Charging down Hunter Mountain, NY’s icy slopes in a pair of hard boots on an alpine board with both plate bindings angled at positive 60 degrees, Ron “The Carvefather” Maita rips like a bullet coming out the barrel of Don Vito Corleone’s gun. He slices deep toeside and heelside turns with authority, artfully leaving a distinct S-trailed trench in his wake. With each turn he picks up speed, leaning closer and closer to the slope, his chest near parallel to the ground and his elbow sliding low across its sleek surface. “Hell, I still feel like I’m 24,” the 52-year-old says. “I guess you could say I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie.”
Born in the Bronx, NY, Ron Maita moved upstate to the town of Mahopac when he was 16 and has since become an iconic character to many who ride the Catskills. Ron’s low, powerful carves have been turning heads at Hunter, Windham and Belleayre for nearly 20 years, his alpine approach a refreshing embrace of the ice coast’s prevalent conditions. His jacket is embroidered with a parodied icon of The Godfather movie poster—a snowboard glove supports strings that hold up “The Carvefather” text like a marionette. As a mean carver, a badass Italian-American of Sicilian-descent and someone you would definitely want on your side in a fight, Ron lives up to the name.
Ron grew up a skateboarder and a gymnast, and also had a thing for motorcycles—crotch-rockets especially. Growing up only two hours south of Hunter Mountain, Ron was soon introduced to skiing and became an avid participant of the two-plank lifestyle for the better part of two decades. A cold, fateful day on the hill would change that, a day when Ron witnessed Nick Colavito, a former US Olympic Giant Slalom coach, beautifully carving an alpine board down one of Hunter’s steeper trails called “Hellgate.”
“I thought, ‘Man, one day I’d love to do that,’” Ron says. Two years later he took his first snowboarding lesson. He was hooked from the start. “After that first day, I went and bought myself a snowboard and basically never skied again,” he says. “Ten days after that, I decided I wanted to do it right and got myself a hard setup like the one I saw Nick Colavito riding.”
Most 32-year-olds would be hesitant to take on a new challenge that ensures painful crashes, but not Ron. His work as an installer of high-end shower enclosures, glass and in-home mirrors keeps him agile and tough, built to take a beating. Through what he calls “a series of humbling trials and tribulations,” Ron quickly started to get the hang of carving with the help of his friend, Tony Zammit of Long Island, NY, as well as Switzerland’s Joerg Egli, a well-known carver in Europe. Joerg is the founder of Pureboarding, a team and company that specializes in alpine boards and carving, and has instructed hundreds of alpine boarders and racers across the globe. Ron says he’s honored to be one of them, and that he learned a great deal of what he knows about carving just through watching Joerg and others on the Pureboarding team. He specifically took note of their ability to ride fakie, a rather uncommon practice on these uber-directional setups. Ron sought to be the guy to perfect this unusual technique.
Ron met Joerg in Stowe, VT at the East Coast Expression Session in 2008, a biannual gathering held at various east coast mountains that brings together upwards of 100 carving enthusiasts for a day of communal alpine boarding. Ron, Tony and Joerg spent their day in friendly competition, and by last run Joerg conceded to the Carvefather. He said, “Ron, you’re the best switch rider I’ve ever seen.”
“It was sort of like becoming a made-man,” Ron says. “It was unreal to have received that blessing from Joerg, telling me that I took switch riding to another level.”
The Carvefather looks forward to carving through the remainder of the season, whether it comes with abundant snowfall or be it continually hard-pack. He’s hoping to work more with his friend Joerg and to maybe even help design a few Pureboarding carving models of his own. He’s intent on improving his own technique, and eager to pass forward the love he has for alpine carving to anyone interested in learning.
“It’s like havin’ a Harley Davidson or a Ducati,” Ron says. “And you know, if you’re trying to go fast, you should choose the Ducati.”