Big Bear Lakes, California: an unassuming, countrified nook tucked in the underskirt of the San Bernardino mountains. These mountains are a homey getaway from the swarming ruckus of Southern California; a sip of mother nature; the oasis in the desert. Big Bear is also the breeding ground for a certain caliber of snowboarding, synonymous with the terms “legend”, “OG” and “timeless.”
Big Bear’s 11th annual “Hotdawgs and Handrails” attracted thousands of spectators to the resort on Sept. 20. It’s the premier pre-season snowboarding event that, in the past, has elevated relatively unknown riders (including Keegan Valaika, Zak Hale, Ryan Paul and former Sierra Nevada College student Tommy Gesme) to the limelight of the snowboard industry. Although this year’s podium held some more familiar names, this will still stand as a breakthrough for folks who had to compete on two courses rather than just one. To start things off Luke Haddock, a Vermont native, hustled for the entirety of the session, aiming for idyllic execution. It was Haddock’s clean full cabs on the down bar that landed him in third place.
“I was shocked to find out I made the podium, the level of riding was extremely progressive,” Haddock said.
Second place fell upon Denis “Bonus” Leontyev, the Russian rail wizard.
“I thought the course was really fun. I really enjoyed the fact that there were two different courses,” Leontyev said.
His resounding consistency and eye-catching trick selection, regardless of the feature at hand, was what paid off for him in the end. However, it would take more than technical precision and unmitigated riding to walk with the $10,000 prize.
Local surfers had the ride of their lives Sept. 25, thanks to high winds that churned up a giant swell on Lake Tahoe’s northern shores. Sierra Nevada College senior Conner Wagner is an avid surfer and tries to make it out on the lake whenever there are waves.
“Some of these waves are overhead,” said Wagner. Wagner spends his winter breaks surfing the north shores of Oahu, Hawaii, and he snowboards in Tahoe when he returns.
“These are the biggest waves I have ever seen on the lake,” said Wagner.
Surfing on Tahoe has become sort of a novelty. According to locals, there is nothing else like it.
“When you duck-dive a wave, the water is crystal clear, and it’s warm. It’s like surfing in Hawaii,” said Incline resident Russell Conway.
In the summer Tahoe water temps can reach 70 degrees. But wintertime temperatures cause the water to dip into the low 40s. The surfers congregate at one of the best breaks, which is at Hidden Beach just outside of Incline Village. The large boulders off the shore of the beach generate breaking points for the waves rolling in.
“You can get clean rights and lefts all day,” said Conway.
It has to be pretty windy to surf Tahoe, usually the wind has to be a consistent 25 plus mph.
“Most storms come in during the fall and winter, but you can get some great surfing in the summer too,” said J.P. Donovan, a lifeguard at Sand Harbor. “The wind normally blows from the southwest, west or northwest.”
“Coming Home,” a film by Tahoe local Martin Rubio was shown Sept. 25 in Patterson Hall on the Sierra Nevada College campus. The movie was originally planned to be shown outside on the grass, but wind and rain forced a last minute change of plans. Many dedicated students had blankets and sleeping bags ready to go in preparation for an outdoor viewing.
“It was great. I was kind of nervous ‘cause five minutes before the show there was no one here and then right as the show started 70 students walked in. It was more than great,” said Martin Rubio, co-founder of Tall Treez Designs.
While Rubio and Tall Treez Design’s main goal was the showing of this film, Rubio also saw this as an opportunity to inspire students to not give up on passions and dreams while in school.
“I was really inspired just to do this show and to be able to talk to the kids and students and maybe inspire them,” Rubio said. “While they’re in school, you’re still able to follow your passion because school is a great thing. You can learn a lot, but we all have things we love to do, like our calling. Even with school and everything, you can still work hard and still pursue your passion.”
Rubio started Tall Treez Designs in high school with his brothers, Sal and Luis. Based out of South Lake Tahoe, the crew started the grassroots company in an effort to express their love for Tahoe, mountains and tall trees.
“We’ve always loved the adventure lifestyle. Living in Tahoe, we’ve always skied and just been in the outdoors. In high school, we learned how to make clothing from a screen-printing class, so we began making our own stuff. We always knew we wanted to start a company, but we didn’t have the money or the resources. Then it all came together. We got a screen press; we all got jobs. We got the idea for the name from a piece of wood that had ‘Tall Treez’ carved into it. My brother and I looked at each other and we knew right away that was going to be the name of our company,” Rubio said.
The film features alumni from the school as well as local pro riders. Kyle Smaine, pro skier and SNC alumnus, has been riding with the crew for the last couple of years and has appeared in films and edits by the team. He has competed in both the Dew Tour and the U.S. Grand Prix. Tall Treez also sponsors local pro Jamie Anderson, who has won gold in slopestyle in several winter X-Games events and the inaugural women’s slopestyle event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The Tall Treez owners have even tried their hand at pressing boards in the past, but they remain dedicated to their roots.
“We’ve pressed snowboards, but that’s a different market. When the time and opportunity comes, we will work really hard to try that,” Rubio said.
The film was not the only thing drawing students to Patterson Hall. Paintings and photographs lined the walls around the floor showing images of guitars and elephants. Rubio’s friend, Will, brought tons of his colorful artwork to show the efforts of artist collaboration.
“Will’s an incredible artist,” Rubio said. “He moved here from Boise, and I just really love his artwork. We’re all just artists. We’re all trying to do cool things and I thought ‘Why not bring him along?’ What he’s doing is great. We’re just trying to build a group. It’s most important to inspire artists and having Will bring his work here gives him confidence, knowing that his work is incredible.”
The company is always looking to the future to improve and inspire young minds, but after this major project, Rubio is keeping things consistent for now, he said.
“(We’re) just working on a new video. We’re always working on new things and all of that can be found on our website,” Rubio said.
As skiers and snowboarders, we can all relate to how our calf, quad and hamstring muscles feel after a long day on the slopes, tight and possibly achy. Skiing and snowboarding are intensive sports that ask a lot from our bodies, particularly in the hips and legs. As we progress in these sports, our muscles become agile and our movements more graceful.
However, the back and forth commands on the body can still be inadequate for healing the tired and tense muscles. Instead of a hop-to-it morning, and a sit on the couch with a beer kind of evening, try yoga before and after riding to slow down, relax, and strengthen your body’s muscles. Drink plenty of water and reward yourself with a beer afterwards.
Senior Kyle Smaine and Junior Rebecca Roberts will be watching the Olympic games from TV’s, rather than their skis at the top of the run in Sochi, Russia after suffering from injuries in Olympic qualifying events.
Free beer! The words resonated through a line of skiers and snowboarders 500 yards long, all waiting to get free lift tickets at Snowbomb in AT&T Park. Snowbomb, a ski/snowboard expo, exhibits brews, gear, lift tickets and massive amounts of swag to San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose. The work force for this massive festival included 15 interns from Sierra Nevada College.
We’ve got a lot to be excited about at Diamond Peak. New events in the works, a new website coming online in the very near future and of course, a new season. We wanted to take this opportunity to call out some things that we’re pretty sure will be of interest to you college students. For starters, we raised the age restriction on our Youth Pass from 17 to 23 years old (most resorts are capped at 18, some at 22). Why the change in age structure?
“Young adults are struggling to find full time jobs in this economy, going to college later, or paying for their own education,” said Brad Wilson, Diamond Peak’s General Manager.