words: Brendan Hart
Most snowboarders who grow up in the East migrate to the West as unerringly as wizard-like men sporting bathrobes can be found spookily muttering gibberish to themselves at Wal-Marts after 8:00 pm. Despite the various troubles plaguing the West—such as the California drought, Colorado's inundation with an unhealthy amount of goodvibes and Utah's winter inversion, that yellow SLC funk, like a two-month long fart, which hovers malevolently over the city—last week I, too, turned my back on New Hampshire. I left the Granite State's glorious humidity, the brisk sharkless waters of the Lakes Region, the French Canadian strewn trails of the White Mountains, and the endearing grumpiness of New Englanders to journey out to San Clemente, California to be a clumsy, bungling summer intern for SNOWBOARDER Magazine.
My first impressions: highways with more than two lanes and three cars on them at a time! false, cunning sugary gunk of Aunt Jemima on every pancake! cheerless, exhausted hills shorn of their grassy overcoats! Californians, flagrantly beautiful and bronzed—how ugly and pale I felt! I experienced all the distress of one who goes from a world of wicked sweetness to one of hella tightness—a most harrowing change of time zones and tan lines.
I was met by the clichéd qualm of the traveler: was I crazy for coming here?
But then my first night in town, promenading along the San Clemente pier, I considered the Pacific—grand, sweeping, majestic: a coruscating blue blanket embroidered with bikini-clad babes—who, though being far out of my league, are at least well within my range of sight. The lack of lush forests is compensated by the abundance of skateparks where there is a refreshing air of hostility to bikers and scooterers, and then there are all of the authentic, salsa-slinging Mexican food restaurants that whet your appetite and strengthen your intestines for an unbeatably low price.
Hell no, I wasn't crazy—if anything, I was insanely sensible. Who wouldn't go from granite to gold? I'm sure the Old Man on the Mountain would give me a sound whoopin' for those words, but luckily he fell off a cliff in 2003 and, geologically, it might be a few million years before he makes another appearance.
Despite my change of heart I cannot deny that I will forever be an East coast snowboarder; as a youth I had the good fortune to be heavily influenced, which is really just another way of saying happily scarred for life, by a number of snowboarders who have adopted Live Free or Die as a personal philosophy. I invoke my relation to them only to prove my qualifications as a snowboarding commentator and to furnish an explication for my oddities of character—much as the child, after having been "naughty," attempts to deny the responsibility of his wrongdoing by naming his wicked friends who told him to misbehave.
1.) Chas Guldemond—Laconia local, Eagle Scout (who woulda thought?), Olympian, husband and father—used to babysit me, though the verb "babysit" might not be the best word to describe his mode of supervision. He would simply take my brothers and me to various skateparks in the area and then let us eat PG-rated amounts of shit.
2.) I've spent three summers apprenticed in the ways of landscaping and jack-of-all tradery to Peter Thorndike, another Olympian of snowboarding and New-Hampshire native, a man who bravely, if not illegally, attended a high school prom at the convention-defying age of 22.
3.) I am part of the illustrious family of Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant in Meredith, New Hampshire, an emporium of turkey-themed victuals to whose Friday Night Buffets Pat Moore, as a stout, red-haired child, used to go with his parents.
4.) For the entirety of my adolescence I was under the guidance of Bill Enos, a man who has attained enlightenment through goodnatured vulgarity and benign perversity; who can at once flatter and insult any professional female snowboarder without being offensive; and who, of course, coached Sage to win Conan O'Brien's famed bacon medal.
Don't worry, my columns will not be all writing and bombast—or namedropping for that matter. I know that contentment can only be achieved by diverse forms of content. And to the habitual visitors of Snowboarder.com, I have a very special gift for you.
The definition of the word "fulcrum" is "a thing that plays a central or essential role in an activity, event, or situation." As in Kate Winslett's bare bosom is the fulcrum of The Titanic.
In 2002, Enos captured the antics of the Waterville Valley Academy snowboard team with his shaky camera abilities and avant-garde editing techniques. This video, Fulcrum, has remained sequestered in the hidden ravines of Youtube for many a year. Fuclrum combines the loose gnarliness of riding found in the Robot Food films with the cordial sincerity that floats around backyard barbecues. Watch the likes of Pat Moore, Chas Guldemond, Tyler Davis, Greg Maxwell, and Tanner Pendleton, (among many more) as ungainly, goofy, but extremely rad high schoolers—not to mention Merrick Joyce, Andrew Aldridge and Ian Hart as awkwardly proportioned toddlers. Fulcrum is to them as The Goonies is to Sean Austin, when he was brace-faced goony Mikey Walsh before becoming the pudgy and courageous Samwise Gamgee. It is a masterpiece of snowboarding cinema, little watched today, but remembered tenderly by all those who were present for its debut.
It is always humbling, even encouraging, to see the black holes from which the shining stars of today emerged. For a slew of professional snowboarders that came forth in the early 2000s that dark abyss of nothingness was Waterville Valley, home to a unique slice of troposphere characterized by its tepid rains followed by freezing temperatures, producing trails that are as treacherously reckless and inherently sketchy as the buzzards that ride them. It is not without trepidation that I unearth Fulcrum from its digital grave and expose its long-forgotten grandeur to 2015—a task for which I feel terribly unworthy, but fate has decreed it to be so. Enjoy.
00:01 – Aaron Diamond intro
01:06 – Tanner Pendleton
03:12 – Chas Guldemond
05:14 – Greg Maxwell
00:01 – Pat Moore
01:54 – Shout out to my brother Colin for a phat 50-50.
02:36 – Brian Biederman
03:57 – Epic bail section
05:36 – The world's first double cork 1080 attempt!
06:30 – Merrick Joyce skiing.
07:15 – Torah Bright as a bright-eyed youth.
00:01 – Myself trying, and failing, to be funny.
00:20 – Ian Hart and Andrew Aldridge exclusive interviews.
03:50 – Merrick Joyce wins silver for slalom at USASA Nationals!!