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Snowboarding is a form of personal expression that provides freedom of interaction: momentum, speed, gravity, and friction. Snowboarding encourages us to be individuals. Unfortunately, the economic disparity present in many mountain towns makes access to this form of expression prohibitively expensive. Carving The Future (CTF) is a non-profit that seeks to break down these barriers and create an even playing field for youth in Jackson Hole. It creates opportunities for youth in our area to experience snowboarding by supplying them with snowboards, outerwear, lessons, and lift passes to local ski areas.
Do you remember your first snowboard setup? Was it a hand-me-down from a sibling or a board you saved all your pennies for and purchased yourself? Our memories and stories of our first setups differ, but no one ever forgets their first board.
Adam Dowell, who founded CTF in 2018, was gifted his first snowboard in fourth grade. The board materialized through a series of unpredictable events. A client visited Adam’s mom for a haircut and surprised her with a check written for the sole purpose of purchasing her son his first snowboard. Adam remembers that it was a Nidecker board, and owning it gave him access to the sport and changed the trajectory of his life. He pursued professional snowboarding for the greater part of fifteen years, traveling far and wide. This eventuality led him to want to help others go riding too.
Ary Jimenez moved to Jackson Hole from Tlaxcala, Mexico when she was nine years old. Now an energetic and active 16-year-old, she’s always keeping up with her four siblings and she likes trying new things. When she first arrived in the valley, skiing wasn’t on her radar and seemed out of reach because of the sheer amount of gear it required. But CTF and Coombs Outdoors (another local non-profit helping youth get on the slopes) were able to help Ary and her siblings get kitted out.
“You can do it however you want. You’re not restricted to what you’re supposed to do. Something wakes up in you.”
Ary didn’t exactly love snow sports at first. “All I remember was the ‘pizza stop’ and having to do it the right way,” Ary admits of her first time skiing. Then Ary spent a summer learning to skateboard with CTF’s executive director, Talia Atkins. “It’s calming in a way,” Ary says. “I like to skate, not think.” When Ary’s mom suggested she try snowboarding with CTF, her positive experiences with skating boosted her confidence. She wanted to give it a whirl.
“I felt confident, comfortable,” says Ary. “We got all our equipment free and it was awesome,” Ary recalled. “I never wondered what size it was, I just knew it would work for me.” With the Flow Snowboards setup from CTF in hand, snowboarding just clicked for Ary. “You can do it however you want. You’re not restricted to what you’re supposed to do,” she says. “Something wakes up in you.”
Iris Lazzareschi, known by most locals as ‘Lazz’, is an established Exum splitboarding guide and ambassador for Jones Snowboards and Spark R&D. Though her tastes in gear have changed drastically through the years, Iris still remembers her first setup fondly. Iris grew up in a Tahoe-based skiing family and she could have gone the way of the double planks. But in her heart, she knew she was a snowboarder.
“It was its own thing,” says Iris about her introduction to snowboarding nearly 25 years ago. “There was something about it that was different and independent.” She grew up skiing and had to wait until she was twelve to get her own snowboard setup. It turned out to be worth the wait. She got her brother’s old, used snowboard––a pale blue Burton Custom 143.
As the second kid in a family of four, Iris’s family couldn’t afford to put her on the ski team. “I kinda wanted to do competitive skiing, but it’s cost-prohibitive, so it was out of the question,” she remembers. Snowboarding gave her the opportunity to progress without the structure or cost of a ski team. “When I got that first setup, it gave me so much confidence––I wasn’t just doing the cool thing, but what I wanted to do.”
After a few years of riding that first pale blue deck, Iris embraced her punk rock attitude and spray painted the entire board black. She still has that board today and is reluctant to ever give it away. “That board changed my life. It allowed me to snowboard and the next 25 years my life revolved around it.” Her snowboarding career started with that pale blue Custom, given to her at just the right time.