words: Mary Walsh
captions: T. Bird
photos: Ryan “Huggy” Hughes, Mike Yoshida, E-Stone, Aaron Blatt, T. Bird and Mary Walsh
It was a quintessential bluebird morning over the Sierra Nevadas Day 2 of The Launch 2015 presented by Volcom began. Just under two hundred of the best underage riders in snowboarding again flocked to Chair 6 to take over Mammoth’s Main Park. With a park that flows so easily from feature to feature and a high speed lift sans liftline to get back to the top, full laps were central for Launch attendees all day. Sessions once again broke out in the top and bottom jib zones, but the Main Park mainline lap is just too good to stay away from for long. The result was a the Launch crew, from the youngest grommets to the veteran players, sending themselves off anything and everything in front of them, showcasing their versatility and the all-around creativity of this rising population of snowboarders. A few standout moments from the day include Miles Fallon’s held-for-days one-footer off the pole jam, Christian Connors and Ezra Racine putting down doubles plants on the pink wall, and an end of the day, giant, no-grab Ollie that Joss McAlpin floated from the takeoff of the stairs over the fence at the bottom of the park.
Slushly snow was kept in check by the Mammoth Unbound crew and as the daylight started to drain, a handful of riders remained to see Day 2 off with a sunset shoot on the 80-foot step over. A late afternoon breeze died down just in time as Mammoth’s TJ Dawoud and his boys shuttled a dozen riders to the drop in. While the sun sank behind the Minarets and a small crowd gathered along the sidelines to take in the session, Zach Normandin, Brock Croch, Lyon Farrell, Phil Hansen, Boris Mouton, Jared Elston, Chandler Hunt, Ryan Wachendorfer, Matt Williams, Brin Alexander and dropped fast and hot. The young riders put on a show, sending smooth spins and tweaked out grabs as a multitude of shutter buttons depressed and flashes popped around them. For a handful of the riders, it was their first sunset session at a SNOWBOARDER event, and surely will not be their last.
As the last glimmer of light slipped into darkness, perennial standout Zach Normandin shut things down with a boned-out method sent deep into the Sierras. Day 2 was a wrap. This Massachusetts-raised rider has a power to his snowboarding and an uncanny ability to send himself through the air, over transition and onto metal with a palpable determination that calls to mind the makings of the type of style of riders like Pat Moore and Bode Merrill possess. Over the past four years, Zach has continuously become more and more ubiquitous with each lap he takes and we’re excited to sit back and watch as he continues to go bigger each season.
Where are you from, what is your home mountain, and how old are you?
I’m Zach Normandin, I’m twenty years old. I’m from Littleton, Massachusetts and my home mountain is Nashoba Valley.
How many Launches have you attended?
This is my fourth one.
How many Superparks have you done?
After attending a few of both events, and especially heading right into The Launch this week after being at Superpark 19 last week, how do the two events compare for you?
They’re kind of similar, actually this Launch, there’s a lot of the same people who were at Superpark. I would say people would think it would be mellower, but it’s definitely not. It’s just a smaller group of riders and you’re just riding so much more [because of that]. Like, sled time on that big jump—there’s only ten or twelve guys and so you’re back and forth, back and forth. At both events, the harder you work, the more you get out of it, so it’s kind of the same in that sense.
When you started coming to The Launch, you were one of the younger riders, of course, and now you’re attending Superpark, filming for movies, throwing down all around. What’s is it like seeing the younger kids who are now in that position you once were?
It’s pretty crazy, I remember it like yesterday when I was fourteen or fifteen getting my first Launch invite and I can’t describe how excited I was and how nervous I was, even just talking to Bridges at the top of a jump at that point. Now it’s gotten to the point where it’s like, “Wow, these kids are so much smaller than I was doing way bigger stuff.” It’s crazy how far it’s come and it’s cool to be a part of it.
When you were younger and coming to this event, who were the guys that you looked up to?
A lot of the dudes, like the MIndnich brothers, Sam Taxwood, Hunter Wood, Ben Ferguson—all those guys just fuckin’ rip. It was insane watching them send it and I took a lot of inspiration from that. And to come to these events and really just kind of push yourself, I guess. It’s cool, it’s at the end of the year and it’s always super fun.
This year, you’ve been filming a bit with Volcom and you always do a couple of contests back home and then, at the end of the year, you come out for Superpark and The Launch.
It’s the best because you see everyone that you haven’t seen all winter that maybe have been filming or doing contests. It’s a sick opportunity to get all the dudes that you would never see in one spot. Some guys that you wouldn’t even think, they’re sending the hip—like filming guys that hit rails are sending the jumps and it’s so rad to see that. I think that is what’s super cool and it’s like such an awesome end to the season, seeing everyone and taking laps. Especially here, it’s like a two-minute lap and it’s awesome.
How was the jump session tonight?
The jump session was insane. It was the first time I hit the jump, tonight. It was actually super fast and the wind mellowed right out. There were fifteen guys that were just ripping and it was cool to be a part of that and not fall, or fall too hard and stay healthy.
If people want to watch you snowboard more, where can they find your riding?
Last year, you can get a copy of Mr. Plant and this year, Pat Moore’s Blueprint and hopefully coming out with my full Volcom part this fall.
Sponsor shout outs?
I ride for Volcom, Oakley, Eastern Boarder, Waterville Valley, Union Bindings and that’s about it.
Stay tuned for more from Mammoth Mountain as The Launch 2015 presented by Volcom continues and follow @snowboardermag and #TheLaunch2015 on Instagram for up to the minute action.
Read the full The Launch 2015 presented by Volcom: Day 2 Photos and Recap article on Snowboarder Magazine.