Originally published in the latest volume of SNOWBOARDER Magazine.
On Deck: Nik Baden
It seems like there's not enough time in the day to watch every edit that gets dumped into the sea of snowboard content. That said, anything containing Baden clips is an absolute must see. Scott Stevens, universally regarded as snowboarding's Chief Creative Officer, calls 19 year-old Nik Baden, "The most stylish and exciting person I've seen ride a snowboard in recent times." Heavy words.
What's interesting to note is that it is becoming somewhat rare to see a rider who can captivate a guy like Stevens and also rise to the top tier of the competitive big air and slopestyle community. In an era where scores seem to be calculated using gymnastic math and quad corks become a proven path to the podium, it takes guts to choose an uncommon approach.
It's not that Nik doesn't want to win, he just wants to do so going about things his own way. Whether it's an unusual grab, an extra tweak, or a line nobody else has noticed, his runs always have a unique signature. This approach is certainly not for everyone, but with mainstream contests serving as many peoples' first exposure to the joys of snowboarding, we need more Nik Badens with bibs on their back. Artist first, athlete second, reminding us that there's more than one way to ride a snowboard.
Name: Nik Baden
Home Mountain: Steamboat Springs, CO
Board: CAPiTA 156-158
Boot: adidas Tactical Boost
Binding: Union Force
Jacket: adidas Stretchin' It Jacket
Pants: adidas Riding Pants
Gloves: Crab Grab
Other Sponsors: Powder Tools Board Shop,
Steamboat Springs Resort
I love your contest approach. I feel like you could learn any trick, but you always end up doing something unique. Even if maybe it doesn't score the best. What's your typical game plan?
Thanks. I guess my game plan is to hopefully find a different line than other people through the rails and then link some tricks on the jumps that I usually wouldn't do. It's hard to go to every contest and do something you are really proud of every time because there are usually two days of practice in pretty bad weather then two runs that count. Then the judges tell you that you should have done their opinion of "better."
Where do you look to for inspiration when coming up with new ways to do tricks?
I try to watch snowboarding or skateboarding everyday, and I like to read about it, so it's easy to get inspiration and ideas all the time. I think it's important to ride with different people so you see new ways to do tricks and hopefully then you can hone in on what you like about everything you see. There is inspiration everywhere though, seeing new things, meeting new people, and in the winter things are always changing so there are always fresh ideas.
What's it like being on the US Team?
Being on the US Team is funny dude, but it's actually great, and when I was younger I always wanted to be a part of it. It's funny because everyone on the team is different and we all think about snowboarding way differently.
I bet. Do you ever feel pressure to ride a certain way?
Sometimes it's hard because there are coaches who see people do 1620s all fucking day, and some people on the team live for doing that. Then I will come up and want to ride halfpipe or rails half the day and learn new 1080s or new grabs on the jumps. I think there can be weird pressure. The team does help me and my friends all the time. They really do want the best for the people that are a part of the team and I do like the coaches. It's cool they are down to support me.
When you were 16 didn't you almost go to the Olympics?
I was kind of close. I was in the "qualifying" contests but I didn't do that well. I think there were three or four people ahead of me that didn't make it. That experience was cool though and I learned a lot.
Do you have any goals for your snowboarding?
Yeah, I have a lot of goals for snowboarding. I have new trick goals every day but my main goal is to film things that I am proud of and show what we do to new people. I would really like to do a film project with my friends that I am involved with from the beginning to end one day.
How was your trip down to Chile this fall with Keegan Valaika, Harrison Gordon, Scott Blum and Brown Cinema?
It was amazing dude. Chile rules! The people, the landscape, the food…everything was great! They are the sickest riders and they do what the fuck they want. We got there and tried to go ride but there was barely any snow and it was all icy and sketch so we went skateboarding and to the beach. We got a few really fun days in good snow, and I got to hang with a crew of guys that I look up to.
What would your dream winter be?
My dream winter would probably start in Europe for the very beginning on some glaciers then go home for a bit and go wherever in the US has good snow, then go to Japan in February and then go back to Europe, haha! I haven't been to Japan but it seems like the best and Austria and Switzerland is so fun to hang and ride powdah! Then in the spring it would be fun to ride the US Open and some slushy parks.
If you had to take attributes from 5 current pro snowboarders to build your favorite snowboarder – who/what would they be?
Kazu (Kokubo): Duh.
Keegan (Valaika): He might be the best ever and he's doin' it for himself.
Gabe Ferg: Silky smooth but goes rogue.
Alek Oestreng: Rails, handplants, jumpin', tranny, he's got it.
*Maybe I'll leave it at 4
You've been in countless edits over the past two seasons. Got any favorites that someone should watch if they want to see you snowboard?
Yeah my friends and I have been making online edits for a couple years now every time we can. I think a few of my favorites are "Make Austria Dope Again" (even though we all know Austria has been dope), "Mayhem in the Rockies," and the two "Mayhem" edits from Superpark.