Page 1

Surfer: Unknown Local Location: Honolua Bay, Maui, HI Photo: Jason Kelley

Rider: Rob Kingwill Location: Valdez, AK Photo: Court Leve

Kayaker: Unknown Location: Beaver River, Eagle Section, NY Photo: Jason Gould

Biker: Jordan Newth Location: Killington Peak, Killington, VT Photo: Justin Cash

Climber: Vanessa Compton Location: Smugglers’ Notch, VT Photo: Bear Cieri

StokeVision 1.01

Eye-Popping Images


The Ingredients



Features 2.01

StokeLab yucks it up with the Meatheads


Sascha Goes Surfing


When the dust clears, Sierra mountain biking shines

Gear Scope 3.01

High-tech gadgets, high-test beverages, and other stoke essentials

the ingredients We’ve covered a lot of ground… and water… and snow since StokeLab launched its first magazine a little over a year ago. Sometimes we draw upon simple inspirations to fill these pages: watching four generations of beachgoers soak in the surf and sand on

California’s coast, visiting old friends and new singletrack in Vermont’s Green Mountains, bass fishing with my father on a New Hampshire lake, or getting flower faceshots on a flowy downhill ride. Other lines run deeper, from nostalgic reflections on fallen

icons to cerebral interviews with artists and athletes. All comprise the ingredients that we pour into each issue of StokeLab. In #5 we tag along on a transcontinental surf trip, spy a 360º view of mountain biking in California’s Sierra, and go behind the scenes with Meathead Films as they celebrate 10 years of bringing Eastern ski stoke to the big screen.

As we look back on Year 1, it’s only fitting we say “thanks” to you—readers, contributors—our fellow stokologists. And as we look ahead, know the best is yet to come. Mike Horn, Editor

Biker: Eric Dishmon Photo: Mike Horn


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Randy Elles 4 Jeff Wainer 4 ADVERTISING & SALES

Kimberly Morse4 COPY EDITOR

Seth Mensing 4 WEB NINJA


Adam Broderick4 Bear Cieri4 Jason Gould4 Chris James 4 Jason Kelley4 Court Leve 4 Seth Lightcap4 Luke Mehall4 Sascha Porteous4 STOKELAB GRAPHICS


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Interview by Mike Horn



Hardcore, soul-searching



g, weather-defying skiing

If there’s one thing East Coasters are known for, it’s die-hard loyalty: to family, friends, sports teams, and of course, the local skiing and riding. No one embraces the homeland more than Meathead Films, who celebrates 10 years of filming Eastern skiing stoke with the release of Prime Cuts this fall. StokeLab rapped with the Vermont-based Meats as they put the final touches on their 11th film. Cofounders Geoff MacDonald and Chris James met at the University of Vermont as sophomores; at the time Geoff was producing a Jackass-style variety show called Ed’s Corner on the college’s television station. Three episodes, and 27 citations later the show was off the air but the genesis of Meathead Films had begun. Twenty-seven citations? Geoff explains, “We did everything from smashing fluorescent lightbulbs over our heads to lighting small fires in our rooms, having live animals… We had Fight Club in the basement a couple times.” James chimes in, “With chicks in lacrosse helmets.” Look for some Ed’s Corner footage in Prime Cuts. A decade later Meathead Films works with top level athletes and travels from Newfoundland to Washington D.C. and everywhere in between to document Eastern freeskiing through thick (fog) and thin

Location: The Meathead’s secret underground lair, Williston, VT Photo: Justin Cash

(cover), while banking deep backcountry powder days and capturing iconic urban locations in a new light. StokeLab: Where does the name Meathead come from? Geoff MacDonald: The Meathead name came from the TV show because we were doing meathead stunts and things like that. The first film under the Meathead name was called A Natural Force, released fall 2002 on VHS –exclusively on VHS (laughs). It featured skiing, snowboarding and skateboarding. The following year we decided to focus on skiing because that’s what I did and knew the best. That’s when we came out with Elevated which was our first all East Coast backcountry and freestyle ski movie. That was our junior year. By then Rooster was heavily involved, too. StokeLab: What do you guys bring to the table individually, how do you complement each other and how is that reflected in the films? Geoff: Rooster’s (Chris’s nickname) kind of a goofball, he’s good in front of the camera and with people. Myself, I have a high tolerance for pain, so that’s helped me film on the East Coast for a long time (laughs).

“The movie is what will make your name timeless.” —Geoff MacDonald

Will Hibbs at a private park shoot. Location: Killington, VT Photo: Justin Cash

Chris James: I wouldn’t be working with Geoff if he wasn’t pretty hilarious too. The whole idea for this came from a ridiculous variety show in college. Both being strong skiers, strong visionaries for film and photography is a pretty uniting factor for us. My original passion is photography, and that’s why I came on initially. And just being really good friends, we lived together, God, for too long. Like five years? Geoff: He even lived with my wife and I for a couple months after we got married (both laugh). Chris: Yeah, we’ve been pretty much like life partners. If I were a chick, I’d probably be married to Geoff by now (laughs). So we got divorced, he moved out to the suburbs with his wife, so we’re officially divorced but we’re still good buddies. We make a pretty good team. Geoff does 100 percent of the editing and the majority of the cinematography. I’ve taken on a bigger filming role in the past few years where a big storm will hit and Geoff and I will split up and go out with two different crews. He’s been focusing more on urban, and then I’ll go out with a backcountry crew, or vice versa. We’re pretty good at coming together, or dividing and conquering. A lot of it’s on the fly. Geoff: We adapt. StokeLab: How many athletes worked on Prime Cuts? Geoff: 15-20 skiers.

StokeLab: How are you guys keeping the coffers filled with top-level athletes? Are they coming to you, are you seeking them out? Geoff: It’s a mix, when premier season comes along people will approach us, especially if they’re from the northeast. We’re always looking for the young guns, those guys are always willing to huck their meat. In the beginning it was just our college buddies who also happened to be pretty good skiers. As time went on we had to branch out and find skiers who were good at different aspects of the sport. Now we’re hooked up with good crews and are well known for urban stuff, which we didn’t have in the beginning. Chris: Yeah we’ve always been interested in freestyle, Geoff was into the freestyle scene from the beginning. He knew a bunch of park guys and people who were competing in regional events, some friends who were into backcountry skiing. It worked out, bringing skiers from both sides of the sport together. As we got sponsors on board we networked through our sponsors. Every athlete no matter where they live, every athlete has come up or lived on the East Coast. I think we’ve only broken this rule once. Geoff: I think that’s something that differentiates us from other ski films, we’re willing to work with whoever we think is good for the film, talent-wise, character-wise, whatever. A lot of other film companies are pretty pigeon holed into working with whomever their sponsors tell them to, whoever pays for a segment. Chris: That’s why we’re still core: we’re not controlled. We got a little more soul than

Andrew Whiteford up north Location: Chic Chocs, QC Photo: C. Nelson James/MHF

most, because we’re not getting pushed around by big money. But that’s why we’re still poor (laughs). We do have a lot of outside-the-industry sponsors.

on their shelves forever. With websiodes you can build a name and popularity real quick but then the next great thing comes out and it gets pushed to the back of the website.

StokeLab: You guys are doing a really good job of promotion this year, the Prime Cutlets webisode series on ESPN Freeskiing’s site comes to mind.

StokeLab: Looking at your trailer, there’s some great urban stuff, and it looked like a pretty good season for pow too. Where did you film Prime Cuts?

Geoff: This is the second year for that, it went really well, they’re really pumped on it. They get unique content and a lot of visits from a region where they typically might not. And it’s a great promo for us. We put together stuff that wouldn’t be in the movie… too long, or goofy stuff that shows what goes into making the movie, crashes, funny moments.

Geoff: Last year we started focusing on iconic cities, this year we went to Boston, Portland, Maine and filmed some really cool hits by the coastline where there’s not usually much snow, we went to Syracuse, New York with a bunch of local athletes. It was a pretty good winter up until March. We filmed at Stowe, Jay, Mad River – Rooster filmed a whole segment with Green Mountain Freeride. Then we did three big trips—Japan in early March, Chic Chocs (mountain range in Québec) in late March and Newfoundland in April.

StokeLab: I was reading an article recently, where two athletes were asked what’s better: webisodes or a part in a full-length film. They offered split responses—what’s your take, what’s more effective in promoting your brand, athletes, etc? Chris: Producing an annual film, there’s such a big gap from year to year with content. You put out this film, you tour with it, people buy it in the height of the season, and then everybody just skis and then it’s spring then summer hits… it’s a pretty big gap. These webisodes offer a little tease earlier on and we time the release of them so they’re building up to the launch of the DVD. They’re definitely great to fuel the fire. Geoff: Webisodes help build up your name, but I think the movie is what will make your name timeless. That’s what people will keep

StokeLab: What Prime Cuts location would you call the filet? Chris: Chic-Chocs trip—catskiing, we had two of our OG Meathead athletes with us— Simon Thompson from Whistler and Andrew Whiteford of Jackson. That was a highlight for sure. Geoff: That trip for sure, and Portland was a really great trip with some really unique skiers, Shea Flynn, Andy Perry, and Dan Marion. As far as getting really unique and good urban footage it was a lot of fun filming right on the coast where they don’t usually get that much snow. We had good light and it was a lot of fun to shoot.

“We got a little more soul than most, because we’re not getting pushed around by big money. But that’s why we’re still poor.” —Chris James

Will Hibbs likes his rare Location: Killington, VT Photo: Justin Cash

StokeLab: You guys are renowned for doing a really good job with character development, which can be overdone pretty easily, but you seem to find a balance. What is it about these skiers’ stories, personalities and lives that people want to experience? Are these characters important to the film beyond their skiing ability? Chris: This has been one of our staples over the years, having a profile segment. There are a lot of characters out East, for sure, and everybody has their own take on skiing and weather out here because it’s so all over the place. We’re really passionate about it and we’ve found some pretty sweet characters over the years… there are just a lot of weird, cool stories out East, for sure. Geoff: I think it’s something we try to include in every film: a lot of fun, humor, sometimes skiers get overly serious about themselves and we— especially being out here—have to think of new ways to approach terrain. I think a lot of people walk away from our movies smiling, it makes it a lot more memorable for them, you know? StokeLab: One of the blanket assumptions about skiing and shooting the northeast is that many of the runs start to look the same, especially in the trees. Are you always looking at new angles to film, how challenging is that? Chris: It’s tough, for sure. We’ve filmed in the same zones over the years; it’s one thing we’re very particular about. We shoot different angles, different athletes. Geoff: There’s a big difference when we’re shooting digital versus film, too. On storm days we’ll shoot like Super 8 film or 16, that gives it a real organic grainy look.

Chris: The two different film formats are huge. For me, it’s the same as shooting in Alaska. How many f---ing spine shots can you see in one segment?! They all start looking the same, you have this little tiny dude going down this crazy face and yeah it’s mindblowing but after like 10 minutes of that it’s just one more massive spine shot from the same heli angle and zoom. Yeah, there are a lot of woods out here, but we find unique zones. We go to the White Mountains, Adirondacks, Chic Chocs, it’s tough, it’s a struggle, you’ve got to push a little further out here to get what you want. So there are always new things to be found and new ways to shoot it. We try to keep it fresh as we can. StokeLab: How do you keep it positive when you’re getting harsh weather, rain instead of snow, stuff like that? Geoff: You know what we always say, ‘this is gonna make for a great base” (laughs). If it snows and then rains, we’re like “Oh, now it will be an even better base for later!” Sometimes when it’s epically horrible we’ll go out and film just because we want to film how horrible it is. Chris: People out here expect sh--ty conditions, so nobody’s surprised, but it definitely bums people out. You just stick it out, and when it’s super sh--ty, when you’re hitting those lows, and then you get a high, it’s that much better of an experience, because you just battled some lows. You take the good with the bad, I think people out here call “powder day” when you get three inches so that just shows the optimism of the people skiing and snowboarding out East. StokeLab: What’s the biggest misconception about skiing the Northeast?

Chris James

Geoff: That it’s always icy. It’s basically like a throwaway region. And also that East Coast skiers suck. I’d say the vast majority of the people on the Freeskiing World Tour and skiing in other films… many of them are from the northeast. Chris: A lot of big talent comes from out East. It’s funny when some of the big-name skiers make it they claim that their home is wherever they’re currently at. They don’t even give credit to the East Coast, which I think is funny. StokeLab: So everybody is from Salt Lake then…? Chris: “Yeah, I’m from Boulder… Lake Tahoe.” But getting back to it, I think the biggest misconception is people don’t think there are big-mountain lines out here. Go to the White Mountains, the Adirondacks and the Chic Chocs and you’ll get into some pretty big terrain. For the White Mountains most people only think of Tuckerman’s but the Presidential range is huge and has a lot of cool big mountain options. And obviously Newfoundland is the easternmost point in North America, the terrain up there feels like you’re out West. I’ve commercial salmon fished in Alaska for years and it’s absolutely the Alaska of the East Coast. It’s got bald eagles everywhere, they’ve had wolves on the island, moose everywhere, polar bears, wild caribou, beluga whales, killer whales, it’s a super wild place, kind of like Norway but with an Alaska vibe too. A real wild place.

using iTunes, distributing through a custom Internet streaming platform, and video on demand. StokeLab: How many people do you hope will watch Prime Cuts? Chris: At least 20…million…trillion (laughs). We’ve never made more than 8000 DVD’s, these additional platforms will open up a lot of doors. But I’m still a firm supporter of the physical DVD distribution because that’s something you can physically give to someone – ‘hey, check this out, bring it to your ski lodge for the weekend and return it to me’ and it’s got a little more camaraderie revolving around it. StokeLab: Biggest change you’ve seen in 10 years of filming? Geoff: I would say the online revolution; online marketing and distribution didn’t really exist when we started. Now it’s basically the face of our company. Chris: The progression of freeskiing in general, and talent, and ski equipment. Starting out, twin tips had just hit the mainstream. There’s been a really cool convergence of freestyle and backcountry skiing, and when we started it was still pretty separate. StokeLab: If you weren’t a Meathead, what might you be?

StokeLab: People can watch Prime Cuts through four different platforms this fall, tell us about that.

Geoff: I don’t know, a veterinarian, I like animals a lot (laughs). Or something else in film, documentaries.

Chris: Our distributor is pushing digital distribution on multiple platforms. In the past we’ve been strictly DVD distribution, now we’re also

Chris: I’d like to say I’d still be spending my summers fishing in Alaska, but I don’t think so. Something in action sports and still photography.

Geoff MacDonald

“It’s tough, it’s a struggle, you’ve got to push a little further out here to get what you want.” —Chris James

StokeLab: What advice would you give to aspiring Meatheads out there?

date, the culmination of 10 years of experience, vision and dedication?

Geoff: Learn the fundamentals first, before you start trying to hit jumps.

Chris: I’d say PC is def our finest work to date production-wise and athlete-wise. We’ve honed in our camerawork over the past decade, and still use 16mm and Super 8mm film in addition to HD. We were fortunate enough to have two of our OG (original) Meatheads come back to film

Chris: I would say, as my buddy and Meathead athlete Dan Marion once said, ‘Keep the Shred Alive.’ StokeLab: Is Prime Cuts your finest work to

Lars Chickering-Ayers skiing The Moon, Tablelands, Newfoundland Photo: C. Nelson James/MHF

a backcountry segment in the Chic Chocs, and will integrate archival clips of old athletes from past films into PC’s storyline. StokeLab: Why should the skiing community be stoked for this film? Chris: Our fans and the general skiing community should be hyped for the film because we’ve

hit this big 10-year milestone, and because we’re the only ones in the industry who have been dedicated to producing an East Coastfocused movie in the history of ski filmmaking. And because we keep it real. No choppers. No paid-for segments. Just hardcore, soul-searching weather-defying skiing.





Prime Cut nourishes viewers with Grade A backcountry footage from Vermont, New Hampshire and the Chic Choc Mountains of Quebec. The Meatheads slice and dice urban terrain in Portland, Boston, Quebec City and their hometown of Burlington. Even the exotic tastes of Newfoundland and Hokkaido, Japan are included in this beefy smorgasbord.


Meathead Films has spent the last 10 years grilling up radical ski imagery from across the Eastern U.S. and Canada. Now, legendary skiers of the past have joined forces with Fresh Meat to prepare the feast of the decade.







Crossing Currents Words + Images by Sascha Porteous

Surfers: Unknown surfers enjoying the last light. Location: Point Arena, OR

With six surfboards piled into an armored cargo van and no set destination, Joel Morrison and I took 14 months to surf our way from Vancouver Island, Canada to Peru, South America. Speaking only broken Spanish, our days were filled by searching for waves, dodging banditos, avoiding crooked cops, guarding our possessions from pickpockets and thieves,

and navigating roads without maps or street names. We evaded the psychotic drivers and left behind sacrificial vehicle parts on treacherous roads, reorganized our van after countless military searches, and went weeks without a freshwater shower. We surfed. And didn’t work a single day.

Surfer: Joel Morrison setting up for a nice barrel. Location: Hidden Beach Break, Mexico

This was our first morning in Mexico. We awoke in the parking lot to the largest swell of the season, this was one of the only breaks around that handled the size. Location: Northern Baha, Mexico

The whip on a long dirt road. Location: Baja, Mexico

Panama City after the sun goes down.

Our friend Miguel enjoys a backhand barrel two minutes from his front door. Location: Lobitos, Peru

A local ripper gets deep into it at a beach break between the boats. Location: Northern Peru

Sunrise over Santa Cruz, CA

A young, creative approach to the world of imagery. Sascha Porteous offers a unique perspective on travel, sport, portraiture and wedding photography. Check out his work at

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Diamonds i

in the Dust


Words & Photos By Seth Lightcap

DOWNIEVILLE CLASSIC ALL-MOUNTAIN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS Home to the Downieville Classic All-Mountain World Championships (and 100-plus miles of stellar singletrack), the little mining town of Downieville, Calif. is arguably the beating heart of the Sierra MTB scene.

Racers in the Downieville Classic ride a barrelling wave of that collective stoke for ripping trail—many stop at nothing to stay in the tube and finish the rocky race.


Jumping in the river after a dusty ride is de rigueur in Downieville. Once again the fine folks at the Downieville Classic crank the amplifiers on a local pastime, hosting the

River Jump World Championships during the race weekend. Superman Andrew Taylor took the crown in 2009.


The Northstar-At-Tahoe bike park in Truckee, California is the downhill Mecca of the Sierra. Top gravity riders like Mikey Sylvestri (left) and Jay Paul Jacobs (right)

descend on Northstar every summer to lap up the resort’s blazing fast trails and buttery dirt jump park with the help of a gondola and two high-speed chair lifts.


In 2010, Squaw Valley ski resort in North Tahoe, California re-opened its cable car to mountain bikes for the first time in nearly a decade. The Squaw MTB park had only two-and-a-half downhill trails and a few

XC loops but the slabby granite terrain and the 2,000-foot vertical drop were stunning. Squaw was unable to open their MTB park in 2011 due to record snowfall.

HIDDEN FEATURES More than a few trails in the Sierra are built around epic features. Sean Sullivan signs his name to the growing list of riders

who’ve conquered this legendary booter hidden in the Sierra foothills.


The Sierra are littered with small cliff bands that are the perfect size for tranny finder step-down drops. Jonah Newcomb enjoys

the fruits of his and many others’ labor on this smooth fall-away hit in the Northern Sierra.


What began as the path of a box flume transporting water and lumber to a booming gold rush town has become a worldfamous singletrack trail high above the

eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. ‘The Flume Trail’ might not pack much punch as far as dynamic trail riding goes, but the views will knock you out.

Seth Lightcap is an adventure journalist based out of Lake Tahoe, CA. His words, images and videos have appeared in magazines and websites around the world including Kronicle, Outside, GQ, ESPN, Transworld Snowboarding, Snowboarder, Snowboard Mag, Frequency, Onboard, Method Mag, Backcountry Mag, and the Moonshine Ink. Check out his work at

V.I.O. POV.HD $599.95 “Did you get that on camera?!” a fellow Chainless World Championships competitor asked, laughing, as I picked up my twisted cruiser bike off the pavement. It was one of those made-for-POV moments—brake failure plus excessive speed led me to explode into the crowd at the finish line. And yeah, I got it on camera – link here Helmet cams like the POV.HD are indispensable in action sports films these days, but they also create a season-by-season, day-by-day documentary for the everyday ripper. They also enable people to promote themselves through webisodes and video edits where historically a film crew would’ve been required. Sure, POV can be overdone, but it’s fun to ride in another stokologist’s shoes. V.I.O.’s new HD cam (1080p) stands apart from the competition primarily because it’s so loaded with in-the-field customization and editing capabilities. You can tag scenes while recording from either the recorder or the wireless remote control, and compile tagged scenes into highlight clips automatically. One downfall of lowerend cams is they have a hard time adjusting to different levels of light. The POV.HD features adjustable exposure compensation to improve color saturation and contrast in especially bright or grey shooting conditions. Plus it’s got a wireless remote control. You can mount the cam a couple ways—a starshaped Velcro attachment fits atop your helmet, or latch it on to a goggle strap, while the cord runs to the unit. We’d be stoked to see a chestmount option in the future. —Mike Horn

“There’s something to be said for riding in another stokologist’s shoes”

DEELUXE EMPIRE $319 Kick back on the lift and let those little wiggleworms breathe. Deeluxe’s 2011-12 all-mountain freestyle Empire features Section Control Lacing, so you can independently tighten three separate zones—forefoot, heel and calf—even when strapped into your bindings. The heel cup wraps nice and snug to provide optimal ankle support, and the tongue folds perfectly at the joint, so it won’t flex out of the comfort zone. A Power Strap on the upper boot adds extra support for long days on the hill, while inside lightweightbut-cushy liners are plenty supportive and more comfortable than goose-down tighty-whities. —Adam Broderick

“More comfortable than goose-down tighty-whities.”

GUAYAKI ORGANIC YERBA MATE $24.99 / 12-PK For hundreds of years the Ache Guayaki tribe of South America has referred to Mate as the “drink of the gods,” due to the invigorating feeling that accompanies its consumption. One 16oz. can of Guayaki Organic Yerba Mate contains the same amount of caffeine as coffee and Red Bull, but is full of antioxidants, beneficial vitamins (A, C, E and most of the B’s) and 12 essential minerals. The taste is sweet yet subtle, and I would say the same for the buzz. I remember my first can distinctly; it helped save me from a bad hangover on a very big day. Mate won’t aggravate you with the jitters, and the natural caffeine boost is surprisingly clearheaded. Stimulation comes in three exotic forms: Enlighten Mint, Revel Berry, and Lemon Elation, packaged in 16 oz. bottles, (2 oz.) energy shots, loose-leaf tea and individual bags. Guayaki intends to restore 200,000 acres of South American rainforest and create over 1,000 living wage jobs by 2020. Good on ‘em. —Adam Broderick

“It helped save me from a bad hangover on a very big day.”

HARDY ANGEL 2 REEL $295-$549 What were the guys at Hardy drinking when they decided to tinker with the ever-popular Angel Reel? Well leave it to them to improve on perfection and introduce the Angel 2. At first glance you’ll notice the very convenient tool-less left/ right conversion along with a new all metal handle. Under the hood an improved concealed check system makes the Rulon drag even better. Comes in all sizes from a featherweight 2/3wt for the tiniest of mountain brooks to a monster 11/12wt to tackle a monster B.C. Salmon. Pricing is dependent on size and ranges from $295-$549. —Justin Cash

“Leave it to them to improve on perfection and introduce the Angel 2.”


StokeLab | Issue 5  
StokeLab | Issue 5  

In StokeLab Issue Nº5 we mine diamonds in the Sierra, carve out the filet with Meathead Films, and chase surf from Vancouver Island to Peru.