What’s it like growing up riding on rope tows?
Danimals: It’s the best. Ask anyone who’s come from out of town and they’ll tell you.
Jake OE: I think the better question would be, “What’s it like growing up snowboarding on chairlifts?”, because honestly, to me it’s crazy! It’s so different, so slow. It’s slow as fuck!
Rope tows are really fast compared to chairlifts.
D: I’m not against chairlifts, though. They’re just a lot slower.
J: They suck.
So snowboarding to you guys is pretty much only riding rope tows?
D: Yes. The main thing is you go to the resort and don’t unstrap for, like, hours. That’s snowboarding.
Do you guys feel that affected your learning curve? Like, how you were figuring out new tricks?
D: Yeah. You don’t have to try as hard because if you try something once, it’s not as crucial as when someone from out West goes once. They get one hit, one time, and then have to take a ten-minute chair back up, strap in… By the time they get back to hit it again it can be ten or fifteen minutes. For us, if we mess up that one time, it’s whatever, because we can just take a twenty-second ride back up and do it again. Same goes if you get cut off, no big deal, you can get another try in seconds. This is why if I cut someone off at Bear Mountain and they’re pissed at me, I understand and I’m like, All right, I get it. Sorry!
I’m a really big fan of both Jake and Dan. Jake is reckless and unpredictable while Dan is calm and collected. Just a couple of good ol’ boys from Minnesota doing their darndest to keep snowboarding interesting. Two examples of why I secretly love rail riders. - Bryan Fox
Do you guys think there should be more rope tows around? Should every resort have one next to their park?
J: It actually blows my mind that that’s not the case. Every park could have a tow rope, as it’s way cheaper versus a chairlift. Resorts just don’t get it. When you suggest it, they just don’t understand what you’re talking about, but it’s the easiest thing.
D: A lot of places have them out East and up in Canada, but it’s really popular in the Midwest because the resorts are so small. I think Kuzyk was saying the resort where he grew up had one.
Yeah, but he’s from Winnipeg—that resort is probably a ditch!
D: Hyland is kinda like a ditch!
No, I’d say it’s a bump! Honestly, this shit blows my mind every time I go to Minnesota—I don’t understand how you guys get so good riding that kind of place.
D: I think all the resorts around here caught on—every single resort has a tow rope.
J: Honestly, I think the only reason is because it’s cheaper. Instead of installing this huge structure for a chairlift that you need two people to run, why not just have this cheap tow rope that does the same job?
D: You never have to unstrap AND you never get cold! It can be zero degrees and you’ll still be shedding layers in no time!
On these hills you don’t really get endless amounts of speed, so you need to be pumping every little thing. I kinda feel like it’s a disadvantage, but at the same time it just make you guys more hungry to pump the shit out of whatever is in front of you.
D: I think that stuff is fun! When you find a cool line, you have to pump this thing and then pop off of this next thing and land perfectly into this next thing. It’s awesome! That’s my favorite stuff.
It feels so much closer to skating to me. I figured it out last time I was there that coming out of the tow rope you really have to pull on it to get that extra speed to hit the natural berm that forms right there.
D: Yeah, as soon as you pull off that rope there’s no time to hang there; we all just mob straight to the bottom. We hit everything, sometimes even just airing over the rails and stuff.
J: Yeah, it’s like survival of the fittest! Snake or be snaked! It is what it is—if you’re going fast enough, you won’t get snaked!
Yeah, whenever I’m there it feels like all the little kids who are so good are just snaking the shit out of me. It’s like they’re all trying to look like you guys!
J: But they probably didn’t even realize they were snaking you; that’s just the way it is. It’s crazy, because when I was growing up there was a whole other era of rad guys that rode there, and when I was really little, it was super intimidating. You had to build up this courage to take the speed into the rope in front of this guy that was bigger than you or when dropping before this other guy. You had to learn that you had to be going faster than him in order to be hitting this jump, or else every time you would stop someone would go in front of you and you could never hit it. I guess you had to learn the rhythm. Everyone figures it out nowadays; it’s a-no brainer!
D: It’s different now—those little kids are ruthless nowadays! Back then it was a challenge to even get a hit in on a jump. When I was thirteen, it was a big deal to call “drop” before you hit a jump. Everybody would sit in this zone and you would call “drop,” and then you’d go. Then another person would call “drop next,” and they would drop next. I was so young, and you had to have a lot of courage to yell “drop” and have all these older dudes watch you hit this jump and then be like, you could die! You would just know in the back of your mind that those guys were probably just laughing at you up there. I remember sometimes I would yell “drop,” and these guys would just drop anyway, but if they yelled “drop,” and I went they’d be like, “The fucking bunny hill is that way.” Straight up! Nowadays I don’t think little kids are even intimidated by us, haha! We’ve gotten soft.
How was it when you guys were really young at Hyland? Was there a crew of people that were ripping? Do we know these people?
J: When I first started going it was my friend’s older brother and his crew, but it was a lot different. They had a halfpipe back then, and a park which was only on the small side with two jumps in a row.
So there were no rails at all?
J: No rails. But they did eventually put up a rubber rail! It was a rail that was pure rubber, so if anyone caught their edge they would die and also leave a huge indent. The dopest part about that rail was that if you 50-50d it, it would leave a vertical line on your base, but if you boardslid it, it would leave a perpendicular mark on your base. So when you walked into the chalet, you could see who boardslid the rubber rail! I never did it, but it was a big deal.
D: You were a generation above me, I think, and looking up to people I didn’t even know about. I remember looking up to you guys, because I was even younger at the time.
J: I remember back in the day they didn’t want to have the halfpipe where the skiers could see it, so they put it as far off to the side as they could and the guys would just build tombstones on that shitty halfpipe. I remember as a kid going over there with my buddy wanting so bad to ride with them; they could like smoke weed and do whatever they wanted… But they wouldn’t let you—it was like this territorial thing because they built all the stuff. It was a different vibe... I think they were tougher.