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As I write this, our world is still twisted up in a global pandemic. COVID-19 continues to mutate, outpacing our attempts to quell the contagion. We’re all living in a constant state of uncertainty that’s starting to feel normal. As we scroll through the ‘gram, listen to public radio, watch TikToks and reels, we’re inundated with Omicron’s omnipresence.
But you already know all that.
The way I see it, we can choose to let it define us and our day-to-day lives, or chalk it up to the human experience and do what we can to let it ride.
While working on Issue Seventeen of Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine, I have been touched by the simplicities of snowboarding––the silence of snowfall, the pleasant swoosh of a pow slash, the grace and peace we feel on mountain peaks. Though inherently unpredictable and dangerous, we go to the mountains for solace and understanding.
Standing sideways and slicing down snow is such a pure, semi-natural outlet. Of course, snowboarding isn’t void of unpredictability–just the opposite. It’s always an uncertain adventure. Between the snow conditions, weather report, avalanche danger, injuries and accidents, gear failures, and beyond, there are a lot of unknowns. But those things never stopped us from riding before. Sure, if the avy danger is high we know not to head out of bounds. Just like if there’s a hot spot of ‘rona, we’re not going to show up there eager to swap spit with strangers. Our ability to assess danger, manage risk, and ride our way through it, makes us who we are.
In the following pages, you’ll find a kaleidoscope of stories and imagery where stoke and seriousness collide. Some pieces are heavy. We honor Mike McKelvey (pg. 78) and Matt Brien (pg. 88), two local snowboarders who deeply influenced Jackson Hole. Their devastating deaths caused a ripple of pain throughout our community. We also talk about the importance of maintaining mental health, asking for help to get through tough moments, and how getting out and snowboarding can be a form of self-care.
For a bit of comedic relief, Ben Gavelda’s piece “Snake Milkers” on page 104, is an ode to Wyoming’s wild ways and those that are wacky enough to seek turns far from the chairlift. We highlight the progression of snowboarding through the Natural Selection Tour in a special advertising section and touch on what to expect in this year’s rendition. On page 34 you’ll find a story about Spark R&D and how they’ve persevered through the pandemic as they gear up for their 15th year of making splitboard bindings. To top it off, legendary snowboard editor Pat “The Eye’’ Bridges provides his unique perspective on the current state of snowboard print media (pg. 10), words we take to heart here at JHSM.
There’s a lot more to this issue, so you’ll want to saddle up, tip your hat, and drop-in. Let’s hold onto the thread that ties us together.
Ride on, friends.
Heather Hendricks drives a big ol’ turquoise truck she bargained off a rancher in Montana. Follow her for shred antics and more… @heatherhendrickshh