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Stimulating the Retrograde: Morgan Anderson

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Brandon Kirkland photographed by Evan Pierce

Growing speculation as the sun is setting, an uneasiness unique to the individual. Sometimes the things we desire are often things that we need. If it is a form of expression, the individual can only lament the sun, but also feels, at their very core, the need to express themselves before it goes. And so it must be the same in snowboarding.

It’s the analogy that seems most appropriate for a sport in which I’ve heard so much commotion about the perpetual decline and the overriding fear that snowboarding may be dead. For Morgan Anderson, more commonly known as @shred.mango the sun rose early, and the need for expression came as soon as she could hold a pencil. Her talents didn’t go to waste, as her father, a snowboarder who has passed the torch to future generations of riders, raised her in the heart of the Midwest snowboarding scene.

It was time that Morgan was able to manifest her creativity and perform some of the most unique artwork the sport has ever seen. She knew snowboarding was going to be a major part of her life, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Nearly five years ago Morgan started snowboarding and by 2015 she had already designed a graphic for Humanity Snowboards, caught the attention of Volcom not too long after—who showed their support by sending art supplies and personal sketchbooks. She drew over the photos of New Zealand photographer Cameron Henderson, including iconic shots of JJ Rayward and Carlos Garcia Knight, which sprung about a series of methodical illustrations of mostly Midwest riders we see all over Instagram today. In an ambitious attempt to create what came naturally for Morgan, a niche was created and immediately filled.

Jamal Awadallah photographed by Evan Pierce

If inspiration is the fuel we all burn, then the sun must be its mother. Interestingly enough, the thought of inspiring an enormous swath of people like Morgan has done through social media is incredible and deserving of literary praise. So much so that I had to think very hard about how I could tell her story in a way it could make sense to a divided audience. What I mean of course, is the fallacy that snowboarding is dead.

This statement couldn’t be further from the truth. “Naturally, when I strap into my board, my brain switches into the same mode as I’m in while I draw or paint. I totally tune out the entire world and life’s problems, and like most, I became totally addicted to that.” Morgan tells. To her, snowboarding seems very much alive. It was in the late 1960’s that snowboarding was developed, and it wasn’t until the mid-90’s that it was celebrated as an Olympic sport. The sport came tremendous distances to get to where it is today, but leaps would have to be made for the public to understand what impact it had on the individual. The idea, then, was very specific and so other institutions like X-games, Dew Tour, and many other large-scale events were the triumphant achievements of a snowboarder’s career. So much so, that if we hadn’t reached those heights, your attempts would be dismissed.

I believe, like many others might, that snowboarding is not dead and social media did not kill it, “The more I grow as a rider and artist, the more I notice how incredibly similar they are to each other.” Morgan states. Social media has allowed for the individual to define what success in snowboarding really is, besides just being good at riding half-pipe or slopestyle and embark on the path to sharing your belief’s with riders you may have never met. Social media, then, has created such a wide variety of success and influence that the sport could never actually die; as biology will tell us, diversity is the key to success.

Peter Limberg photographed by Evan Pierce

As Morgan has said, the uniqueness of a carve is incredibly special to everyone. It may be so simple but it’s a mark you can leave on the hill and look at from the chairlift with a grin on your face. In many ways, the style you bring to the hill is much like a blank canvas. “Recently I painted a massive rail at Powder Ridge and the feeling I got, after more than four hours of work, was so insane and getting to see everyone hit it the next day was incredible.” In this case, Morgan has quite literally brought the canvas to the hill. “Its nice to be able to just sit in front of a canvas and just tune everything out and just see where my head leads me. At the beginning, I usually hate it with a passion and want to trash It, but as I go on, the more I grow to love it and that’s taught me a lot in life. There’s always a positive ending.”

Of course, every thrust must leave behind the thruster, much like a rocket, and social media may have detriments of its own. “These days I’ve seen so many ‘guidelines’ forming within snowboarding. ‘you have to ride rails to be a real snowboarder’ or ‘you have to do this to join this’. I totally understand where it’s coming from. I see a lot of people taking on this sport just to boost followers and likes and that is stupid.” Morgan says. Why is that Morgan’s opinion of snowboarding has become unique when it should be the standard mindset of everyone who straps in? Every rider knows that in order to be seen a video of themselves must be praised on the gram. How do we define the sport if its so naturally diverse? The answer, once again, is in the individual. The ability to contribute to the sport can be misleading and often confusing but it can also be as simple as illustrating strange and unique creatures atop the photos of other riders.

“I usually get all of my inspiration for my art from snowboarding. If I see someone hit a feature in a certain way or if my friends say something that I think is funny or just anything that gets the gears in my head turning, I instantly get this idea that I chew on while I ride and it evolves until I get home, grab my iPad, piece of paper and pencil, or whatever I have laying around and just mess with the idea all night.” So, we see that inspiration might be the purpose of snowboarding and the success of the individual can be expressed in wide variety of ways. What we can all agree on is that snowboarding is not dead. It is thriving, finding new ways to invent itself and most importantly, its nature is spawned by the individual.

Alex Kirkland photographed by Evan Pierce

Everything You Need: COLAB x FITZHARRIS COOK OUT

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Denim and Flannel, Spiderman and Ironman, skate butter and ledges, Ozzy and his bat. All things rad achieve a greater outcome with help of good friends.

Make Jumps Great Again

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Detroit Mountain pushing snow at the start of the 18/19 season. Source: https://www.instagram.com/detroitmountain/

There are a lot of rules-of-thumb out there for building jumps that don’t actually work. Here’s the way to do it with SCIENCE.

Cabin Fever

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September,

I’d think you to be more rational if you told me the state of Minnesota were destined for bankruptcy in the coming months. But it’s September, and the most rational thoughts you have in your head is snowboarding the next week; maybe the week after that.

The Mountain

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An inclusive description of a mountain might include the antonyms related to impossible, or possibly its aggressive nature and overall resemblance to the word death; the literal embodiment of what is and isn’t possible for the human body to endure is laughing at you. 

Heads or Tails

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Building features for the MSG Private Session

The single most transformative thing that happened in my life happened in the seventh grade, and despite what you might think, it had nothing to do with a squeaking voice or a damn near uncontrollable testosterone boost. The teacher, with half enthusiasm, let spring-loaded orders float out the corners of her mouth, as they fell on deaf ears. Loading up the paddy wagon, to which it took us to the local hill, formerly known as Ski Gull (which recently tacked on the ironic Mount to its namesake) and take part in the event we knew as skiing.

Pleasing the Season

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I would have told you why I stopped years from now. I would have told you why I started years before then. I would’ve made excuses; I have made excuses. I continue to make excuses but to my surprise, this season has been paying the cranial rent since last it was taken by the tilt of Earth’s rotational axis.

I think about how my body hates me for it. How it hates me for every slam, concussion, and broken bone. It hates me for loving this sport. And yet, my mind still plays hooky with the idea. Snowboarding’s a squeaky wheel; snowboarding’s the whoring mistress that makes the wallet light; snowboarding’s the death on a sunny day. Its birth on a cloudy one.

But the truth is this, it’s got a hold on me as tight as the devil’s stare. Its wretched tail, black as oil stained sheets, curls up my leg until the lies of pleasing euphoria set in—too late it is then. I’ve no longer prescribed to rationale and custom. But I’ve got a hold on it. So long as the grip remains tight, a part of me will always pay homage to the ritual; I’ll always pay the piper;  I’ll always please the season.

 

“The Summer of Never Say Never” Part IV

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July 2nd, 2018- I woke up this morning to what sounded like a large rock rolling down the mountain. Lots of knocking on trees and earthy sounds, and I wasn’t quite sure what it was. The longer I listened, the more concerned I got. There was no way a rock the size of a car could tumble all the way down the side of the mountain without getting stopped by a grove of trees. Then the noises abruptly silenced, and the sound of large, heavy feet bounded towards our tent. I completely froze, and with every second, the creature inched closer. It was so loud, I was convinced it was something larger than a person. I truly was so scared that I couldn’t even breathe. The ground was shaking underneath me as the creature ran by while I sat quiet as a mouse, waiting to become a snack for whatever was ten feet away from the tent. People say that the Pacific Northwest is the ultimate Sasquatch breeding grounds, and after that encounter, I was 110% convinced that some kind of large creature does exist out there.

Once I could finally breathe again, I woke Kian up so we could get ready for our first day on hill. We got into the Focus and made it to the top of the mountain, and the realization of actually being on Mt. Hood had finally hit me. After getting “kitted” up at the car, we aimlessly walked around Timberline trying to figure out where we buy lift tickets. We had no clue what we were doing, but we eventually made it to the chairlift where the lift tickets were sold. It was a glorious sunny day, but still quite brisk outside. I didn’t think anything about the weather on hill, as I was wearing my snow pants and typical Midwest winter clothing. I thought it was normal to be cold on the mountain, but Kian was in a windbreaker and track pants, the perfect combo for a summer sesh. That’s what I get for not being a local though, right? As soon as we walked up to the lift, the ticket checker immediately knew we were not frequent summer riders. He asked our names and where we were from, and then told us the conditions up top were not good. High winds and cool temps resulted in some hard packed snow, and our new friend said that it might not be worth our money. The kind man made us a deal. He would give us one ride up the mountain to see if we could brave the conditions and stay. If we wanted to stay, we would come back down and buy a ticket. However, if we got to the top and realized we didn’t find any enjoyment from one run down the mountain, we would come back down to the chair and meet him to let him know we were leaving. A truly one of a kind guy who was just trying to help out a couple of broke kids. We were both so thankful for this man. Obviously we were there to ride the mountain so we took him up on his deal and got on the lift; without the exchange of any money. Once we made it up to the top of the mountain, we immediately knew we would not be staying. The winds were so strong that we could barely hear each other talk, and Kian only had his windbreaker on. It was not worth it at all. We flew down the hill and settled up with our friend at the lift, and went back to the parking lot to regroup. Now what? Once we got to the parking lot, we had discovered that a few homies (Alex, Pete, and Nick 💕) had just flown in from Minnesota! How insane! We met them down in Govy and made some plans for the rest of our night. The boys had rented a condo/cabin right in Govy that had a hot tub, so we went over and chilled with the boys in the hot tub until Kian and I came up with something else to do. After some time relaxing in the hot tub, we realized we wanted some things for our campsite, like chairs, and a hammock. So we decided to run into town to the nearest Walmart (which was over an hour away) to get some more last minute things. We’d catch up with the boys later on. As we journeyed down the mountain in the Focus, we noticed that the homeless man with the shopping cart was sleeping underneath “Silent Rock.” There are many superstitious things associated with the rock, and sleeping under it was probably the most disrespectful thing you could do. If you know, you know. Once we finally made it to Walmart, we found our hammock, some cheap chairs and some s’mores supplies. I hadn’t had s’mores in ages, so it was definitely necessary.

As we were walking through the grocery aisles, Kian got the craving for steaks, so we bought some to cook over the fire that night. Of course we didn’t have anything to eat steaks on, so we headed to the local Goodwill to get some super cheap fine china. We found a set of two yellow plates, and a nice pan to cook our steaks in; along with a warmer hoodie for Kian to wear on the mountain the next day.

Kian set up our campsite after we got back. The hammock was fantastic; I’d never been in a real hammock before! It was so nice to just hang out and relax and breathe that crisp Oregon air.

Eventually we got hungry,  so Kian cooked our steaks over the fire and they turned out great. I will remember that as long as I live. After we finished eating, we walked down to the lake and washed our dishes. Pure bliss. I’m sure you know as well as I do; after a busy day and a good meal, the next thing on the list is a nice long sleep. As the sun slowly set over the mountain, I put on my fuzzy pajama pants and nestled myself into our little tent to get ready for bed.

The excitement for lacing up and strapping in the next morning filled my heart with jot, and shortly after, I was sound asleep with butterflies and switch carves in my dreams.

“The Summer of Never Say Never” Part III

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July 1st, 2018- When someone says the words “Camping” and “July,” the word “Cold” doesn’t usually fit with the theme. Thank goodness I had packed the Focus full of blankets. I completely forgot that we were going to a place where it would be so cold at night! After accepting the fact that we had indeed reached our destination, we took our time getting moving and enjoyed the brisk morning air and the sunshine we had been blessed with. Because of the weather and the darkness from our late evening arrival, we never got the chance to really see Mt. Hood, so we hopped in the Focus again and did some adventuring. As we came around the corner to the main view from Lake Trillium, we finally saw the top of the mountain for the first time. Once again, I almost burst into tears. It was so much bigger than I had pictured, and I was completely overwhelmed. I never thought I would be here, a view that I had only dreamed of from the countless ski and snowboarding edits I watched online. It was breathtaking. Anyways; once we finally made it to town we aimlessly walked around “Govy” for awhile, and then decided to spend our day searching for a shower. It had been a couple of days since both of us had showered, so it was a 100% priority. I scrolled through my phone and miraculously found a place called “Mazama Lodge” which offered showers to the public for just $5! However, at that time, a private group had rented out the entire facility, and we were told that we wouldn’t be able to shower until after 3 p.m. when the group left. The man in charge said that there was a place just down the road that might also offer showers, so we jumped back into the Focus and tried to give the place a call. After lots of frustration of talking to a computer on the other end of the line, I just headed towards the place. Our GPS said it was 25 minutes from Mazama Lodge; but for a shower, I’d drive an hour at this point. As we headed towards this new town, we passed a homeless man hiking up the mountain with a shopping cart. Although it seems to be a minor detail on this day, this man was a legend during our trip; more details to come in later blogs, I swear. Once we drove the 25 minutes to the recommended location, and walked around aimlessly yet again, we asked the kind woman behind the counter about their shower policy. Turns out, they didn’t offer showers. Heck. Without much luck searching for additional shower sources, we settled on heading back to Mazama Lodge after we did some typical tourist sight-seeing. I had never been to Oregon, but I knew a lot of the homies had been, so I hit up Tony Wagner for some ideas for hikes out in the homeland. The selected hike was “Tom Dick and Harry Mountain Trail.” This was where we would spend the rest of our afternoon on a moderate 7 mile hike to a 360 degree view of Mt. Hood. As we were walking to the trailhead from the car which was on the busy highway, some fellow ski homies had come flying around the corner. You could tell it was a group of homies because the windows were down and loud bass caught our attention. What caught our attention even more was that as the homies sped around the corner, their ski’s flew off the top of their car and into the middle of the highway. Other cars were stopping abruptly and swerving into the other lane to try to avoid them, and it was a bit terrifying, yet hilarious to watch. This wasn’t necessarily the kind of sight-seeing I had envisioned!

The hike to the top was so gorgeous. The big pines and rocky hillsides were something of a new breed; It is better in Oregon. A couple of hours went by, and we finally reached the top of the mountain. We joined a few other people at the top, and took in the breathtaking beauty from afar. After milling about and soaking up the sun, we discovered that there were some friendly chipmunks that called this place home. Let me tell you, these guys knew exactly what they were doing. Fortunately, I had some extra candy in my fanny pack, so we tried to get the little guys to come up to us. With one crinkling wrapper, the family of chipmunks multiplied, and soon the rocky mountain top was filled with chirping chippies. Fun Fact: Chipmunks love Andes Mint Candy. This encounter was easily one of the highlights of the trip in my opinion. We got done taking care of the chipmunks, and got cold at the top of the mountain, so we hiked back down the mountain and headed back towards Mazama Lodge to take showers. At Mazama Lodge, you have to take your shoes off before you enter the building, and leave them on the front porch. At first I was confused, but after taking a shower and conversing with the kind gentleman at the front desk, it just gives it that feeling of home. I felt like I was home.

However, during this trip, our home was a little two person tent that was pitched in the middle of the Oregon wilderness. We said goodbye and made our way “home” to our tent. A great starting point to an unforgettable trip, and the perfect place to drift away into a peaceful sleep.

 

“The Summer of Never Say Never” Part II

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June 30th, 2018. Arrival day in Oregon. If you know, you know.