Then I got an Orca.
I am currently in Jackson, Wyoming and it is snowing. It has snowed much over the past week, many powders, with a crowd that has thinned incredibly since the last dump. Today, for example, it snowed and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort was basically empty and I tucked into the trees finding those powdery stashes, weightless and fast.
Snowboarding good powder is better than the best surfing, though it wasn’t always for me.
Many years ago, I had never snowboarded powder, much less good powder, but was also in Jackson, Wyoming staying with the world’s greatest snowboarder Travis Rice. You are certainly aware of him from his best-in-class films etc. and there I was because my wife is his longtime agent and friend.
In any case, a Make-A-Wish Foundation kid was coming into town. His dream was to snowboard with Travis and it was agreed upon that the two would take some runs at the resort. Travis being Travis, however, decided to up the fun and surprise the kid with a backcountry helicopter mission.
For some reason there was an extra seat and I was invited too.
Having never snowboarded powder.
The helicopter touched down after a thrilling flight, we all disembarked, Make-A-Wish kid eyes as wide as saucers, Travis benevolent, my wife itching to track the untracked. Travis went first, ripping. Make-A-Wish kid second, living a fantasy and performing remarkably. Wife next, graceful and fluid.
Having never snowboarded powder.
Leaning forward, excited, then sinking my nose deep into that powder and tomahawking head over heels down the entire run, reaching the bottom dazed and confused with Travis laughing, Make-A-Wish kid smirking, wife frowning.
The helicopter picked us up and we did it all again on a fresh patch with the same results.
The Make-A-Wish kid now beaming.
Eventually Travis grabbed my board and said, “What are you riding?” Then blamed the board and the setup for my utterly embarrassing performance, one ending with me also dislocating my shoulder, wife now itching to get a divorce, but was still ashamed and only soothed myself knowing that I made that Make-A-Wish kid’s wish actually come true.
Imagine snowboarding with Travis Rice. No matter how good you are, you would feel like a kook. Like an abject perpetual beginner. I was able to make the Make-A-Wish kid feel basically professional or at least professional-adjacent.
Something only I could do.
Fast forward many years and, until three days ago, could only snowboard power barely below average. Travis once again grabbed my board and said, “What are you riding?”
Then handed me his new Orca.
I felt something when I caressed its rails, rubbed my hand across its waxed bottom. That sensation of understanding. The one that once, twice, maybe three times comes into every surfer’s life when touching a magic board.
The next morning, and I kid you not, I went out and performed remarkably, maybe even better than the Make-A-Wish kid, and it is all thanks to the Orca. It is wild magic and the cure for every Covid-choked lineup in every coastal town. Let them have it, for now. Get yourself and Orca* and head to the mountains where the wide open spaces are still wide open (buy here).
David Lee Scales and I discussed snowboarding today, the State of the Union and also the near-end of our World Surf League.
What replaces it?
Let’s all make a wish.
*I know this reads like pure advertorial but you know me better than that. I am doing you a straight favor. If you snowboard, get one. It’ll change your life. Also, a percentage of Orca sales go to the Orca Conservancy and, as you know, Orcas eat sharks.