Utah is a wild west wonderland … and the perfect place for a winter roadtrip.
Right now my Insta and Facey feeds are full of deep, deep pow blanketing the Wasatch and Rocky Mountains … which got me harking back to just over a year ago when we were enjoying similar conditions on an epic snowboarding roadtrip through Utah and Colorado.
First stop after a delayed flight in early January 2020 was a night in magical Moab, and a quick tour of Arches National Park the next morning. I cannot recommend Moab and Arches National Park more highly – it was truly spectacular, made perhaps even more so by the layer of brilliant white contrasting the blood-orange rock and sand.
After snowboarding at Telluride and Crested Butte (both deep in the Colorado remote mountains) we made our way back to Salt Lake City and Park City.
After getting our powder-fill in the Cottonwood Canyon resorts (Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude) as well as Park City, we headed north into the frozen white to see what Jackson Hole, Wyoming was like.
Four years of photo shoots with the Nitro Pro Team
With Melburnians landlocked from the mountains all winter with the COVID-19 restrictions, I wanted to look back on four fantastic years of Nitro GoodTimes camps in Victoria. The brainchild of Nitro Snowboards Australia/NZ’s Mark Bristow, Will Cheshire and “Master of Ceremonies/Mr Falls Creek”, Jimi Cordell, GoodTimes was a raucous weekend/week/fortnight to bring the extended Nitro family together with a bunch of the new boards, fresh from the factory, to shoot photos for each next year’s catalog.
I’ve been hooked up by Nitro since around 2009, so I jumped at the chance to lend my services … and it’s been a week that I look forward to most each winter. Good times, good crew … and way too many beers (bloody, Jimi!)
Please enjoy some of my favourite action shots from the last four years with Nitro.
2016: Hotham – Viking Invasion…
Led by Scandianavian slayers Marcus Kleveland, Torgeir Begrem, Sven Thorgren, Ludwig Biltoft, Jared Elston (honourary Scando/Aussie) and Silje Norendal, with Aussie Team Manager, Darragh Walsh, directing the troops, Nitro Snowboards held the first infamous GoodTimes Camp at Hotham. It was wild … and the vikings roared! My photos and words from this GoodTimes was a multi-page feature article in ANZ Snowboarding Magazine. See more photos here.
2017: Falls Creek – ANZACs…
A Trans-Tasman assault on Falls Creek coincided with one of the biggest storms of the decade. Rather than hitting the park, Nate Johnstone, Christy Prior, Harley Trivic and Toms Petrusevics (honourary Aussie) sheltered in the snowy trees … and in the warmth of QT’s balcony hot tubs. Oh, and this was the first time “Mr Falls Creek” introduced us all to his signature drink.
Pro tip: ask for a “Jimi” at Stingray next time you’re there … but don’t drink more than a couple!
2018: Falls Creek – The A List Arrives…
All the big dogs descended on lil ‘ol Falls Creek for the biggest GoodTimes yet: Marcus, Torgeir, Sven, Zoi (all fresh from PyeongChang 2018), Christy and Elias Elhardt destroyed the park – but it was Sam Taxwood who was MVP, styling all sorts of tricks that just should not be humanly possible on a 203cm “Big Pink” Quiver Cannon.
Falls Creek upped the ante with organised holiday packages for punters to get in on all the fun (and the “Jimis” at Stingray), and TM/Nitro legend Knut Eliassen just couldn’t help but throw a few handplants (when he wasn’t otherwise playing the party Pied Piper), while Nitro International’s Andi Aurhammer showed his commitment to GoodTimes by joining in the shenanigans.
But special thanks had to go to Falls Creek Terrain Parks/Events for hand-shaping the epic snake run down Last Hoot – one run has probably never received so much media coverage … and it was worth the guys getting in a bit of trouble for building it in such a high-traffic area.
2019: Falls Creek – The Good Times roll on…
Another GoodTimes, another epic storm! The crew scored … and took advantage of special lift access before the public was allowed up. Austen Smith brought his surf-styles to Falls Creek, and he was joined by the kiwi wonder women, Christy and Zoi, as well as lil’ ripper, Nico Bodi, with TM Darragh Walsh showing us all he’s still got it! And old Falls Creek/Nitro rider Jason Currie even managed to snag an epic pow spray like the good ol’ days.
Good times, indeed! Thanks to Bristow, Will, but most of all to Jimi for being the life and soul of GoodTimes.
I hope we can all get back to a GoodTimes in the future.
Nitro have just launched their updated website with their 2021 range of snowboards (which Australia/NZ received in-stores this year). Take a look here.
What a wang! Triple methods from Torgeir Bergrem, Marcus Kleveland and Sven Thorgren.
Run to the hills! Last year in late August Nitro Snowboards Australia-NZ called me up to join them and shoot their Goodtimes weekend at Mt Hotham. The Nitro International Team was in Oz, and were shooting their 2017 catalog at Hotham, and so I went along to document it all.
It was a ripping weekend with the crew, and some insane riding from the uber-pros on the features built by Hotham park crew and the inventive Rusty Toothbrush boys.
2017 Issue 1 of Australia-NZ Snowboarder published a five-page feature article using my words and photos from the weekend … but as always, there’s a lot of extra shots. So take a look at the gallery below.
And if you’re interested in joining in on this sort of action, Nitro has once again joined with Mint Tours for “Run To The Hills” weekend at Falls Creek from 4-6 August 2017. Scope the deets here. See you up there!
Click on the photos to open up the gallery…
Darragh Walsh into the mist…
Torgeir, Sven and Marcus.
Jared Elston, Sven Thorgren and Torgeir Bergrem.
Triple treat. Jared Elston, Sven Thorgren and Torgeir Bergrem.
The Goodtimes crew
Run to the Hills! The pros and Mint campers bombing The Canyon
I’ve said it previously … and I’ll say it again: I love using my iPhone for photography! It’s not just having a conveniently-sized digital camera in your pocket, but it’s the apps to edit the photos, and the wifi & 4G internet connection to upload shots and share them with the world wherever you are … even with frozen fingers atop some of the highest mountains in Oz.
I’ve wondered for a while why the pocket digicam makers haven’t incorporated Android (or Apple) operating systems and touch screens with their wifi? Then you could carry a better camera around to snap photos on the fly, edit in Photoshop Express or VSCO directly on the camera, then upload to Instagram when you get to a wifi hotspot. I wonder if the Canons, Nikons and Sonys would have kept selling lots of point-and-shoot digital cameras, rather than lose ground to iPhones, Samsungs and iPod Touches, if they had features like that?
While you’re pondering these things, take a look at some photos that I’ve shot, edited and now posted on WordPress all via my iPhone. Technology is marvelous.
Click on the photos to open up a gallery…
What a view from the top of Mt Perisher.
Winter hit the high country, with snow covering much of the land around The Alpine Way.
When you don’t have chains, catching the Skitube to Perisher makes life much easier.
Catching a train up to the snow reminds me of my time at the Garmisch glacier GAP Camp.
Zee train, zee train!
About to enter the earth…
So frozen and windblown up top, I thought I was on Planet Hoth.
The Mile High 2015 riders meeting in the fog.
15 year-old Josh Vagne already has Blue Steel (TM) on lock.
Staying at The Station for the duration of The Mile High is a little bit like school camp. Pod land.
About to drive into a super-intense microcell storm on the Monaro Hwy.
If you had to ride one snowboard for the rest of your life, do you think you could choose just one board that could do it all?
There’s certainly something to be said for building up a quiver of boards – to show the sideways-riding world that you are serious shredder who has the right equipment for every conceivable condition. But after a few years of accruing all manner of boards, you can get too spoilt for choice: your powder weapon ain’t much good when you hit the park at the end of the day, and your freestyle stick (usually) won’t float much when you hit the deep fresh. And no-one wants to be that whiney guy on the chairlift who complains that he should have grabbed one of his other boards instead.
So what if one board could do it all?
After getting my hands on a pre-released Nitro 2015 Blacklight Gullwing for my 2014 overseas trip, I reckon I’ve found the board that can.
Rocker vs Camber … or the best of both: Gullwing Rocker
Now that some of the euphoria around reverse camber has died down a little bit, there has been a minor pushback against the banana boats in favour of good ol’ stable and secure camber, or even zero-camber for something in the middle. And yes, it is true that rocker lacks the control and edge hold of traditional camber boards at high speed … but nothing can beat it for a neutral float in powder.
Nitro’s Gullwing rocker– or to use Burton-speak, Flying V – aims for the best of both worlds: the playfulness and powder-float of rocker, and the groomer control and response of camber. It does a great job … but, having ridden my old Nitro Team Gullwing on steep and Coke-bottle-icy early season St Anton slopes a couple of years ago, I was that complaining dude on the chairlift wishing that I had brought one of my stiffer, regular camber boards. The Gullwing was just a little too playful when maximum control was required on the slippery, icy slopes. But that’s where Nitro’s new Power Pods come into play…
The sidecut of the 2015 Blacklight contains a short and long radius, so that just in front of your leading foot, and behind your back foot two seemingly innocuous bumps protrude a few millimetres. They’re highlighted by fluoro green sections of sidewall, in case you hadn’t noticed them when you first picked up the board. These Power Pods give outrageous edge grip, and cut through snow like a proverbial hot knife through butter, or perhaps more like a serrated blade through crusty bread.
I was amazed at the insane angulation I could achieve on wintry hardpack, whipping through high-G euro-carves and loading up the pop so that I’d actually spring out into the next turn like a PGS’ing Olympian. And in my wake I left 4cm deep perfect-arc gouges in the groomers.
If you know how to lay it out and execute proper carves, you’re gunna want these Power Pods on your rails. And although this season’s California lean snow year meant Northstar didn’t build its normal epic superpipe, I reckon the Power Pods would give amazing grip up and out of the icy walls too.
The Short Board Revolution:
As a 100+ kg, 196cm-tall (6’5”1/2) shredder I understand that the gear I ride is outside the normal parameters for a regular 5’10”, 75kg rider: and in the (camber) past my all-mountain board was 163-164 and I stepped up to a 167 for powder. However, riding Nitro’s Team Wide Gullwing I have been able to step down to 159cm in length for ALL forms of riding, including the deep Niseko powder. During the ultra-snowy February of 2013 I just set back my usual wide stance an inch and the 159 Team Wide Gullwing gave me a more neutral-stance float in the Hokkaido powder than my 167 camber board ever did.
And with the Blacklight, the longer nose will help even more with powder float, but with a directional setback of only 15mm, it’s easy to set the board up for a pretty neutral twin-tip feel for park riding. During pow days in Tahoe I could stand more upright, lean back less and save the back-leg burn, as well as ride a shorter, more manoeuvrable directional-twin tip board straight from the steep(ish) and deep backside of Northstar to Pinball park and pipe.
Riding powder on Nitro’s Gullwing rocker boards feels more like the sort of float you feel when pumping through the face of a fat wave, or across the flats on a wakeboard: it’s playful and forgiving, light and loose, and the reverse camber allows you to really lean into pow turns much more without fear of the camber catching and the nose diving. And I have a sneaky feeling that the reverse camber shape of the base actually helps you spray more snow on those turns, flying radially off the rocker … or maybe it’s just that it’s easier to imagine yourself as Jordy Smith laying over a rail to bury the nose and spray your mates, allowing the rocker to pop you up as you prepare for your next turns with a huge grin on your face.
2015 Blacklight Specifications:
Nitro Oz’s Darragh Walsh hooked me up with the Blacklight as the up-spec version of the Team Wide that I was used to riding, and the Blacklight does share a lot of similarities with it as a freestyle-focussed all-mountain board. However, the Blacklight is listed at a higher price point, and it’s a little bit stiffer, it’s a mid-wide, a little more directional in profile, and it is equipped with a faster base and the Power Pods … and of course it comes with typically Nitro epic ghost-Viking, Game Of Thrones-esque graphics.
Scroll down for all the board’s specs from the 2015 Nitro catalog.
So, should you buy one?
If your next overseas trip is to Minnesota or Montreal, or you wanna get jibby wit it on Sundays In The Park, the Blacklight might not be the sort of freestyle noodle that you’re looking for. But if you like to ride the whole mountain, charge steep lines and deep powder, lay out high-G carves on wide groomers, hit big jumps and freestyle features in the park, and launch out the top of a superpipe, the 2015 Nitro Blacklight Gullwing is the one board for you. You too can have a one-board quiver.