The Sweet Spot 1.2 : Introduction To My Inspiration

Hey guys, Austen here with my next installment of The Sweet Spot.

Inspiration lives all around us just waiting to be uncovered and brought to life. Sometimes it’s obvious in plain view, but most of the time it's hidden and takes more effort. It’s up to each one of us to be open to inspiration, to search for it like hidden puzzle pieces that add the color and shape to the bigger picture of our lives.

So for this installment, I wanted to introduce myself and tell you about a couple of the puzzle pieces that have inspired me to hop a last-minute fare to a foreign destination, or to slog so far north to get that last remaining cold snow and that one last turn before Summer takes over, and that have inspired me to continue to risk everything to follow this so-called dream of being a professional snowboarder -- which in today’s world is such a loose term and might be missing the point. If I'm being honest, I’m not sure if I ever went “Pro” for snowboarding, because I'd be living this life either way. What it comes down to is love. That might sound cliche, but for me it’s 100% true. There is nothing like the feeling I get from strapping into my snowboard everyday, and it never fails to put a smile on my face. That I get to do this for a living is a blessing that still amazes me, but is just the icing on the cake. Through snowboarding I have met the most amazing people, my best friends and mentors, the love of my life, and a deep catalog of memories created along the way.  

It all started at a young age for me, when I was about 5 years old, and both my parents would ski race every Friday night at Summit West. I remember so well one day after school, marching into the living room and saying, “Dad, I’m ready to rip!”, or something like that.  That night would be the first time in my life heading up the Pass, dragging along a pair of my sister’s hand-me-down skis, an oversized pair of Scott goggles, and some mittens that were about as big as my arms.  I remember it was clear, cold, and powdery out that evening, and before I knew it, I was pointing it straight down the hill into the terrain park, only to find myself mid-air, upside-down, and about to have the wind knocked out of me from landing flat on my back! Laying there at that very moment, I knew I was addicted, but I had no way of knowing how important that night would be or how far it would take me.

As the years passed, I boarded as much as humanly possible, progressing more and more with each passing year.  When I was 15, my father gave me his old Olympus OM1 that he used to take with him on rock climbing adventures. So I signed up for a darkroom class and poured myself into learning the art and science of photography. My passions came together and kicked off what has now been the last 12 years of my life traveling the world as a sponsored snowboarder, and shooting the adventures, people, and places all along the way.   

The selected photos this week represent just a few of the people that have inspired me to continue chasing this dream. First up is AG and John Logic, the owners of Seattle’s beloved Snowboard Connection (RIP).

Growing up, SnoCon served as the hub for boarders in the city. In my early years, I worked in the shop as a board tech, tuning and waxing tons of boards, and began riding for them on the shop team. Mid-shift one day, I got a call from Forum with a last-second invite to join them on a film trip. I was blown away and had to make a quick decision, but that meant getting out of work, which amazingly my work crew fully supported! SnoCon was at the center of the amazing snowboarding community in Seattle, one that still exists today long after the closing of the legendary shop.

The next photo is of Justin Hostynek and Matt Cummins from a trip to Baldface Lodge in BC’s Selkirk Range.

Justin has been making iconic snowboard films for over 20 years now, and the short few years that I got to spend with them were truly phenomenal. Filming with Absinthe progressed me into Alaska big mountain riding and helped shape my approach to being part of a production team and filming a video part. Matt is a Mervin veteran, a Northwest legend, a board guru, and basically just smashes powder. Only recently getting to know him better, we have spent some epic days nerding out on snowboard design and riding weird, fun prototypes that he custom shaped in his shop.  

The next two photos are of Perly and Jerome, they’re Euros and are hilariously awesome to shoot with. Two of the most stoked photographers out there, and when the jump session is over they session the jump themselves to see who still rips the hardest -- the truth is they both rip, very hard!  Jerome shoots a lot of film, which I admire and look up to. He’s always looking for new ways to process and print film photos, and has a unique style that I love.

So with this little bit of Thursday insight, I’d like to thank all the people out there who have continued to motivate and inspire me, and, I hope, offer a little spark of inspiration to you, too!