Lutsen Mountains, a ski area in northern Minnesota, is home to 95 runs across 4 beautiful mountains with a vertical drop of 825 feet.
It’s certainly hard to lie to yourself when everything goes right. It helps to be surrounded by some beauty; beautiful friends, beautiful place. Everything just went beautifully. Lutsen Mountains had the feeling of cool grass in the first of Autumn. Only we had lots of powder.
You’ve heard of this place before. The mountain held tightly on the hands of our rugged north shore. So we tried something new here. Something fresh. A park placed smack dab in the middle of that forest where heal-toe turns through the trees can be just as fun as surfing kinked rails and jumps. Imagine a park sprinkled with trees and knee-deep snow with an ancient forest background and the semi-frozen waters of Lake Superior holding your hand. A place like this, a place like Lutsen Mountains, is certainly unique to Minnesota. However terrain parks are not. So we married the two.
Our park was tranny oriented. No funny business. Just old school rollers and bowls coupled with elbow-kinks and down bars. Something out of an old surfing film came to mind. What was supposed to be a laid back, mellow competition quickly turned into a competitive session between new friends and old. It may have been the energy of the place that did it. I can’t really say for sure, but Lutsen Mountain was made to have a park where young kids could spend that energy. It was apparent to everyone that the youth there is very in touch with their roots.
I’ve had to start telling my friends to stop asking questions lately: Why isn’t the park open yet? Whyin December, do we only have three runs open? For God-sakes just blow some f**king snow!, Have they finallyfixed that groomer? Well why not!?
You’d better just stop asking any questions that have to do with efficiency at a ski hill. You’ll never be able to come to a logical conclusion. I promise you’ll wind up with a headache, too. There are, however, some people on the inside who know exactly why things are sometimes bad. What a great resource they would be if their behavior wasn’t so occult. And forget about the young people. They’ve expressed all their greivances in the form of demands placed strategically in the comments of ski-resort’s social media; you are very far from the heart of the beast, kids.
As you grow up a snowboarder in Minnesota, you quickly realize your tremendous and unfortunate situation: the scene is small, and your hills are smaller. Little did I know that we were playing by fire rather than candlelight and it wasn’t until I left my home hill in northern Minnesota that it occurred to me. What we have here is a condensed meal of talent and outright creative fearlessness. The scene in Minnesota has become an incredible landscape for great riders and talent that reaches the peripheries of the sport. This is to include riders, film and edit crews, writers, graphic designers, and salty park crews (many a times being a combination of all of these things).
As I was fumbling with my summer job, I had an optimistic feeling that the upcoming season would be one of the best, mainly because of the incredible friends I’ve made working with Colab. During the season of 2018-2019, I had the opportunity to build some parks with Austin Sam, an Afton Alps local and aspiring polymath of the talents listed above. This season, he’s partnered with FYVE to complete an online video series (link below) called HEARTLAND that delves into the beating heart of Midwest snowboarding. Here’s what he had to say.
Growing speculation as the sun is setting, an uneasiness unique to the individual. Sometimes the things we desire are often things that we need. If it is a form of expression, the individual can only lament the sun, but also feels, at their very core, the need to express themselves before it goes. And so it must be the same in snowboarding.
I’d think you to be more rational if you told me the state of Minnesota were destined for bankruptcy in the coming months. But it’s September, and the most rational thoughts you have in your head is snowboarding the next week; maybe the week after that. Continue reading Cabin Fever
An inclusive description of a mountain might include the antonyms related to impossible, or possibly its aggressive nature and overall resemblance to the word death; the literal embodiment of what is and isn’t possible for the human body to endure is laughing at you.
The single most transformative thing that happened in my life happened in the seventh grade, and despite what you might think, it had nothing to do with a squeaking voice or a damn near uncontrollable testosterone boost. The teacher, with half enthusiasm, let spring-loaded orders float out the corners of her mouth, as they fell on deaf ears. Loading up the paddy wagon, to which it took us to the local hill, formerly known as Ski Gull (which recently tacked on the ironic Mount to its namesake) and take part in the event we knew as skiing. Continue reading Heads or Tails
I would have told you why I stopped years from now. I would have told you why I started years before then. I would’ve made excuses; I have made excuses. I continue to make excuses but to my surprise, this season has been paying the cranial rent since last it was taken by the tilt of Earth’s rotational axis.
I think about how my body hates me for it. How it hates me for every slam, concussion, and broken bone. It hates me for loving this sport. And yet, my mind still plays hooky with the idea. Snowboarding’s a squeaky wheel; snowboarding’s the whoring mistress that makes the wallet light; snowboarding’s the death on a sunny day. Its birth on a cloudy one.
But the truth is this, it’s got a hold on me as tight as the devil’s stare. Its wretched tail, black as oil stained sheets, curls up my leg until the lies of pleasing euphoria set in—too late it is then. I’ve no longer prescribed to rationale and custom. But I’ve got a hold on it. So long as the grip remains tight, a part of me will always pay homage to the ritual; I’ll always pay the piper; I’ll always please the season.