ALMA BOARDING | MARJORIE COUTURIER IN KAZAKHSTAN
Marjorie Couturier collects tricks and stacks culture in the unlikely epicentre of snowboarding’s next frontier. Kazakhstan! Riding by Marjo Couturier. Shot in...
CRAVING THE CARVE IN WYOMING
If there’s a smaller airport than the one in Pocatello Idaho, I’ve never seen it. Two gates, one security line and zero places to eat. Was there was a coffee window? A vending machine in a corner? I didn’t notice. None of this mattered as we were only a two hours drive from our destination, Grand Targhee Resort. And shortly after Jake Kuzyk, Sean Pettit, Curtis Ciszek and I landed, we met up with K2 Team Manager, Tommy Johnson, who was patiently awaiting our arrival in the fabulously safe and spacious Ford Flex rental. We loaded up, packed to the brim, and found friendly welcoming gifts inside. Every cup holder in the Flex was filled with a shooter of Jack Daniels and a CL smooth, mountains blue, certified cold. Tommy knows how to swoop his crew after a long days travel. Squeezed in the whip with little room to spare, the five of us left the airport and headed to meet up with the rest of the gang: Tim Eddy, Parker Szumowski, Colton Jacobs and Hunter Waldron.
The trip objective was simple. Have a fantastic time snowboarding at a resort that none of us had ever been to before. We were all on K2’s newest Enjoyer boards, testing the Cool Bean, Party Platter, Simple Pleasures and the Overboard. I was summoned there to document the extreme Enjoyer experiments in real time video while Colton Jacobs was brought in to freeze every photogenic moment possible.
By Danny Kern | Photos Colton Jacobs
Grand Targhee, whoowee’ what an amazing planetary structure that place is. Tommy was able to finagle early ups for us on two of the three days we snowboarded there. They even put on what could have been the biggest-and-best ski patrol puppy parade we’d ever see during our time on this Earth. Puppies for days! We spent each day exploring the mountain, sinking sharp edges into fresh cords, finding windlips to send and secret stashes of powder to slash. Finishing our work day riding to the cars after playing on cat track cut outs or any sort of simple build we could session. Overstaying our welcome became routine, sessioning until we were asked to leave the mountain became a recurring trend. We couldn’t stop boarding. Even after the lifts had stopped spinning.
You could say all the stars and planets in the universe were aligned for this trip. Copious amounts of fresh, light powder was left by Mother Nature a few days before we arrived. And the weather cleared during our randomly scheduled time there. Looking back, I don’t think anything could have gone better. We had guaranteed leftovers the first two mornings thanks to our early ups access. And were guided by the head ski patroller. He showed us some of the goods that hadn’t yet been gotten to. His expert advice was saying, “Surf it! Surf it down and out of the flats and hang 10 that shit!” He let us go do our thing with no one else on the mountain to bother us. Except! For one lift op that wouldn’t let Jake back on the chair because he ducked a rope for some quick-and-easy freshies. “Ducking ropes is illegal in Wyoming,” he says. “It says it on the back of your ticket!” Dude must have just been jealous. No one else would have cared.
Weather-wise, we couldn’t have gotten any luckier. Crisp, clear, blue skies the first two days followed by a little grey on the third day. It was cold, but not too cold. And the snowpack was safe and secure. You know the days when the snowflakes are as light as pollen but much prettier? And there’s so much it’s like quicksand when it gathers in one place. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the speed or an oversized directional board, you’re still going to sink. Curtis got to experience this when he volunteered to ginny pig the wild wind lip we spotted during our first hike up Mary’s Nipple (actual name). The boot pack was so trenched your nose and tail left their own tracks right beside yours. All the respect to Curtis though because he somehow managed to pack a pat down while swimming tits-deep in the snow drift.
This wind lip was pretty enormous for an inbounds natural feature at a resort in North America. So large that we went back for seconds and built a bigger, better jump the next day. Some locals were already mid-session on our leftovers from the first day’s jump when we arrived. They said, “We build this jump every week.” And they also put in a sketchy boot pack right between the landings which practically blended together. They continued chucking double flips which provided great entertainment as we tidied up our jump. We didn’t think too much of the sketchy boot pack until Tim landed so close to Sean that he could have gave him a high-five as he stomped his beautifully laid out backflip in a perfect pocket of untouched snow.
Disappearing completely for a split second and returning to reality, all our voices were on blast while Sean was mid gasp. It must have pumped him up because next hit Sean stuck his trick and rode away switch stance like a pro. Who would have thought that our surprise guest, the pro skier from Canada would be sending it on a board just as big or bigger than the rest of the guys. Though, I think it was all apart of Tommy’s plan to keep the stoke level high, because everyone got their tricks and then some. Doctor Z prescribed us all with some Coors latte from his pack to shed some weight and celebrate. No one could complain. We were enjoying every moment. The snow was impeccable and our boards did what they were designed to do.
TURNING IS THE NEW BLACK
Let’s talk about Tim Eddy’s turns. Better yet, everyone’s turns because when you ride with people that know how to use a board to its best capabilities, all that witness begin to pick up on the bigger picture. Turns are in right? Is it a trend, or is it that laying into an edge that is so enjoyable that people just want to do it? Why does it feel so good? Is it the meeting of our body through our boards that propels and guides us? Is it the use of this natural invisible force gravity that we still find hard to comprehend and understand? Some would say it’s a art form—self expression. Using the edges and base of the board beneath your feet to direct yourself against your natural fall line. Guiding and gliding your mass using Earth’s gravity and your instrument. Your tool. Your utensil. Your body’s motions, it’s fluidity as you weave your weight back and forth on the soft, solid or liquid surface at you are travelling over and through. This is not something that many humans will ever get to experience. Yet, for some, it has to be one of the most magical and rewarding acts that they’ll ever perform. Making us crave the carve more and more.
Each day, all of us left Grand Targhee with empty tanks and smiles on our faces. We were all winners at the end of this trip, even though there was really nothing to win. Most of the time that’s how snowboarding is though. You get up in the morning, get in your gear, get to the mountain, meet up with friends and it seems nothing else in the world matters. You’re completely engulfed in the present. Pure enjoyment, smiles for miles and a grin on your face that won’t leave until you lay down in your resting place. I think we all experienced this while visiting Grand Targhee. Whether it was through our own bodies or witnessing it watching someone else. The welcoming energy from the mountain and its local inhabitants was something that wouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt. Skier or boarder, puppy or patroller, it didn’t matter—every being that we crossed paths with was there enjoying the mountain and Mother Nature.