Double Speak: The Austen Sweetin / Pat Moore Interview
You'd better be in 5th gear if you are in the presence of Austen Sweetin. He's pinned no matter the occasion. Snowboarding, skating, surfing, whatever; he puts every ounce of energy into everything he does. Just watch how he pumps through bowl corners to blast airs or fights for extra speed just to overshoot jumps. That type of power and commitment is few and far between, and it's contagious. I was fortunate enough to spend time with Austen during our last years at Forum. During that time I was blown away by how humble and respectful such a talented person could be. We've gone our separate ways since those doors shut and I'm so happy to see him get the recognition he deserves, his parts in Absinthe stand among the greats. He's just one of those people, a hype man of sorts, he gets you fired up and is the first one to give props. He absolutely loves snowboarding and has truly dedicated himself to it through thick and thin. Not to get too cheesy, but if I could sum up my perspective, I would say people like Austen are the heart of snowboarding.
— PAT MOORE
I'm sitting on a ferry making my way home from Vancouver Island and just realized I had a conversational interview with Pat Moore last week for the new SNOWBOARDER Mag issue. That's pretty crazy. At first it didn't seem too crazy because I've known Pat for eight or so years now and have known who he was for much longer, since the first time I saw him in the Video Gangs Youngbloods segment. Pat has done a lot for me and snowboarding over the years; he isn't a selfish human at all. Actually, he's the furthest thing away from that. From personal experience, Pat likes to help the people around him, bringing them up with him and making sure everyone can get a shot during a day of filming. This is the Pat I've known from our time at Forum and this is the Pat I know today. He helped start an avalanche safety course at Baldface alongside Jeff Pensiero that not only targets snow safety and decision-making in the backcountry while out filming but it also brings a huge part of our community together for a week of boarding that's filled with old and new faces. Pat's a people's champ and it's inspiring to see where he's taken his snowboarding over the past years and where it's headed.
But let's take it back to the beginning when Pat and I endured our first season together and what a Vacation that was, a Forum vacation we both thought would never end. #giveforumtopeter #ifyoudontdoadoublebackflipyoudontgettoeattonight. Anyways, enough with the hashtags…back to Pat. That was the year I received a proper introduction into professional snowboarding and if it wasn't for Pat, who knows if I would be where I'm at today. I truly learned what goes into filming a video part and how to push the boundaries of snowboarding. That year I spent countless late nights and early mornings in sub-zero temps hitting the scariest street spots imaginable, all while watching Pat break ground in a larger-than-life street era of snowboarding. He was at the forefront of winches and looking up—way up—to the tops of buildings, finding gaps over alleys and huge walls to plant, all while remaining somewhat calm and highly motivated to find a bigger and better spot to out do the previous one. After a few months hopping from town to town, destroying every street spot we came across, it was time to head north to Whistler, British Columbia where the mountains are plentiful and the kickers are symmetrical. I had just bought a truck with a sled and was pretty clueless on how to ride a Ski-Doo, let alone break trail through trees in waist deep snow just to get out the other side and hillclimb over some crazy ridge that was bigger than anything I'd seen at that point in my life. But right there by my side, as I'm stuck, 12 o'clock, mid-slope and chest deep in compact pow, Pat was there right by my side helping dig me out at 7am so we could go hit a jump in the morning light.
I learned a lot from Pat that year and I'm stoked we got to spend it together and some years after. I would like to thank you for that, Pat. Since Forum crumbled and we've followed our separate paths in snowboarding it has been inspiring to see him still progressing the thing we love and seeing him bring new young kids up with him. You've become a snowboarding icon and I'm stoked we've gotten to share so many good times together over the years. Let's get back after it for a reunion session. Here's to you Pat. Cheers!
— AUSTEN SWEETIN
Pat Moore: Is it hard to have a girlfriend who shreds harder than you?
Austen Sweetin: That shreds harder than me? Uhhh, it's true. Robin [Van Gyn] shreds way harder than I do. No it's nice, it just helps me progress. She kicks my ass when it comes to methods. She has a proper method and I have a rookie method. My methods are not very good. And she has me in the pillow department. Pillow lines, methods and front threes.
P: I understand that feeling, my girlfriend makes me look like I need training wheels when we mountain bike. Well, I have a pretty good idea of your upbringing but what was your start in snowboarding? How did you get going?
A: My start in snowboarding was at a very young age. Five years old or so. My dad was a ski racer, so every Friday night he'd go up to Snoqualmie and go ski racing and I kind of caught on to that and one night randomly asked if I could go. So they brought me up, rented me skis, and I hit a jump or something. I remember going through the terrain park and just sending it to my back on a jump because I didn't really know how to turn. I was kind of just going straight. I just kind of caught on to snow that way, and when it came down to it, my parents bought me a snowboard. They gave me the choice to do ski or snowboarding. I chose snowboarding.
P: And then like how did you make your way to your big break or whatever? How did get into the pro snowboarding side of things?
A: That all came about at Snoqualmie as well. Krush Kulesza would film these Snoqualmie movies and then he'd do all the events and shoots and at that time, resort park shoots were serious. It felt like every week a new company or brand was coming and shooting. I just randomly got hit up and he's like, "Hey, Forum guys are gonna be in town" and Bridges was there, as well. And Bridges and Krush, I think they told Kevin Keller at the time they were like, "Hey there's this kid, he should come ride with you guys." Yeah, Peter Line was sessioning a hip and Daniel Ek had just smashed his face in. So they were like, "Here you go, hit this hip." Were you at that shoot?
P: No I wasn't there.
A: I think that was a Special Blend shoot. I guess that would be my big break because I rode with those dudes for two days and then a week later, Keller called me. Pretty much put me on the Youngblood team that day.
P: Wow, that's pretty cool. How old were you then?
A: I must've been 17 or so. What was coming up on the east coast like for you?
P: Well kind of different than that. For me, my mom worked at Waterville Valley, so I had basically the world in my back pocket. I could go up there all the time and go snowboarding and at that time there were really only a few snowboard parks that were good back east and Waterville was one of the better ones. She was the Marketing Director so I was up there all the time with her and I'd go skiing and would go in ski school or whatever. But I think when I was like seven or eight was when she got me a snowboard for Christmas because I wanted to try it. I got linked up with Matt Gormley who was running the snowboard park back then and that was kind of where it got started, with all the New Hampshire legends, like Mike Bettera, Gormley, Matty Johnson, all those guys. Then, Waterville started a snowboard team. You had Krush, I had Bill Enos looking out for me. I started doing contests and all that stuff, and we didn't have the Forum team coming through Waterville to shoot park stuff, so for me, my big break came in March every year when the US Open came to town and we would go to Stratton, Vermont. The US Open was the culmination of our winter.
A: So you've done the US Open…
P: Oh, yeah. I won the Junior Jam in 2000 (laughing). Couldn't make that shit up, dude.
A: That's cool because the crazy thing is, I've never actually done any of those but a part of me has always wanted to do a US Open or and X Games slopestyle. I think my time's maybe passed on those (laughing).
P: Better learn those triple corks.
A: I've been practicing. And so the big step in your career was Video Gangs?
P: Yeah. I think it was two winters after that. Maybe three. It's hard to remember, I'm running out of space in the old hard drive.
A: I forget who else but I know you and Jake Blauvelt were in there. I remember that shot of everyone doing boardslide 270s and it was like back-to-back.
P: Yeah, it was the cable cam shot filmed by Sean Johnson or Nathan Yant. It was the intro to the Youngblood section. It was myself, Dingo, Travis Kennedy, and I think Blauvelt. But yeah, that was pretty funny. That was the same year we were filming one of the Grenade videos and I started getting into filming. That was all thanks to John Cavan for me. He was doing all the Iron Curtain videos on the east coast and then once he got brought on to do the Grenade videos, he brought me in as well.
A: There's a lot of history in east coast snowboarding. Growing up on the west, you don't really notice as much until you're older and then you've been in the industry and you realize how many people are from the east coast.
P: Yeah. There are a lot of people from the west as well though, especially the northwest. So going back to you, when you were coming up riding at Snoqualmie, who were some of your influences and who were you stoked on back then?
A: At that point in time, Peter Line was definitely a big influence. Kevin Jones was probably the most inspiring rider for me at that time, because he could ride street and pow and then when he brought that rail into the backcountry and he and Tara Dakides hit it off the cliff, I thought that was the sickest thing ever. He was the one person I distinctly remember being like, "I want to ride like that. Hit jumps, ride street, do everything."
P: In one season, Kevin he would have three ender video parts, he would win all these contests, he was unstoppable for a while there.
A: He was definitely at the forefront of an all-terrain rider.
P: With where you're at now, who are your influences?
A: I guess the influences are a lot more broad now. Because growing up, like when you're a little kid and snowboarding you always have your favorite snowboarder, but as you grow older, you develop into your own rider and then you pick up on bits and pieces of people. Like, going to Hood and riding with Mike Rav…I get so stoked on that because he's just a crazy whirlwind of psychotic snowboarding. But then you go on a backcountry trip with Travis Rice and you're seeing how incredible he is, riding the most massive features. I'm like, "I would never even think to strap in there." So I guess now, I'm just more or less influenced by the people I ride with.
P: Yeah, I know what you mean.
A: Who influenced you then and who influences you now?
P: Growing up, I went through a bunch of phases of influence, but to sum it up I'd say my two biggest influences were the Forum 8 and the Grenade crew. We literally watched True Life and The Resistance until the tapes broke. And as a halfpipe kid, just watching how Danny Kass took over snowboarding, he was just such a fuckin' rockstar. I was a fan of the whole crew. Lane Knaack, Kyle Clancy, Travis Rice, but Danny was my hero for sure. He'd throw together completely different runs at halfpipe contests, buttering and spinning into the pipe like he didn't give a shit and then being a punk ass while they handed him his trophy. At 15, 16 years old that was what snowboarding was all about to me. Now I'm 30 years old so my influences are a lot different. Now, where I'm at in my life, I think someone that I really look up to and that I'm fortunate enough to snowboard with is Bryan Iguchi. Just seeing what his life is right now. He's had such a long, beautiful life in snowboarding and he also has this amazing family and his life at home. He really seems like he has it dialed. It's a great balance of family and snowboarding. He's someone that I really admire. He's an amazing snowboarder and an amazing guide and leader, and then to see him at home, he's such an amazing father and husband. That's something that I really aspire to be one day.
A: That's a really good point, too, because now, it's more than just snowboarding. You come to a point where you're a kid and you're snowboarding and that's your life. You wake up, snowboard, go to sleep, repeat. Now, the people that have taken snowboarding and turned it into their lifestyle while raising a family and living a healthy lifestyle and doing good things and still ripping, I think is the coolest thing ever.
P: Yeah, I guess I've just gotten accustomed to being around really talented people and at this point I care more about people's personalities and their lives than I do about their abilities. Plus, I guess as I've grown up a bit, snowboarding for myself means a lot more to me than just performing for others. And I think that's something I've learned from Guch. But hey, I wanted to go back a little bit. I remember you in the Forum years as just being this ball of energy. How were those years for you? What did you get out of those years?
A: A lot of those years to me were overexcitement and taking it all in because it was all new and I had never done anything like that. That whole time was also a huge learning experience for me. If it wasn't for those years, I definitely don't think I'd be where I'm at today. Everything from waking up at 4:30am to go out in the backcountry and spend the day finding the right jump, building the right jump, waiting for the right light, all of that—I was fortunate that I got to go out with you guys and learn how to do it. When I got on Forum, they were like, "You don't have to do contests, you can film a video part and showcase your vision of snowboarding through your riding." That was the door that opened for me. I was able to see the possibilities of where snowboarding can take you and the limits you can push.
P: Well that's cool to hear. Sometimes I just think I'm a controlling asshole.
A: You did lock me in a U-Haul once.
P: I did do that (laughing). But I mean, it's those formative years that you're learning and then when it's your turn, you're trying to pass whatever knowledge you have to the next group of people. I got to hang out with you while you were first going into the backcountry and it's pretty insane to see where you've taken it.
A: It's definitely been a wild ride.
P: Would you say that things have changed a lot? As far as filming is concerned, between the Forum crew and now Absinthe?
A: Yeah, definitely. Forum was a younger Sweetin, just tagging along with you guys and learning the ropes and learning a lot about backcountry and filming, and there was always a plan or a team movie. So when that ended, I was like, "Holy shit, what do I do?" It wasn't easy, but I changed because I had to come into my own and figure out how to keep doing this. I started calling people to ask to film so I could figure out where I was going to go. Then I ended up meeting Justin Hostynek at a Seattle premiere and we got to talking and then he invited me to film for Absinthe but I didn't have a lot of sponsors to help buy me in. It was a huge learning experience.
P: It seems like after Forum went under there were some ups and downs to get back on your feet as far as sponsors go. What was that experience like? We basically got the rug pulled out from underneath us right before the winter started.
A: Yeah, there were a lot of ups and downs. We were really fortunate at Forum in totally different ways and the things that we used to feel accustomed to weren't there. Finding sponsors is really hard.
P: What's the play-by-play of what happened afterwards? I know you're on YES. and Quiksilver but for a while weren't you on 686 for a minute? There's also Analog that you kind of had a tumultuous time with.
A: Yeah, I was just trying to find where I fit in, more or less. After Forum, I got on YES. And I was trying to find an outerwear sponsor. I was talking to 686 and Analog on my own. Making calls, having the meetings, and I ended up at Analog for a couple years and they did Absinthe and the same thing that happened with Forum happened with Analog. One day they were like, "Okay everyone that's not on Burton, you're done." Three years after Forum I'm in the same situation I was in. That was the biggest struggle, so I was funding a lot of my own travel and working with Justin filming as much as we could. I ended up talking to Bryan Fox at the Baker Banked Slalom and that's when Quiksilver kind of came into play.
P: That's awesome that Justin helped you out so much in that time. So Bryan had a big part in you getting on Quiksilver?
A: Bryan and Todd Richards. They went to bat for me big time. What was the transition like for you? Because you were on Volcom streetwear, I remember.
P: Yeah, I was on Volcom streetwear for a long time so I kind of had my foot in the door there, but when Forum went under, I was living at John Jackson's house and I got the call from [Bryan] Knox; that day was a shitstorm. It was just stuff coming at me from all sides. Basically what happened was Knox called and said, "Hey, Forum's done, but if you want to, we'll roll you over to Burton and you can ride for Burton." And not ten minutes later I got a phone call from Billy Anderson and he was like, "Hey I want you on Volcom. Let me know how to make it happen." It really came down to those guys. I got a few other offers which were really cool. Brian Cook from ThirtyTwo hit me up and a few other people who you wouldn't expect, like Lane Knaack called me and was like, "Hey I'm really sorry to hear about Forum. If we can help you out just let us know. " He was kind of working with Smokin' Snowboards back then. It was cool to get phone calls from a lot of different people. It felt good to get those calls. But ultimately, I knew Burton and Volcom were my top picks to work with and it took a lot of just deliberating in my own brain to figure out what I wanted out of the rest of my snowboard career. I had a great conversation with Gigi Rüf. He was the only person that I knew who had worked with both brands and he basically told me if that I wanted the freedom to make my own type of snowboarding career and create my own path, Volcom was the way to go. From when I got those opportunities that first day, I always knew in my gut I wanted to go with Volcom and to hear it from him really solidified that for me. To this day, putting a stone sticker on my board, I get that same gratification, it's like a fuckin' badge of honor to me. And then after choosing to go with Volcom, I was talking with Knox, and he was still at Burton at the time. I was like, "Hey man, I would really love to get on Vans." Knox—working at Burton—really went out of his way to make that connection for me over at Vans and it really came down to Knox standing up for me and he told Peter Derricks at Vans to put me on. The same thing with Billy at Volcom. Billy went above and beyond and made it a point to get me on the team. I owe those guys everything. It's such a trip to look at the sponsors I've had throughout my career. I've been really lucky.
A: What about leaving Red Bull? You were with Red Bull since you were a little kid, right? Why the change?
P: Yeah man, I was with them for a really long time. Even back in high school, Jeff Regis at Red Bull helped pay for my schooling and travel. So leaving was a tough decision. Regardless of what you think of the brand, there are really good people there who helped me a lot. But yeah, as soon as I learned about Villager I knew I needed to be a part of it. Josh Landon's vision—to have a product and brand that promoted healthy living on such a big scale—it really resonated with me at this point in my life. As soon as we had that first conversation about Villager and what he was going to build, what it would become and what it will mean to our industry, it just really grew with me. It really became all I thought about and it really changed my perspective on things, in all aspects of my life. And now here we are a couple years later, our product is on the shelves, we got new stuff in the works, the team is absolutely insane and being a part of Villager is something I'm super proud of. Going back to you, what's it like working with Absinthe?
A: It's been really fun. Nicolas [Müller] is back filming with us. He finished his movie and now he's back, so I've gotten to spend a little bit of time riding with him. It's cool to see people you looked up to in videos ride in person, especially when you've never gotten the chance to snowboard with them. Nicolas has always been on that list. It's so cool how precise he is on everything. He just picks his line, gets super into it; you can see him thinking about it and then he drops in and does it exactly how he wanted to.
P: There are only a few people I've seen with extraordinary talent and ability to read the mountain and ride it and one of them is Travis Rice and the other one is Nicolas. You got to ride with both of those guys this winter.
A: That was a trip. Nicolas finds the craziest transitions. He'll be riding a line, sends it like sixty feet and then perfectly catches this tiny little bump over in the corner. You've filmed with Travis a bunch, but to me, I kind of felt like I was on his wavelength a little bit, because he was so excited all the time. He was like, "Let's go up there and ride this," and you're like, "Really? You want to go up there? That's pretty crazy." And he's like, "Let's do it, it's great!" And then you're kind of like, "Yeah, it looks great." His adrenaline is always pumping and somehow you always feel confident. I fed off his energy a lot. Not that I don't ride my full potential all the time but when I was riding with him I felt like I was riding beyond my potential as a snowboarder.
P: He does that in all aspects of life. He's always pushing you a little bit further than what you thought your edge was.
A: I really like that about him. Inspiring.
P: There's no one else on the planet like him. It's pretty crazy. I've seen Travis when he's on and he's the best snowboarder of all time. Hands down.
A: How was filming for the Vans movie? You guys spent two years on it, right?
P: Yeah. Basically a year-and-a-half. When we were done filming for The Fourth Phase, I just immediately started filming with the Vans guys. And then we filmed last winter as well. It was such an experience, one of the most fun films I've worked on. I got to spend a lot of time with Jake Price who is an absolute animal. He's a savage. We were out there every single day trying, just fighting for shots along with Arthur Longo for the whole winter. I don't wanna compare riders too much but he reminded me a lot of Nicolas in a sense that we are all looking at the same mountain, but he's looking at something else. He can find these things, these little bits and pieces of the hill that I just completely overlook. It was really cool to get to spend the winter with him. He's one of the most talented snowboarders I've ever gotten to ride with. I'm excited to see it all put together. Another kid I was really impressed with was Sam Taxwood.
A: Sam is so sick.
P: Yeah, he just rides with so much heart. He fights for every trick, he never gives up and he's just so focused. It was really cool to see that. Nothing came easy for him. Every single trick he got was a battle and I got to see him put down some amazing tricks. I also got to film with Tanner Pendleton who is an old friend of mine from the east coast, so that was really cool. He saw me in some serious roller coasters of emotion (laughs) and he dealt with me. You know me, I can be a wreck, but he stuck with me through all that bullshit. I owe him a lot for it. But yeah, I'm excited to see what he does with the footage. Who is someone you'd want to ride with if you had the chance to?
A: It's funny because you just talked about him, but Arthur Longo. Every time Arthur's shots pop up on social media or wherever, it was just the sickest thing. I feel like he'd be sick to ride with. And he made that insane side hit edit. I feel like following him around a mountain for a day would be one of the funnest things.
P: It is.
A: And then Guch is up there. I've met Bryan multiple times and actually skated a mini ramp with him in Jackson once. A few years ago we skated Wade [Dunstan]'s ramp. Guch was just doing sick frontside grinds and smiths. I would really love to go on a split mission with him somewhere cool and out there.
P: Being out in the mountains with Bryan is a pretty unique experience.
A: What about you? Who do you wanna ride with that you've never gotten the chance to?
P: Well, if I could go back in time, hands down Craig Kelly would be my choice. I never got the chance to meet Craig, but if we're saying current date, I don't really know. I've gotten to ride a little bit with Nicolas and with Gigi, but just at events and stuff. I would put those guys on my list of people I would like to ride with more. It's a trip, but even after 10 years of watching their parts, I continue to become more and more of a fan. And I don't mean to place them together, they are two very different people and riders, but that would be the dream crew.
A: You should do Blueprint 3 and do a Pat Moore, Gigi, Nicolas Haines, AK segment.
P: Oh my god, that would be insane. But I think I'd be embarrassed when the footage came out. I don't have any style in my turns. Those guys are just oozing with it.
A: They're kind of like the turn gurus. Well Alex Yoder I'd say is the ultimate turn guru, but those guys are legendary carvers.
P: So I think it would be Nicolas and Gigi to go ride with for a day. For someone to film with for the winter, I've always wanted to film with Bode [Merrill].
A: Dude, I feel like you guys would be unstoppable together.
P: I got to ride with him a little bit this year. We rode some springtime jumps here in Utah and he's just such a freak. He's not scared. And he takes some slams. I definitely find myself being a bit of a coward and I feel like I could use some of his confidence.
A: He is really fun to snowboard with. I spent three seasons ago with him. It was one of the funnest winters ever.
P: When you guys were at Eagle Pass you hit a psycho gap.
A: He's always down. He's really fun to ride with. He makes all the scary stuff not scary.
P: Yeah, exactly. He's kinda joking the whole time while building this psycho jump. I think that's something that I would be stoked on because you know me, I get so in my own head.
A: So who is Pat Moore?
P: A thirty year old redhead, but basically balding. Super hairy, over-analyzing, pale…What about you? Who is Austen Sweetin?
A: I'm a stoke goblin.
P: Hell yeah you are. What's next for you?
A: I think for me, I've never done this before, but I would like to hire and work with a filmer all winter. I really enjoy traveling around and chasing winter and riding mountains. I've always been a part of a big production, so I have this dream of just hiring a filmer. Not necessarily make an Austen Sweetin movie, but maybe direct a movie. It would be more or less in the sense that I'd be the creative director of it, and then invite people I've snowboarded with before and people I haven't snowboarded with before and ride with them. That's kind of the next thing that I would like to do.
A: And for you?
P: I think for me, I'm always going to be filming or going on trips. I don't think that is ever going to change for me. Or at least in the next few years. I'm not gonna change that up much. But I think the biggest thing for me is I wanna switch where I'm focusing my energy a little bit. Because for pretty much my entire snowboarding career, I've just been thinking about myself and how to become more of a pro than I was the year before. I think from here on out, I really want to use this platform that I have to give back to some of the areas that have helped me. This winter we're starting a contest series that I really want to see grow year-after-year and help different communities out in a lot of different ways. This first year we're looking to do a contest at Loon that will raise money for a skatepark that they're going to build in Lincoln, New Hampshire. And then I also am planning to do one at Brighton and we're going to build a beacon training park at the bottom of Brighton with the money that we raise. That's just something that's really missing in my life; just giving back. We kind of stopped doing it back east because my mom stopped working at the resort and my ties loosened up back there, but I just want to make that more of a focus. I'm really motivated seeing the success of The Dirksen Derby and The Rat Race. Those events kill it, they are so fun to go to and both support such good causes.
A: What about the Baldface avy course?
P: Yeah, that's another big thing. Making sure our avalanche course at Baldface keeps happening and growing and getting more people up there and spreading that knowledge. So yeah, that's kind of where I'm at. Obviously I'm going to keep riding and keep filming, but I also have an agenda in the back of my head to help out different areas with these contests and fundraisers and stuff like that.
A: Broaden the horizons.
P: Yeah, exactly. Snowboarding, skating, all that stuff has given so much to me and my friends and without it, I don't know where I'd be in my life. It'd be pretty awesome to be a part of spreading that to other people. That's what I want to be working on.