Mike Ravelson, Ambush Interview

Date: June 15, 2016 Author: King Writer Categories: features
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By Eric Greene // Photos Crispin Cannon

WHAT WAS IT LIKE GROWING UP IN BOSTON?


I didn’t grow up in Boston. I was born in Worcester, Mass. and then my family moved to Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. I grew up there with a bunch of kids who were into skating and snowboarding. It was great.

YOU SURE YOU’RE NOT FROM BOSTON? WHY DOES EVERYTHING THINK YOU ARE?

I’m not sure. Maybe East Coasters just get generalized like that?

DO YOU OWN A BRUINS JERSEY?

No, I don’t.

ARE THE PATRIOTS YOUR TEAM?

Yeah, of course.

AHH, YOU’RE FROM BOSTON. HOW DID YOU GET INTO SNOWBOARDING? I THOUGHT BOSTON KIDS WERE ONLY INTO FRATERNITIES AND GAMBLING ON TEAM SPORTS.

I skied until I was around 10. We were on a family ski trip to Stowe Mountain one time and I was on the chairlift with my dad when I saw a snowboarder come out of the woods and jump off a rock wall. I just thought it looked cool as hell.

SO YOU DITCHED THE SKIS AND TURNED TO THE DARK SIDE?

Yeah. My local resort was a tiny hill with a rope tow and there was a group of snowboarders there that I went to school with. I saw them all riding together one day when I was with my dad and knew I wanted to start snowboarding. When I got home, I gathered up $18 dollars in coins from around the house and had my grandma take me to Wal-Mart to buy my first snowboard.

FOR $18 DOLLARS? WAS THIS IN THE ‘70S?

I think it was $24 dollars and my grandma covered the difference.

IF YOU WERE IN EUROPE OR ASIA, WHERE PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT AMERICAN GEOGRAPHY, WOULD YOU JUST SAY YOU’RE FROM BOSTON IN ORDER TO MAKE THINGS SIMPLER?


Probably. I guess—if they even knew what Boston was. I’d probably start by saying I’m from the East Coast, then Massachusetts, then Boston if they seem to have knowledge of the area.

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DON’T YOU THINK THAT SNOWBOARDING AND BOSTON ARE SIMILAR BECAUSE OF THE LARGE MAJORITY OF WHITE PEOPLE INVOLVED?


Uhhh... I don’t know how that... Maybe. I’m sure you could make a scientific correlation between that, but I’m not really sure.

HOW DO YOU BECOME A PRO SNOWBOARDER THESE DAYS WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO DO A TRIPLE CORK?


That’s a hard question, but personally, I think it comes down to caring about snowboarding and loving it enough to make it your life. From there, there are a lot of ways that snowboarding can be a profession, whether it’s as a coach or athlete or brand person or whatever. Anyone can get paid to be a snowboarder if they make it their life.

HOW BIG IS THE BIGGEST JUMP YOU’LL HIT BEFORE YOU DECIDE YOU’RE TOO SCARED OF BIG JUMPS?


Well, I think that everything is progressive and relative. If you continually hit jumps in the same size range, you’ll get confident and comfortable and you can keep increasing the size. Right now, I probably wouldn’t hit a jump bigger than 80 feet, but I haven’t put enough time into hitting big jumps, so I’m hoping to put more energy into that.

DO YOU FEEL LIKE LIFESTYLE SHOTS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN TRICK SHOTS IN A VIDEO PART?


I think they’re important, but not something a video part needs. It’s more important to focus on the snowboarding, but it also makes sense to see how someone lives and how their lifestyle relates to snowboarding.

YOU HAVE A LOT OF LIFESTYLE SHOTS IN YOUR PARTS. IS THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE SO HANDSOME?


Definitely not. If you would’ve asked me this question three years ago, I probably would’ve thought that lifestyle shots were totally important. Maybe I focused on the wrong aspects during my younger days, but now I realize that it should be based on the snowboarding.

YOU’RE A BIG FAN OF THE DOORS, YEAH?

Yeah. Huge fan.

AREN’T YOU INTO JUSTIN BIEBER LIKE THE REST OF THE KIDS THESE DAYS?


I’ll enjoy any music if I can feel a connection to it. I haven’t really listened to any Justin Bieber, so I couldn’t say.

DO YOU PREFER THE YOUNG AND ENERGETIC JIM MORRISON, OR THE OLD AND FAT, STRUNG-OUT JIM MORRISON?


I enjoy all of it. As an artist, I think it’s important to go through different phases. He went through some drastic transitions, but was always putting so much effort into his work. Maybe I feed off of his early energetic stuff more, but I wouldn’t say I prefer any certain stage of his career.

BUT HE WAS SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING AS A TRAGEDY.


Yeah, but maybe that’s what he was going for.

DO YOU EVER WONDER IF YOU’LL BECOME FAT AND STRUNG-OUT, DRUNK ON FAME AND ULTIMATELY DROWN IN A BATHTUB?


Uhh... No, I don’t think so. In terms of the life cycles and how a successful career can affect someone, I think you can learn from the tragedies and avoid it. The guys in that era were insane. But I guess you can never know how things can progress and what your state of mind can become.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FOOD?

Recently, it’s been this American chop suey I’ve been making a lot. It’s like my comfort food that my mom used to make when I was growing up.

YOU SURE YOUR FAVORITE FOOD ISN’T CLAM CHOWDA?


No. Definitely not.

WHAT’S YOUR SIGN?

I’m a Pisces.

I’M ALSO A PISCES! DON’T YOU THINK THAT LIBRAS ARE TOTAL PIECES OF SHIT?


Uhh... I don’t know. I read into the signs a long time ago, just for something to talk about when you meet a girl and that kinda stuff, but I don’t really know much about Libras.

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THEY’RE THE WORST! A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY THAT YOUR DAD, BERNIE, IS MUCH COOLER THAN YOU.

Oh, yeah. My dad is the man.

DOESN’T HE HAVE A HOTDOG NAMED AFTER HIM?

Well, that came as a Cobra Dogs inspiration one summer after I came home from Mt. Hood. In a little entrepreneur scheme, we opened a hotdog stand in front of my friend’s house and sold “Bern Dogs.” We had a lineup for dogs and paid for all of our supply costs in one day, but then the cops shut us down because we didn’t have a permit. That was during my junior year of college.

WAIT. YOU WENT TO COLLEGE? BUT YOU’RE A PRO SNOWBOARDER!


Yeah. I went the full four years at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire and got a Business Management degree.

YOU’RE A GENIUS! DO YOU BELIEVE IN TIME TRAVEL?

I don’t know. I’ve heard that it’s possible on a molecular level, but I don’t know if I can even give you an answer about if I believe in it or not.

WOULD YOU PREFER TO GO BACK IN TIME TO RIGHT YOUR WRONGS, OR GO FORWARD IN TIME AND DISCOVER THE DOOM OF OUR FUTURE?


I wouldn’t want to go forward or back. I’m good with right now and you would cause so many problems if you traveled through time.

SO YOU THINK THE ABILITY TO TRAVEL THROUGH TIME WOULD FURTHER FUCK THE WORLD AND HAVE PEOPLE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THINGS?


Yeah, of course. Just imagine how people would take advantage of anything if they thought they could have whatever life they wanted.

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WERE IN YOUR PAST LIFE?

I’ve never really thought about that. Maybe just another human or something ?

DO YOU THINK THE BODY AGES FASTER THAN THE MIND?


Yes. Well, I don’t think your mind really ages. It just grows. Maybe the mind and body grow at the same rate, though. That’s a good question.

KNOWING HOW INSIGNIFICANT LIFE IS, DO YOU FEAR DEATH?


Yeah, definitely. One of my best friends passed away this year, so I’ve been thinking about that stuff quite a bit. I don’t think people realize how close by death is. You can’t fear it, but you need to take time to acknowledge it. I try not to be too crazy about it, but I see so much on a daily basis. Like, snowboarding can be really dangerous, so people need to have respect for what they’re doing.

SPEAKING OF DANGEROUS, YOU’RE GOING TO NORTH KOREA THIS SEASON WITH TERJE?

Yes. I’m excited.

DID YOU CALL HIM UP AND ASK HIM TO COME WITH YOU?


No. I haven’t corresponded once with Terje. T. Bird [Editor of Snowboarder magazine] kinda invited me to go on this trip two years ago, but it didn’t happen because things were psycho and you couldn’t travel there or something. Then he called me again this year and asked if I was still down, so now we’re going and we have a pretty insane crew.

ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT ENDING UP IN A POLITICAL PRISON CAMP?


I mean, yeah, of course. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stressed out of my mind thinking about it. I’ve been doing a lot of research on the country and I don’t think we’re going to have much room to express ourselves too much, which is probably a good thing.

MAKE SURE YOU DON’T GO OUT OF BOUNDS ON THE SKI RESORT.


Yeah, I know. We’ll have to keep it mellow.

YOU KNOW THERE ARE PROPAGANDA SIGNS EVERYWHERE IN NORTH KOREA THAT SAY, “DEATH TO AMERICA,” RIGHT?


I don’t want to say too much about what it’s like there because I just don’t know enough. I’ve heard about stuff like that, but I’m really excited for the trip.

NOTHING IS MORE AMERICAN THAN A WHITE DUDE FROM BOSTON. YOU BETTER SIGN OVER SOME LIFE INSURANCE TO BERN BEFORE YOU GO.


[Laughs] OK. The more I’ve gotten to travel, I realize the world is a lot smaller than you think it is. I like being able to go to different areas and breathe different air. I’m looking forward to the trip. 

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