Rick Brown was just a kid with a skateboard. Being born and raised in Spokane the hobby lead to snowboarding, and now 20 years later he’s the director of skiing and snowboarding at 49 Degrees North. “At the time I never really thought of making it a career,” he says. “Snowboarding was sort of a fringe thing.”
Rick started teaching with the resort 15 years ago and is now in his 6th season as director. You’ll never make a fortune in this industry but the fringe benefits are enough for those of us that want to be on the mountain,” he says. “There’s nothing that compares to the overall feel and fluidity of a snowboard on a powder day,” he says. “It’s fun to spread this love to other people who are interested in the sport.”
When he’s not chasing powder for himself, Rick does training programs for his ski and snowboard instruction staff. He also overseas the terrain part, coaches the free ride ski and snowboard team and works as a clinic leader and examiner for The Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and The American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) in the Northwest Division.
At heart, Rick is still a snowboarder versus a skier. There are new pieces of equipment that Rick admits makes it harder to choose between skiing and snowboarding. “I never thought that those words would come out of my mouth,” Rick says. The equipment on the market today makes difficult terrain more assessable to athletes of all different skill levels, Rick says. But equipment doesn’t get people on the snow the first time, he says. “Equipment gets them to come back,” he says, “come back for a second visit or a third visit and make it a part of their everyday life.”
Rick says Fall is the perfect time to plan ahead for this winter’s equipment and this season several companies are doing unique things with cambers. Look forward to skis and snowboards that have a normal camber though the middle and reverse or rocker cambers at the tip or tale of the ski and board.
This is the best of both worlds, Rick says. “These skis and boards are playful and great to do tricks on, yet are a versatile tool for someone who wants to ride everywhere,” he says. The best advice he has for first time buyers is this: go to a really good local store such as Alpine Haus & Marine, Wintersport and Sports Creel Specialty Sports.
Of the 7 pairs of skis and 10 snowboards Rick has lying about his garage here’s what you’ll catch him riding on.
SKIS AND SNOWBOARDS: Anything from Rossignol. Rick prefers the Jdub and Jeremy Jones snowboards, and CX80 and S7 skis. “It’s pretty tough to beat a company that’s been building equipment for sliding on the snow for more than 100 years,” he says.
BOOTS: Rick admits he bounces around with companies from season to season when it comes to snowboard boots, but these days he’s super with his Rossignol SAS Pro 120 boots. He says most boots are designed to last about 150 days on the snow, which for an average person might be as long as 7-10 seasons. Rick however, is on the snow more than 100 days a year and goes through a pair of boots almost every season.
GOGGLES: Rick uses Smith goggles. Not only do they have some of the most advanced equipment, but their product has the best range and fit for all of its users, Rick says. They also have some of the best looking styles and graphics in the market today.
GLOVES: Drop brand gloves. Leather or goat skin palms are sweet!
POLES: Scott and Rossignol poles. Rick prefers aluminum poles that have a really solid feel, yet are still light weight and resilient.
JACKETS: I really like Burton outerwear, Rick says. “The construction quality is really good and the fit is just spot on.”
PANTS: Burton or Ride pants have good style and comfortable fit.
BINDINGS: “I’m a huge fan of Ride snowboard bindings,” Rick says. The bindings are unique in that they use aluminum for the base plate and heel cup, making them stiff, responsive, and very durable. You’ll find Rosignol Axial bindings on all of his skis, again because of their performance and durability.
HELMETS: Smith brand helmets.