As Texas slips into deep freeze, long-dormant snowboarders shake off prairie dust and shred: “This is my first time snowboarding out in Lubbock. Trust me, it’s not disappointing!”

Don't stop believing.

West Texas is not known for its mountains or fresh, fluffy powder, no. It is ranch and oil land, flat for as far as the eye can see and dusty or rather was dusty until days ago when the temperatures dropped, the heavens opened and fresh fluffy powder covered that flat ground.

The weather event was enough to knock much of Texas off the grid, rolling blackouts, tornadoes spinning.

Many were scared.

Many more terrified but not a cadre of snowboarders who dreamed the impossible dream of, one day, being able to shred Lubbock.

And let us meet university student Corbin Antu who snowboarded up and down those snow-silent, white streets, clinging to a tow rope as friends in a pickup truck pulled him around the West Texas prairie town, where, according to the local paper, it’s nearly impossible to find a hill to sled or ski down.

“This is my first time snowboarding out in Lubbock,” he said. “Trust me, it’s not disappointing.”

Does his strong endorsement give you pause?

Will you consider booking your next winter vacation to Lubbock instead of the Rockies, Alps or Tetons?

I must say, I’m compelled.

Big wave legend Laird Hamilton inks deal with U.S. Snowboard to provide exclusive functional coffee creamer: “We are excited to help fuel the daily ritual of such dynamic, high performing athletes!”

Also functional mushrooms.

If you are aware of anything, or one, in the surf world it is either onetime Baywatch star and Gisele Bündchen’s ex Kelly Slater or big wave legend and ice bath activist Laird Hamilton.

Well, the later just crashed the mountain party, inking a three-year deal with U.S. Ski & Snowboard to be “the official and globally exclusive functional coffee and coffee creamer” sponsor but let us go directly to the press release for more:

Laird Superfood (NYSE American: LSF), creator of assorted superfood products, today announced a new three-year partnership with U.S. Ski & Snowboard to be their official and globally exclusive functional coffee and coffee creamer sponsor. The partnership will help nourish the U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes on their road to gold with functional, plant-based ingredients. Laird Superfood products help elevate and support the athletes’ daily ritual with fueling ingredients. Each product is carefully selected to create the best possible experience by giving each routine a serious upgrade. Laird Superfood is defining the next wave of coffee by increasing the benefits of America’s most popular beverage with their new functional blends that are revolutionizing the way people consume their favorite drink.

“We are proud to support the U.S. Ski & Snowboard community and feel that this partnership aligns with our mission of providing real, plant-based products to support people looking to perform their best, whether on the slopes, in the office, or at home,” said Paul Hodge, CEO of Laird Superfood. “We are excited to help fuel the daily ritual of such dynamic, high performing athletes competing as members of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard teams.”

As the exclusive coffee creamer, hot chocolate, functional mushroom, and ground, whole bean, and functional coffee sponsor, Laird Superfood… etc.

Hamilton (pictured in red jacket) functional.
Hamilton (pictured in red jacket) functional.

Quickly, did you ever believe you’d live to see the day when the “official and globally exclusive functional coffee and coffee creamer” category would exist?

I didn’t and whoever claims these are troubled days filled with rancor and unrest should French press a nice mug of black coffee, stir in some functional creamer and re-evaluate.

Or maybe eat a functional mushroom


Watch: Eighteen-month-old Montreal toddler snowboards backyard park, neighbors declare “she’s the new Shaun White!”

Le Pomme de terre Volante!

Oh to be young and talented, the world stretching out in one gilded and unbending line. Shaun White, now 34, was possibly the last snowboarder to experience now decades ago, what with snowboarding rising, then peaking, in popularity following his Flying Tomato exploits.

But now there is another savant, possibly, and she lives in Montreal, Canada.

According to the local news, Zoe Barabe, 18-months, was put on a snowboard by her father just to kill some time in the backyard but, lo and behold, she displayed extraordinary talent and is now a massive Tik-Tok star.

Her mother, very proud, says, “It’s amazing. Honestly, at first, we had the idea and hoped she’d like it and she enjoyed it right away. I guess it was the perfect little sport for her. There were some comments like ‘It’s fake, it’s a green screen.’ They really don’t know us if they think we could do something like that.”


A Natural Selection invite forthcoming?

More as the story develops.

Utah in the midst of deadliest season on record, experts blame exorbitant lift ticket costs, VALs: “It’s a backlash against the expense, hassle and restrictions of riding at resorts!”

Vulnerable Adult Learners.

There is a general hunger, amidst a Covid-battered public, for our extreme sports. I am a surf journalist, of course, and have plied my trade on the ocean’s edge but oooooeee. If there ain’t ten times as many utter VALs (Vulnerable Adult Learners) in the water. 20 times. It’s a dangerous disaster of people not knowing what they’re doing, clogging already tight breaks.

Making life hell.

In the mountains, my birthright, things are downright out of control. Utah is in the midst of its deadliest avalanche season on record. Experts blame Covid creating a severe hunger for our extreme sports, exorbitant resort costs driving these VALs to the backcountry, a tough snowpack.

Per The Salt Lake Tribune:

One of the hottest commodities last spring, just after coronavirus outbreaks shut down ski resorts, was climbing skins. As hard to find as toilet paper and hand sanitizer, stores couldn’t keep the long strips — lined with nylon or mohair and attached to skis for easier uphill traversing — on the shelves. Online outlets had them on back order.

Diegel said that was a natural extension of a trend that has developed over the past decade. Though alpine ski growth has mostly remained stagnant since the late 1970s, backcountry touring has experienced a surge of interest, propelled mainly by gear that made accessing and skiing the backcountry both easier and safer. But it also gained momentum from a backlash against the expense, hassle and restrictions of skiing or riding at resorts.

Between the start of the 2016 season and the 2019 season, Snowsports Industries America reported sales of alpine touring equipment and backcountry accessories grew 81%. In a report last month, SIA’s Nick Sargent said alpine touring sales swelled by 104% between August 2019 and March 2020. And that didn’t include splitboards — a snowboard that can be split into two planks and used like skis for uphill travel — which he said added another $5 million in sales nationwide.

“There wasn’t much that was needed to push people over the edge, but the whole COVID thing pushed people over the edge,” Diegel said. “Some people bought puppies and some people made sourdough bread and some people bought a lot of backcountry gear that they’d been thinking about buying for a while anyway.”


But how to fix? Shame VALs severely? Sort a modern way to clip tickets?


The End: A final summation of Natural Selection, from a cursed surf journalist’s point of view, and what it means for the future!

Hello, tomorrow.

Travis Rice saunters toward the Continuum hotel breathing heavily, fully geared, snow dappled. Exhausted. A random European stops his progress, begs for a picture, compliments him for what he had witnessed.

The “great days of snowboard ever.”

Travis, ever gracious, talks story from the hill, leans in and throws his patented devil horns.

He has just come down from that Natural Selection course, working shoulder to shoulder all day with the crew, tearing platforms off the features, breaking down what can be broken down.

Nature hath selected and to nature it shall return, mostly so some random European inspired by the broadcast doesn’t come and try to Austin Sweetin.

There were many inspired random Europeans. Chileans, Australians, Canadians, etc., Americans too. An absolutely shocking amount who tuned into both the first day and the final day, witnessing snowboarding’s re-birth.

That’s what it felt like, what it became, over the week and was spoken about over, over and over again.

Snowboarding’s re-imagining.

Foremothers and fathers lauded, a style of riding they pioneered taken to a next level, love of powder, progression, punk, not caring about anything but going as big as one could, impressing gathered sisters and brothers, impressing the ghosts of snowboarding past.

The week was about snowboarding.

“Thank you, snowboarding” was what Mark McMorris uttered from the balcony at the Natural Selection afterparty award’s show and he meant it. He was happy to be part of a crew of derelicts, of ne’redowells, of stone cold bastards and bastard-ettes.

Mark McMorris is a multi-gelded Olympian yet this was his moment. He had gone to the last iteration of Natural Selection in Bald Face, four-odd years ago, and tomahawked down that bald face like an embarrassment but, there, he realized what and who he wanted to be and became in extraordinary fashion.

Shaun White was here early, also a multi-gelded Olympian though not a part of the crew. Crew-adjacent maybe. A bastard but not stone cold. Shaun rode the Olympic hype, that Flying Tomato, Target, Us Weekly-thing to great success but snowboarding died under his watch. Not the kid dreaming, kid skinning into backcountry, kid jibbing in his derelict town imagination but some greater unifying vision.

He left before Mark McMorris hoisted his moose antler, proclaimed this was the most important thing he’s ever been part of, thanked snowboarding, shined a spotlight on some new greater unifying vision.

This matters.

It matters because it is absurdly fun, because it is destructively fun. Because it has a history, because it resonates, because it is rotten, because it is… stupidly real.

In this broken era, snowboarding feels like salvation. Pointing down a hill, doing powder turns, doing icy wind-buffed side-slips, poking into trees, remembering what it feels like to sail airborne, remembering what it feels like to fall and fall hard, laughing or crying about it with friends at the 4 pm end to a day is salvation.

An obscenely rose-lensed summation from a damned surf journalist?

Certainly and this surf journalist asked the very same question while backcountry-ing fresh powder at the beginning of the week with the world’s finest snowboard journalists.

“In surfing, new participation is the end, the curse,” I said. “Why do you even put up with my presence?”

“All snowboarding requires is for someone willing to hike to the next peak,” one responded, while beckoning to the surrounding mountain ranges bathed in cold light. “Someone willing to push slightly further.”

All of this feels like the next peak.

Something glorious.

A naively positive conclusion from a cursed surf journalist?


Travis Rice pushes into the Continuum hotel and is immediately accosted by media, professional, personal requests.

He smiles and throws his patented devil horns.