The Scott Stevens Interview

Photo: Sami Tuoriniemi

Read our Scott Stevens’ interview that was in issue 128, tricked out with some banging video parts from over the years.

On this slowest of slow news days we felt we needed respite so have dipped into out mag archive and posted the full interview we did with Scott Stevens last season. Regular readers will know we’re a bit Parisien for snowboarding’s equivalent of Rodney Mullen and in the interview he does nothing to dispel the notion that he’s one of the most likeable riders around. Watch all his video parts too. They are frankly INSANE.

A SNOWBOARDER’S SNOWBOARDER

The Scott Stevens Interview

[Words: Uli Köhler]

With a website like Onboardmag.com it is quite easy to see which snowboarders are more popular. After all, there is Google Analytics and some nifty statistics to consult daily. And you know what? Standing out from the obvious favourites like Halldor Helgason or Torstein Horgmo is East Coast native and über-creative jib master Scott Stevens. Be it his appearances in the High Cascade summer camp edits, footage posted on his website, changethattape.com, or his mind-blowing video parts in Think Thank productions, the Transworld flick Get Real and most recently the Capita movie: ‘Sleepy’ Stevens is a favourite among snowboarders around the world, a snowboarder’s snowboarder, the kind of guy Yobeat once labelled “maybe actually the only person in the world with no haters.” We were more eager to find out what he had to say about his own popularity.

Onboard’s interview request reached Scott Stevens around the time of the Thanksgiving holidays in the US. This is always a bad time getting hold of US riders. However, Scott was not occupied with family visits and turkey dinners, he was preparing for an upcoming trip to Alaska to film for his X Games Real Snow contribution. On top of that he had just moved into a new house and out of the legendary Salt Lake City pad he had shared with fellow pros Austen Granger, Ben Bogart, and Think Thank filmer Tim Ronan. “It was great,” Scott remembers. “Lots of things to do constantly. Good people. Good parties and just good times.” However, for him it was time to move on (“change is good”), and now he lives in a “more dog-friendly” place, and a more quiet one at that.

THINK THANK ‘THANKS BRAIN’ – 2007

The Opposite of the Triple Cork

Stevens, though, is not a Utah native. He grew up the small New England town of Westfield, Massachusetts. How was it like to get into the shred over there at what’s sometimes referred to as the ‘Ice Coast’? “Yeah the East Coast! I love it there. There’s a lot of heart for snowboarding. Small hills but everyone makes the most out of their scene!” It is always hard to picture a famous pro to come out of a place that is not close to any serious mountains, and Stevens’ options back then seem particularly low-key. His father had introduced him to skiing and snowboarding in a small ski field nearby (“A hill called Mt Tom. It’s closed now…”), and he quickly became part of the local scene at the Blandford Ski Area – a hill with a vertical of a sobering 140 meters. “Myself and Ross Phillips, (the Think Thank head filmer), Austen Granger, Chris Beresford would ride [there]. We’d pull anything out of the picnic area to jib. They didn’t have rails so people would bring skate rails up and stuff like that. Pretty sick! I kinda wish I could go back to those days.” Was there anyone to look up to at the time? “There were some sick dudes there. You know the type of guys that would do the craziest, sickest shit, but had no dreams of snowboarding any farther than Blandford. Which I think is really cool. They just wanted to be good, not be a professional. It was their hobby. I admire that.” Only a few questions into our interview and we have to admit: It is difficult to hate on this guy.

THINK THANK ‘STACK FOOTY’ – 2008

Scott’s snowboard style is a one of a kind affair – in his own words it is “the opposite of the triple cork” – but he eagerly adds that he would be down for that kind of riding, too. He just sees himself “on the other side of that snowboarding spectrum.” And it is true; what makes his riding stand out is not amplitude or gnarliness of the obstacles he hits, it is creativity, and the ability to impose his style on every small thing he does. Still, he must have had someone he looked up to as a kid. “Well, I had Mack Dawg, Kingpin, and Standard movies. So my favourites were… Terje, Kevin Jones, Travis Parker, Devun, JP Walker, Jussi, Peter Line, Otterstrom, Jeremy Jones. Jibbers mostly. Damn, those guys are legends!” In contrast to the tricks and obstacles shown in those movies, his local infrastructure only offered icy 30 to 40 foot jumps and makeshift jibs. And an early attempt at a contest career also never lead to anything: “I did ‘em but always got beat by Chris Rotax, Alex Soroken and Yale Cousino. Those dudes did some next level shit back then. Stuff that kids are barely getting the hang of now.”

The Skill Part Lacks Occasionally

In 2000 he broke his back while riding at Stratton, Vermont. Up until then he was just sending it, without thinking much of the consequences. “I was that crazy huck kid,” he tells us. The injury made him change his careless approach to snowboarding a lot. Was this the main reason for him not being the big booter double cork kind of person, or was there something else? “I’m not that good at it. Hah!” Maybe it was the combination of all those factors – the quirky New England scene, the injuries, and his unique approach to the shred – that made Scott what he is today. Or how would he describe his route to becoming a professional snowboarder? “It honestly just takes dedication and time. You take opportunities and try to make them, too. There is no set way. Luck and skill and dedication. And the skill part lacks occasionally, so persistence really helps.”

TRANSWORLD ‘GET REAL’ – 2009

When his good friend Austen Granger decided to move to Salt Lake City, it was reason enough for all the others to follow: “Our group of friends move like a pack, and SLC fit pretty good.” It is these friends who have been his main riding crew so far. “It’s changing now because a lot of my friends are soo busy. Bode [Merrill] and [Chris] Grenier are always travelling, along with myself. We all get to see each other often. Snowboarding with each other is a different story.”

Making Others Happy Is a Priority

Nowadays, Scott spends devotes most of his time to filming video parts. From his short yet remarkably creative appearance in Think Thank’s Patchwork Patterns to Capita’s Defenders of Awesome, he has consistently progressed his riding in each of his six parts, pushed the boundaries of what you can do on (or at least with) a snowboard, and stunned fans and his peers alike. If he wasn’t snowboarding for a living, he claims, he would probably only ride the park and powder and have as much fun as possible. Being a pro, though, is a different kind of obligation in his opinion. It is something that makes him constantly push himself: “Every year is a challenge. You want to always make yourself happy, but making others happy is a priority, too.”

THINK THANK ‘RIGHT BRAIN, LEFT BRAIN – 2010

Yet it must be difficult for other riders and, in particular, filmers and photographers when he comes along on a shoot but does not look for the perfect spot and instead shreds whatever lies in front of him – or as Scott has put it before: He does not have spots, he only has tricks. On the contrary, he does not think that riders have a problem with his approach to riding: “Other riders seem to like it. We’re not battling for the best trick on a rail, but filmers and photogs can be uncertain at times. Now things are different because photographers seem to shoot and use more sequences, which is perfect! For my riding anyways.” Sequences or not, people frequently struggle to find labels for his tricks, which often seem to be taken straight from an old-school Rodney Mullen video. “I know some people don’t like skateboarding being related to snowboarding, but the trick names would be whatever they’re called in the skate world, i.e. judo airs, fast plants, boneless, and shit like that.”

No wonder skating is his other great pastime, and obviously he draws a lot of inspiration from it. And while he enjoys it just as much as snowboarding, for a long time he felt more pressure skating, as he did not feel the confidence he has as a snowboarder. In recent times this has changed, though. “I feel lots of pressure snowboarding. Kinda freaks me out. In the past few years the pressure has been building.”

PARK CITY JIB HAMMERS 2011

Snowboarding Needs All Types of People and Riding

Still, as if delivering six standout parts in a row wasn’t enough to please your sponsors and keep the pressure high, Stevens is involved in a lot more things. There is his ongoing commitment at the High Cascade Snowboard Camps, where he’s coaching the kids over summer at Mt Hood. Does he still do it? “Yeah! I love it there! I don’t work the full summer anymore, but I like riding with kids. They keep you in check. You realize how cool snowboarding is.” Watch any of the HCSC edits online and you will realise just how much everyone enjoys riding together up on Mt Hood, and how much crazier Scott’s riding is than everyone else’s. And speaking of the Internet: Together with Chris Grenier and Mike Morgan he created changethattape.com, a mix of their own and friends’ skate and snowboard edits: “Grenier kills it with content. Mike Mo films and I make little edits whenever I have time.” As with every pie he has his fingers in, it is as tasty as it gets. So, what comes next for Scott Stevens? Back to filming with Think Thank? Something entirely new? “Think Thank is always in my blood. Changethattape is huge, and could possibly be bigger things. But damn, I don’t even know that answer!”

At the end of our interview we confront Scott with the aforementioned quote regarding his haters or the lack thereof. Does he really have nobody disliking him? “I do! Haha, trust me! But it’s a nice thing. Snowboarding needs all types of people and riding. I understand that and maybe other people see that?” To us it is obvious, as is the joy and the love his riding shows. It is the kind of passion that is contagious and that makes you want to go shred yourself. And who could possibly hate him for inducing such a feeling?

CAPiTA ‘DEFENDERS OF AWESOME’ – 2011

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Rest In Peace Nelson Pratt