Garrett Russell is back in action on the big jumps at Mammoth with Jeremy Jones’ marketing pass, and seems to have not skipped a beat since this edit four years ago. Thankfully, the filmer employed the tool necessary to capture the full Garrett Russell Experience, the body mic, so that we could all enjoy the in-air musings of one of our hobby/sport/pastime’s most beloved eccentrics. Garrett had this to say: “It was really fun being back and if I had jumps like that all the time I would do a 900…”
Holy shit, it’s the first time skiers have hit (and then hiked to hit again) a quarterpipe since 2006. What’s old is new again! In all honesty, though, this is the best Good Enough episode to date. Jason Arens, Noah Curry, Pete Arneson, Khai Krepela, Garrett Russell, Sean Mcgowan, Cooper Davidson, Jordan Spohr, Jon Susman, Brett Donnelly, and Aj Black gettin’ it done Cali-style. Just remember mountain town folk, boogie boarding is for losers and if done in and around surfers in Orange County, is liable to get you stabbed.
Words by Garrett Russell
Words are fun. You put them together and they make sentences. If you put a lot words together they will either make a run-on sentence or possibly yet, a paragraph. They can even change your life if worded properly.
The Garrett Russell Experience. G-Funk. Garrett. Even if we all call him by different names, we can all rejoice in the fact that Garrett Russell is BACK. After sitting out last season rehabbing a torn ACL, chopping carrots, and drinking whiskey in Telluride, Garrett is back on his feet with a clean bill of health.
While Garrett got his ski legs back under him in Argentina this summer when he wasn’t throwing his GoPro snake at me, he was mostly ferrying around 15 year olds from Long Island and soul shredding. Now with the first video evidence of Garrett’s park ninjaship on the internet, I figured it was time to check in.
Brobomb: How’s your knee feeling these days?
Garrett: The knee is feeling great! It’s this damn collarbone that doesn’t feel so well. Just broke it last week at Northstar. I would tell you how, but can’t remember… guess it might be time to wear a helmet now. Concussions are a headache.
Wednesdays are good too. Our weekly discussion with Master Garrett continues with a discussion of skis, the ancient arts, and summertime fun.
It feels like I’ve jumped away from the scene of the ski industry, but I feel like I’m actually building a different level for my skiing career. That’s the backup plan. I don’t know if I’ll ever become pro, and I don’t want to be pro. I don’t even like that word, it’s just a label. I want to be a master of it, a full-on ninja. I want to totally figure it out so I can do it forever, as long as I can ski.
You could be skiing’s first ninja.
My name means “warrior” and I’m out there battling the mountain, you know? It could easily take my life.
What skis are you on now that the Anthem and Elizabeth are gone?
I’m on the Mastermind now. The first couple runs I was just like, “Whoaah, edges!” I could have died, but then I just found a file and took all the edge off. Then it was fun, but just doing a noseblock felt different. They’re a little bit skinnier and it took me a second to find out where my balance point was on ‘em. Then they just felt like a regular ski, but I haven’t ridden on a ski that narrow in a long time.
I’ve got a pair of EP Pros too, I’ll mount those up as soon as I get some more bindings. Those things are like my broadsword. I’ve got my katana, and then those are my broadsword.
I love this ninja analogy, you’ve really thought it through.
I don’t know man. I love Japan, I love that culture, and it’s fun. Ninjas are dope, and they did exist.
Did you study any martial arts?
No. I got kicked out, I think. I kicked a kid. I was young and I never did very well in karate classes or anything like that. I wasn’t much of a person to follow authority. I couldn’t do teamwork either; I did terrible in soccer. I’ve never been able to do anything team oriented—basketball and baseball, I did not fit in at all.
I was kind of an outcast in middle school and high school and just found sanctuary in the mountains.
How about the summers?
Most people surf or do something like that for their escape. I like to fly fish, because it’s not extreme. You can just hang out by the river and learn the ways like Siddhartha.
With a serious lack of creative jam competitions like this one, there’s very little room for quirky non-doublecorkers in skiing. Garrett Russell stands out as a member of a small club that has rejected the jock norm and carved out a separate space. We talked to him about being a badass ninja renegade, and what it’s like to do such weird tricks.
It seems like snowboarding has room for a bunch of guys who are never going to hit the big jump or do tricks you’d see in competition. What would you say has kept skiing in this mindset of correct, or better, tricks to be done on a particular rail/jump?
Its background. Coming from racing the seed is planted in there and it’s really hard to get away from it. Skiing came from racing, so you have to ski with ski poles and you have to do this or that. Growing up we were, or for me, I was watching Shane McConkey and Scot Schmidt and those guys were extreme and they stepped outside the boundary.
I think, just recently snowboarding has started that where it’s kind of like skateboarding. Like the Think Thank crew, they’re just crazy creative. I think skiing will catch on to different kinds of variations. I think Traveling Circus is a type of variation. Will we ever see Andy Parry do a doublecork? I don’t know, but maybe we’ll build a backcountry jump and he’ll try it. It will be pretty funny, but that’s just for shits and giggles.
As someone with some perspective on the industry, would you say there’s starting to be room for people who are doing it differently?
I think it’s slowly growing into that. Remember back in FREEZE, it was the same five people over and over again. I was pretty excited during this X Games because there were a whole bunch of new cats, new people. That’s pretty cool.
I think there will be room for it because at some point people are just going to want something that’s different and appeals to a different public. I read that only 3% of the US population skis. It’s so crazy and it’s such a gift that we get to live this life. Some people just don’t see it; they come from money, they ski, and they expect everybody to know who they are. You can tell there are a lot of professional skiers who came from a background of money and racing. I didn’t come from that, and I know that if I didn’t have sponsors there’s no way I’d be able to afford to ski like this. So I’m super appreciative of those guys who have helped me, and I just want to get the public stoked on skiing. That’s what will keep the sport alive.
Since Garrett moved to Telluride, Nimbus probably won’t let him into their chamber of monologues to pontificate on the finer points of style and friendship. This would obviously be a massive loss, so we’ve cleared some space on the internet for Garrett’s ideas on aesthetics, fun, tricks, and style.
I think kids want to know about your approach to selection of terrain. Actually, terrain isn’t the right word, but when watching a Garrett Russell edit it would be hard not to know its you. We all have access to a hundred edits a day, and there’s a lot of sameness, but there’s usually something different about yours. How would you explain your approach that makes it so different?
First of all, thanks man, that’s a great compliment. You’ve got originality and style, and what is style, it’s hard to even explain. I feel that my style of skiing is just creativity and trying to have fun; you know? That’s what it all comes down to, because if you’re not having fun then what’s the point? I used to do a bunch of competitions, but it was just frustrating so I kind of turned my attention away from it and let style create itself and become what it is today.
I’m completely inspired by snowboarding, skateboarding, music, and art. Bruce Lee said, “style is a crystallization.” If you have one style you can’t grow, so I’m constantly trying to intertwine my style with the feelings of the day, the terrain, or the park and just trying to make the best out of it. Life is too short to be salty.
You also do a lot of stuff that requires crazy control of your tips and tails like butters and noseblocks and stuff like that. You still don’t see a ton of guys doing that stuff.
Yeah man, tech mob. In Mammoth, I lived there for six years, and it was sweet because I would watch guys like Pat Bridges, the editor of Snowboard Magazine. I’d be watching him cruise around, and everyone is acting like you have to hit the big jump to work on spins and stuff, but there’d be certain days where I’d just want to do what Pat’s doing. So I’d just fuck around and do noseblocks, and just have fun. Knuckle tricks are really fun, and I just learned a lot by just messing around. The entire tip and tail thing is definitely different now, you can do so much with it and I hope to create new tricks. There’s no names for them, I find ‘em and try them out.
I’m trying to express that you don’t have to do doublecorks and extreme stuff. You can just cruise around and…I don’t know, creativity is hard.
This is going to be a ridiculous question, but what would you say the difference is between what you see when you look at a park and the what the average pro skier sees?
When I look at a park, what do I see? I try to look for stuff that is not there. I try to create something out of what is not there and that’s hard to even explain. I see a jump and I think, “Well, can I do something off that knuckle over to this tranny?” It’s a lot of tranny finding and looking outside the box.
The noseblock is a tricky maneuver. It’s fun and simple, but there’s significant risk of breaking your precious skis if you’re not doing it right. We went straight to the source for a trick tip to end all trick tips. Garrett has more variations on the noseblock than anyone in the game, and has probably forgotten more quirky tricks than we’ve even dreamed of. Scroll down for animation or check out Wild Life and the latest TC webisode to see him in action.
All photos: Ed
BroBomb: Let’s go into trick tip mode. We’re going to talk noseblocks, mostly because I try to noseblock all the time and I suck at them. So I’m going to be completely self-serving and try to get some pointers from the master.
Garrett: Cool. It’s all about timing and waiting for your apex. It’s crazy because I see some kids do it, and I’m like, “Oh my god, they’re going to break their skis!” Don’t do it like that, I hate for kids to break their skis. I know a couple people who have and I’m sorry, but it’s super fun. It’s all about having the right snow, and you’ll learn that if you go into something icy you’ll die. But if it’s too soft your skis are just going to punch through.
Yeah. It can work out though, it’s all about reading the snow and waiting for that one point where you come up to a point where the hill goes like this (makes a hill with his arm) and there’s a little bit of tranny where you slow down. You wait until you slow down, and that’s when you lean forward and bring your heels up to your butt. Then you kind of lean back and do any grab you want, like you’ve got the “backpacker” now.
It’s all about patience and waiting and finding that balance on the tips. Other than that just practice, I guess. But it all depends on where you do it. Like, when we’re going skiing I’ll do it in one spot and then I’ll keep going back to that one spot. Then I can slowly dig out these little tip steps in the side of jumps and it’s pretty cool.
So that’s noseblocks, and tailblocks…I don’t know.
The tail block?
Yeah, it’s a hard one. I feel like I’m going to throw out my back trying it.
Sounds dangerous. Are you working on the tailblock?
Well, if I have the time and the place to do it, and somebody inspires me maybe it can happen. There can be so many variations. You can do the screamin-semen noseblock and you step over to the other ski. I don’t know man. I’m thinking about it, it’s interesting.
Do you sit at home and dream up tricks to do?
There used to be days when I couldn’t sleep, you know, where I just had the greatest idea and I’m like “I’m going to do that!” It’s been years and I can’t do it still. I don’t even know what I was thinking about. Skiing is just constantly in my brain.
There’s plenty to be written about how fun Garrett Russell’s skiing is, but that would be against our principles- wouldn’t it? If you’re lucky enough to have snow, go try to have this much fun. I dare you. If not, watch the edit a few more times.
BroBomb is proud to present an edit from one of skiing’s good guys: