROM MY OFFICE

THE VIEW FROM MY OFFICE


Back upstairs there are a few more people. Kelly was hired to be the morning receptionist, but since she is not retarded, quickly fell into the role of Matt’s personal assistant. She doesn’t skate and she’s not a dirtbag. But she manages to put up with everything anyway. There is the other Matt. I call him the blind guy cause he carries a blind guy cane. I think he was hired to fold goggle boxes but now he is a receptionist. He mostly sits and stares at the phones, willing them to ring. When they do he answers, “Grenade, how can I help you?” Jen used to work here. She did credits and general office work. But she’s knocked up, and her existing child is now on summer vacation, so she won’t be coming around for awhile.

There is also a shop at 82nd. It is run by Tom. Tom is always positive, always stoked. I think he was hired to help run the company, but ended up just running a shop. He is always trying to make shit happen for people. He loves his employees.

His employees are:
Kailey–She may also be his personal assistant. She’s afraid of Jesse and lives at Tom’s house.
Willis– Amazing at skateboarding, not so good at life. When all the Grenerds got charged for damaging a hotel in Seattle, he got charged the most.
Forest–Forest is nice. He lives in Gresham.
Traci– Traci used to work upstairs. She got cut off cause all she did is play on Myspace. Now she sets up skateboards.

There are always others coming and going. I think Matt hired the bartender from Rosco’s to walk his dog. Shane Flood comes by the fix bikes. There are always old trucks in the parking lot. Oh yeah, and there is a garden on the roof. And no, they are not growing weed.

THE ROOF GARDEN IN ALL ITS GLORY

THE ROOF GARDEN IN ALL ITS GLORY

We chugged along at 82nd. Painting, organizing, moving boats back and forth on the warehouse floor. But any reasonable person could see this wouldn’t last, or work, forever. I don’t really want to get into the drama that ensued, so let’s just say, depending on the day, Matt could be your best friend or your worst enemy. When he decided payroll needed to be revamped, but didn’t decide how we would do that, it marked the end of my career. It seemed to me not paying people could probably get you into trouble, so I continued to run payroll every other Friday. The second Friday, he fired me for it. Such is life.

After I left, things seemed to go downhill. It’s not my place to explain everything that happened, since I was no longer there. Let’s just say there was a bit of a regime change. I heard rumors of cops being called, and everyone getting fired. It sounded like a mess and I was glad to have gotten out when I did.

Last week though, I went back for the first time since the broken clock outside had been turned into a giant Grenade. Instead of broken trucks, the parking lot was filled with a lot of really nice cars, and the exterior paint job looks a whole lot better. Yep, Grenade is like a real company now. It’s certainly not the 82nd I remember. But I’ll let Kevin give you the tour (and only interject a few of my thoughts.)


If you want, check out the teaser for the new Grenade movie here, and if you are still down, the tour is starting now!

THIS CAN BE TAKEN SO MANY WAYS. I THINK IT WAS THE THEME OF OUR TRIP.

THIS CAN BE TAKEN SO MANY WAYS. I THINK IT WAS THE THEME OF OUR TRIP.

I am not a real photographer; I think I should start by saying that. Yes, I take photos, and sometimes they even come out well, but when people ask me what I do, photography is usually somewhere near the bottom of the list. Yet somehow, I found myself up to my neck in snow in Québec last winter as the official photographer on a snowboard video shoot. Well…let me classify “official”: I was the only photographer, and I was invited for that purpose.

So how, you might ask, did I end up in this predicament? It all started at Killington. I was there for the Grand Prix (mainly as an excuse to visit my family and write it off my taxes), and ran into Josh Sherman. I’d met Josh a couple of times, and he seemed nice enough, but I hadn’t been following his career closely enough to know anything about his riding. Anyway, at the event, I was shooting photos, so Josh must have assumed I was pro. The day before I was supposed to leave to head back to the West Coast, I got this e-mail:

Hey, I’m sure your busy shooting the Open but figured I’d ask you if you’d like to join myself and Mike Casanova while we film rails or urban stuff up in Montreal, Canada. We will be doing this for the next week. Lodging paid, you’d just have to drive up the 2.5 hours. Let me know if you want to shoot or can’t asap so I can figure it out….I like your photos though and this could be a really good trip.
- Josh

JOSH SHERMAN, ALWAYS TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

JOSH SHERMAN, ALWAYS TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

Immediately, the wheels started turning. Yeah, I wasn’t a real photographer, and my flight was the next day, but this could be really cool—maybe I could make some money. I’d just have to drive up there—simple, really. I mean, hey, this could be my big break into snowboard photography, or something…

So, I called the airline and changed my ticket. Having never been on a rail trip before, I didn’t know what to expect, and I almost didn’t pack all my snowboard gear. Luckily I thought better of that, since Québec, where we would end up, had more snow than I’ve ever seen on the East Coast. It would have sucked to shoot in jeans…not that it didn’t suck to shoot, anyway.

I got to the Burlington airport at our allotted meeting time, and sat there waiting for the guys to come pick me up. After what seemed like a few hours, I finally took a cab to meet them, as it turned out they’d decided to go to a sit-down meal before they picked me up. Awesome…and there goes $18. At the restaurant, I met the crew. Two filmers, (both named Justin), Josh, and Mike Casanova. They said we were picking up one more—a Euro—at the airport in Montréal.

The meal was awkward, since they’d already finished eating by the time I got there, and they were stressing because apparently they hadn’t checked out of their hotel yet (right next to the airport, mind you) and wanted to make sure they weren’t charged for an extra day. At this point I was still trying to be cool, so I ate quickly and we hurried back.

We dropped one of the Justins off at the hotel to check out and babysit the luggage while we went back to the airport to pick up a rental van. This went okay, and soon we were back at the Burlington Holiday Inn loading everything up. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but the keys got locked in the car. No, wait; I do remember—one of the Justins left them in there. When I got out to go into the hotel, leaving the van with all our gear alone outside, I locked it. Of course, the rental car place had no spare key for this particular vehicle, and no one bothered to offer up an AAA card until it was too late. Still trying to be cool, I called a locksmith and paid to have the car opened. Another $45, and no one offered to chip in.

AND WE'RE OFF (ALMOST)

AND WE'RE OFF (ALMOST)

Once we were finally on the way to Canada (after one more stop at the hippie store so Justin could get some nuts and berries), the stressing about the border began. As I have crossed the Canadian border a lot, I never worry. You just answer their questions, don’t be stupid, and they let you go—they want you in their country spending money. I offered to drive when we crossed the border, and everyone seemed okay with it. Once that was decided, the ride was again awkward. Casanova sulked in the back. Josh talked a lot. And oh yeah—and we only had two CDs: The Fugees and Eric Clapton. (Eventually Nova would buy a Thrice CD, but we never got an iPod connector or any other modern convenience.) And we weren’t even to Canada yet.

AT LEAST I HAD THIS TO LOOK FORWARD TO!

AT LEAST I HAD THIS TO LOOK FORWARD TO!

Stay tuned to YoBeat for Part 2 of the trip. Will we be strip searched at the border? Will will ever go snowboarding? Will I get the shot? All your questions will be answered next Monday.

THE CREW WHO MAKES THE MAGIC HAPPEN

THE CREW WHO MAKES THE MAGIC HAPPEN

For most of its early years, Holden Outerwear kept its office veiled in a shroud of secrecy. Only a select few would ever see the the inner workings of the brand, and media was strictly forbidden. It turns out it wasn’t because of child labor or the fact that they were all vampires, in fact, there was none of that going on. No, the old office was simply tiny. But all that has changed. Holden recently moved into a new third floor walk-up on Portland’s west side. Company founder Mikey LeBlanc was nice enough to give YoBeat the official tour. Here are a few pictures of what we saw.

MIKEY MODELS INFRONT OF THE RAINBOW WALL

MIKEY MODELS INFRONT OF THE RAINBOW WALL

DOGS LICK EACH OTHER'S BUTTS

DOGS LICK EACH OTHER'S BUTTS

Oh yeah, and we made a video of the tour.



The Oregon Trifecta happened last weekend. I went to the closest stop in Tigard. The skating was rad, the heat was not. All I have to say is thank god for live webcasts. Here’s some “coverage.”

This is what inspired me to finally get out my camera. Apparently it also inspired Skate and Annoy to go get in my shot, but what can you do. I don’t fuck with the old man skate media. Anyway, the dinosaur is sort of silly, but it does make for neat pictures.

This shot really sums up Trifecta. As if the skateboarding itself isn’t enough of a challenge, lets add in five other people trying to do the exact same thing. After awhile the collisions get old, and it always sucks to see someone carted away on a stretcher because of it, but these dudes were both fine.

Depending on who you ask, Schreech is either what’s wrong with skateboarding, or its saviour. This weekend he spent a lot of time puking on the park. Dave Duncan seemed stoked. Most people were just confused. It seemed like it may have been a gimmick (and if you saw his skating with the barbie doll in his hand a couple years ago, you’d know he should know gimmicks are cool) but I don’t know if he deserves that much credit.

You may see a similar shot to this elsewhere. That’s because as soon as he started trying, every other camera in the park came over to get the shot too. Oh well.

So that’s what this giant wall is for!

Finally, the video:

Bamboo

I don’t know about you, but I am not buying into this whole “green craze” in snowboarding. Sure, we can make fun of wakeboarding because their activity is potentially more offensive to the environment than snowboarding, but when it all comes down to it, snowboarding is just not a “green” activity.

We human beings need to feel better about ourselves though, and the snowboard industry seems to be wholeheartedly jumping on the bandwagon of “eco-friendly” products. And what word says “eco-friendly” like bamboo! Let’s be realistic though, riding a snowboard or wearing socks made of bamboo isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.

Sure, bamboo has plenty of benefits for clothing. It’s highly renewable and grows back without replanting. It requires no pesticides, and will grow like a weed just about anywhere. And of course once processed, it’s silky and wonderful and naturally anti-microbial and moisture wicking. So why wouldn’t every one want to use it?

There in lies the problem: everyone does want to use it. From snowboard first layer companies to high fashion, you are hard-pressed to find a line without at least one piece of bamboo in it. Sure it’s easily renewable, but where is all this bamboo growing? Well, the high demand for bamboo in everything from clothing to flooring is causing many Chinese farmers to turn natural forests into bamboo fields. And even though it’s not necessary, many cultivators are starting to use fertilizers that are hardly “organic” to make the fast growing plant grow even faster.

So the solution is to just buy American, right? Well, in addition to defeating one of the other major-eco benefits of bamboo (it’s cheap and low-impact because it grows near the factories) there really is no such thing. China is the only place with the technology and machinery to effectively grow and mill bamboo. China’s eco-policy? Well, that air in Beijing didn’t get so thick from solar and wind power.

A little more research and it turns out to process bamboo into that lustrous and wonderful sheen we enjoy so much in our socks, some pretty gnarly chemicals are used. Carbon disulfide (shown to affect the normal functions of the brain, liver, and heart) and sodium hydroxide (which causes swelling or spasms of the upper airway leading to obstruction and loss of measurable pulse; inflammation of the lungs and accumulation of fluid in the lungs) help turn the fiber into something we can use. I guess the point is to be good for the environment, so who cares about the Chinese factory workers, right?

Oh yeah, and what about the pandas? What will they eat if we use all the bamboo for t-shirts and snowboards? Think of the pandas! But I digress…

The solution? Don’t feel too good about yourself just because you are wearing a bamboo t-shirt. You are not helping anything. If you really want to make a difference, try eating Sun Chips or buying your gas from BP. Go green!
bamboo jacket
BAMBOO JACKETS!
bamboo boards
BAMBOO BOARDS!
bamboo socks
BAMBOO SOCKS!
bamboo line
A WHOLE BAMBOO LINE!

It is sort of sad that one of the Features Future Snowboarding has on the books before it’s untimely demise was entitled “The Teenagers.” After all, these kids are supposed to be the Future of the sport. But one mags loss is Yobeat’s gain, so here are a few of the profiles I did as part of this feature.

LOOK MA, NO HANDS

Jamie Anderson
Age: September 13, 1990, 17
Sponsors: Billabong, Salomon, Electric, DVS, Rockstar, Go211.com, Grenade, Sierra-at-Tahoe
Hometown: South Lake Tahoe, CA
Notable: 2008 TTR World Champion, 2007 and 2008 Winter Slopestyle Gold Medalist, 2007 US Open Slopestyle Champ, 2008 European Open Slope Champion, 2008 Roxy Chicken Jam USA Champion.

Contest Strength: 90%
Video Strength: 35%
Editorial Coverage: 60%

It’s hard to remember that Jamie Anderson is still a teenager. Even though she has a mantle full of gold medals, and can often be found at the bar ordering a round, she still isn’t old enough to vote. Of course, when you start your pro career at 14, and crush Shaun White’s record of the youngest athlete to medal at the Winter X Games one year later, well, these things happen. Jamie has already won most of the events people strive for their whole career including those X Games, the US Open and oh yeah, that $100,000 TTR overall prize last season. It’s not all contests for Jamie though — she’s a staple in Runway Films and has turned up on the pages of every major snowboard magazine too. Jamie isn’t ready to slow down anytime soon, she said her goal is to make it to the Olympics, even if they never add slopestyle. “I’ll go for pipe, whatever I can get in for,â€? she said. Yeah, she’s not known for her pipe riding, but hey, she’s got plenty of time. (edit: She just won her first major pipe contest. wtf)

FTW!

Matt Ladley
Age: May 17, 1991, 16
Sponsors: Nike 6.0, Salomon, Bonfire, Oakley
Hometown: Steamboat, CO
Notable: 2007 Chevy Revolution Tour overall champion, 3rd at 2007 Tamarack Grand Prix, 1st 2005 US Open Junior Jam

Contest Strength: 70%
Video Strength: 10%
Editorial Coverage: 55%

Matt Ladley looks like your average pre-pubescent 16-year-old, that is, until you see him ride. Whether it’s a US Grand Prix or a regional event, such as Mt. Hood’s Vegetate, Matt can dominate the halfpipe. He boosts big, making technical tricks like back-to-back 1080s look effortless. When he was 14, his lein air was called “the best in the businessâ€? by Josh Dirksen, which makes more sense when you learn he’d already had years of practice. Matt started snowboarding at 7 (then living in Chicago, his mom schlepped him to Colorado every weekend), and now balances snowboarding with school at Lowell Whiteman in Steamboat. Matt was added to the US Snowboarding Rookie Team in 2007, and his performance last season, including a podium finish at the US Grand Prix in Tamarack prompted US coach Mike Jankowski to say he “validates the rookie team program.â€? Matt is well on his way to shedding that rookie status, as a featured athlete in Bonfire ad campaigns, a Nike 6.0 athlete and a staple on the US halfpipe circuit.

Those pesky 6.0 kids always trying to snowboard on the Nike Campus.

Ross Baker
Age: August 1, 1990, 18 years old
Sponsors: Nike 6.0, Ocean & Earth, Smith, K2, Bonfire
Hometown: Reno, NV
Notable: 6th place at 2008 US Open, 2003 USASA National Champion, 2003 US Open Junior Jam champion, 1st at 2006 Chevy Revolution tour at Killington

Contest Strength: 75%
Video Strength: 15%
Editorial Coverage: 40%

Ross Baker is one of those riders who can take a cold, icy day and turn it into the best day snowboarding ever, and not just because he hasn’t had time to get bitter. “I remember watching Ross at a Revolution tour event before I ever met him,â€? mentor Barrett Christy said. “He was having more fun than anyone, and everyone seemed to be drawn to him.â€? Ross rides like the entire mountain it’s his park, so when you put perfect manmade obstacles in front of him, the results are spectacular. At Nike 6.0’s 2008 event, the Launch, he was a definite standout and his giant 720 across the entire length of a hip will likely land him in Leeward Cinema’s film My Own Two Feet. He has definite freestyle skills, and is at home in the park and the pipe, freeriding or in competition. But he also has big mountain aspirations, listing Tom Burt as one of his heroes. Ross is basically a perfect poster boy for Nike 6.0, Windell’s Snowboard Camp, and snowboarding in general. “He has manners, he doesn’t have an attitude, and he rides anything and everything,â€? Christy said.

All Canadians look like this
Sebastian Toutant
Age: September 11, 1992, Age 15
Sponsors: Nitro, O’Neill, Smith
Hometown: L’Assomption, Quebec
Notable: 1st place at 2008 Tellus Festival Big Air, 1st at Empire Shakedown 2006, 2nd at Empire Shakedown 2008, 1st place European Open Jr. Slopestyle

Contest Strength: 85%
Video Strength: 80%
Editorial Coverage: 48%

It must be the youthful energy that comes with being 15 that enables Sebastian, more commonly known as “Seb Tootsâ€? to enter, and dominate, 10-15 contests a year and still film for multiple videos. At the wee age of 13, Toots won the slopestyle-mayhem known as the Empire Shakedown and then took second in 2008. Backside double cork 1080 to backlip on a double kink anyone? He’s been referred to as “the next French Canadian Shaun White,â€? by fellow countrywoman Dominique Vallee and at 15, has already filmed for two seasons with Alterna Films. Check him out in last year’s Apples and Oranges or this year’s Knock Out. Of course being young, and French Canadian, Seb could easily be, um, difficult to work with, but he is not. A mellow, motivated and talented kid, according to Nitro team manager Tonino Copene, Seb “is going to snowboard and snowboard good, whether he is sponsored or not.â€?

Bryn Valaika

Age: 16 06/19/92
Sponsors: Gnu, Volcom, Oakley, Nike 6.0
Hometown: Laguna Beach, CA
Notable: 2007 Overall Volcom PB &J Rail Jam Champ , 1st at 2007 San Diego Supergirl Jam, 1st in Pipe and 3rd in Slope at 2008 Burton AM Series at Bear Mountain

Contest Strength: 77%
Video Strength: 9%
Editorial Coverage: 66%

Bryn is not the kind of gal you picture when you think of Laguna Beach, nor would you expect one of Snowboarding’s best teenagers to hail from Laguna. But such is the case with Bryn. Furthermore, she is not anything like LC or Kristen, but quite the opposite. She is level headed, bright, respectful, confident, talented, and a rising star in the world of women’s snowboarding. Of her school Bryn tells us, “I’m just like everyone else. I keep my grades up to straight A’s, take a few honors classes, and participate in some school sports and activities. I probably look to be the average kid to anyone in Laguna that doesn’t know I snowboard.â€? Her older brother, pro rider Keegan Valaika, may have started forging the trail for Bryn, but it’s not the case anymore. “I have learned that I’m always going to have those few people who know me from knowing my brother. But I’ve learned to meet people and show them that I’m not just Keegan’s little sister, I’m a girl snowboarder.â€? At 16, Bryn’s almost finished paying her dues and ready to blaze trail. As her mentor Barrett Christy will tell you, “Bryn knows where this sport came from and I think she knows where she wants to take it.â€?– ARR

Brennen Swanson
Age: 18 03/13/90
Sponsors: Ride, Dakine, Smith (Bern, Kicker Audio?)
Hometown: Stillwater, Minnesota
Notable: 4 podium’s on the 2008 Chevy Revolution Tour including 1st at the Spirit Mountain Halfpipe, 7th at Tamarack Grand Prix

Contest Strength: 91%
Video Strength: 0%
Editorial Strength: 20%
For a kid who learned how to ride on a River Bluff outside of Minneapolis, Brennen Swanson has come a long way. Brennen’s a good ‘ol boy from the Mid-West who has proved himself a legitimate force on contest circuit with his pipe prowess. He knows when to dip into his bag of tricks in the clutch, effortlessly linking boosty BS to FS 9’s and capping off his runs with FS 1080’s into a Half Cab McTwist, which he consistently executes. His cool demeanor and impressive runs landed him on the podium more times than anybody else this last season on the Chevy Revolution Tour. We can be sure the U.S. Snowboard Team has been eyeballing this rookie for a few years now and expect to see him training and traveling with them more in future. When asked what riders influence him the most, Brennen modestly gave the credit to his friends. “I look up to my friends more than I look up to the pro’s. I like being able to ride with them with no stress.â€? — ARR


Photo Courtesy of Zak’s Myspace.

Zak Hale

Age: 15 11/07/92
Sponsors: Nitro, Sessions, Celsius, Monster, Big Bear (Skullcandy, Raidens, Neff, DVS?)
Hometown: Big Bear, CA
Notables: Finals at the2008 NYC Union Street Sessions, Podium at the last two years Sessions Lumberjack Log Jam (1st and 2nd respectively), Footy in this years Bozwreck, Sports Illustrated For Kids Next Show Winner

Zak Hale runs with the hyper-talented crew out of Big Bear aptly named “The Midget Mafiaâ€?, a bunch of mini rippers who have annihilated Bear’s Park day in and day out since their inception in 2002. A self proclaimed “Pipe Haterâ€?, Zak sticks to the rails and the park consistently and with mad style, but has recently discovered the glory-hole of backcountry riding and is currently salivating over sleds. Zak established himself as a prodigious talent years ago, and has backed it by keeping up with elders like Chris Bradshaw, Johnny Miller and Louie Vito. “Zak is down to ride whatever, whenever. The kid has ill style and is just stoked on Snowboarding.â€? says Vito. Although last season saw him at that awkward teen stage of stepping up his game to compete against the big boys in pro-invitational’s, Zak proved that he can take the pressure at the NYC’s Union Square Street Sessions by making it into the finals. More importantly though, Zak isn’t one of those kids who lets the competition scene burn him out when it comes to Snowboarding. “I just love to have fun. I hope I get to do this as long as possible.â€? — ARR


Photo Courtesy of Exit Real World

Alex “Lil’estâ€? Sherman

Age: 18 01/21/90
Sponsors: Rossignal, Dakine, Vans, Smith
Hometown: Park City, Utah
Notable: Goofy Vs. Regular 2008- Member of Final Goofy Team, Filmed with Turnin’ and Burnin’ 2007, Filmed with Team Thunder, The upcoming Park City Movie, and The Variety Pack 2008

Contest Strength: 0%
Video Strength: 82%
Editorial Coverage: 35%

The lil’est Sherman has been put through the ringer during his teenage snowboard career. For example, waking up in Hood to a mouth full of Easy Cheese courtesy of Scotty Arnold, or having Transworld announce it when he lost his virginity. Not to mention the fact that the nickname “Lil’estâ€? has stuck with him throughout his fragile pubescent years since he joined up with Team Manager Alex Pashley over 5 years ago. Lil’est always kept it real and never lost his cool, instead choosing to learn from the riders who bullied him, which has proved ultimately rewarding. “He is definitely a smooth character. When rolling on the mountain he has got some super smooth jibby style. (He’s) bouncing all over the mountain, it is really fun shedding around with him and his posse.â€?Rossignol TM Pashley tells FSM. Lil’est has opted out of the competition scene when it comes to proving himself. In return he’s found himself filming and shooting with some of the world’s best photographers and videographers, which is a feat within itself for such a young rider. — ARR