As seasons change, our outdoor passions blend from one right into another. Of the activities that complement one another best and mix the most smoothly together, there’s a particular alignment between mountain biking and snowboarding. The way the two sports feel, the approach to terrain, and the mindset of flowing with speed from snow to dirt: I’ve certainly discovered the commonality between the two seemingly different sports. A longtime passion for snowboarding led me to become a professional photographer. Being a resident of Southern California, a little ways from fresh snow, means that maintaining fitness between snow adventures is a must—so I can hang with the athletes when I’m on assignment back at altitude. Thankfully I discovered how to balance the yin of mountain biking to the yang of snowboarding. The endurance benefits are only one factor, though. The shared feelings for both sports only multiply when you factor adrenaline.
And I recently discovered I’m not the only one after this recent photo assignment in Snowshoe, WV. In deep Appalachia (about midway between Charlottesville, VA and Charleston, WV) I meet up with two mountain bikers and two snowboarders, each who have been embracing this same joint pursuit—discovering another sport to spice up their lifestyle committed to one or the other.
This particular vision spawned from the mind of pro mountain biker Carson Storch, of Bend, OR, motivating him to approach his drink sponsor, Red Bull, to bring an ambitious idea to life: build a custom bike slash snowboard park that weaves in and out of the other and allows an ultimate collaboration where slopestyle meets freeride. Red Bull obviously takes to innovative projects like this and they partnered up to invite fellow teammate Jaxson Riddle (mountain bike) and snowboarders Luke Winkelmann and Sean Fitzsimmons to showcase the possibilities. The crew chose Snowshoe for its location, known in the mountain bike world for its world-class downhill course (and on the seasonal flip-side, regarded as a wicked fun resort to snowboard). Additionally, since winter out East begins to melt sooner than most ranges in the West, Storch and company approached Snowshoe’s mountain manager, who crafted hybrid dirt-snow terrain park that was more than up for the challenge.
Here’s my take on the season-bending collaborative freeriding that unfolded, dubbed Red Bull’s ‘Last Chair First Run.’