Well, I’m officially done with my duties here in Sochi. As I stare at the mess of clothing, snowboard gear, and electronics that need to get packed up for departure, I can’t believe it went by so fast. What I thought was initially going to be a sentence to Russia for 3.5 weeks turned out to be one of the best trips of my life. I feel honored to have been chosen by NBC to share my wisdom and knowledge about snowboarding competition with the world. The hours were often long, the work tedious, but in the end totally worth it 100 times over. This will be my last post from my journey here and AWSM will return to it’s regularly scheduled programming of skate/surf/snow videos along with plenty of 12 year old fart jokes and cars thrown in for good measure. In conclusion I would like to congratulate all my friends on their hard work to get to this 23 winter Olympiad. Some of you won, some of you fell, but you are all my heros. Congratulations again, and see you in 2016!
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So today I officially got that “I want to go home now” feeling. Since pipe and slope have been over I have had a few days off. I went to this amazing fake indoor tropical park with Craig McMorris and we drank Mojitos in the fake sun on the fake beach, but Craig and I kept it real and peed in the pool. Then the women’s boarder derby went down. Lindsy Jacobellis also went down…again. Today the mens snowboard cross wrapped up. We had an American in the top 3. His name is Alex Diebold from Boulder Colorado. He is an awesome dude and I’m super stoked for him. Unfortunatly, one of my favorite human beings/loose cannons Trevor Jacob made a small mistake in one of his races and got inched out in one of the semi finals after smoking everyone all morning long. So, yeah, I’m almost done here in Russia and I have had an awesome time. It’s starting to snow hard outside my window right now and looks like it could be an amazing powder day for us on Thursday. I’m going to enjoy my last days here in this strange far away land by riding pow pow and thinking about when I am coming back here !
Sochi is really terrifying just ask Fox News and this Japanese woman.
This past week has been a whirlwind here in Russia. First, Sage won the gold, which is about the most amazing thing for snowboarding that could ever possibly happen. Then Jamie Anderson tree hugged her way into the gold on the woman’s side of things. All was right with the world. The judging was all over the place but it worked out for the sport of snowboarding in the end. All the while Bob Costas’ eye became more and more infected. Then it was all about the half pipe, or the half pile as everyone was calling it. For some unknown reason, the powers that be hired 3rd tier builders instead of the worlds best and most proven, SnowPark Technologies. Down with the king, long live the king. Shaun White who had skipped slopestyle to concentrate on winning a third straight gold in pipe, failed. I can’t believe it as I type it. Shaun White didn’t win. So crazy to think if he just did his qualifying run he probably would have. What did happen? It left the door open for I-Pod to shuffle his way into first. Yep, I said I-Pod shuffle. Then last night the women did their pipe thing. Kaitlyn Farrington won the damn thing that featured a run with back to back to back insanity. A #machinegunofawesomeness if you will. The big story though, the pipe…it was perfect. The problems of the night before were gone. Kelly Clark actually told NBC that she honestly forgot about all the problems the pipe had the days before. *Wide unblinking stare* Really, they could have just pushed it one more day and gave these kids that killed themselves to get here a fair shot at pushing themselves? Instead it just simply looked like someone tried to put glitter on a piece of shit and called it an Olympic quality halfpipe.
So, huge news today here in the mountains of Sochi: Shaun White has decided to pull out of slopestyle and concentrate on winning a third gold medal in pipe. Why you may ask? Well, there are probably a bunch of reasons, but the most obvious to me is that he is beat to shit. Since December, Shaun has slammed more than I think I have ever seen him fall in his life. The last mega scorpion at the Mammoth GPX would have ended my riding season. But like the beast he is, Shaun got up and managed to win the qualiflying event that day and solidify his position on the USA snowboarding slope team. He has to still be feeling that slam. On top of that, the slopestyle here is no beginner swim affair. The jumps are man sized, and the course has already claimed Torstien Horgmo. But you already know all about this “dangerous slope style” since it has been shoved down your throat along with all the other negative media hype around this Olympics. So, I’m going to focus on the positive here and continue to deliver the bright side of things here in the mountains. I have to, I’m here for basically a month.
*Let me be clear that this is MY Olympic experience. I know there are others with less than stellar places to stay and I feel for them. I feel like I won the lottery with my room and board. There are families with kids and relatives over here either working or competing. They don’t need to be thinking about all that negativity being so far away. The security is tight and things are different, but why shouldn’t it be?
Well, I’m in Sochi and first off, it’s mellow here. In fact right now it’s more like So-chill. There is a ton of construction going on and lots of security present but it’s not in your face and intrusive. Lots of shops are still getting last minute finished in preparation for next weeks incoming circus. There is plenty of snow here for the course workers to build with and also more importantly for selfish reasons, to go out and shred. The mountain resorts have been getting hammered up high with the goods. Down low where the venues are the snow is wetter but that’s good when you are wanting to do a build. There is way more snow here than in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics. The pipe and slope courses are roughly laid out and look sweet. The hotel I am staying at is pretty damn banger. The food is really good and the rooms are nicer than anything I have unzipped a bag in so far this year. The internet is fast and the cell reception is fine, actually better than where I live in the USA. All the people I have encountered are all very friendly and eager to help you find your way around, which can sometimes be kind of confusing. Tomorrow I am heading down to the city to check out Sochi/Adler proper where all the ice venues are. Oh, did I mention there are waves here? Man, there is a head high plus wind swell running right now that is being groomed across some right jetty points. I hope to get down and really have a look at it. It would really be amazing to get a couple waves in the Black Sea. I hope to go shred exploring on the hill this weekend. This resort has a lot of potential for high quality riding once the circus leaves town. The mountains here are nuts, way higher than peaks in the US and twice the terrain of Vail. I’ll do my best to keep the updates coming every couple days. My head is on a swivel, but in my honest opinion after getting here and roaming around that the media has been blowing this up for ratings. I realize that this is in stark contrast to some blog updates that have come out of here in the last week, but I guess we just got really luck with where we are staying.
If you want to keep up with my photos and tweets from here follow me on Instagram and Twitter: @Btoddrichards
Black Sea Windswell Lines Photo: @Bradjaymc
It’s summer here in the northern hemisphere, but below the equator, winter is just getting started. Chile has long been a go-to location for summer time shredding. The terrain can’t be beat and the nightlife can strip you of your dignity making you cry yourself to sleep in a thumb sucking ball. Valle Nevado is one of Chile’s premier resorts. Only a few hours out of Santiago, up several winding switchbacks and you can be riding some of the best terrain the planet has to offer.
Costa Rica has been a surf hot spot ever since The Endless Summer 2 exposed the breaks of Ollie’s Point and Witch’s Rock. Witch’s Rock Surf Camp is located close to Tamarindo, one of the main surf towns. If you’re thinking of heading down, do so in the fall or early spring as the summer months are called the rainy season. With roads washing out and deep rivers to cross, the experience can get a bit hairball.
If you’re in Southern California this week, you should stop by San Clemente and check out California’s rip-able waves being torn apart by the likes of Kelly Slater, Dane Reynolds and Julian Wilson. If you’re stuck somewhere less awesome, maybe check it out on your computer. The live web cast is all week long with finals going down on Sunday.
Do you want to be coached by a real live surf pro? Not one of those “I was pro once” guys, but an honest-to-goodness professional surfer. One, you can thumb through a TWSurf mag and see ripping a turn or blasting an air. Billabong wants you to have the best surf camp experience ever. Their Pro Camps offer surfing at world-class destinations, with one-on-one time with some of the sports most recognized names. I want to go and have Taj teach me how to surf shitty little waves as good as he does.