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The Unfound – Bryan Iguchi

Words: Alex Yoder

Photos: Wade  Dunstan / Arbor Snowboards

Surfing is the soulful mother of the board-riding experience. It was humankind’s first taste of standing on a plank and manipulating its direction with subtle shifts in foot position and body weight. This act was known by the native Hawaiians as the “Sport of the Kings” and held deep cultural stake in the hearts of the Polynesian people. A couple of hundred years down the road skateboarding was spawned by surfers who were so keen for the glide that they wanted to be able to recreate the feeling anywhere, anytime – including on land. I like to think the same is true for snowboarding – the goal is always to find the glide and lose your thoughts. 

One common thread in board sports is the inherent lack of a practical application for any of these activities. Maybe you’ve used your skateboard to move your TV out of your house or your surfboard as a sunshade on the beach, but the purpose of these boards is none other than to have a good time. To facilitate self-expression. A way to play with gravity. A game with no rules and no way to cheat. Board sports have become the prideful champions of subcultural delinquency. Often lopped into the same culturally unacceptable uses of time with graffiti art and punk rock. It’s taken a long time for board sports, and snowboarding especially, as the runt of the litter, to catch on. But now that these sports have found cultural acceptance to some degree, we must not forget why it is that we paddled out in the first place.

Bryan’s humble beginnings on the northern edge of the Los Angeles sprawl in a city called Moorpark nested him straight into the heart of the skate and surf capital of the contiguous 48 states. He was eleven years old when he caught a wave at Ventura Point for the first time. In those early days Bryan’s mom would drop him and his brother off at the beach in Ventura on her way to work. The boys would stash a candy bar in the sleeve of their wetsuits so they could surf all day without having to paddle in to refuel. The self-expression found in surfing and skating synthesized into passion early in Bryan’s life.

Bryan’s first experience snowboarding came a couple of years later at the age of 15, a bit east of the beach in Big Bear, California. He immediately fell in love with the feeling of surfing on snow. As a Christmas gift one year, his mom signed him up with LA Ski and Sun Tours, a company that took mostly college-age students from LA to ski and beach destinations around the country, which would later become Bryan’s first sponsor. On the bus, he visited resorts all over Utah and Colorado, as well as a little resort off the beaten path called Jackson Hole. Bryan remembers Jackson feeling different than the other places he had visited. There was something free and wild about it that stayed with him long after he returned to the Southern California sunshine.

In the early days of Bryan’s professional snowboarding career, he was one of the top progressive freestyle riders. He was the skater from SoCal that did creative butters, shifties, spins, and flips, lighting up the first-ever terrain parks at Bear Mountain with aerial wizardry. But Bryan wasn’t satisfied with his early success; he felt like there was more to explore, more to learn from snowboarding. That’s what began to set him apart – everyone loves tricks and technical acrobatic prowess, but Bryan had a simple passion for surfing the mountain that he couldn’t deny.

On a road trip from Mammoth to Tahoe one year with Volcom’s co-founder Richard Woolcott, rider Mike Parillo, and photographer Nick Adams, Bryan found himself glued to the window, his field of view packed to the brim with mountains. He had a feeling of insatiable curiosity urging him to suggest a random left turn into the Sierras just to see what was up there. The crew went along and that left turned into a month-long camp out where the crew explored and rode in an unfamiliar land known as “the backcountry”. Much of the footage from Volcom’s film The Garden would come from that trip. Within minutes of parking and trudging out into the snow, Bryan had unconsciously, yet unquestionably, found his life’s pursuit. Coming from a densely populated metropolis to the pristine, untouched mountains, the fluffy white pearly gates opened up wide and pulled Bryan deep into their grasp. His course was set from that point on. Exploring in the mountains would not be a hobby or just part of his job, it would become the embodiment of his truest self.

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