St. Johns’ Battle Royale: Who Will be Crowned Newfoundland’s Top Dog
Apr 26, 2021
April 26th, 2021
Times got tough as spots were checked off left and right, but the situation quickly escalated when the weather turned for the worse. Then the unthinkable happened. Mother Nature flashed her cold grin, bringing a once-in-a-lifetime storm to town that swirled like a mixed cocktail in an icy shaker. With airports shut down and food becoming scarce, crews were yet unaware that the only way off the island was to prove worthiness to the snowboard gods through a series of tests in strength, patience, mental function, and pain tolerance. The one to best adapt to this strenuous situation would be crowned Newfoundland’s Top Dog. The thing about this game of Survivor was that no one knew they were playing. Like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show, contestants would be guided only by their own inclination to either make the best of the situation, or complain while counting the seconds. When the snowflakes of the bomb cyclone settled and the wind screeched to a soft tickle, a proclamation of state of emergency was broadcast by the prime minister. Chaos ensued in the streets as everyone was left to fend for themselves, trying desperately to get clips for their video parts. The game had begun.
Nick kept quiet, attacking when the rest of the crew let their guard down. He allowed his actions to speak for him. Things were looking up for the young kid. His Google Earth skills secured him a good position, and the residual benefits were enjoyed by Parker and Mark. Camaraderie was high indeed, but something had to give. Word on the street was that Nick was sharing information with rival crews. How he kept this a secret and avoided mutiny might go back to unbelievable slyness. The silent killer struck again, but was it enough?
Mark was actually the reason the K2 crew came to this dreaded island, fueled by a ticking clock otherwise known as a Real Snow deadline. Upon arrival, he ran into problems, and city workers seemed militant in stopping him. Displaying incredible talent, they ultimately marveled at the beauty of his board control and let him slide. Mark’s drink of choice was wine, believing antioxidants would harden his immune system. This proved a wise strategy, as sickness was defeated and alcohol numbed the pain of each extra day on the island. Before long, other crews turned to this technique, and it seemed everyone was stocking up on bottles of cheap Cab and ordering glasses of mediocre Merlot from the hotel bar at any hour.
Sometimes a gargantuan smile isn’t enough to fool the other contenders. Reid’s moderate piano skills played well for him but weren’t enough. While Reid’s time in Newfoundland no doubt hardened the boy, ultimately, he didn’t make it. Rumors began to circulate quickly. Some believe a benign tip-off from Dustbox members got him out unscathed, while others made claims that T. Bird traded him into the black market in order to leave. While early reports had Joe Sexton, a veteran of the game, praising Reid for his battle on the gap-to-flat, some say he was the one who put in a call to sabotage the boy for not going through the kink.
Official reports of Jed’s whereabouts were inconclusive and misaligned. One claimed he flagged down an old whaling captain headed north while spot-searching the marina. Another posited that he was seen hanging off the back of a Sobeys grocery truck headed west. Whether intel was correct is beside the point. Jed knew something was up. Maybe he was the only one to see outside this sick joke. He knew he wouldn’t win, but he was going to make it out alive. My guess is that much like those whalers, he got his quota and being stuck on an island with four dudes in an apocalyptic snowstorm didn’t sound appealing. Perhaps it was a smart move; it was certainly the safe one. When the storm rolled in the next morning, Jed had vanished into the thick marine layer that surrounded The Rock.
Parker, a unique human being who seemed completely unfazed at the proposition of staying for 17 weeks, not only outlasted the others, but is apparently still on the island, scoping spots for the approaching winter. Parker, Parker, Parker, how did you do it? Outlasting the others without losing your mind. Oh right, you love to snowboard, you like drinking, and you like cooking—all readily available for your state of emergency stay–and then some. We have a winnnnner.
An analysis of Parker’s tactics:
His time in the Lot Brigade provided Parker with the tools needed to withstand days on end of cold weather, heavy drinking, and hard living. It is these days in Alaska that honed his ability to outlast others. In fact, the times when Parker appeared to lose his mind may have been an act to push others to lower their guard. Excessive drinking and a high tolerance, an ability to procure and provide rations for the crew each night, and a deep-seeded desire to ride his snowboard allowed Parker to not only function but thrive. Is it me, or this ramen delicious?
WOP presents “Hiace”
Apr 25, 2021
WOP presents “HIACE”
April 25th, 2021
In this age of endless digital information, those once mysterious figures seem rare as we now know so much about the specificities of peoples’ lives. Well, the story ain’t the same for WOP. We can’t help but be curious about these individuals, especially their newest addition to the crew, in this ongoing video series providing an intimate view into their peculiar Finnish snowboard scene. Their films have notoriously created a racket among the room whenever you throw them on due mostly to Dr. Luti’s absolutely insane spot selection. Now throw in Niels Schack, Venla Mustonen, Sparrow Know and of course Sami Luhtanen himself, this video comes at you when you least expect it, right when the northern hemisphere is heating up for summer.
Sami Luhtanen (Dr. Luti) on Life and Snowboarding
Interview by Niels Schack
For the people that don’t know, where are you from and how old are you?
I’m from Finland and I’m 27 years old.
How long have you been filming with Tobbe?
I started filming with Tobbe in like 2012/2013 and at that time we were filming for the KBR crew. I only filmed for a couple of weeks with Tobbe that year because I was also filming with the Pirates guys. After two years of filming with Pirates I decided to move on and start filming with Tobbe full time. Now we’ve been filming more or less since we made our first movie in 2014/2015.
A few years ago you seemed to have disappeared off the radar of snowboarding, where were you?
Yeh, sometimes there comes a time when you don’t have another choice but to work on making your life better. It was a big step for me–I was trying to buy my brother’s house that he was in the process of building. In the end everything went smoothly and the house is nearly finished. A decent home for my family and a good place to spend time. I never had the feeling I had a home before. It’s cool that I am able to put energy into creating and I can work with my hands. Still have almost all my fingers left. Last, summer I only lost the end of my ring finger when I was fixing my Harley Davidson. All good.
What makes you most happy?
Snowboarding and skateboarding mostly. But also the smaller things make me really happy these days. Happy to go drink coffee and see my grandmother tomorrow!
What’s your approach when it comes to picking spots to snowboard on?
Spots pick us most of the time. If you have that feeling, you ride and try and have some fun. And if I have a feeling that it’s not right then we move on to somewhere else.
Are you currently on Capita?
It’s cool that they send me boards to film on. I am really grateful for all the help. I would like to snowboard more going into the future.
How did Niels get hurt this year, can you run us through the situation?
Destiny, he was trying to achieve his dreams!
How was filming this year, what was Covid like in Finland?
It was slow and took a long time to wake up the body. But I really can’t remember any bad days in the end. Covid really wasn’t much of an issue here. But nice to be out with good people.
Take us back to the Water Slide shot from 2015, what went down to make that happen?
“Tiger”—oh he is my old friend, thank god NEVER again. Long story short, the waterslide found me a long time ago. It’s right next to our local hill, I used to snowboard there a lot. For many years I knew the time was coming when I would have to ride the Tiger. We were filming a street part with Tobbe and we needed this spot. All I knew is that I was riding for Ride snowboards for 10 years and they found me right next to this slide when I was 11. Thought it would be a good way to make it legit.
The first day I was trying it, everything was ready, but then people who worked there didn’t let us try it. I told them I need the Tiger or I couldn’t put the part out. But they didn’t understand. They didn’t understand why I would wanna do it in the first place. So I had to snake it when the resort was closed. I was at home for about two weeks just trying to make this happen. Sometimes busted and then the snow started melting really fast. So there was no snow left to make the landing or the in run really. Just this little pile in the parking, and we built it with two trash cans to move snow around. The same guy who kicked me out comes back, but this time I told him I was doing this grass gap and he was cool about it. He left just saying from his window, “Remember don’t touch that waterslide” haha. I was still smiling when I put the snow at the top of the Tiger. Went there 6 times to 6 tries that one evening.
What’s next for you and WOP?
Pretty much trying to feed my soul with woodworking and skateboarding. Last few weeks I’ve been cleaning my yard, cutting apple trees, and starting to build a terrace next to the ramp. Now the weather is getting a bit colder again so I have to wait until the sun comes out to paint my house one more time. Also I’m going to therapy for a bit. When I’m not able to snowboard things can be hard at times. My head is sometimes too much and it’s really hard to focus on anything. But I have many projects going on now and I’m really trying to find all the energy from the present time. I’m making new coping for my ramp and tomorrow and I’ll turn on my wood cutter to make a decent deck for one table. And when the summer is over and winter is coming we hope for the best. Bring the family back together and see what happens.
CORE Snowboarding and the Future of Inclusivity
Apr 19, 2021
CORE Snowboarding and The Future of Inclusivity
April 19th, 2021
Erik Leon has been in snowboarding’s public eye since Bear Mountain’s first-gen installment of Sunday in the Parks in the late 2000’s. What very few know though is that Erik had a tough childhood growing up in Riverside, CA, where his family worked to make ends meet. Today, Erik is a world renowned snowboarder who has traveled the earth filming video parts for the better part of the last decade. It was through these years that Erik started thinking of a strategy to break down the barrier of entry to snowboarding in regards to both products and events. Erik developed his CORE program as a way to help younger, underprivileged kids gain access to quality gear, allowing them to get out on the hill and do what we love most: snowboard.
Recently, Erik and the CORE Program partnered with Trollhuagen to put on “Core Meets Cause,” an event that helped raise money for the Cool Meets Cause Foundation. This is a Minneapolis based outreach program that focuses on making snowboarding accessible to underrepresented youth by breaking the barrier of cost.
Going forward, the CORE program sees similar opportunities to shine light and lend a helping hand to local charities around the United States, as well as work with Erik’s sponsors to create price point products designed to make purchasing new equipment a little more affordable.
CORE stands for Community Outreach Riding Equipment and the initiative has three pillars:
1. When making CORE products, sponsors should take steps toward producing them sustainably.
2. CORE products should be as affordable as possible.
3. CORE products should be connected to community outreach efforts.
Self Defense: Jed Anderson Opens up about OCD, Anxiety and Depression
Jan 25, 2021
Self Defense: Jed Anderson Opens up about OCD, Anxiety and Depression
January 26th, 2021
Trigger Warning: This interview contains a discussion about suicide & self-harm.
Interview by Tanner Pendleton
I first met Jed in 2006, on a layover in Geneva, on our way to a catalog shoot. It was my very first assignment for Salomon, and my first time meeting everyone on the team. I was nervous, to say the least. To top it off, I had recently developed an unexplained fear of flying, for which I was prescribed a sedative. Jed, perhaps sensing my insecurities, quickly engaged me in conversation. I was relieved, and to my surprise, he made a comment about how flying made him anxious and asked if I wanted to sit next to him. I was shocked that he would reveal that to me, as I was so accustomed to burying such feelings deep inside. It was really cool, and I even felt comfortable telling Jed about my anxieties—something I had never done with a friend, let alone a near stranger I idolized. I’ve never expressed this to Jed, but in a matter of seconds, with one nonchalant comment, he broke down my insecurities and shame. I didn’t take the prescribed pills, and we shared our company for the remainder of the journey. Throughout my relationship with Jed, he has continued to impress me in similar ways. What follows is an interview about Jed’s struggles with mental health. It is, in my opinion, his greatest contribution to snowboarding, and perhaps the world—a bold claim for anyone familiar with his legacy. However, Jed’s courage in telling his story and willingness to express vulnerability, will undoubtedly change lives and help alter the discourse around mental health in our community. Thank you Jed for sharing.
Can you briefly tell me your experience with mental health? What have you been dealing with personally?
Yeah, sure. I guess I’ve dealt with anxiety and OCD in small ways, since I was pretty young. My first real experience having strong anxiety was based around storms. I had an intense fear of tornadoes, even though I had never seen a tornado in real life. I was maybe 10 at the time. I started to constantly check the weather to make sure there were no storms forecasted. I would check the weather over and over throughout my day. If I saw a dark cloud, I would have to check the weather again to relieve my anxiety. If I didn’t check, I couldn’t move on with my day. I literally couldn’t function until I knew I was “safe.” If there was a storm forecasted, that would usually mean staying home, and sometimes hiding. At the time I was just a little ass kid and I didn’t recognize it as an issue, or as any kind of abnormal behavior. My parents picked up on it, and took me to a therapist around that time, but I don’t think they diagnosed me with anything. Over time, I learned to manage those fears a bit better and the anxiety somewhat went away. I would have bouts of obsessions, but nothing really stuck. I didn’t deal with any sort of debilitating symptoms again until I was about 18.
How did your anxiety present itself this time around?
I don’t really want to talk about a specific “theme,” or what the context of my initial thoughts or fears were. Basically, around that age, I started having extremely intense, disturbing thoughts, and fears. They were completely morally off track. I guess you could call them ego-dystonic. These thoughts, images, words, and fears were on repeat, all day every day. No matter what I was doing, I was constantly plagued by terrifying thoughts and fears. This was accompanied by severe anxiety, which ended up fueling depression. Stopping the cycle in my head was impossible. I started constantly questioning the validity and truthfulness of my own thoughts. I didn’t know what OCD was. I didn’t know what anxiety was. I didn’t know what depression was. Every day I would wake up and the thoughts would start again. My heart rate would start going up, and I would be stuck again. The longer this cycle went on, the more messed up I felt. I began to really hate myself.
At some point I attempted to do some “research.” I nervously searched online for how I was feeling, my fears, my thoughts. I usually didn’t find anything that gave me relief. The info I did find often ended up scaring me more. I used these negative search results as evidence of being a “fucked up person.” I started to nap a lot. I slept as much as I could. Sleep and napping were coping techniques I would use for years. Even when I would be napping, the anxiety often snuck into my dreams.
At this time, had you confided in your parents? Or was it full-on isolation?
I didn’t tell anyone for quite some time. I was trying to manage it on my own and just kind of hoping I’d wake up and the anxiety would be gone. I remembered what it was like not to feel like this, so I was just thinking it would go as it came. My family could tell something was off, but I did my best to hide it. On Christmas Eve, when I was 19 or 20, my issues got to a point where I wasn’t functioning. I began to fully shut down. I was in my brother’s old room trying to sleep as much as I could. Crying, then passing out for a bit. I went downstairs and attempted to start dinner. I guess I just… wasn’t there. I couldn’t engage in conversation or really speak at all. I remember thinking “I can’t live like this. I can’t find relief. Every day feels like torture. I’m a horrible person. I don’t deserve to live.” At that point, it had been about two years of dealing with extreme anxiety and depression. I felt so far from myself. I hated the feeling of having zero control and zero relaxation. I just wanted to feel calm. I hadn’t felt relaxed or confident in a long time. I just kept going over and over in my head, thinking I could figure it out, thinking I would be able to fix everything. But I couldn’t do it. I was so overwhelmed. I was scared of what I was capable of. I didn’t want to hurt myself or do something impulsive, so I had my mom take me to the hospital. l tiptoed around what I was going through. I didn’t think anyone would understand how I was thinking or feeling. I didn’t know what it was I was going through, and I really didn’t know how to explain it. Speaking to the nurse was scary, and I wasn’t truthful—I couldn’t be truthful. I’d been hiding all these thoughts and feelings from everyone. Now I have to open up about it all to a stranger? A nurse on Christmas Eve? That seemed like the last thing that made sense. After my assessment, they told my parents I should see a specialist and start going to therapy. That was the start of a long road.
What was that process like?
I continued to try and manage my issues on my own for a while. At times, I felt like I had a grip on them, but they would creep back in, and then get worse. I didn’t even know what my issues were at first, so that made them impossible to manage correctly. I continued to not really tell my friends or family about what was going on with me and do my best to hide it. I knew I needed help, but finding a therapist was intimidating and expensive. I had no Idea what to look for. I didn’t know anyone who went to therapy. Even though 10 years isn’t that long ago, therapy still felt very taboo. I felt embarrassed. I started to reach out to therapists through the internet. It took some time to commit to seeing someone or find anyone I felt comfortable with. Therapy was very spotty. Trying to manage my disorders alongside a career and trying not to have anyone find out was pretty difficult. Once I was able to find someone to open up to, that was the first little step. To be diagnosed and feel a little less in the dark provided relief, but also made me feel broken. “Obsessive compulsive disorder, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder.” I knew nothing about this stuff, and it scared me.
How was all of this affecting your social life? Did you open up to any friends about what you were going through?
I didn’t talk to my friends about it. I felt really insecure. When I was with friends, I wasn’t able to fully focus on anything other than my anxiety. If I was skating, I would be ritualizing a lot of the time. If I was at a party, I would be working out little problems in my head. If I was chilling with friends, I wasn’t listening or fully engaging in conversations. I would be involved just enough to not look sus. If I felt like people were picking up on something, I’d crack a joke or whatever. I would often act in a really bubbly and impulsive way to steer attention away. Afterwards, I would wonder why I acted like that. I wasn’t being myself. I was just extremely frustrated and sad a lot of the time. I’ve always felt a little out of place socially. So having this “secret” was kind of a cherry on top of that. I would, and still do, have ups and downs. So I would have stints where I felt back to my old self and able to feel okay again. I would neglect my recovery during these times and hope my issues disappeared. The problem is that a lot of these disorders are not curable, but they are manageable. My lack of commitment to therapy meant I wasn’t equipped with the right tools to confront my issues when they came back.
I’m assuming you were snowboarding during this time—how did this affect your snowboard career?
My issues were starting to interfere with my concentration and willingness to go on trips. It was difficult to let go and dive into anything. The idea of leaving my comfort zone and going on a trip made me really anxious. Jet lag, lack of sleep, eating unhealthy is kind of all a part of filming. All of these would usually worsen my symptoms. I didn’t want people to see my medication. If I needed to talk to my therapist, I’d have to somehow disappear from everyone and lie about it. It feels like living a double life; it feels isolating. I would rarely shut down to a point where I wouldn’t actually go. I just became more picky about which trips I would go on and try to make it count when I was on one. I did start to enjoy certain aspects of snowboarding more—if I was battling a trick, or able to really be in the moment, I could escape for a little bit, and replace my OCD anxiety and thoughts with the anxiety of trying a trick. This brief relief would make me want to snowboard, but more so film. I was able to forget a bit, be present, and have fun.
This may seem like an odd question, but were there any times your anxiety or anything you may have been dealing with at the time, actually pushed you to go above and beyond? Were there times where your disorder acted like a blessing rather than a curse?
I think yes, at times. Within snowboarding it did because honestly—it sounds pretty funny—I’d be so frustrated emotionally, I would just commit to tricks out of anger. Like, “I don’t care if I get bodied right now” [laughs]. Also, achieving goals like getting a clip or filming a part, would give me fulfilment and something to be proud of. I guess it’s something to be confident about and feel self-worth. Filming a video part would give me a purpose and something to work on. Aside from snowboarding, I feel there are some positives. I didn’t know what anxiety really felt like before. I didn’t know what it was to be depressed. I think having these extreme symptoms has allowed me to connect with others on a deeper level and become less ignorant.
From an outsider’s perspective I would have never guessed. I remember during this time you were coming to New York a lot, putting out artwork, etc.
I was really trying to live with the mentality of, “If I didn’t feel this way, what would I do?” I had dreams before I had mental health complications. I wanted to stay true to them. I wanted to have a life. I was in a unique position. Being young, I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t at least try to go do cool shit. So I put a lot of pressure on myself. A lot of the time, these trips felt somewhat forced. I wasn’t really healthy enough to be in those environments. The intense emotions would really take away from any sort of authentic experience. I was exhausted, but I felt like it would be so dumb to not take advantage of this lifestyle. A lot of time on those trips was spent just trying to be stable and appear to be stable to others and working out issues in my head. I would often dwell on how much fun I could be having without this anxiety, if I could just feel how I used to, which of course made me more depressed. I would often think about how I would give up everything to not feel like this anymore. The constant anxiety gave me so much self-hatred. The inner comparison to others around me and my idea of their realities drove me into the ground. I would be in New York, doing whatever I wanted—eating great food, meeting cool people, living this dream dream trip. But I was more depressed than I had ever been. I was just frustrated and desperately wanted to feel at peace again. The disorder felt like it was stealing everything from me. Happiness felt really distant.
In my eyes, you’ve always sort of been this icon of cool. And I think that’s really important because a lot of kids out there look at you and think the same thing. But you’re going through a lot of shit that nobody knows about. How does that idea sit with you? To be appearing one way on the outside, but feeling another way on the inside?
[Laughs] Thanks, Tanner. I for sure understand that perspective. I know how my life looks from the outside, and how privileged my lifestyle is. I was scared for people to find out because I felt the response would be something along the lines of, “What do you have to be anxious about? What do you have to be depressed about?” I didn’t understand, and I don’t think a lot of people understand, that it isn’t our choice to have these disorders. It’s pretty cliché to say, but you never really know what the fuck anyone’s going through. You never know what someone is going through or what they could be struggling with. You don’t always know what’s going on when people get home. I know within snowboarding, some kids look up to me or whatever, and I’m sure when most people read this who know me, they might be surprised to hear I have these struggles. When it comes to depression, anxiety, addiction, abuse, etc., it’s not always obvious, and it’s not a certain type of person.
In the last few years, we have sadly lost a few people in our community to suicide. Having been through so much yourself, I’m curious if you’d like to touch on that subject and speak to how it affects you personally?
It seems like when we have these tragedies, there’s often this reaction of people saying, “They were so happy; I was with them yesterday, and they seemed fine.” A lot of times, like I mentioned before, it’s the last person you might think who is struggling the most. People do a lot of hard work to hide what they are going through. Life for some can become constant suffering with no signs of an ending. Symptoms can get worse, and I think everyone just wants inner peace. People want relief. Suicidal ideation is something I have struggled with throughout my recovery. It’s sad when it gets to a point where it seems like the only option to find calm is so extreme and permanent. Unfortunately, we’ve lost some people close to us in the last couple of years. I think suicide is an important topic that needs to be spoken about more often. For many, it’s unthinkable. But for some, it’s not just a fleeting thought. While these thoughts and emotions are very real, opening up about them and telling someone could be a first step in finding some relief. It’s an overwhelming first step to take, but it’s worth it.
I’ve been thinking back on the days we would film together. I’ve been trying to think of clues that might have helped me to see what was going on with you. I can recall at the dinner table you’d sort of just be in your own world drawing with your finger on the table. Or just in general, some days you were the life of the party and other days you would just put your headphones on in the morning and sit in the back of the van.
Yeah. For sure. Both are definitely true. I have up and down days, like everyone. When I’m up, and my OCD and anxiety is quiet, it’s easier to be energetic and engaged. If I’m down or feeling really anxious, I tend to be quiet and stay to myself. Like I mentioned before, I didn’t really want anyone to know what I was feeling or bring anyone else down. Being on trips could be easier at times because I could focus on getting clips, not my anxiety. When the OCD quieted down, I could feel like myself again, for a bit.
Looking back on it, in your opinion, what can a friend do to help out somebody who might be in need?
One of the hardest parts of living with a disorder is this underlying notion that you’re not really supposed to talk about it. That mentality is kind of ingrained into all of us from a young age. I always felt the need to keep it a secret, that it’s this negative, weak part of me. I felt a lot of shame. It stole a lot from me. For that reason, it can be hard to know if someone is going through something. I think dissolving the weird stigma revolving around mental health and addiction is important. These topics becoming less reserved could hold a lot of power for change and safety. It seems people work hard to uphold a perfect, curated image. It’s hard to not beat yourself up when we basically only see the positives in everyone else’s lives. We are all extremely judgmental these days–myself included–but I don’t think that these issues should hold any fuel for embarrassment. We didn’t choose this. Why should we feel ashamed? As far as helping someone or creating more support within friendships, I think just knowing people have your back goes a long way. Having consistent communication and other forms of subtle support helps a lot. If you suspect someone might be struggling, it might mean opening up and showing vulnerability first about something in your life. I think everyone tends to have a pretty harsh barrier up, and it can be hard to let it down. It can be difficult to not shut those parts of yourself off, even with people you are closest with. It’s important we stay in touch, and if you have a weird feeling someone you know might be struggling, don’t hesitate to check in.
Just being supportive of your friends, and being open with one another, so we can be proud of who we are and have self-compassion—that’s the most important thing.
Yeah, there needs to be a big change, way beyond our snow and skate communities. The APA recently categorized traditional masculinity as a threat to society. This idea that you have to be the strong silent type is so unhealthy.
For sure. Bottling emotions up, pushing our issues further down, it only makes us angry and frustrated. It ends up leaving you further from anyone. I’m not saying everyone has to come out and share their personal struggles with the world. It can be a very subtle shift. We have to get to a point where it is okay to speak about our struggle, and to check in with others about theirs. I think these small changes could give people more confidence and help minimize extreme events.
Tell me about this program you recently completed and how you got enrolled…
Yeah, I went to an intensive treatment program for OCD last summer. There’s only one of these facilities in Canada. I was lucky because it’s in Toronto, which is where I live. You have to have treatment-resistant OCD. Which basically means that traditional therapy, medication, or alternative methods have not provided you with a functional life. The program was five days a week, from 9am to 4pm. So, I was doing that from the beginning of June through the end of September in 2019.
That’s a full-time job. What was the day-to-day like?
The experience was pretty wild. It had been a long time since I had a set schedule. I would either bike or take the subway. It was an hour there and an hour back. First, it would usually be some sort of a group class. It was mainly group therapy classes, with one-on-one therapy a couple times a week. At lunch there was a cafeteria with group tables—which at first made me pretty uncomfortable. It was the first time in so long I had to sit with a group of people I didn’t know. Making conversation with someone who I have nothing in common with felt awkward at first. It made me realize how much of a bubble I had created for myself. That being said, the food was bomb [laughs]. After lunch there would be a couple more classes, and I would bike home and go skate or whatever. Often, I would have homework, so I’d work on that and go to sleep pretty early. It felt good to have more of a structured day-to-day.
Speaking of structure, do you find that having a lot of time on your hands can have a negative affect?
If I’m not engaged in something, I can get wrapped up in my head and spiral. With snowboarding as a career, everything is pretty lenient. As long as you’re doing your shit, being productive, and have enough footage, there’s never a set time or whatever. I try to create responsibilities and work towards other goals when I’m not snowboarding. I am still working on being able to just relax and do nothing, because that’s important too.
How do you feel after completing the program?
I wouldn’t say that it cured me or anything. I am still in recovery and making progress. I’m still seeing a therapist regularly. The program definitely put me in a position where I was confronted with some issues I needed to be. I’m super lucky to have been able to attend. Seeing that there are so many different kinds of people dealing with a similar issue was pretty eye-opening. Almost everyone who was in that program had kept their OCD a secret even from those closest to them. Like me, they had never really opened up to anyone about it. It showed me how important consistency is and how important it is to stay on top of your recovery.
Without disclosing anything you don’t want to, is there an example of OCD or intrusive thoughts you’d like to share? I think it might help paint a picture for some readers who may not have experienced anything like this. Maybe the mother and her newborn would be a good example?
Oftentimes, people think of OCD as a fear of germs or organizing. I don’t want to take away from people who experience those themes or rituals. These are definitely types of OCD that exist and can be just as devastating. But there’s a laundry list of other OCD themes. My experience with OCD mainly revolves more around intrusive thoughts. Every single human has intrusive thoughts. I’m sure people have been driving their car and thought, “Oh, what if I swerve and hit this person?” Or you’re at the subway and you’re like, “I could just push this dude in front of the subway right now.” Most people have those brief thoughts and shake it off. For someone with OCD, it’s those little thoughts that can latch on and take over their whole lives. The example of a mother and their newborn is pretty classic. Basically, a mother gives birth, and they’re looking at this beautiful newborn. The mom has a thought: “What if I accidentally hurt my baby? That’s the initial thought, and it becomes all they can focus on. These thoughts about potentially having the ability to hurt this child don’t seem to go away. Now they might start to question if they secretly want to hurt the baby. What at first was just a thought, has become a realistic fear. The mom might start isolating themselves to avoid being around the baby in fear of what they could do or the debilitating anxiety that now causes. Instead of changing and feeding the baby, they might start to make others do it. Now, they won’t spend time with their child anymore. The mom doesn’t have a relationship with the baby because they won’t let themselves go near them. This evolves into depression because they have this newborn, but constant fear and anxiety that they are capable of doing something unthinkable to them. The graphic images and thoughts replay in their head and they become convinced they are evil. All their time is devoted to trying to figure out if they are going to hurt someone—searching for clues, physical feelings, signs, etc. It could progress further to where if they see any kid, they’re scared they are capable of hurting them. Now they won’t go to the mall, or anywhere they might be around kids. They might start avoiding TV shows or movies that have kids in them. They’re just in their house in a room locked, and people live like that. People live like that for years—forever sometimes, and it all spiderwebs from one little thought. Their whole lives are completely taken over. I feel like that’s a pretty good example of how things can escalate and how dark it can be. Another good example that everyone is familiar with is “step on a crack and break your back.” Ocd latches onto thoughts and behaviours like that and can take over your life.
Going through all of this, how has it affected relationships with family, friends, sponsors?
It has affected and continues to affect most of my relationships. Having better skills now, it affects my relationships in a negative way less often. As far as relationships with friends, I’m hoping that opening up about this will be a positive. This is a huge part of myself that I’ve been keeping inside for so long. It is more a part of me than anything else really, and, in a way, I feel like I haven’t been able to fully be myself keeping it to myself.
With snowboarding, it affected my sponsorships in the past for sure. There were times where a sponsor would want me to go do a board test or something, and I wouldn’t really be stable enough to attend, so I wouldn’t go. I didn’t feel like I could be open with them about the real reasons, so I would make up excuses. I think that my perceived attitude at times put a bad taste in some of my sponsors’ mouths. I get it for sure, at the time it was the only way I knew how to deal with it.
I mean, I think there are a lot of people out there who are feeling the exact same way. The fact that I just learned that you’re going through this stuff is so comforting because I can relate on so many levels. It’s really inspiring to me that you are able to talk about it.
Thank you. That means a lot, for real. These issues are fairly common. Conversations need to happen more often. I always think back to when I started feeling these things. If someone I looked up to, someone into the same shit I was into, or just a homie, had said anything about anxiety or depression it would have made my situation a little less overwhelming. I don’t want pity, and I’m not trying to be a hero through opening up. I’m not doing this interview so people can feel bad for me. I just want to be open and honest with my experience, and hopefully it can make someone else’s life a bit easier. Maybe someone can feel less alone inside their head. No one likes to feel vulnerable. With my story, I have had, and still have, a lot of fear about opening up. I always had this “fantasy” of beating OCD and anxiety before talking about it. Then, I could finally spill it all out and be like, “I went through this, but now I’m cured!” I don’t know if that “perfect moment” I’ve been waiting on is very realistic. I believe the more people who are in positions like myself who talk about their experiences, it can provide more power and safety to others going through something. It’s important to start to normalize. On top of that, I didn’t feel like it was right to be talking about my personal issues, especially in recent times. We have a lot of injustice and corruption within our world. The last thing I want to do is stray away from the importance of these issues by talking about myself. I don’t want to take up space or minimize any of that focus.
What we can do in our community to make steps in a direction that’s more open and aware of mental health issues? And what can we do as a society on a bigger, more global picture?
Largely, we need resources in place that provide support. We need safer spaces and better resources—whether it be mental health, addiction, housing, etc. We need to have the correct measures to help those in a crisis. We need to be educated about mental health and addiction in school. Having no prior education made my initial symptoms even more foreign and maximized my recovery time. I think as a community it’s giving these areas the proper attention. We need to talk with each other regularly and openly. Awareness and conversation is key.
Back on the subject of OCD. I think the language we choose to use is also important. OCD is not an adjective. It is not preferring to have something a certain way or to keep your room in order. Sufferers need to engage in these time consuming rituals to function. People with OCD don’t have control over these choices and are dealing with a crippling illness. Misuse of these words takes away from that.. It’s not a funny quirk, or cool. I’m not out here saying I’m trying to cancel people for misusing these terms. I had no idea before I went through this myself. Just something to be aware of.
Having spent so much time working on your disorders, seeking help, and learning about OCD, has it been more manageable this year going into filming? You are doing a project with Jake [Kuzyk], Kennedi [Deck], and Hayden [Rensch]. I am wondering how that has been going and if you have opened up to them?
I’m happy to say that over the past couple years I have found more stability in general. Consistent therapy has helped. My family has been very supportive since I have opened up to them more. I still spiral and have bad weeks, but I am usually able to use these skills to pull out. I’m excited about this project we are working on! I haven’t got to film with Jake in a long time. We have been working on separate projects for so many years. I have been friends with Hayden for so long and I always like working with him. I have never filmed with Kennedi, but I am a big fan. We have only done one trip so far, but it went really well. I have opened up to Jake a bit, but I haven’t spoken to Hayden or Kennedi at all. The last trip we went on I had a therapy session in the morning. They asked me where I went and I just told them I had a therapy session. That’s the first time I had been open in a situation like that.
Thanks so much for sharing, Jed. Any final thoughts?
If you are going through something—whatever thoughts you are having, whatever you’re dealing with—I have no fucking judgment towards you. There are a lot of people out there who don’t have judgement toward you. There are people who understand what you are going through. I get how scary it is to reach out to someone, and I understand how overwhelming it is. I understand how isolating it is to keep everything pushed down. Please reach out for help. Talk to a friend. Tak to your family. I get that our parents are from a generation where this stuff wasn’t really talked about. If it’s within your means, I recommend talking to a therapist. Therapy is less scary than it seems. Teletherapy is less weird than it seems. Don’t give up after one try. Stick with it. There are more resources becoming available all the time. Talk to your family. Talk to your friends. You will have good days again. Anyone who’s ever opened up to me about something personal, it’s so cool and admirable. It’s not a weakness at all. It’s awesome, and I hope we can all start to let our guard down a bit. Being open and honest with others should be celebrated the same as our other accomplishments. It’s taken me a good decade to come forward and speak about any of this. It’s been more challenging than any snowboard part, skateboard trick, or anything else I’ve worked hard on.
Welcome to the Roxy MAKE WAVES. MOVE MOUNTAINS. Snow Contest, searching for the next up-and-coming female talent. Below you’ll find the updates on the contest, rules to follow, and the terms & conditions for participation.
The rules are as follows:
Create a 60-second or less edit of your best footage in any locale (park, street or mountain, etc.) Upload your video to your Instagram with no music tagging @roxy and @torment_mag using the hashtag #MakeWavesMoveMoutainsContest
Must be 13 years or older by the start date of January 19th, 2021.
Refer to the terms and conditions for eligibility.
Only current 20/21 winter season footage will be accepted.
All entires must be submitted no later than February 28th, 2021.
This is a snowboard only contest.
Finalists and the eventual winner will be selected in a conjoined effort by staff members of Roxy Snow, Torment staff and the current Roxy snowboard team by March 5th, 2021. And the winner will be announced March 8th, 2021.
The winning video will be chosen on the attributes of style, tricks, trick selection and overall impression.
The winner will be given ‘Am product for a year’ of equivalent of $3,000 of Roxy snow product.
As submissions are made, stayed tuned to tormentmag.com to follow the competition.
Terms & Conditions for the Roxy Make Waves Move Mountains Contest:
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE ODDS OF WINNING. THIS IS A SKILL CONTEST. CHANCE WILL NOT DETERMINE ANY WINNER(S).
Contest Timing: The Roxy Make Waves Move Mountains Contest (“Contest”) begins at 6:00 A.M. Pacific Standard Time (“PST”) on January 18, 2021 and ends at 12:00 A.M. PST on February 28, 2021 (the “Contest Period”). The time shall be determined by Sponsor’s timekeeping systems, and Sponsor may also rely on the time processing functions of third parties. Sponsor shall have the sole discretion in determining the timeliness of any action or inaction related to this Contest. This is a contest where winner(s) will be determined on the basis of skill, not chance.
How to Enter/Entry Requirements: Individuals who are eligible to participate in the Contest in accordance with these Official Rules may enter the Contest as follows:
If you are an individual eligible to participate in the Contest in accordance with these Official Rules but do not have an account with Instagram, go to Instagram and create one for free. Use of Instagram is subject to your compliance with all applicable terms and conditions of Instagram. Any inaccurate or incomplete entry cannot be taken into account and such participation shall be deemed null and void. Sponsor is not responsible for lost, late, misdirected entries or entries not received regardless of cause.
Do not participate in the Contest and/or consult a doctor before participating in the Contest if: (1) you are not in good health; (2) you have any physical or mental problems which would hinder you from safely participating in the Contest; or (3) you are not sufficiently trained and experienced enough to understand the risks involved in the Contest.
Your entry must meet all of the Required Representations and Warranties set forth below to the fullest extent applicable for that entry. Failure to complete any step outlined in, or to follow any of, the Official Rules may result in your disqualification.
REQUIRED REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES: By participating in the Contest, you represent and warrant that your entry (including, without limitation, any Video or other content associated with your entry – hereafter, collectively “Entry”) complies with the following criteria as applicable (collectively, the “Required Representations and Warranties”):
Your Entry must be your own original work or you must have all the rights necessary to post or re-post the content. Any person who helped produce the Video must grant ownership rights to you by a signed/dated written statement acknowledging the transfer of any ownership rights they may have in the Video to you. Each Entry must not contain any material that would violate or infringe upon the rights of any person or entity, including without limitation copyrights, trademarks or rights of privacy or publicity, or that is defamatory, threatening, indecent, obscene or offensive, or that is unlawful, in violation of or contrary to any applicable laws or regulations, or which requires a license from any third party.
You must have the express written consent of any identifiable persons appearing or referenced in your Entry to their Persona (as defined below) being used in the ways set out in these Official Rules, including Sponsor’s right to use your Entry for any future commercial purpose without restrictions. Upon request, you will obtain written consent of any such persons for Sponsor in the form identified by Sponsor. If any person appearing in any Entry is under the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence, the written consent and signature of a parent or legal guardian is required.
Except for the marks of Sponsor (addressed below), the Entry must not contain or reference any names, products or services of any company or entity or any third-party trademarks, logos, trade dress or promotion of any brand, product, or service. Sponsor grants you the limited permission to display each of their “Quiksilver” brand marks and products in your Entry solely for purposes of entering this Contest and subject to these Official Rules.
Each Entry must be appropriate for public viewing. Without limiting the foregoing, each Entry must not be lewd, obscene, sexually explicit, pornographic, disparaging, defamatory, libelous, include or imply drug or alcohol imagery or use, violate any laws or otherwise contain content which Sponsor in its sole and absolute discretion decides is inappropriate or objectionable. Your Entry must also not disparage or cast a negative light on any person, entity, or brand, product, or service.
Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to not consider any Entry for the Contest if it believes the Entry violates or potentially violates any of the foregoing requirements or otherwise fails to comply with any provision of these Official Rules. You agree to reimburse Sponsor and the Contest Entities in full in respect of any losses, damages, and expenses, including reasonable legal fees (including, where permitted, reasonable attorneys’ fees) that they may sustain from the breach of a representation or warranty made by you or the use of any rights granted by you to Sponsor hereunder.
By submitting your Entry, you grant to Sponsor and the other Contest Entities a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sub-licensable, freely assignable license to reproduce your Entry and to otherwise (in whole or in part) use, exploit, copy, modify, adapt, edit, publish and display the Entry (including any photo, video or other content associated with your Entry) in any form, manner, venue, media or technology now known or later developed for any and all purposes, including, without limitation, for purposes of trade, advertising, and promotion as Sponsor and the other Contest Entities and their respective licensees or assignees determine, without further compensation, notification, or permission. Further, by entering, you hereby waive any moral rights you may have in your Entry in favor of the Sponsor and other Contest Entities.
By submitting your Entry you also grant to Sponsor and the Contest Entities the worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, fully sub-licensable, and freely transferable right, but not the obligation, to use any and all names, identities, titles, likenesses, distinctive appearances, physical likenesses, images, portraits, pictures, photographs (whether still or moving), screen personas, voices, vocal styles, statements, gestures, mannerisms, personalities, performance characteristics, biographical data, signatures, and any other indicia or imitations of identity or likeness listed, provided, referenced, or otherwise contained in the Entry (all attributes, collectively, per person, a “Persona”) for purposes of advertising and trade, in any format, medium, or technology now known or later developed without further notice, approval, or compensation, unless prohibited by law.
Judging: Following the Contest Period, Videos that qualify for entry into the Contest will be judged by one or more judges selected by Sponsor that are experienced in snowboarding (“Judging Panel”). Sponsor may remove, replace or add additional judges to the Judging Panel in its sole discretion at any time. The Videos will be judged based on creativity, technical aspects of the entrant’s performance, and flow (e.g., movement from one turn to the next) (the “Criteria”). The Judging Panel will also select one (1) entrant as the potential winner.
Winner Notification: The potential winner of the Grand Prize will be notified by email, phone or Instagram direct message from Sponsor on or about March 8, 2021. The potential winner must respond to Sponsor’s notification and provide all requested information within forty-eight (48) hours of the first contact or attempted contact from Sponsor or the potential prize may be forfeited. To claim any prize, Sponsor may require winner and such winner’s parent/guardian to complete, sign, and return an Affidavit of Eligibility/Liability Release/Publicity Release forms and other applicable documents, which may require a social security number and/or other personally identifiable information, and may need to be notarized (collectively, the “Documentation”), before claiming any prize. All required documents must be completed and returned to Sponsor by the date and time communicated by Sponsor. At Sponsor’s sole and absolute discretion, winner may be required to produce a picture or some other form of proper identification to claim any prize. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute any prize with a prize of equal or greater value. If a potential winner cannot be contacted, fails to timely claim the prize, is disqualified, fails to timely execute and return any required forms or other documents, or if the prize notification is returned as undeliverable, Sponsor may select an alternate winner from among the remaining eligible entries based on the Criteria or such alternate method as solely determined by Sponsor. Under no circumstances will more than the advertised number of prizes be awarded.
Prize(s) and Approximate Retail Values (“ARVs”):
Grand Prize: One (1) winner will receive the Grand Prize, which consists of product from the Roxy Snow collection chosen by the winner with a retail price of up to US$3,000 (in the form of actual product or a gift card).
The total ARV of all prizes awarded under the Contest is US$3,000. All prizes are awarded “AS IS” without any warranty of any kind, express or implied. No substitution, exchange or transfer of prizes will be made or is permitted except in Sponsor’s sole and absolute discretion.
General Terms: Decisions of Sponsor on all matters relating to the Contest are final and binding. All federal, state, provincial, local and other taxes, related to the prizes, are the sole responsibility of the winners. Contest Entities do not warrant that access to the Contest will be uninterrupted. The Contest Entities are not responsible for, including but not limited to, technical, hardware, software or telephone malfunctions of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications caused by the user or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Contest or by any human error which may occur in the processing of the Entries in the Contest or for any liability for damage to any computer system resulting from participation in, accessing or downloading information in connection with the Contest. Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual that tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Contest; violates the Official Rules; or acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. ANY ATTEMPT BY ANY PERSON TO DELIBERATELY UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY FRAUDULENT CLAIMS, MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAW, AND, SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK REMEDIES AND DAMAGES (INCLUDING ATTORNEYS’ FEES) FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, INCLUDING CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.
Sponsor’s failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. Sponsor reserves the right to cancel or modify the Contest and to disqualify any entrant for any reason, in its sole and absolute discretion, including (but not limited to) if, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of the Contest. If such cancelation occurs, Sponsor reserves the right to select the winners from among all eligible entries. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of these Official Rules shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision. In the event that any provision is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable or illegal, these Official Rules shall otherwise remain in effect and shall be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or illegal provision were not contained herein.
Releases: Entrant acknowledges that entrant may be participating in dangerous activities in connection with the Contest, including the inherently dangerous snowboarding activities contemplated by the Contest. Entrant understands that the risk of injury from the activities involved in the Contest is significant, including the potential for permanent paralysis and death, and while particular equipment and personal discipline may reduce this risk, the risk of serious injury does exist. Entrant acknowledges and agrees that Sponsor and the other Contest Entities are not advocating or suggesting the performance of dangerous tricks, tricks above entrant’s skill level or tricks that should only be performed by a professional. Entrant acknowledges and agrees that Sponsor and the other Contest Entities have no responsibility whatsoever for injuries, losses, or damages of any kind that result from entrance into the Contest or receipt, acceptance, possession, or use of any prize. By entering the Contest, entrant agrees to indemnify, release, discharge and hold harmless Sponsor, each Contest Entity, and Instagram, and each of their respective directors, officers, employees, agents and assigns (the “Released Parties”) from any claims, losses, and damages arising out of, or relating to, entrant’s participation in the Contest or any Contest-related activities (including, without limitation, events, travel, etc.) and the acceptance and use, misuse, or possession of any prize awarded hereunder (including, without limitation, any non-compliance by entrant with these Official Rules; acceptance, possession, misuse or use of any prize; any malfunction, error or other problem arising in connection with the collection, processing, or retention of entry information; or any typographical or other error in the printing, offering or announcement of any winner). The foregoing includes, without limitation, any claim for personal injury, property loss or damage, or death arising in any way in connection with the Contest.
Disputes: Except where prohibited, each entrant agrees that any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of, or connected with, the Contest or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court located in the State of California. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, entrant’s rights and obligations, or the rights and obligations of Sponsor or other Contest Entities in connection with the Contest, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of State of California, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of the State of California or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than State of California.
Winner List: To obtain the winner’s name, visit https://tormentmag.com/roxy-contest/ or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Roxy Make Waves Move Mountains Contest c/o Boardriders, Inc. 5600 Argosy Circle, # 100, Huntington Beach, California 92649, U.S.A., with a written request by October 1, 2021.
Third Party Platforms: The Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Twitter, Facebook or Instagram (collectively, the “Social Network”). By participating, you release the Social Network and its respective parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, employees, directors, agents and advertising agencies, from and against any and all injury, loss or damage caused or claimed to be caused by your Entry or participation in the Contest and/or the acceptance, awarding, receipt, use and/or misuse of any prize. Any questions regarding this Contest should be directed to Sponsor.
European Participants: In accordance with European Regulation 2016/679 of 27 April 2016 and French law no. 78-17 of 6th January 1978 relating to information technology, files and freedom modified, in particular by French law n ° 2018-493 of June 20, 2018 relating to the protection of the personal data, contestants have the right to access, modify or delete the data relating to them. Subject to the conditions of the applicable regulations, the contestants also have a right to the portability of their data, the right to request a limitation of treatment or to object the processing of their data. The contestants also have the option of providing instructions regarding the treatment of their data after their death. To exercise these rights, contestants must send a valid proof of identity and a letter to the following address: 5600 Argosy Circle #100, Huntington Beach, CA 92649. The Sponsor will, if necessary, inform the contestant of the reasons for which its application cannot be satisfied, in whole or in part. In the event of a question or complaint relating to the processing of their personal data, contestants may send their request to the contact details indicated above. The Sponsor will try to find a satisfactory solution, otherwise the contestants have the right to submit their claim to the competent supervisory authority.
The Jess Kimura Interview
Jan 14, 2021
For the Better: An Interview with Jess Kimura on The Uninvited II
January 14th, 2021
Interview by Jon Stark
How are you doing?
I’m good. I am good. I feel like I’ve just been on a conveyor belt since we started editing the movie in May. So yeah, here we are.
I mean, it’s over right?
Yes. I mean, no it isn’t. I think I felt the most stress once it actually came out. Trying to make sure that the press requests were taken care of, or following through on making all the deliverables to different specifications and all that stuff so that we could maximize our reach. I wanted to make the most of the work we had done and get as many eyes on the girls as possible. It’s been a lot, being on Zoom meetings all day and trying to figure out a plan, while also trying to help the girls navigate the success of their parts, like negotiating contracts and dealing with sponsors, or pitching other things for their upcoming season.
The Secret Agent?
Yeah, secret agent stuff.
The job’s not really done once the video is complete; there’s a lot that goes into promoting isn’t there?
I was like, “I just have to make it to this release date, then it’s all over.” But when I got to that date, it all began. That’s when I really wasn’t sleeping, but it’s fine. That’s part of it, but if I do another one, I’m going to remember that—not to see the release date as my end date. I totally know how filmmakers must feel. You put that much energy into something, and you have nothing left once it comes out—that feeling of, “I should be doing more, but I just can’t. I just can’t; I’m empty, you know?” I’m also trying to plan my own season and go enjoy snowboarding for myself, but I feel guilty some days, like I should be at home answering emails instead.
Yeah. It’s a lot of pressure on this single person’s shoulders, for sure. You kind of made it your personal obligation to represent the next generation of female snowboarders.
Ha! I guess. It was very stressful. Some days, I was so stressed I thought I was going to throw up; I would feel physically sick over it all. The first [Uninvited film] was worse because it was all on my dime, like it was all from my savings. And when you see your money burning in front of you, that’s tough. Say you take someone on a trip, and they don’t care that much or don’t try. Or when people show up late to stuff, and you’re like, you guys, this is all we have. I just felt like some people didn’t understand the opportunity that it was and how much I was sacrificing for it. My mental, emotional, and financial wellbeing were basically crushed by the time I finished the premiere tour.
I can relate to taking it personally when riders wouldn’t do their part and all the pressure is on your shoulders.
It was really stressful—not because I care about the money a whole bunch, but when I was coming up, if someone would have done that for me, I know how much further I would have gone, with much less suffering. It’s like a parent seeing their kid throwing away their potential. Because you can see the future, you’re like, “Come on, I’m giving you a head start! You can do better than I did.”
Things felt a little bit better with number two?
Yeah, definitely. Before we dropped our teaser in the fall, I don’t think that anyone really understood what it was going to be. But I think the riders had seen what the first one did for the girls’ careers, so they took it more seriously. Once they see people “like them” succeed, it becomes a possibility they can see for themselves.
Yeah. I mean, I’ve seen it personally, if you take the right person and put them in the position to be successful, then you literally just sit back and watch history being made.
Totally. I remember Ylfa [Rúnarsdóttir] being so stoked she had shots in the first one. She was freaking out about that, saying how good it felt to have clips in something and to be recognized. She took that and turned it into the part she filmed this year. And you can see the shift of energy. Watching her part now, it blows my mind to think that her talent could have gone unrecognized. Same with Miyon. I got a message from her once saying how she felt like quitting filming before The Uninvited, that she felt lonely and didn’t know her purpose. When you see her part in the sequel, her purpose is pretty damn clear.
This is so exciting to see. I personally feel that women’s snowboarding is more exciting to watch than another dude doing the same trick.
Yeah. Because you’re watching the progression in real time. It’s basically like watching snowboarding in the nineties or when like street snowboarding first started being a thing.
That’s so true. I’ve never thought of it like that—the idea that you have no idea what’s coming next because you’re watching it unfold as you’re watching the video.
Like I’ve heard you say, “I had no idea, these girls were capable of this stuff”—there are so many chicks out there killing it that people have no idea about. And oftentimes, the girls don’t even realize how much they are capable of themselves, because they’ve never even been put in a position where they had the opportunity to find out. And they haven’t seen much proof that it’s possible for them. That’s why it’s important for them to be seen, to be included, and for people not to write them off because they aren’t at the same level as the guys.
It’s like being a part of the renaissance era of female snowboarding.
With the first Uninvited, I definitely got some negative feedback. I didn’t take full control over the end product, and there were things I would have changed. But it was the best we could do with what we had, which was basically nothing.
But because some aspects weren’t at the highest production level, I got some negative feedback. Even some of the riders were bummed because they wanted a longer part or didn’t like the lifestyle shots we used. And that hurt my feelings since I had poured so much into it. But feelings grow back. And I see now how that was part of the process in getting these new girls to where they are at right now—having something tangible to look at and see what their peers have done. Even if it wasn’t perfect. What could they do better? And what’s next?
Snowboarders are pretty hypercritical of each other.
I love comparing girls’ snowboarding to boxing or MMA. The heavyweight division definitely can hit the hardest, so does that mean the other divisions aren’t worth watching? Pretty sure Connor McGregor wouldn’t agree. Just because the heavyweight guys are the biggest and strongest doesn’t mean they are the most exciting to watch.
I just remember people being like, “Oh, you want equality? Do all the equivalent tricks that the guys are doing, then we’ll give you equality.” I’ve heard that so many times. So if they’re going to discredit everything that we’re doing, because it’s not at their exact level, then we’re never going to get there. And that’s probably what they want anyways. But what’s happening underneath the surface is too big for anyone to stop. I really believe that.
I can only imagine all the things you’ve heard and seen. But it’s about representation at the end of the day. That’s the most powerful.
I think about how much Marie-France [Roy]’s video parts basically shaped my entire career because it showed me what was possible for myself. Even before then, seeing Tara Dakides and Janna Meyen. I would replay any shots they had over and over and over. When I was a kid, one of my favorite things was the Burton catalog because they had a women’s section. They would have pictures of girls riding. I wasn’t looking at the product; I was looking at pictures of girls shredding, and I would seek that stuff out, desperately. But when Marie-France’s video parts came out, she was portrayed as an equal part of the team with the guys. She didn’t have a two-second cameo in the credits. Her name was on the DVD case! “Does that mean I could one day have my name on a DVD case?”
That was exactly the inspiration you needed right there.
As a girl, coming up, if I watched guys video parts, it was like watching a different species. Like, I guess I wanted to do something like that, but I never thought I’d be able to. So to me, representation is more about seeing yourself represented, or seeing someone like you doing the thing that you are passionate about. When a baby watches the adults around them speaking words and walking on two feet, they eventually try to speak words and walk on two feet. A puppy doesn’t watch people walking on two feet and think, “Shit, I guess that’s where I should be headed too, and I’m gonna stop barking and start speaking.” Well, maybe… haha.
With the first Uninvited, those girls saw, “Oh, if I hustle, this is finally going to be worth something.” There have been so many girls that were so good, but they had no reason to keep doing it unless they’re absolutely insane because why would you? You’re blowing all your money, you are getting hurt, your parents are like WTF are you doing with your life? And there’s no payoff, just a bunch of internet trolls or bitter guys talking shit saying, “You girls are a joke, my little brother is better than all of you.”
You are literally giving them that opportunity.
I know there were girls who wanted to give up, saying, “I need to go back to school” or “I need to move on.” And me being like, “Yo, what are you doing this year? If you can’t hire a filmer, I’ll hire one for you.” That gave them confidence. So you never know what kind of influence you’re having on people around you. I mean, successful people rarely consider themselves successful, and you have no idea how those little things can stick with people.
Yeah, of course.
Believing in someone or giving someone a chance can be so important. I ended up editing the movie, and I’m not an editor. I was so insecure in my skills and ability to pull it off that I was almost going to bail on the whole project or push it to a two-year project. But I sent some stuff to you almost hoping that you were going to agree with me and be like, “Yeah, it’s not quite there yet, you shouldn’t put it out this year.”
And you, being an established and successful filmmaker, having your like approval or you giving me the time of day—because you don’t know how many people I sent links to that never even answered me, but you did—that gave me the confidence to start thinking, “Oh, maybe we got something here.”
It’s full circle. You gave me the first free lift ticket I ever got. You paid for it at Mount Hood.
Haha, I did?
To go on-hill to film you. I never forgot that. I was hiking up the mountain with my camera bag to just film, to practice filming. And you bought me my first lift ticket, and you’re like, “You’re going to come film me.” I’m trying not to forget how I felt going into all this and to remember the people who helped me along the way. And so when you sent me these parts, it wasn’t like I was blowing hot air. We’re in an ecosystem in snowboarding. And when you put something negative out into the world, there’s an effect that kind of spreads. And if you can put good things into the world, then good things are gonna happen. There are people who complain and do nothing, and there are people who do something about it and try and spread positivity, and that’s all I’ve ever tried to do, especially recently with Torment.
I agree, 100%. I feel real satisfaction from just giving stuff away—my time, my money, whatever. And maybe that comes from some sense of feeling like I don’t deserve what I’ve gotten, but I want to set an example. Not just through my snowboarding, but through everything. What could you do if you were just a ridiculously kind person? Like doing real selfless things when no one’s looking and when nobody knows about it.
Well, coming up, you’re fighting for a piece of the cake, trying to make a case for yourself. And then it’s almost like as you get older the switch flips and all of a sudden you get the same satisfaction from riding away from a trick as you do extending an opportunity to someone.
Totally, totally. I always just wanted to do the shit that no one else would be willing to do. And at first, it was snowboarding—huck myself off this, hike this thing one more time, stay out later riding, or go out while everyone’s sleeping and build the spot. Now I go out while everyone’s sleeping and look for funding for the girls or go through their segment frame by frame, looking for small ways I can improve it, or write them motivational emails or write to their sponsors, you know?
Yeah. And do you keep yourself going by posting memes?
Haha, the memes started during quarantine in the initial lockdown where we were all on our phones too much trying to figure out what was going on. There was so much negativity and fear that I needed to switch gears. I unfollowed a bunch of accounts that were stressing me out. If I needed facts I sure wasn’t going to find them on Instagram. I started following a bunch of cat accounts, certain dogs that I liked, memes, ridiculous stuff—whatever made me laugh. I started reposting stuff because I thought it would be funny if people were clicking through the stories and it’s like, “imminent death is upon us,” or, “don’t be one of the sheeple,” and then they get to mine and its goats screaming along to Taylor Swift songs, or dogs wearing sunglasses, or a frog with a raspberry on its head. It’s definitely gotten out of hand, in a good way. I’m positive nobody laughs harder at my stories than me.
What else makes you happy these days?
My sauna is huge for me. It represents healing. Whereas, so much else in my life has been a painful experience. This one’s for me. I put a lot of work into building it, and it’s like a little cabin in my backyard. I like harvesting wood, splitting wood, looking for different wood, appreciating aspects of wood, you know, all the densities. You could say I have a passion for wood.
And you get to sweat out the stress.One of the beautiful things about snowboarding is that if you do something different, everyone pays attention. Whether it’s good or bad, if you do something different, everyone notices.
When the first movie came out, it wasn’t embraced by the industry like the second one was. I don’t think people were at that place yet. They were still demanding that the girls and the production value be at the same level as the guys and didn’t care to hear why it wasn’t. But now, it’s almost trending, to be inclusive, to embrace diversity. But it’s something I’ve been working on for years. Way before The Uninvited was officially a thing. This recent shift that’s happening with social awareness and all of that, people are finally ready to accept that it’s okay to include others, maybe even necessary. So in a way, it’s like I invested early in Apple stock. And now it’s finally worth something. And same with you guys at Torment. Many people are pretending to care about this stuff right now because they think they need to come off as social justice warriors in order to benefit their career. But it’s not genuine. Those are the people that are trying to get in the market when it’s too late. All this time putting effort into something that people thought was useless, and now seeing folks scramble to catch up; it’s a bit vindicating.
Yeah, you were always right.
Of course, we aren’t talking about actual profits here, because we all know ain’t nobody getting rich off snowboarding these days. But I felt like it was a similar situation with what you did with Torment Pride Week—everyone in snowboarding attached to that. But maybe five years ago those same people wouldn’t have been as supportive.
We knew our friends had something to say and weren’t able to be themselves in our community, which is the wackest shit ever. We had the platform to do it, so it was a no-brainer.
Totally. That’s genuine. And that comes across. What you guys are doing feels like it’s adding meaning to something that has had no meaning to me for so long. I’ve checked out of snowboarding for a long time because I just felt like—especially after Mark died—there was this emptiness. And I needed to do something that mattered. I made The Uninvited, and yeah, it helped a lot of people, but it also helped me because it gave me some sense of purpose. We need meaning in our lives, and I’m glad I found it again in snowboarding because for a long time, I was like, “What’s this even for? I do a bunch of tricks and people look at me and say ‘yay.’” What is that?
There aren’t many people in your position who have filmed video parts that turn around and give it back. It’s just a fact, and it’s kind of beautiful that you’ve found it again. We need better leaders in this, so we can make a difference.
Well, if you don’t go through it, you have no idea what it feels like to be on the shitty end. There have been situations in my career where I’ve been treated really badly. And when people hear about that, they can’t believe it went down and that nobody said anything about it and nobody stood up for me. But if I hadn’t been treated like that, I wouldn’t have had such a deep understanding that basically scarred me into never wanting to do that to others. I mean, I worked construction for so many years; I had thick skin. But I was worried about what was coming for these girls. And hold up, before I go too far, I want to make sure I say that I know there are people with serious life-threatening issues and difficulties in the world. I’m focusing just on the snowboarding space here.
Have you ever had someone you looked up to in snowboarding come through for you?
When I first moved to Whistler, I was 23. I had lost my only board sponsor. I was going nowhere. I told myself I should quit, that this wasn’t going to happen. But I had filmed for this video my friend Troy made, and it was premiering in Whistler. I hit up Marie-France Roy on Snowboard.com—the MySpace for boarders back then. She was my absolute hero. I was like, “Hey Marie, my name is Jess, and I’m your biggest fan. I’m in this video. It’d be really cool if you came to the premiere. I’m going to leave a ticket for you at the front. Um, I hope to see you there.” I thought there was no way she’d show up. It’s like when Ricky Bobby always leaves a ticket for his dad, and he never shows up.
And… Did she show?
She fucking showed up, dude! She showed up, and then she came to the house party after and was one of the last people to leave. I could not believe that she was even being seen with me! She didn’t know me. She didn’t have any reason to be there. She was at the top of the game and could have been with someone way cooler. But that stuck with me forever. The fact that she made me feel worthy of her time. And I’ve felt the opposite during so much in my career—people making sure I knew that I was not worthy of their time, or that I didn’t deserve to be there. And that was burned into me, like, if you’re gonna make it big, you gotta be like this, you know, you gotta be like her.
Yeah, it’s the importance of good role models. I mean, we are who we look up to. And if the person you look up to is a piece of shit, you might be one too.
And I’ve had to change who I looked up to sometimes.
Yeah, they say never meet your heroes. I’ve felt that a couple of times where I’m like, “I shouldn’t have met that person or I shouldn’t have gone on that trip. That person could have just stayed as their four-minute video part from 11 years ago.”
Yeah. Just remained in ignorance and bliss.
There’s something to be said there too—that life is about a balance of all these things that we’ve discussed.
Totally. When I was working on finishing The Uninvited II, people would ask me what I was up to. I just would say I had shit to do. Because when I told them I needed to work on the movie some more, they’d be like, “Still? I thought you were finished by now.” And I was like, “Yeah, but I wake up in the middle of the night and go back downstairs to go through piece by piece to see if there is anything I can improve.” I wanted these girls to look the best they can. I was so used to being shit on for stuff I couldn’t control, so I wanted to try and get ahead of that. But it’s also probably this toxic addiction to just destroying myself over what I’m passionate about.
I said something to a friend who makes films too, “I can’t live with snowboard films and I can’t live without snowboard films.”
Sure, sure. The girls, they will confide in me, some really difficult things that happen throughout their season. And I want to be like, “Yo dude, that sucks. I can’t believe that happened to you,” but also tell them that it’s actually a gift. And they probably think I’m absolutely insane when I tell them this horrible thing that happened to them was actually a good thing. But everything bad that happens to us is a gift because it gives us a new way of looking at things. It shows us what things look like when they go badly so we can notice how much we already have that is actually going well. Maybe even a year later it still sucks. But the worst things that have happened to me in my life have been the biggest catalysts for my life changing for the better. Go back in time and tell me that, and I guarantee you I’ll punch you in the face, haha.
Vinny [Dan Vincent] used to say that life is all about perspective, in a Vinny way with like a Marb 100 dangling off his lip. And after everything we’ve said here, maybe the reality is that sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is the gift of perspective. What’s next for you and The Uninvited?
I’m going to make the third and final one this winter. Complete the trilogy. The talent is at an all-time high, and I can’t wait to see what the girls can achieve with the boost of confidence this last film gave them. By then, hopefully the industry will have gotten the point and can pick up where I left off. As for me, I’ll be filming a few clips for The Uninvited, but my main focus riding-wise will be something I’m cooking up with The North Face. They were the biggest supporters of this last film and are the reason I’m able to make this next one happen. Then they back it up by investing in projects for their own women’s team. I’m not trying to suck up to anyone or anything; it’s just really nice to see a company put their money where their mouth is. It’s been really frustrating dealing with some of the girls’ sponsors, who are basically getting free marketing for their riders paid for from my savings, my sponsors, my travel budget. And all I’m asking is, “Support your rider here and there, help them with a hotel or plane ticket, or splitting a filmer’s travel expenses with me for just one trip. Or maybe just reply to the girls’ emails.” It’s like pulling teeth sometimes. Hopefully by the time this third film drops, they will be seeing more clearly.
What have you learned from the past videos that will make this next one different from the others?
That if you give too much, you end up with the equivalent of spoiled kids. The girls need to want it for themselves, and natural talent or good style is only part of the equation. Some of them haven’t been starving for long enough to understand hunger or why they need to have it. I started out wanting to prevent them from having to go through the shitty things I had to deal with coming up. But it’s only now that I’m realizing what a valuable experience all those setbacks were. By being treated badly, I learned how I wanted to treat others. I learned that I’m not the only thing going on in this world, and I learned how to work hard, not just on the snow but off of it too. So it’s a balance. Helping them to find success but also letting them learn from their own mistakes instead of trying to jump in right away to fix everything.
The snowboard community needs to take a page out of Jess Kimura’s story when it comes to how she’s constructed a space for woman to progress in snowboarding with the Uninvited film series. Undoubtedly, the lesson learned here is that if you give an opportunity to someone who’s ready to take on the challenge, they will not only take that challenge, but make it their own. These girls fucking rip.
Featuring: Ylfa Runarsdottir, Miyon Yamaguchi, Savannah Shinske, Naima Antolin, Taylor Elliott, Maggie Leon, Darrah Reid, Elena Graglia, Corrine Pasela, Kaleah Opal and many more…