ANDREW BURNS INTERVIEW | AGAINST ALL ODDS
By Rob Lemay | Photos [o] Ben Girardi Andrew Burns. That name goes hand in hand within Canadian snowboarding. It’s one that...
Last season, while shooting for The Pepper Movie, we were in Utah filming on this super-classic springtime hip. As we are sessioning it, I see Bode (Merrill) start walking up and out of the scene. He always goes rogue for about 15 minutes. He comes down and says, “Boys… I think I found a crazy gap.” So, I walk up there and check out what he’s looking at and I thought it was impossible. It was a jump over the ravine that we were sessioning the hip on, you would have to build the lip two humans tall and build a snow bridge over this other ravine just to make it to the takeoff. We originally said we wanted 10 people to help build this. We had five. The crew was Bode, Jon Stark, Mia Lambson, Aaron Blatt and myself. When we showed them the gap the day we started building, I thought the mission was done. Everyone’s jaws dropped at the sight of the build. We had to literally move a hill of snow. But the most respect goes to Blatt when everyone was debating if it was possible with just five of us, he just started shovelling.
Backside 1080 [o] Aaron Blatt
All of the sudden the whole crew jumped to the shovels, moving literally tons of snow. We blasted Black Sabbath and went to town bridging a ravine and building a lip two men tall. While building, we kept saying how crazy this bridge was that we were making and this became the name of the gap: Terabithia Gap. From the book, Bridge to Terabithia.
We all split ways after building for eight hours. I went home and mentally prepared for a huge day. I woke up at 6 a.m. and started getting all of my gear ready. We still had a few more hours of work to put into the jump and in-run, so we had to get up to the zone early. Luckily for us, it was April and the days were long. As I get down the canyon from Park City (roughly 30 minutes from my house), I realized I put my wrong board in the truck. So I drove back up to Park City in an adrenaline-filled state and somehow still got to the trail before some of the crew. As the crew rolled in, everyone seemed to be having really weird mornings. I had forgotten my board, Mia forgot her Tripod, Bode left his tailgate down and his boards and bags fell out, Blatt went up the wrong canyon and ended up at Brighton instead of just above Snowbird. And there were no more breakfast burritos at Whole Foods… DAY RUINER!
We spent a few minutes considering if there was a reason we shouldn’t hit this massive ravine jump this day. I’m not down with superstitions so I was not ready to have the world telling us not to hit this thing. I actually thought the opposite. I thought we got all the bad, weird things out of the day and now we were ready to tackle this behemoth.
We hiked up and put another three hours of work into the jump, widening the bridge and dialling in the in-run. The whole time we were building it we were thinking that the gap was around 65 feet until Bode brought out his golf range-finder. It said 85 feet to the front of the cornice on the other side of the ravine. Meaning, if you went 85 feet, your legs are broken, 90 and you were barely clearing it. For some reason, this made me more hyped because it gave it a stamp of approval, but also scared me. Realizing we were going to have to go 100 feet to get good tricks on this jump. The time came and it was finally time to hit it. As Bode and I play Ro-Sham-Bo, we decide that winner hits it first… or maybe loser hits it first… well, either way, I ended up having to hit it first. Bode let out a huge sigh of relief and starts laughing and says, “Man, I was tripping!” so that didn’t help me mentally.
“If you went 85 feet, your legs are broken, 90 and you were barely clearing it. For some reason, this made me more hyped because it gave it a stamp of approval.”
I told everyone gets ready because I was tripping too and wasn’t down to have to wait for cameras and all that when I was ready. I speed checked it twice and decided I thought I had enough speed, walked up and strapped in. I radioed the crew telling them I was ready. One by one they all say ready and I give them a, “dropping in five!” I took a few deep breaths and gunned it. As I got to the bottom of the transition on the jump, I knew I was going to clear it, but barely. I cleared the gap by less than five feet. It was a relief but I felt like I had no airtime because I was just going too fast it was hard to pop off the take-off. Bode started higher than me and cleared it fine. The session was on. I got three solid tricks on the gap and even managed to bag the ender for my video part in Pepper!
All in all, it was such an amazing day (two days). From not even knowing this gap was there, or possible, to bring one of the hardest-working crews together. To have a session with Bode on a new gap in the Grizzly Gulch/Flagstaff areas—best story ever. Oh, bonus, we also learned a lesson: Always pack more snacks, and charge your speakers.
[o] Aaron Blatt