6 Years Ago


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It’s that kind of mood.  6 years ago at 10:00pm we put my father down … don’t have much else to say there, one of the craziest most difficult things anyone can ever go through.  Staying up late … listening to music … something my dad would do — I found this Uncle Lucius gem.  Perfectly fits the mood.  Had to put it on repeat – and then research who in the hell is this Kevin O’neil Galloway guy.  He’s playing in Steamboat at the end of the month – I’ll go.  The shot beginning at 3:45 and ending at 4:17 (a full 33 seconds) in this music video is ridiculously awesome.  Cheers world.  Cheers Dad.  Here is a night photo of your grand daughter today.  She is awesome.

Leslie June LJ Hydle Big Truck Hat

Uncle Lucius — Keep The Wolves Away:

“Took my first breath where the muddy Brazos
spills into the Gulf of Mexico,
and the skylines colored by chemical plants
put bread on the table of the working man.

Where the working man does his best to provide
safety and shelter for kids and a wife,
Giving a little of his soul every day,
making overtime to keep the wolves away

I was barely 13 when the company man
tried to dig my daddy’s grave
It happened on a french owned tanker ship
spilling poison in the Galveston bay

Where the liquid fire filled his lungs and his eyes
silenced any mortal cries.
Codeine the grit but death stang in pain –
He fought like hell to keep the wolves away

For the next few years dad was sick as a dog,
but he made a recovery just to spite the odds.
Settlement came and we moved out of town
where the sky isn’t heavy with refinery clouds.

Yeah he’s still alive he’s doing good, he’s in his fifties
but the money’s running out and he’s pinching for pennies
so Im going for broke with every song I play,
cause now it’s my turn to keep the wolves away.

Written by 

20 Years of the Salomon TenEighty


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The first two minutes of this Salomon TV tribute to JP Auclair and the history of the Salomon 1080 is filled with ridiculously awesome banger quotes. Take your pick, and enjoy the flick.

“JP JP JP JP JP JP JP” — Everyone

“I think the greatest thing you can do with one of your friends is to remember them in your hearts and in your minds… and here everybody is and I think it’s just the coolest thing ever. I really do.” — Blake Jorgensen

“Thank’s a lot everyone for coming out on the 20th anniversary of the New Canadian Airforce and honoring a great man … JP Auclair.” — Mike Douglas

“Here we are, Blackcomb wind lip session … it’s been a long time since I’ve seen something like this go down. It’s a throw back to the old days, the tribe has rallied… it’s just good to be here man, it feels like old times.” — Feet Banks

“It’s awesome to see everyone getting fired up, just sending it, just strictly out of love for him.”

“Vinny and JP’s and Szocs and Mike, they are just on the next level”

“Every single trick they did was groundbreaking and never been done before… and what really stood out for us is that a lot of the shots we saw were in Whistler”

Well, this is where we kind of learned a lot of this stuff. So to be back here exactly 20 years later is super super cool.” — Mike Douglas

“That was the first back flip mute I think I’ve done in about 10 years … that one was for JP” — Mike Douglas

“My back is sore, my shins will be sore… and I need a masseuse and a hot tub. I can’t do those hard landings anymore.” — Shane Szocs

“Back to 97 baby!” — Mike Douglas

“Back when skiing was just furry boots and malt cider and like kind of FIS bullshit, these guys stepped up, they turned it around, they took it backwards.”

“And that’s what made them rad.”

“A guy once told me that anything less than 20 years old is just news, it’s not history. And it’s been 20 years now since the TenEighty came out so… I guess we’ll see.” — Mike Douglas

“I sense snowboard coming really big two years ago like all new tricks I was like fuck man – should I change for snow board but, like I said in my mind – ah fuck there is something to do with skiing. There’s not because we got pole that we can’t grab so… last year I started to do flip like mistys and rodeo and I think skiings awesome and we can kick snowboards ass easily.” — JF Cusson

“Skiing was pretty much dead in the 90s, snowboarding was taking off.” — Jonny Moseley

“Skiing was your parents sport. Nobody — No one young with energy or that was cool was getting into skiing.” — Mike Douglas

“And the New Canadian Air Force came along and they invented twin tip skis … and that just like set it off.” — Jonny Moseley

9/11 Amanda Capper National Anthem

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4am 9/11 Remembrance Media … Remember that time we Capper’d Salt Lake City on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. Wow – I watched this on repeat for an hour tonight thinking about awesome things we have done with the power of friendship. When good people and friends come together, we can accomplish some pretty amazing and emotional things. Brian Gold Show Goldrich, thanks for having the power of microphones and believing in a random idea to do something good like this for the pure awesomeness of our country. The fact we were able to quiet down Festival Village at the Dew Tour (one of the noisiest environments of all time) to pull this stunt off without anyone knowing … equals pure “I Love America” kind of joy. Capper Capper Fish, I think the Denver Broncos are going to need some love this year. Hmmmm, would you change anything if you were in front of 75,000 of our orange and blue fans?

Having a Beer with Dad

I had a nice trip down memory lane last night looking at some old Dew Tour media from 2007. Following the kickoff June Baltimore stop of the then “AST Dew Tour” I ended up traveling around the country for nearly three weeks, which made me miss Fathers Day. Upon my return, I took my good ol’ father Les Hydle out to dinner and his first ever Barmen. I think he liked it … especially the amazing head.

Haha – miss ya pops.

Greg Hydle + Les Hydle + Jeremy Hydle

The Important Places

Yesterday Teton Gravity Research posted this video on FB, and what drew me in to watch  the ten minute film was the description they posted along with it “This is one of the most powerful short films that I have watched in a long time.”

The story is about a son who is seeing his aging father begin to withdraw slowly – due to age – from the things that once made him so passionate about life.

A poem that his father wrote for him as a baby has stuck with him since childhood, and so the son challenges his aging father to reconnect with what inspired him in his younger years, and to go back to what he knows is an important place for his father.

They embark on a 28 day boating trip down the Grand Canyon together, and the words that this father had written to his son begin to take on a new significance and understanding for the son.

I can’t stop watching, and sharing this video. I even made Greg and our friend Drew come upstairs right after I finished watching it so they could watch it with me on the Apple TV. It’s an emotional film, and for me, has extra significance because just three months ago, I was embarking on my own 21 day trip down the Grand Canyon with some close friends, and I think this captures some of the magic that is unexplainable, but always happens when you’re on extended adventures that push your normal comfort zone.

I think this film challenges us to all think, what are your important places? Where would you go back to, if you could? What have you maybe distanced yourself from, that in the past has brought you joy?

The poem and the film speak for themselves. The best way to describe them is simple – powerful.

The Important Places

Child of mine, come as you go
In youth you will learn, these secret places
The cave behind the waterfall
The arms of the oak that hold you high
The stars so near on a desert ledge
The important places
And as with age, you choose your own way
Among the many faces of a busy world
May you always remember the path that leads back
Back to the important places

-Dad, for Forest, 1986

-Cooley

Reading. Learning. Experiencing the Life of Andreas Fransson.

As I peek into the life of Andreas Fransson, a man I never formerly knew… I am absolutely blown away at the documenting and stories he was capable of. Andreas Fransson perished with my good friend JP Auclair on September 29th, 2014 in an unfortunate climbing accident in Patagonia. These two skiing and mountain adventure pioneers were onto something special and I can only explore how they got there through the help of Andreas Fransson’s unbelievable blog of documenting his life and meticulously thanking everyone he ever climbed with. In such the modern day of media we live in today, it’s amazing how the writing is what still truly tells the story.

“I’ve learnt a few things the last few months; Life goes on and how we want it to go on is a choice and even if we want to escape, there is no-where to escape so we might as well make right now awesome.”

– Andreas Fransson

Andreas Fransson Final Thoughts of Awesomeness 9383

Esto se llama Crecer. — This is called Grow.

This is the ending of the final post on Andreas Fransson’s blog from February 13th, 2014. As I’ve alway been interested in examining people’s final thoughts and postings prior to unfortunate accidents like this, Fransson’s final official blog post completely blows my mind.

How did he arrive at this thinking… I’m finding out. I’m only through 2 months of Andreas Fransson’s posts and I’ve already experienced amazing adventures through his eyes and completely unbelievable patagonia climbing adventures.

Andreas Fransson Portrait by Sandra Fransson

Andreas Fransson Portrait by Sandra Fransson

JP Auclair is going to be a little bit harder to read into, because for the life of me – I can’t recall how long he has actually had this for his coming soon website. UP1 Whaaaaaat!? I fucking miss you dude.

JP Auclair Website Since 2010

[Outside Magazine – Remembering the Skiers We Lost]

JP Auclair – Please Don’t Be True

Sad news today is crushing through the interManets about how JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson are reported missing and presumed dead in an avalanche that swept 700 meters on the face of Monte San Lorenzo which is located deep in Patagonia on the Chilean and Argentine boarder.

When I first heard about this I had to check JP Auclair’s last post and location check in via Instagram… and can only say I hope this isn’t true.

JP Auclair Posted 4 days ago on September 26th, 2014

“road trip down south with a great crew. back at it with @andreasfransson99 @bjarnesalen and @danielronnback for #apogeeskiing and ver much looking forward to the days ahead.”

JP Auclair Final Instagram Post from Patagonia

Looking a bit deeper into the goals for this trip it sounds like JP Auclair, Andreas Fransson, Sweden videographer Bjarne Salen and photographer Daniel Ronnback were starting up a new web series called Apogee Skiing that was slated to start dropping episodes this fall. It sounds like Auclair and Fransson were climbing a couloir nearing the peak of the 12,159 foot tall glacier when something moved above them. The length of the slide is estimated at over 700 meters and carried all the way to the glacier below. Salen and Ronnback were unaffected as they were shooting from another peak.

You can tell the level of excitement everyone had from their final posts before the trip. Winter was definitely in the air.

JP Auclair Posed 6 days ago on September 24th, 2014

“..that smell..
last bit of preparation before heading south with @andreasfransson99 @bjarnesalen and @danielronnback. #winteriscoming”

JP Auclair's Second to Last Post :(

Andreas Fransson’s final post on September 26th, 2014

“Our Patagonia adventure just started! I’m so looking forward hanging out with @auclairjp @bjarnesalen @danielronnback (photo credit) for two weeks in the wild! You will probably not hear much from us in a while, but it’s worth keeping your eyes open for #apogeeskiing project which is a collaboration between JP and myself with first webisode dropping later this autumn!

Andreas Fransson Final Instagram Post

Photographer Daniel Ronnbacks Instagram post leading up to the trip posted on September 24th, 2014.

“I really dont know what to expect from my 18 days ahead of me. Last time i was out with @andreasfransson99 @bjarnesalen and @auclairjp this was one of our runs. Time will tell! #chile @fstopgear @armadaskis @oakley @dynafitna @douchebags”

Daniel Ronnback's Post Leading to their Patagonia trip with JP Auclair + Andreas Fransson

I am super saddened by this news and can only hope early reports are not correct. Unfortunately I don’t believe this to be the case and the skiing community and I have lost another great friend :(. To Andreas Fransson, I can only hope someone can write about the final days of your life as well as you recapped the tragic death of your friend Magnus Kastengren from his fatal fall last November. Your writing is shockingly brilliant and you paid amazing tribute to the joyous last days of Magnus Kastengren. I wish I could have known your for this writing alone and could only imagine what you were about to write with my good friend JP.

To JP Auclair, I am so deeply sorry and know you were in your happy place creating amazing things when this occurred. From the days I met you resting your back and laying on the kitchen floor of Joel McCormick’s and my college hangout, to when I met Bo Bridges while picking you up from my garage to adventure you to Vail. I’ve done amazing things with Bo since then and I’ve done amazing things with you since the tragic passing of Joel. Edit parties, beach olympics and all night creative sessions, chatting and creating, chatting and creating… from across the world. Keeping in touch with you has meant a lot to me and you were one of the key initiatives into us moving forward with an idea that would spark the entire world of old school skiing with new school skiing. You were the only pro skier I confided with about the possibility of integrating Warren Miller into Level 1 Productions 10th film mixing the oldest audience in skiing with the youngest. The idea was a little crazy, and I wanted your honest opinion on whether or not you thought the ski industry could handle something so out of the box. Your response was so positive that we continued with the project of Josh Berman’s 10th film – Refresh integrated with Warren Miller. I wish you could have been at the premier on September 11th, 2009 at the Bluebird Theater in Denver. Greg Stump was there, we partied hard and when Warren Miller’s voice kicked in during the intro sequence, the crowd erupted in awesomeness. We created something unique and even though you probably didn’t think you were a part of this, you were. Just the same as you and John Decesare coming to Joel McCormick’s celebration and service back in 2003 – your presence was a major part of his service and I don’t think you ever realized how much of a positive impression you made on his family just by you attending. I don’t think people realize how much you actually created in this world or how artistic you were without skis on. The intro sequences to Session 1242 and Ready Fire Aim paying tribute to Joel McCormick were simply genius… along with everything else you put your hands on. I don’t know how to take this news of your loss, just like many others and I’m so terribly sorry and sad about this unforeseen accident that has occurred to you and your friends. My feelings are difficult to describe. May you rest in peace and realize your Alpine Initiatives of inspiring, connecting and growing is exactly how you lived your life. I will forever miss you… say hello to Joel.

Greg Hydle + JP Auclair

February 1st, 2014 – Greg Hydle + JP Auclair at Freeskiers SIA Sarah Burke Fundraiser

[BioBioChile.cl – Spanish]
[Early Ups – Translated]
[Snowheads Forum]
[Newschoolers]
[Powder Magazine]
[Adventure Journal]
[ESPN X Games]
[The Globe and Mail]
[Backcountry Magazine]
[Outside Magazine]
[Freeskier Magazine Tribute]
[Freeskier – Celebrating the lives of JP and Andreas]
[Skiing Magazine]
[Powder – Confirmed Update]

Anthony Merriott — You will be missed :(

I can’t believe what I heard the other day from a good friend Amy Pesicka Kraft :(

“I just got a message from Anthony Merriott’s wife, that he passed away yesterday. I don’t know Anything else or any other details. Just wanted to let you know.”

Anthony Merriott

This incredibly saddens me because I have had a closer then regular relationship with Anthony after he moved to the Phoenix area several years ago. Below are some writings and ramblings on my saddened thoughts.

To Facebook:

“Heeeeeeeeeey Anthony … I would always say nearly every time I talked to my good friend who has apparently been taken away from us way to early. I enjoyed reconnecting with you on the golf course 10 years out of High School when I would visit the Phoenix area on a more regular basis in 2008. Even though we haven’t talked lately, I know how excited you were to have such a beautiful child Ashton with your loving wife Aimee. We had some serious conversations back then … and I apologize for losing touch with you. Although we don’t know many details on what happened to you yet – it doesn’t discount the fact that you will be severely missed :( — Rest in peace my friend.”

To Aimee Rastatter-Merriott:

“Aimee … I am so very sorry for what you are going through. I wish we had some more information as I am upset at losing a friend — but I know that will come in time. I haven’t seen Anthony since we golfed back in 2008 when I used to visit Scottsdale / Phoenix / Gilbert on a more regular basis and can’t wait to get home to review the media / photos / and elements of fun we had together. Until then, please keep either Amy Pesicka Kraft posted on any new developments and we will be sure to relay this news with our Columbine friend base back here. Again – I am so very sorry and saddened by hearing about this two days ago :(

With Love,
Greg Hydle”

Anthony Merriott Son Ashton

Vail Resorts Epic Race – Explanation of Awesomeness


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***NOTE*** – Next week this post will be post dated back to December 24th, 2013

Merry EPIC Christmas-Holiday-New Year and Happy End of Work Day on December 24th, 2013.

As many of you know I have been charging around the world with a couple awesome people skiing and “in a way” competing in something called Vail Resorts Epic Race. The Epic Race was conceived by Vail Resorts as a contest for the first 10 people who successfully skied every Vail Resort in the 2013/14 season which included 26 ski resorts spread across 4 different continents. 12 were located in the US and the remaining 14 were in Austria, Switzerland and France — The reward for the first 10 people who accomplished this goal would be a Vail Resorts Lifetime Epic Pass. Of course, when I first heard about this randomly awesome competition in early October I knew it would be a fun endeavor to attempt to win what would be known as “THE” ski pass of all ski passes! What I didn’t know is that when it came down to the final day of the FINAL resort to open in Brides-Les-Bains France… was that there would be 131 people from across the world contending for this most EPIC of Epic Vail Passes. Vail Resorts didn’t even expect this kind of final day outcome… and even though Vail has stated that we would all know the final results from this most epic of epic races by end of work day today, I’m happy to announce that they have decided to take some “EXTRA” time to review all the content and all the angles from this 29 day race!

To summarize what Ashley Cooley, Devin L Rhinehart and I have all accomplished in the last month is pretty difficult to comprehend. I think it can best be described as a test in school, like your final final of the semester. Only if you didn’t pass this final, there was ZERO chance of you passing… or “winning” in this case – which all made sense to us. So I basically used that approach to find some motivation to get our team into and through the final day. All three of us from “Team Fun” were in the top 10 percentile through school as we grew up… so we simply needed to apply these rules of life to the final day and if we succeeded and tried our best … we should probably be ok on the final leader board. Sounds simple enough, however there were some additional requirements to get you to the top. 1 – time, 2 – paying attention to detail… and 3 – being sure all your previous content for the race was up to snuff. Of course there is always LUCK involved too, but we had plenty of that on our side with Ashley being the lucky one. Devin was our Time freak, and I was pretty much Mr Detail. Put us all together and we find ourselves at number 20, 21 and 25 on the final “unofficial” Vail Resorts Epic Race leader board. However, when you throw a little detail into it you will notice that 9 people in front of us automatically get tossed from improper uploading on the final day — Two of those don’t even have video links. Add another level of detail and 4 more get dropped for not following resort rules – aka “you can’t hike outside of resort hours”. That brings Rhinehart up to number 7, me at 8 and Cooley as the top girl finisher just out of the top 10 at 12.

Of course, these are unofficial results — even by my count. I have no idea what Vail Resorts will ultimately choose to do or how nitpicky they are going to get in judging this most EPIC of epic races! When you start digging into 26 mountains of content it becomes pretty overwhelming pretty fast! How do I know? Because I’ve done it. One of the cool things about this race is that everyones piece of content from accomplishing all 26 ski resorts is public which is why I am happy to see them taking the extra time to get the correct 10 finishers on top of the board. After jumping into the 52 photos and 26 fifteen second minimum videos from each contestant, I know who gets tossed and who sticks around. And almost every other racer knows too… Except for the one element that is publicly unknown in this race, which is who actually emailed Vail Resorts a photo of their completed European ski stamp passport by 11:59:59pm on December 20th, 2013. Assuming everyone in front of us accomplished this 1 simple task … I see myself finishing in 7th place – Rhinehart moves to number 6 and Cooley… well there is a super slim small chance that she could pop into the top 10, but even though I know there are technicalities with some uploaded content between us, I do not expect Vail to jump to that level of detail to pop her into the top 10 — If they do choose to go that route, then I would probably be dropped for having goggles or sunglasses on in one of my photos or videos. Sunglasses were never actually addressed, but goggles were recommended to be off your face as you must be visible in all photos and videos and you must include #epicrace in your titles and your Facebook posts and you must choose 1 video and 2 photo locations from a list of required elements at each area and have all your content upload by midnight of the time zone of the mountain you were visiting and you must have lift scan data from the given mountain on the given day and you can only ski 1 US mountain or 2 European mountains per day and you must accomplish this all during resort operating hours and you needed to shoot horizontal video opposed to vertical iPhone video and you need to talk loud through plastic on GoPros and and you can’t promote other brands or use copyrighted material on and on and on… can you see how run on and on this contest could get let alone judging it all!? Either way, at some point there needs to be a line drawn in the final judging criteria in order to release the official leader board and award the top racers their Vail Resorts lifetime season pass!

If we are on that list — Fantastic! If for some reason we don’t quite make the official top 10, then we will still enjoy the experiences that have been had and the Vail Resorts Epic season pass for next year that will be awarded to anyone who completes all 26 Vail mountains in the 2013/2014 season. In keeping with the original spirit of “Team Fun”, I will end this post with the 1 simple rule we had while blowing over 2700 miles in the car and almost 14,000 miles in the air to accomplish this 1 impressive task of skiing 26 ski resorts in 29 days in 4 different countries — “Skiing is fun… and that’s about all!”

It was amazing meeting so many *awesome people* on this incredible adventure! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

*Awesome People*

Nick and Scott Annis
Joe Jensen, Weather Man Steve Sacco and John Victor
Michael Lahey + Epic Race Mom Sharon Mcmonagle
Devin Rhinehart, Ashley Cooley + Greg Hydle … “Team Fun”
Bill and little man Charlie Fiveash
London man Steve Curtis
Japan master Zoe Huebner
The Beard of Ando!
Golden locals Michael + Nila Ferrone
Newlyweds Jessica + Dave Schnoll
Sister + Brother team Jannah and Jeff Din!
The Wilson Duo
The Beard of Sean Regan!
The Jackson Hole Greece of Nick Greece
My manager… Kim Jackson!
Windy Wendy Smith
Ultimate video bomber Parker Jackson
The always proper Carolyn Pope!
Crazy Face Troy Martinez
The child in Annie + David Childs
The always Rad Rad Roubeni!
The hair of Tom Slazinski
Epic start with Matt Dority
Webmaster Will Tran
Crazy Man Kai Whittier (never actually met but heard ridiculous stories)
The Curls of Kim Klopp!
Tera + Garrick Keatts
The Silent JK Johnny Kuo
Sock Firestarter Zac Irwin!
The Humor of Jason Walence
Master Ski Sabbatical Jay Irwin
The entire Liu Family!
Will you marry me Matthew Walence
Ryan Garnett, “Pets Heads Falling Off” Colin Dean, and Backflip Trevor Posey!
Green Icelantic Machine Hollis Carter
Our Shit Got Jacked Alexandra Malkin + Aaron Marks :(
Completed the Epic Race Right Jessica Jackson Hill!
The Finished in Fine Fashion Lawrence Bayer
The Dreads of Jonathon Blair Ermer
Yellow Man Giovanni De Francisco!
The Ned Man Kip and Legitimately Last Place Final Day Finisher Kip Lagorin
One Take Timmy Jarred Simpson
The One and Only Man of Epicness Himself … Adam Warot!

Kevin Pearce – National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Nominee


[YouTubeUlar] <— 9,119 Today Ashley Cooley and I purchased two tickets to the 2014 Craig Hospital PUSH Dinner where Snowboarding star Kevin Pearce will be the recipient of the Craig Hospital Inspiration Award. Pearce was recently selected as one of the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year amongst several other, and somewhat crazy adventurists... Adventure Educators - Amy and Dave Freeman
Alpinists – Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welsted
Big-Wave Surfer – Greg Long
Climber – Adam Ondra
Community Builders – Stacy Bare and Nick Watson
Explorer – Sarah Marquis
Long-Distance Swimmer – Diana Nyad
Skier – JP Auclair
Sky Runner – Kilian Jornet
Snowboarder – Kevin Pearce

KevinPearceCrashReel

If you haven’t taken the time to watch “The Crash Reel”, which documents Kevin Pearce’s recovery from a crash in Park City, Utah where Pearce sustained a traumatic brain injury, I would highly recommend you point your iTunes or Apple TV this direction.

Pearce was attempting a cab double cork while training in the halfpipe on December 31st, 2009 — only 49 days before the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Pearce spent 34 days in critical care at University Hospital before being transferred to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado to begin his rehabilitation.

“The Crash Reel” documents Kevin Pearce’s remarkable recovery while educating about the effects of traumatic brain injuries specifically tied to Action Sports. Defining the art of snowboarding and tracking Kevin Pearce from childhood to a professional career as the only snowboarder with the ability to beat Shaun White, the dynamic story line of The Crash Reel brings together every emotion related to overcoming such incredible odds.

I personally can not recommend a better documentary film for anyone to watch and am excited to see what Jake Manley and the media team at Craig Hospital have created for the upcoming 2014 PUSH Dinner.

Hashtag – Love Your Brain – #LoveYourBrain

[2014 Craig Hospital PUSH Dinner]
[Love Your Brain Campaign]
[The Crash Reel Homepage]
[National Geographic Adventurers of the Year]
[National Geographic Interview of Kevin Pearce’s 2014 Running of the 2014 Sochi Olympics]

Team Fun Post Race Recap

Winning Leaderboard Team Fun
Well, if you’re reading this, you most likely know that thanks to some serious shifting of the leaderboard, we came home with two official winners of the Epic Race – Hydle and Rhinehart – CONGRAT-U-FREAKING-LATIONS guys!!!

After the race finished up, Hydle and I stayed for about an extra week in Switzerland to decompress and enjoy some more scenery. We would have gotten more skiing in, however so far (January 9, 2014) we have officially managed to miss every.single.storm.so.far. So, after skiing groomers for 10 days straight in Europe, we were ready for a break from the groomer days, and ended up mainly relaxing, catching up on fast internet, and checking out Switzerland a bit. I think we also didn’t realize how grueling and exhausting our pace had been until we stopped and we kinda hit a wall after it all ended.

Rhinehart had to head straight back to get back to work, but we had pretty regular phone calls with him still from Europe just decompressing from the trip, chatting about the way it all ended, and discussing the potential for the leaderboard to still change (we were sitting at 20, 21 and 25 until Vail posted the official winners)…and of course missing each other because we got pretty used to traveling as the badass threesome that we were.

Now let me fill you in on one thing about Hydle if you don’t know him that well. He gets SUPER into things, like hyperfocused to a fault, once his mind is set on something. This actually was a trait that I know can be directly attributed in a large part on the overall success of the team throughout the entire trip. The amount of research that Hydle and Rhinehart did prior to even DECIDING if we were going to do the trip probably outweighs the overall research of any team for the entire trip. Hydle has spreadsheets galore on every minor detail he could gather on each ski resort, the type of travel we would do, our scheduling, the rough costs, hotels to stay at, reaching out to European friends for local tips, local hookups on rides and accommodations, etc. It was honestly hard to keep up with because his research was so thorough and involved before we even began the race that I struggled to feel like I could even help or contribute because by the time I was able to look something up and bring it up to the group, Hydle would say “Oh I know, we already have that figured out.” That said, Rhinehart was a huge asset in research, resources, and organization too. The duo of Hydle and Rhinehart combined was pretty unstoppable in terms of overall preparation I would say throughout the entire Epic Race. I helped where I could, but these guys had it dialed to a T.

All that said, the one prop I will give to myself is that I truly believe I’m a really lucky person. I mean, I know I’m a lucky person! So, throughout the trip, the guys kept telling me they were glad I was on the trip because they needed a good luck charm, and guess what, they got one, nailed it!

So now that you know that Hydle obsessively researches everything thoroughly, you should also know that after the Epic Race ended (at 10:17 am precisely on December 20) we didn’t even ski all the way down our one and only run of the day before we ended up at a bar, with Hydle and Rhinehart borrowing a pen and paper from the bartender, and proceeding to solve ALL of the puzzles that Vail had put out on the final day. This didn’t make any sense to me, I mean, the race was over, who cares what the answers to all the puzzles were. But Hydle in particular felt he needed to know if he could have solved all the puzzles, and wouldn’t quit until he did! I think the puzzle solving took about 2 hours in total, but he did it!

So along the same lines as him solving all of the puzzles, he was the same way with wanting to know who on the leaderboard would or would not remain there after being vetted by Vail and all of the rules in place on how to properly finish the race.

Since all of the information we had to post in order to complete the race was public, it was actually pretty simple – albeit time consuming – to sort through every single person on the leaderboard in front of us and make a judgment call on whether we felt they would remain on the leaderboard or not.

The most common reason for the leaderboard changing was a lot of racers actually didn’t catch the part in the rules on the final day that said you actually had to take a photo with the epic race sticker in it on the final day. Many people made it to the final locations, but missed the sticker requirement. This alone dropped off roughly 10 people who had been in front of us on just the first day.

The sticker requirement, combined with knowing that 4 of the first guys on the board had hiked up the mountain (which we felt wasn’t going to be allowed by Vail) meant Hydle especially felt that there was still a decent chance that they may actually bump all the way up into the top 10.

We all knew it was going to be a close call on how it all shook out when Vail actually sorted through everyone, but the more Hydle dug in, the more confident he was feeling about potentially moving into the leaderboard. Remember, the beauty of this race was that all of the entries were publicly posted, so therefore it was possible to determine on our own who had fulfilled all of the requirements.

So, from Switzerland, we spent an ENTIRE day sitting inside one of his friend’s apartments who generously let us stay in it for several days (thank you Rob, Laetitia, and Francis!!). Hydle busted out his spreadsheets and started going through every single racer above us’s content, one by one, extremely thoroughly. By thorough, I mean, if they posted a 4 minute YouTube video, he watched the entire video, even if in the first 10 seconds it was obvious they were at the correct location.

He chatted with fellow racers, he emailed Vail several times, he researched edge cases, and he confirmed via multiple sources that it was in fact against Meribel’s policy to hike to the top of the mountain while the mountain was closed (this fact was crucial because it gave Vail the discretion to remove the top 4 guys who hiked the mountain and got an advantage on the leaderboard on the final day.)

I don’t even think he got up out of his chair in front of the computer for 8 hours straight. He was lucky I was there to keep him fed and hydrated. But, we did run out of food by the end of this day, and I started to get super hangry and cabin fevery, and almost left to just get pizza without him after starving for hours, but he eventually finished it up and we did get to get out of the apartment for some sweet Mongolian bbq on Christmas eve!

After his long ass day of Hydle research (and more hours on either end of this long day), Hydle had come to the determination (going into this late night Christmas Eve dinner at Mongolian BBQ) that he and Rhinehart would make it into the top 10. We cheersed a little bit, but I was cautious and didn’t want him to over celebrate in case Vail was more lenient on some of their rules than they had promised. But Hydle was pretty confident, yet anxious for the official results as well.

We finished up our time in Europe, and got on our flights back to the US. We had an 11 hour flight back on Friday, December 27 (one week after the final day of the race). There was no internet access on this flight, and we didn’t know when Vail would officially release the final results. But, the second we turned on our phones back in the US, the first thing we got was the Vail official results email, which we read together while the plane was still taxiing.

It was so exciting to see the official results with Rhinehart in 9th, and Hydle in 10th! We high fived now that it was official, and Hydle started sorting through all of his millions of congrats messages (it was like his birthday but more!)

We got off the plane, and when we finally made it through customs, his two sisters, and two of his nephews were waiting right outside for us wearing full blown beards painted red, and holding up signs that had pics from us on the race, and congrats messages to the team for coming home with some wins! It was so cool to have his family greet us like that, what a welcome home!

We had a 5 hour layover before continuing on to California (I needed to see my family since I had missed both Thanksgiving, and Christmas for this race!) so we went to dinner with his sisters, nephews, and our other favorite team mascot, Darren Droge – to celebrate and catch up for a bit.

Turns out, Adam Warot of all people saw our post that we were briefly in Denver, and rolls up with his one and only shotski, and we took some celebratory fireball shots as well. Killing it Warot!

Once back in California, we had lots of time to now decompress on the win for Hydle and Rhinehart. We facetimed with Rhinehart and his family (thank you Rhineharts and Lauren for all of the support!), and the guys had tons of messages to respond to from everyone coming out of the woodwork to congratulate them!

The guys got several interview requests for various articles about the winners, so they had a couple conf calls with reporters to discuss.

Plenty of people have asked, “how did Hydle and Rhinehart win but not you?” so I will explain.

For starters, I was the weak link anyway – I was the slowest runner by far out of the three of us, and the entire final day was literally a foot race, we skied zero turns. I can keep up fairly well on skis, not so much running! That said, the guys were so amazing and patient and waited for me, helped me, and pushed me throughout the hour and 17 minutes on the final day. Thanks to them waiting for me, we all finished at the same time (Rhinehart unclicked out of his skis and ran up the final hill with me in ski boots for our final shots, Hydle skated up which would have taken me forever!) But, because the final submission was something you had to submit via your phone/cell service, we all had our submissions pre-loaded as we were on our final gondola ride up to the last location on the mountain. But, for some reason, my phone refreshed the web page that I had my photo and video preloaded on as I pressed submit for my final, official submission. So while the guys were posting to the board, I was reloading the content onto the page and then pressing submit. This process took me just about exactly :27 extra seconds. Within that time, Bill and Charlie had posted to the board (which I am stoked they did, because I want them to win before me) and another guy who finished at another location who’s submission popped in right between us. So, 26 mountains, and I lost by :27! Lol.

So, I did finish with the guys, it just came down to a phone loading issue that wasn’t really preventable, could have happened to any of us, and I’m glad it happened to me.

I can’t express how much I know that Hydle and Rhinehart deserved to win this race. Not only was the team preparation so incredibly in depth, but their attitudes, personalities, charisma, passions and content were spot on with what Vail wanted to see out of the racers, and Rhinehart did an edit for EVERY single mountain we skied (including the two a day’s in Europe). I don’t think anyone else on the race put in as much solid effort, as well as having the right spirit of the race throughout. Mad props to my teammates on that.

I am so incredibly and genuinely stoked for them and so proud of them.

And, along those lines, many of the other racers in the top 10 were awesome, and I am also super stoked for them as well.

One final thought, Bill and Charlie (our alliance team members on the final day) we believe still have a shot at making it into the top 10 if any final tweaks still come from the leaderboard. The Vail rules very specifically say that incomplete submissions will not be approved, however somehow Brittany and Cory Heintz – currently in the top 10, still have an incomplete link for their YouTube videos. I know that enough questions have been raised from fellow racers that this is likely still being researched a little deeper among Vail currently. So, in the chance that they move out of the top 10, I would be so freaking excited if Bill and Charlie got to join the leaderboard for lifetime passes. They are great people and fully deserve to make it in if this happens!

The cool thing is, even post race we have all gotten even closer with a lot of racers, it seems that we all have this common bond and understanding among those of us that got close, and I’m excited to have a larger skiing community to relate to and ski with in the future!

All in all, the experience was freaking rad. We are so glad we got to participate in this. It sometimes feels like a dream that it actually all happened. The friendships and memories we made will stick with us for life, and now, Hydle and Rhinehart get to SKI…FOR FREE…FOR LIFE!!! Thank you, one last time, to everyone who supported us from home, everyone who followed us online, reached out and congratulated us, and for watching our videos and reading our blogs! Welcome home to Colorado Hydle. Can’t wait for a Team Fun reunion on the slopes again soon!

Heavenly – Operation Elevation Email to Todd Rudis

Operation Elevation with Ashley Cooley, Greg Hydle and Chris Hansen

Aloha Todd Rudis!

I just wanted to send you a quick email and photo about how awesome operation elevation is at Heavenly!

It was my first time ever getting to ski the amazingly beautiful Heavenly yesterday … Although it was frigid cold, I couldn’t help but nearly freeze my hands off snapping photo after photo on this first day to heavenly adventure. The overlook on the way up the gondola is gorgeous, but the highlight of the day was definitely being selected to take part in your operation elevation experiment. Riding in “the beast” to the top of the mountain during sunset to experience all of what Heavenly really has to offer was a completely unexpected treat for Ashley and I. Chris Hansen killed it in giving us an awesome ride in “the beast” and I even turned him into a little photographer to help us document the adventure at the top!

I will have a complete write up and video of our experience available online soon as we progress our way around the world for Vail Resorts Epic Race. But I just wanted to reach out to you now and say thanks for the perfect ending to this Epic Day. Operation Elevation is the shit!

Check out this bad ass photo we snapped :)

UPDATE: September 1st, 2014 … unfortunately Todd still has yet to reply… WTF Vail.

Kevin Pearce – “The Crash Reel”


[YouTube] <— 3,789

The Crash Reel

Fifteen years of verite footage show the epic rivalry between half-pipe legends Shaun White and Kevin Pearce, childhood friends who become number one and two in the world leading up to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, pushing one another to ever more dangerous tricks, until Kevin crashes on a Park City half-pipe, barely surviving. As Kevin recovers from his injury, Shaun wins Gold. Now all Kevin wants to do is get on his snowboard again, even though medics and family fear this could kill him. We also celebrate Sarah Burke who crashed in Park City and died January 19, 2012.

I find it difficult to write about this film – simply because I strongly believe ‘the crash reel” is something everyone should just watch… and pay attention to. The soundtrack continues to get better with each viewing and the enjoyment of seeing other people finally learn about the severity of brain injuries and the consequences behind them is mind opening.

Love Your Brain - #loveyourbrain - Tee Shirt

#loveyourbrain Tahiti Blue Tee Shirt

There are so many levels of integration as to why this documentary hits so close to home with me…

  • My mom is a brain injury specialist
  • I practically grew up at Craig
  • Half pipe half pipe half pipe
  • Stephen Murray
  • Sarah Burke – CR Johnson
  • Action Sports
  • Directing and story telling

[Interview with Director Lucy Walker]

Happy Fathers Day – Les Hydle Celebration Speech


[YouTube]

1 year ago today, we celebrated the life of my father Les Hydle. At the time, I couldn’t tell you how important it was for me to be writing and sharing my thoughts and feelings about how my dad and I spent his last waking minutes, but now… looking back over the last year – I realize there is absolutely no way I could re-write those feelings to the detail that I have already captured. I’m happy I have these memories, and I’m glad I can access them so easily just by clicking Les Hydle at the top of this page.

I know you like my videos even more than my writing… so here you go. This was the introduction to your Final Playlist at the celebration of your life last June 15th, 2012. Happy Fathers Day Dad… I love you.