From fun-loving freestyle snowboarders to white-knuckled downhill racers, here are eight Southern snowsports aficionados to inspire you this winter.
Traveling to shred mountains since age 17, Jeremy Cline has been living his dream for years. The Mid-Atlantic snowboard company Monument Snowboards scooped up Cline in 2004 after his five-year run with Ride snowboards. Cline remains humorously optimistic despite a lifelong struggle with profound deafness.
Occupation: Snowboarder/digger/toe picker.
Base camp: I didn’t travel as much as I used to in the past three years, so I mostly ride at the Massanutten terrain park. I also commute to Wintergreen twice a week.
What he does: I just snowboard. No training or workout. I just skateboard and surf to get ready for winters. Sometimes my personal photographer shows up and shoots with me. I sometimes go on overseas shred trips. I also work in terrain parks almost every winter.
Passion on the mountain: Snowboarding and building terrain parks.
Passion off the mountain: Skateboarding, surfing, hiking, and swimming holes.
Southeast Coast favorites: Timberline in West Virginia. You can find yourself going fast through trees in two feet of deep powder and no one is around but your friends. Perfect.
The meaning of winter: Adventures, snowboarding, more coffee, fireplaces, hoodies, and hat beanies.
A backward glance: Dave Tran and I went snowboarding in Japan for the first time. Amazing culture and big beautiful island with a lot of rich history.
Looking forward: Filming with Danny Murawinski all over the Southeast, even in Alabama.
Life experience to remember: Doing gator flips off a 40-foot tower into a lake.
On competition: I made it to the finals of Vans Triple Crown Big Air in Tahoe in 2001 without warm-up runs because I didn’t know I was supposed to have a helmet on. So I never made it to the warm-up runs. And guess what? When I got to the top of the course, all of a sudden, I was called to drop in first as the contest started. That was my first pro contest as well as my last one. I was never into contests.
Hero: My mother. The Rockingham County school board refused to let me into their public schools and wanted me to attend Virginia School for Deaf and Blind in Staunton; however, my mother wanted me to get the same education as everyone else. So she took them to court and won. I was the first deaf kid to have an interpreter in their public schools. Now there are a bunch of deaf people in their schools. I wouldn’t have been where I am right now without my strong-willed mother.
Jake LaRoe is an animal. Not only is it in his blood to compete, it’s in his essence of being. Joining NASTAR at the age of nine, the Crescent Ski Council at 10, and the United States Ski Association at 13 (eventually earning the title second fastest 18-and-under skier in the Southeastern U.S.), LaRoe now focuses most of his energy at the collegiate level competing for North Carolina State University.
Occupation: Student at North Carolina State University.
Base Camp: Sugar Mountain, Banner Elk, NC
What he does: As soon as the snow hits the slopes, I’m driving up to Boone. I set my alarm for 6 a.m. and I am on the chairlift at 8 a.m. I sleep more during school nights than ski nights.
What you ride: I ride Rossignol race stock skis. 165 cm for slalom, 182 cm for Giant Slalom.
Aspirations: I want to be a lawyer.
Passion on the mountain: Ski as fast as I can before ski patrol yells at me. Catch as much air as possible. Improve my confidence in all conditions so I can perform on race day. Skiing in the rain; it may not seem like a good idea but that’s exactly why it is: no crowds, no lines.
Passion off the mountain: I love playing sports. I was a varsity football and baseball player in high school. I am an avid weightlifter and am obsessed with staying physically fit. I enjoy keeping up with politics and love a good old Constitutional discussion.
The meaning of winter: Skating on the pond outside our cabin, sledding down my driveway, shoveling the steps to our porch and cutting my fingers while sharpening my skis. Winter means sitting in class on a Monday, tapping my pencil because I’m so ready for Saturday’s race.
Southeast favorites: My favorite run in the South East is “Tom Terrific” linked into “Sugar Slalom” at Sugar Mountain. There’s a rock on the left side of Tom Terrific that when covered with snow, provides some very serious airtime. At this point in the run I travel close to 45-50 mph. I make a hard right over to Sugar Slalom and really focus on “laying it over,” helping to improve my technique. This run usually has very few people on it so I’m able to ski really fast.
A backward glance: Winning the Dick Trundy Memorial Race at Sugar Mountain. I really only had one guy to beat that day: Erich Schmidinger. He is an employee of Sugar Mountain and he is a former US Ski Team member: he’s damn good. I’ve been trying to beat him forever and I finally did. The trophy is mine—if only for a year.
Heroes: My Dad is my hero. Just in skiing alone, the amount of time and money he’s sacrificed to get me to the level I’m at is awesome. We are really close and I trust his opinion about skiing, life, and anything in between before anyone else’s.
Why you race: I guess I keep racing, even after all of the terribly cold and rainy days because the feeling I get when I win is the best. I wasn’t one of the better kids when I started racing and that killed me. That fire still burns in me now, even though I’ve claimed one of the top spots in the region.
The 14-year-old Georgia native began skiing at two, snowboarding at three, and competing at six. Lumpkin has traveled all around the globe and competed in countless competitions–most recently placing first in her division during 2011 USASA National Championships in Slopestyle and Halfpipe.
Food: Domino’s deep-dish cheese pizza. I’m a vegetarian.
Occupation: School, snowboarding, and skateboarding are my jobs.
Base camp: I recently moved out to Breckenridge, Colo., to train.
What she does: I snowboard. I [ride] halfpipe, boardercross, and slopestyle. Halfpipe is my least favorite but it’s still fun. Slope is definitely my favorite because there is nothing like flying through the air off of a massive jump.
Aspirations: I want to make a difference in the world. I can see myself doing humanitarian work and some environmental stuff as well. I love the world.
Passion on the mountain: If I’m on my board, I’m lovin’ it McDonald’s style all the way.
Passion off the mountain: Skateboarding, being with friends, and boys of course.
Southeast favorites: I learned how to ride at Beech Mountain in North Carolina when I was 4. Beech was always fun.
Looking forward: I’m super excited to go to Canada, New Zealand, and Switzerland. Traveling is one of the best parts of winter.
Life experience to remember: I almost fell off a 25-foot cliff into a tree at Vail. That was insanely scary.
Heroes: I would say for snowboarders, Travis Rice and Jamie Anderson. They are both very good at what they do. Otherwise, I would say Michael Jackson, Angelina Jolie, and John Lennon. All of those people were/are activists and strive to make a difference.
Music: Lately, I’ve been getting super into alternative stuff by Never Shout Never and Paradise Fears. Their stuff is upbeat and really fun to dance to and get pumped.
On being young: I don’t want to grow up. I love being a kid. You learn so much and living my life is a blast. I do a lot of crazy stuff on an hourly basis. I like to joke around and just be crazy. I am very spastic and I don’t really care what other people think of me and I think that being myself is a pretty insane job. I also make really weird and random noises at awkward times.
Self-description: My friends call me Lord Lumperton.
Photographer Skip Brown lives his life on the edge—of a cliff, wave, or mogul. As a freelance photographer for National Geographic, Outside Magazine, his job has become one long list of adventures, including skate-skiing and snow-kiting in the winter.
Occupation: Freelance photographer and writer and team rider/rep for Uli Stand Up Paddle Boards.
Base camp: Canaan Valley, West Virginia.
What he does: Backcountry snowboarding, both regular and split boards. Nordic skate skiing and snowboard snow kiting.
Aspirations: To stay in top physical shape so I can grow old with my wife and kids and recreate with them well into my 90’s. Make art. Make music. Be a better person.
Passion on the mountain: Riding backcountry powder on either snowboard or skis. Snow-kiting in perfect conditions. Crust skating the backcountry.
Passion off the mountain: Stand-up paddle boarding, kite-boarding, hang-gliding, mountain-biking, white-water kayaking, music, photography.
Southeast favorites: Skate Skiing at Whitegrass or snowboarding the Canaan backcountry.
The meaning of winter: Playing on boards in snow. Ice-skating on the canal with my kids. Sledding in my backyard. Firing up the wood stove.
A backward glance: Snow-kiting in rare, near-perfect conditions the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia. Backcountry skate skiing Dolly Sods.
Looking forward: More snow-kite exploratory trips to the remote high meadows of West Virginia.
Life experience to remember: I was ripped out of my boat during super high Potomac flood waters and stuffed under an eddy full of logs. I barely clawed my way up through the debris pile to breathe and survived. I was also part of the first successful descent of the Lower Congo River running at 1.5 million cfs (cubic feet/second). We were then held at gunpoint by bandits.
Hero: No heroes. There are artists, musicians and athletes and teachers I admire. Plus my Mom and Dad.
Music: Music plays a big part in my skating and riding. Most played lately list includes Nickel Creek, Richard Thompson, Sonny Rollins, Ben Harper, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.
Self-description: My friends have a saying:”Skip happens.”
There is a hidden wildman inside of every briefcase-toting entrepreneur, especially Andrew Walker. As an outdoor retail manager at West Virginia’s Pathfinder and organizer of Morgantown’s Motown Throwdown, Walker makes sure that work and play don’t stray too far apart.
Occupation: store manager/event organizer
What he does: Snowboarder. Totally. All the way. I’m not 100 percent park. I basically like riding the entire mountain, and finding fun and creative things to play around on.
I would much rather be riding than hiking the park to ride some rail. To me, that’s not 100 percent what snowboarding is about. Snowboarding to me is about going out with your friends, trying new things, goofing off, and riding the woods and using the landscape as your playground.
Aspirations: To be successful in whatever I’m doing and to take care of people while I’m doing it.
Passion off the mountain: I really love music. I also like hiking, mountain biking, or fishing, backpacking—any excuse to be out in the woods, Basically my life revolves around snowboarding in the wintertime and cycling in the summertime.
Southeast favorites: I like Snowshoe a lot–Cupp Run and Shay’s Revenge. Those are probably my two favorite runs in the Southeast. But Seven Springs is my favorite place to ride right now.
A backward glance: The Motown Throwdown was definitely a big thing for me last year. We got Mixmaster Mike to come out last year. That was something I worked on for four months solid, and then it finally happened. So that was a big dream for me, to hang out with one of The Beastie Boys whom I grew up listening to.
Looking Forward: A British Columbia and Colorado heli-ski/snowcat trip, riding nipple-deep powder with three of my friends—and a guide, so I don’t have to worry about sh*t, you know?
Hero: Todd Richards.
Self-description: Andrew the Kid. I get down to business when I have to, but business isn’t everything in this world.
David Lippucci is a salesman, father, golfer, and one of the Southeast’s best ski racers. During the 2011 Crescent Cup, David Lippucci proved that he was the fastest man on the mountain in combined race times.
Occupation: sales manager
What he does: Alpine ski racing as opposed to Nordic. I train and compete in slalom, giant slalom and super giant slalom
Base camp: Sugar Mountain. They usually have the best snow. The mountain knows ski racing.
Aspirations: Win my age group at the Masters Nationals; podium finish at the NASTAR finals.
Passion on the mountain: Skiing really big, fast and fun, in control top to bottom.
Passion off the mountain: Teaching golf.
Southeast favorites: Cupp Run at Snowshoe, W.Va. There is a sick GS race every February, top to bottom. Almost a two-minute big boy run.
The meaning of winter: Seeing friends from other parts of the country on the slopes and après-ski. It’s also a chance to show what I have accomplished off-season on the snow. The goal is to improve year after year.
Inspiration to race: There was a pretty woman who signed up with me to take race lessons.
A backward glance: Out of 120 racers, I compiled the least amount of time accumulative over two days of competition for two slalom, and two runs of giant slalom at Snowshoe this past March. I won a big trophy and a pair of new Dynastar race skis.
Looking forward: I will show Warren Miller’s Like There’s No Tomorrow at the Carousel Cinemas in Greensboro December 13. Plus, I’m looking forward to race camp at Copper in November.
Life experience to remember: In my second year of racing (I’ve been at it about 18 years now), I put my hand through a panel gate on a dual course, ripped both gates out of the snow and finished the course with the entire assembly wrapped around my body. The race organizer gave me a ski bag.
Heroes: Anyone in the U.S. Military. Selfless volunteers.
Music: Rock and roll from the 70s and 80s. I hate to say it, but any disco beat that keeps my butt movin’ and groovin’.
Self description: Big Diesel
THE FAMILY MAN
Chip Chase has set the bar for backcountry Nordic skiing in the Southern Appalachians. Whitegrass Resort in Tucker County, W.Va., is one of the oldest and best cross-country ski areas in the country.
Occupation: Snow farmer while operating White Grass; summer farmer of 180 head of cattle. Also house remodeler, chimney sweep, and web master. Mostly a grandfather, father, and husband.
Base camp: Canaan Valley
What he does: I run WG and ski on medium weight soft-turny, easy-to-push Nordic gear that likes to get lost in local terrain.
Aspirations: Enjoy the endless local simple joys of rural life while keeping the family healthy and strong.
Passion on the mountain: In Nordic skiing to become one with balance and surrender to grace. Let the good ol’ body and skis do the work and hope the stars are lined up with your karma as you zip dangerously past solid objects in the forest.
Passion off the mountain: Dance a lot and make sure my friends are invited to join us into another great wide-open adventure. Noticing the small little things that tickle your fancy and have the inclination to slow down and listen.
Southeast favorites: I am still finding new areas to ski and expand our glades and trails year after year here in the Cabin Mountains. Flying down the trees with my three boys is a good way to start the season.
The meaning of winter: Lots of exercise and work, mostly making sure everyone else gets outside. Pure, cold, crisp beauty.
A backward glance: Skiing lightweight gear with all my Colorado buddies and finding a new tree-turning glade where we had many laughs and a few hard spills.
Looking forward: Having a chance to put together the course and then race the 25K Mountain State Marathon in February, and to race the American Birkie once again and soak up all those easy goin’ Midwestern Nordic vibes.
Life experience to remember: Skiing in the moonlight late at night in the super-cold fresh snow with friends. Afterwards, a sauna, a quick cooldown in the snow drifts, and then a campfire with guitars, harmonica, and voice. Lots of snacks and moonshine.
Music: I have a huge selection of classic hip stuff from the late 60s and early 70s that I grew up with. I mostly listen to—and I am an active member of —WYEP out of Pittsburgh, an independent NPR station playing daily soup to nuts, and on the mellow side, tons of melodic young Beatles-sounding [tracks] and much more. My iPod takes over a year to hear everything 24/7.
Self description: Stacy Kay calls me Manic/Manic… usually always up.
Bill Witzemann is that hard-working guy who leaves you feeling like you’ve known him all your life after five minutes of conversation. He’s a bit of a character, a family man, and a longtime cross-country skier who picked up downhill skis at age 40, leading to his discovery of telemark skiing.
Age: I turned 63 years young this past summer.
Occupation: Last year I retired as a stone masonry contractor after 35 years in business. I still run and maintain a backhoe and dump truck.
Base Camp: We live outside of Elkins, W.Va., and spend an awful lot of time in the Canaan Valley area.
What you do: I use the telemark skis and technique. I ski on a set of K2 World Piste tele-skis for resort and lift accessible off-piste adventures. And for the backcountry, Karhu 10th Mountain skis.
Aspirations: To enjoy life.
Passion on the mountain: In the winter, skiing fresh powder and taking in all that surrounds me.
Passion off the mountain: Living in the mountains, you’re never really off the mountain. It’s a way of life–but I do really enjoy snorkeling in the local river.
Southeast favorites: We love to ski at Canaan and Whitegrass, which are connected through a series of trails. With your backcountry gear on, you can ride the lift up at Canaan or you can ski up from Whitegrass and take the cross-country trail to Weiss Knob, and if you feel adventurous you can head on out to the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area. Or you can head to Bald Knob with an incredible view of the Canaan Valley and then follow groomed or non-groomed cross-country trails down into Whitegrass. The Whitegrass Cafe is second to none and features the best homemade soups, pitas, and cookies, and they have locally brewed beer.
The meaning of winter: Beautiful snowfalls, burning wood, cold nights, burning wood, plowing snow, burning wood, skiing powder, snowy roads–when the roads are bad, the skiing is great! Did I mention burning wood?
Why he skis: I guess I’m a recreational skier and ski for the sheer pleasure of being out there, being able to take it all in, the scenery, the conditions, the camaraderie, the exercise, the food, and the experience. Living in the moment.
A backward glance: We were visiting our daughter in Salt Lake City last February and caught a 38” dump at Alta. I was literally in over my head.
Looking forward: We are looking at a trip to Salt Lake and possibly an adventure up to Big Sky in Montana. But if the snowfall is good here at home with minimal warm-ups, there really is no reason to go anywhere else.
Life experience to remember: I did 19 months in the Army. I got out five months early coming back from Vietnam.
Hero: My Dad. He encouraged me and my brother and sister to be independent, to spread our wings, to be whatever we wanted to be and to do it well. He taught us a work ethic that has served all of us well.
Music: Blues music. At this moment Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks are sounding pretty good. I don’t do the music while I’m skiing.
Self-description: Mr. Fixit.