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Randy Strand builds community through snowboarding
Randy Strand and his signature grin are everywhere in Jackson Hole. Though he hails from Roxbury, New Jersey, Randy could find himself at home anywhere on the planet so long as there was a snowboard on his feet and a group of friends to test jokes on nearby. He is jovial, fluent in sarcasm and large frontside 360’s, and comes equipped with a severely contagious laugh, making him one of Jackson’s most coveted riding partners.
Randy cares about snowboarding and snowboard culture more than most. He’s been consuming snowboard media since he was a kid. Watching video parts on repeat, rewinding to see how tricks were done. Then he’d read the magazine articles from the trips where video parts were filmed, all the while wondering how those people did it. How did they get to a point in life where their world simply revolved around snowboarding?
Randy moved to Jackson in pursuit of his own pro snowboard career. He’s found success on his adventure with support from companies like Trew Gear, Rossignol, Zeal Optics, and Avalon7. But pro status isn’t the only thing that he’s chasing. As part of the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club’s Freeride Program coaching staff, Randy has found a home mentoring the young guns of snowboarding’s future. To watch him interact with his entourage of frothing teenage competitors is inspiring. The freeride athletes know that they can trust Randy to impart practical on-snow wisdom and the technical guidance to be able to navigate everything from exposed lines to terrain park features. They also know that they’re required to have fun doing it, too, or they’ll owe coach push-ups.
The dynamic between furthering his personal career while simultaneously working to develop young athletes has been striking. As a coach, he is very transparent about what it takes to pursue the goal of being a pro snowboarder. He will often be heard sharing his experiences in an honest way and discussing topics with his athletes such as forging opportunities, creating projects, forming relationships, getting sponsors, and putting the work in to create the path you want.
Randy first met Rob Kingwill at Camp of Champions in Whistler, B.C. Kinger was Randy’s coach when he attended the camp as a teenager. Years later, they now share laps, laughs, and a respect for the lifestyle they’ve both chosen in Jackson. “People ahead of you pave the path to empower you, whether they know it or not,” says Strand. Rob Kingwell did that for Randy and now Randy is doing that for the Freeride Program athletes, helping them start their own journeys in snowboarding. He also credits former Freeride Program Director (and Storm Show film star) Rob LaPier with blazing a trail for him. Strand says that LaPier’s life and career showed him that you can create the path you want. He hopes and believes that he can help build the snowboarding community in Jackson Hole like both Robs before him.
Randy has now met the people from the magazine pages and snowboarding videos, and he has gone on to discover that they’re people too. They’re snowboarders, but they’re also tending bars, cutting hair, building houses, and coaching the next generation. What seems like an impossible pipedream turns into the community you’ve been searching for. The only cost of admission is the desire to contribute.
Derek MacDonald is a Massachusetts native that grew up snowboarding in Vermont’s Mad River Valley. @_derekmacdonald