The Mile High presented by Carlton Dry has become a highlight of the Australian winter, and it draws the best snowboarders in the world to Perisher’s terrain park. It’s not just the World Snowboard Tour International points rating of the contest that brings the best shred boys and girls to Jindabyne, but Perisher’s epic and inventive park built by master shaper, and good mate, Charles Beckinsale.
So many of the international pros I spoke to said how much they enjoyed the freestyle set-up at Perisher – easy access to the mountain, fast laps of the park on the T-bar or 8-seater chair, a fun halfpipe also in front valley and a fun park around the corner on the Leichardt T-bar. They all said that they enjoy their summers in Oz much more than New Zealand, and that Perisher has become “the new Snowpark”. High praise, indeed!
This year I was fortunate to spend two and a half weeks in Jindabyne, to compete in the Transfers Banked Slalom at Thredbo, have a bunch of days riding the resorts, and then working for The Mile High writing the press releases, running the website and taking photos. Unfortunately the weather rolled in for the four days that the contest was scheduled, literally putting a real dampener on proceedings. The competition finally ran on the Wednesday, but due to the misty fog, the last two jumps were excluded. It was a shame, as in the clear days earlier on in my stay, the riders were displaying some seriously mind-blowing riding and uber-inventive lines. But, a result was obtained, photos were sent out and video edits posted … and the all-important WST points were awarded to help set up a bunch of riders for the forthcoming northern comp season. Congrats to Jess Rich, who I shot with back in Tahoe a few years ago, for winning the women’s.
A few weeks ago the director of The Australian Slopestyle Tour called me up asking if I could help out with some media services for both The Mile High by Carlton Dry at Perisher and Stylewars at Falls Creek. He had me at hello …. beer!
It was great being back in the epicentre of the snow scene, with the best snowboarders and skiers in the world congregating on Jindabyne for their off-season, and our winter. Charles Beckinsale, had helped fashion an epic and inventive slopestyle course in Perisher’s Front Valley, and with all the big dawgs in town, the level of snowboarding (and skiing) was way beyond what has ever been witnessed in this land. I was primarily employed by Rich Hegarty to help write the press releases and add to social media, but of course I couldn’t be surrounded by all this snow-shredding awesomeness without giving my new-ish Canon EOS 1D Mk IV a work out.
Perisher’s slopestyle course is always a bit tricky to shoot, and I certainly took my best photos at the ol’ stomping ground of Falls Creek’s Ruined Castle terrain park during Stylewars. But it was a nice change to be able to act as a second shooter, alongside ANZ Snowboarding Magazine’s Alex Roberts, in order to cover all the action across the park. And it was a pleasant surprise to see The World Snowboard Tour use my shot of winner Kyle Mack for their news article.
A great two weeks filled with fun and friends … and quite a bit of that free Carlton Dry. It was so good to be back!
For a closer look, click on the photos to open them up in a gallery…
Kyle Mack spinning over Perisher’s last jump for The Mile High.
View of The Mile High slopestyle course.
Freeskier double nose grab – The Mile High, Perisher
Billy Morgan at The Mile High.
The Mile High action avoided the worst of the weather coming in…
Allie Coates, Stylewars 2014
Kyle Mack styling. Stylewars 2014.
Ryan Linnert, Stylewars 2014
Jeremy Page says that Carlton Dry gives you wings…
Will Mayo front board.
Darcy Sharpe high in the sky.
Aussie Tim Laidlaw. Steezy!
Asher Humphreys launches the gap.
Kyle Mack’s Stylewars Grandmaster-winning run. Super stylish frontside 720 off the toes.
Mats Kulisek in front of a moody sky.
Kyle Mack launching.
Black and white gap…
Logan Short wowed by the appearance of double rainbows.
Kyle Mack frontside 720 on day one of Stylewars on World Snowboard Tour’s website. Photo and press release text by Sean Radich.
Someone much wiser once said something like ‘the best camera you have is the one you have on you’ … and as my iPhone 5 is nearly always always in my pocket, it has become my go-to image creator. The quality of the images you can capture are quite amazing for something that also does a pretty good job of acting like a phone … and a computer. And with the outstanding Photoshop Express app, the level of post-production and editing you can do all in the palm of your hand rivals what many amateur photographers do on their desktops.
On my latest overseas trip to the USA my iPhone well and truly got a workout on the streets of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Reno. Around NYC I often carried my Canon EOS 1D MkIV, but with the ability to edit on the fly, then directly upload to Instagram and Facebook, I found that I have enjoyed the shots I took with my Apple phone much more. And sometimes having the limitations of a non-optical zoom, 8-megapixel mini-lens makes you think just a little bit more creatively to make the most of those limitations. So take a look at some of my shots, and if you like what you see, follow me on Instagram for more of my iPhoneography.
Click on the photos below to see larger versions…
This photo was taken with a Russian Horizon Perfeckt 35mm panoramic camera, with the film cross-processed.
For 18 months I sat in the sunny Gold Coast office of the surf magazine, watching the palm trees out the window and looking for a change in wind direction that signalled “down tools” across the office and a race to the Burleigh Point, or mid-Gold Coast beachies. But the whole time I was sitting in board shorts and thongs and enjoying the security (and paycheque) of full-time employment, I was more often than not dreaming of sub-zero temperatures, icy faceshots and the quiet solitude of hiking through the backcountry with a camera in hand. If there was one major gripe I had with what many would consider a dream job, it was that as the Online Editor for a major surf magazine, I just didn’t get enough time to follow my true love: snowboarding.
So when I left the magazine, the first thing I did was book a trip to Japan. I wanted back in the game … and with four weeks in peak pow season, the game was sure to be on.
Dane Tiene had teamed up in Niseko with the kiwi boys, filming their webisode project across the island of Hokkaido, Japan Journals. And although I wasn’t able to meet up with ol’ mate Dane before he flew out, Nick Hyne and Nick Brown were more than happy to have me tag along and shoot some snaps with Connor Harding and filmer Heath Patterson.
It’s always a pleasure to work with the kiwis, as every one of them is just so chilled, friendly … and willing to throw down at every opportunity. And with Japan Journals, these boys are onto a good wicket, producing some great snow-travel-themed web edits full of banging tricks with some great backing from their sponsors.
Veteran shredder Nick Hyne has been to Japan more than a dozen times after first visiting on a high school exchange program, and so I had no doubt that he would have the locations dialled. And so for two days in late February the boys picked me up in Niseko in their Rhythm Snowsports-supplied van to shoot a backcountry jump hidden not far up a valley in the mountains halfway back to Sapporo, and a pillow-line cliff band outside Niseko.
Check out the jump we shot at 3:15 in this Japan Journals episode.
While it might have been just another couple of days in front of the camera for the boys, for me it was quite a successful two day return to the snowboard photography game. The great li’l shred magazine from the other side of the Tasman, NZ Snowboarder, was looking for some shots of Hyner, Browner and Connor and I managed to have a couple of shots published full-page, as well as a double-page spread with one of my Shibuya Crossing 35mm film panoramas, and a couple more shots throughout the magazine’s two issues of the 2013 winter. And through Nick Hyne I was able to tee up one of my shots being used as a full page ad in the skate and snow mag, Manual Magazine.
Not a bad outcome for two day’s shooting, if I do say so myself!
And with another snow trip booked (back to my second home, Lake Tahoe) for this February, I can say: it’s good to be back!
Click on the photos below to open them up in a full size gallery, and take a look at the finished results…
Yep … it was pow season in Niseko during February 2013!
On the road with Japan Journals. Kutchan, just outside Niseko.
Pulled over somewhere on the highway.
Hiking to the goods…
Ahhh, the serenity!
Jump building with the Japan Journals boys.
Nick Brown warming up with a frontside 360.
Connor Harding dodging branches while he gets close to check out the Niseko tree-living wildlife (Heath Patterson).
It doesn’t always go to plan. Nick Brown bailing mid air.
Nick Hyne’s wise words alongside my photo in NZ Snowboarder Issue 58.
Double-back flip from Nick Hyne. You can see the front-on angle in the video above at 3:24.
Full page for Connor Harding.
Booost! Connor Harding launches.
Nick Hyne styling a melon on this pillow drop.
Back-lit vapour trail as Connor Harding bounces off Niseko pillows.
Double pager in NZ Snowboarder Issue 59.
Connor Harding dodging millions of fat Hokkaido flakes on this frontside 540. Check out the footage at 3:28 in the video above.
Shibuya Crossing shot with a Russian-made Horizon Perfekt swing-lens pano-camera, on cross-processed 35mm Fuji Provia 400 film.
When it snows, it pukes. We waited for what seemed like ages (check the snow accumulation on my camera bag) for a window of semi-sunshine to shoot the pillow line Browner had in mind. It was worth the wait to see the shot in the magazine…
Nick Brown gettin’ ‘er done in NZ Snowboarder issue 59.
Droppin’ bombs on Niseko backcountry pillows.
Nick Hyne advertising his Ride Snowboards Machete GT full page in Manual Magazein issue 50.
Nick Hyne launching and landing this frontside double cork 900.
Looking out from the frozen Rhythm Snowsports van back in Niseko-Hirafu.
I didn’t get a chance to know Chelone Miller for long. But what I did get to know impressed me greatly.
At the end of a long and fun 2009 northern hemisphere snow season I was fortunate enough to receive photo accreditation to shoot US Snowboarder Magazine’s Superpark at Mammoth Mountain. It had always been a dream of mine to witness this iconic annual extravaganza of shredding, but with a handful of Aussie and Kiwi snowboarders getting the invite that season, I also had the opportunity to shoot and write a feature article about it all for Aust-NZ Snowboarding Magazine.
Falls Creek ripper Jade McJanet kindly offered me the use of her old room at Mammoth Lakes as she was already on her way home to Oz. She had a housemate, a guy I had heard a little bit about but had never met – Chelone Miller.
I stayed for a few days in the little log cabin, which even the golden Californian spring sunshine failed to warm. We sat outside on the green grass while Chilly practised his golf swing with his drivers, both of us trying to dry out sodden spring snowboarding boots in the sun because the cabin had no heating. To make the living more bearable we even had to turn on the oven with the door open to try and warm up the lounge and kitchen area! Chilly showed me his collection native American (indian) artefacts that he had found on his many trips bouldering and rock climbing out in the desert with Lonnie Kauk. He told me about his older brother, infamous downhill skier Bode Miller, who was on the outer with the US Ski Team after telling the world he was considering quitting skiing just nine months before the 2010 Winter Olympics. (At Vancouver 2010 Bode came back with a vengeance, winning a gold, silver and bronze to become the most successful American male ski racer of all time). And Chelone also told me about the near fatal dirt bike accident that he couldn’t remember but which left him with a souvenir – a visibly moveable part of his skull nearly half the size of his bead. From the early reports it sounds like on-going complications with this accident caused a seizure that killed him in his sleep.
The impression I got of Chelone was of someone very relaxed, very chilled, very friendly and easy-going … but with an almost unparalleled attitude for gnarliness when he stood sideways on a snowboard. Some of the stories he first told me were almost too hard to believe … until I witnessed him destroy the monster features of Superpark.
Like this remembrance in Snowboarder Magazine says, at the end of the first day of Superpark rumours were running wild about one crazy unknown guy launching off the monster 100-plus foot Loon Mountain kicker with nary a photog or video guy around. I was sort of surprised to hear that it was the mild-mannered Chilly I was sharing a house with, but also mostly unsurprised.
When I heard of Chelone’s death via Instagram and Facebook yesterday morning I thought that I might have a nice shot of Chilly. But when I saw the shot at the top of the post, with Chilly touching the rays of the sun, it just seemed perfect. I took this frame at the monster booter on the second day, in between shots I took of Will Jackways for Snowboarding Mag. But as Chilly was a reasonably unknown rider, the shot never ran in print or online. I wish it had.
For some reason I missed the official presentation after Superpark, but was so pleased to discover that Chilly had won the Gatorade Standout award and a wad of cash when I made it to the after party. Since that winter I’ve tried to keep an little bit of an eye on how Chelone was going, and was pumped when I saw his epic photos published in Snowboarder Mag the next season. At the time I met him, Chilly was just receiving some basic hook-ups from Columbia Outerwear, Bataleon Snowboards and Smith Goggles. But after his break-out during 2009’s Superpark, he received some love from within, and outside the industry. Chelone was a snowboarder’s snowboarder – someone who goes big, all the time every time, and yet does it with the minimum of fuss. You can see from these videos what a ballsy rider he was.
Arbor Snowboards’ profile video:
Some commercial work for Jeep in 2010.
My thoughts and sympathies go to his close friends and family.