Words Nick Russell
A wise man once told me that if you do something long enough, you’ll eventually meet your heroes. The snowboard cosmos has a special tradition rooted in mentorship and guiding younger generations in the mountains. As snowboarders, we rely heavily on inspiration instilled by our elders. To get where we’re going, we need to know where we came from. Over the past two decades, I’ve been lucky enough to learn from some of the best to ever do it.
Twenty years ago, I was an impressionable young kid on the east coast consuming all things snowboarding. Like most, I was a weekend warrior, daydreaming and sneaking shred magazines into school all week long until Friday would hit, when my family would drive from Connecticut to Vermont to spend two days clocking laps from bell to bell. Then it was straight to the TV to burn out the VHS tapes from Mack Dawg Productions and Standard films. The featured star, and my personal favorite rider, was undoubtedly Kevin Jones.
KJ’s long list of accolades and projected existence was super-heroic in the mind of this 12-year-old grom. Prior to social media, the only way to get eyes on pro riders was through the pages of the very magazines I hoped to one day be in, from the sidelines of the contest venues I aspired (and failed) to compete in, or in the videos that I dreamed to film for someday. Yet when “the Cage,” as I like to call him, fell from the public eye of mainstream snowboarding, he furthered his legacy by riding simply for the love of the game.
When Kevin and I first became friends a few years ago, it wasn’t on the snow, as one might expect. Rock climbing in the Sierra Nevada became our shared crutch, a scratch to a wintry itch that gets us through the summer months. We both relish the similarities between climbing and line riding. Bonded by shared passion for our home range and the freedom that comes with it, our friendship expanded naturally into winter. I was quickly drawn to the pure passion radiating from his eyes when he spoke about snowboarding. My admiration soon evolved into a much deeper respect for the man. His perceived departure from the spotlight now seemingly humanized one of the GOATs of our sport. Kevin Jones is a lifer. I’m proud to call him one of my best friends, riding partner, hero, mentor and a constant inspiration.
Words Kevin Jones
Back in 2012, after stumbling to the ocean on Mud Bay Road following a few midday beers at Fort Seward bar in Haines, AK, I met Nick Russell for the first time. He kind of crawled out from behind a rock along with Wyatt Stasinos. I had already met Wyatt and was intrigued when I saw him in Valdez the year before. He had been snowmobiling out to a zone called the Books all by himself. I was curious about who would be hanging out with this critter. Little did I know then, but Nick would become one of my best friends and an inspiration on so many levels.
We got in touch a few years later and planned a climb at Lover’s Leap in South Lake Tahoe, CA. The thing that stuck about Nick after hanging for the first time was that he just got off Denali and didn’t mutter a word about it. He is one of the most badass and humble dudes I’ve ever met. During our climb we talked about how awesome the Sierra Nevada is, then hatched plans for winter.
To this day, we’ve only ridden one chairlift together. When we started touring, I was inspired by how fast Nick moved, his line choice, and how his vibe stays relaxed up until the very moment it’s not. When it’s time to shred, it’s game time.
After only a few outings with Nick, I knew where my next chapter of snowboarding was headed. The fire was lit and burning out of control again. Snowboarding and the people involved continue to evolve. They can transform your life, even after you’ve been doing it for 30 years.