The following interview is one in a series of discussions had with snowboarders who have transcended the traditional boundaries of sport and come to represent something ... more. In trying to define the somewhat indefinable spirit of snowboarding, to put words to the feeling that propels us at the deepest level, we sat 10 riders down and asked them this question: Why do you snowboard? This is one response.
In a sport where the worth of "professionals" is often measured by image or amplitude, Bryan Iguchi has come to be defined by his passion, and has earned respect and reverence through style and substance that has endured for over two decades.
Born and raised outside of Los Angeles, California, Iguchi -- or "Guch" as he is affectionately known in the snowboard world -- started his career in the burgeoning early '90s freestyle movement of Bear Mountain. At a time when most pro snowboarders thought of progression solely in terms of inventive trickery, Guch, after having explored that arena, began looking towards the mountains and at possibilities to evolve snowboarding in an entirely new way.
Starting off snowboarding in Southern California was pretty important for me. Because of the limited natural terrain features available for us to ride, we started building the first snowboard parks. That really was a huge acceleration in the progression of snowboarding.
During that time I was so inspired by what was possible on a snowboard as far as learning new tricks, building bigger jumps and just trying new things all around. After a while I started to see the backcountry as just another new area to explore and progress.
I was lucky enough to get to travel all over the world and meet different locals and get schooled in the knowledge of their specific area. That really inspired me to go out and find a place of my own -- a place to search and explore the mountains and let my snowboarding grow. So I moved to Jackson Hole in 1995, when I was 21.
In Jackson, I found exactly what I was looking for. With the newly-discovered capabilities of snowmobiles we got out into the backcountry pretty early on and got to explore tons of terrain -- sick terrain. Each season I knew there was a new opportunity around the next corner and, in turn, that allowed me to progress every year I rode.
I'm talking about progression in the personal sense: of motivation and understanding the process of it all, how to work with nature and the mountains, and above all, how to make the most of every day that I am on my snowboard.
It's a very pure type of snowboarder that Jackson breeds. Watching the young group of kids that are coming out of here like Alex Yoder, Mikey Mahrone, Blake Paul, Cam Fitzpatrick -- seeing what they are doing makes me stoked. When I moved out there I had this vision of what I thought our scene could be.The terrain in Jackson is so rich, it's a natural playground that just gets tons of snow. It's kind of off the map as well, so riders have to develop in their own way. So it's been cool to see kids evolve on the mountain, not just on the jumps. I really saw this evolution with Travis Rice!
In snowboarding, there is a time and place for everything -- the trick is having the experience and knowledge to know when that is. Hitting a big jump has its day, the same way riding a line in Alaska does. It's all connected. This applies to the evolution of every snowboarder, regardless what he or she chooses to ride.
My mission is just to continue to ride. Being part of an evolving sport is an extension of this path of discovery we're all on. There was never a decided road as to what a snowboarder should be, nobody wrote that book.
So season after season the potential between a rider and the mountains continues to expand, it's infinite. There is always the possibility of learning a new trick, and not tricks in the sense of jumping or jibbing but in the sense of the little things.
For me it's how to travel out there, how to be safe, how to properly explore a place, negotiate terrain and know when and where it's going to good. I just want to be the best snowboarder I can be, according to my vision of what that is.
In a way snowboarding is very divided, meaning it has so many different disciplines now, but I think in the end, everyone is after the same thing: the fun, the excitement. I mean, on one end you have these guys in the halfpipe putting together these incredible, technical runs, while on the opposite side of things there are these big mountain guys just waiting and watching all season for a line to develop, hoping that the right conditions might present themselves in order for it to be doable.
But it's all the same really! We're all just pushing it; we're trying to extend that boundary of what is possible for ourselves. I believe that if you are consciously expanding what you think you are capable of doing you will always be inspired.