The green sign on the edge of Ten Sleep, Wyoming lists a population of 304, but it's probably edging toward 350 these days. Of course your dog might fetch Coors cans in the middle of Main St. all night and still never get hit. There are no cops, no hospitals, no condos, and definitely no Starbucks here. Ten Sleep is, however, home to one pro snowboarder: Mark Carter.
Only a place like Ten Sleep -- a tiny ranching community snugged up into the foothills of the Big Horns -- could brew a bro like Carter, 31 this week. Working on his family's cattle ranch since childhood has made him both tough and well aware that there's no meat on your table if you don't show up ready to work. Aside from laying down serious pow lines the world over, he also guides elk hunts in-season with big brother RC, helping mountain-men-in-training lay a claim to the real thing. He can discuss guns, fishin', gourmet game meat preparation (elk tenderloin?!), snowpack and spines with equal aplomb. Heck, with just a handful of Carter's childhood troublemaking anecdotes any idiot with a camera could probably make a couple of good movies.
Snowboarding-wise, Carter got kind of a late start on the sponsor front -- a real job will do that to ya -- but he's made up for lost time admirably. He's won a stop of TNF Masters big mountain comp and placed second in buddy T Rice's inaugural Natural Selection at Jackson Hole, where he lives during the winter. In the last few years you may have seen Carter's riding in Brain Farm, Absinthe, TGR, or Bluebird videos, and can see him this fall in Standard's hotly awaited "TB20."
"This year I really felt I was part of the project," he says. "In the past, it's been film a week here and there and maybe get a cameo it the movie. Having Standard to film with all year gave me something to really focus on and and put a solid part together. It was definitely one on the best I've had and awesome riding for the first time with guys like Mads [Jonsson], Lonnie [Kauk], Mathieu [Crepel], Kazu [Kokubo] and [Sammy] Luebke.
"Plus, traveling to new zones like Terrace, B.C. really opened my eyes and progressed my riding. My one concern going in though was it was expensive. I was dropping some serious dough on this trip like, Um, I hope it's sick... But, yeah: We got it. It was worth it. [Standard] has been going there for, like, nine years or something so they really wanted to break open some new s---, ride some new zones. We went to some of the old stuff but we rode plenty of new stuff; everything from pillow lines to pat-downs to legit lines, you know?"
Carter also scored 12 days this winter at Baldface, one of the Interior's most beloved pow ops. "In a row!" he's quick to point out. "And it was deep, man. Epic conditions. The last day was a powder day -- of course -- and I was just done... After The North Face left, I stayed for a media trip: a bunch of 50-something skiers who do a TV show on RSN just up there schussing [laughs]. And it was Guch's [Bryan Iguchi] first tail-gunning job. I actually saved a girl; she fell in a tree well. Like, face down. Done. The schussers had invited this other girl who was just kind of hangin' out in the lodge, not a real good skier, 21 years old..." Long story short, Carter, riding at the back, was in a good position to locate and rescue the skier, capping off his 12 days in Baldface with some serious good samaritan action.
Stories like this aren't even remotely surprising if you've spent even a tram ride with Carter. He's a pro snowboarder, sure, but, because of his deep history ranching, hunting, fishing etc. he truly appreciates the perks of the pro shred, seeing his snowboarding career as a privilege not some kind of right. He has a rock solid attitude and never lets his mouth write a check his ass can't cash.
The massive flat screen Sony TV in Carter's laid-back living room in Ten Sleep seems a bit out of place and only becomes more so when you learn that it was a present from Justin Timberlake. Believe it or not, this ranchin' pro shredder has not only ridden with JT but, thanks to his girlfriend Rachael Yarbrough being JT's personal photographer, Mark has now sat Centre Court at Wimbledon with the man, had lunch at Elton John's and grown hoarse singing karaoke with Guy Ritchie.
Small town boy done good? Damn straight...