Gus Engle is a true original, a bohemian lover of life that appears to be drawn right out of a Kerouac novel. His snowboard seems to be less an instrument of athletic progression and more like a paintbrush of a master. To really dig Engle's snowboarding you have to be open minded, because it's not manufactured and doesn't meet industry standards for how you're "supposed to ride" if you're going to be "the next big thing."
But he has fans, and has had a cult following since he first started showing up in the Think Thank videos that has only gotten larger since he hooked up with the Videograss crew. So while you might not love Bob Dylan or dream of owning a VW Bus, you have to appreciate Engle's style, because it's simple, and effortless.
Gus my friend, finally we connect.
Yeah man, it's been a long road.
Where are you these days?
I'm in Quebec City.
What, aren't you from Alaska?
Yeah, I am from Alaska, but my girlfriend lives in Quebec City, so I spend a lot of time here.
Are you snowboarding's first gypsy?
[Laughs] I don't know. I mean, I think traveling is beautiful, and gypsies are pretty far out, so I'm down for it!
Speaking of beautiful traveling, you just got back from Finland -- how was that?
Awesome! Finnish people are so cool and so nice, and it's super pretty. It's the same latitude as Anchorage, so it felt like home.
Who did you go there with?
I went with pretty much the whole Videograss crew, but I was filming with Sean McCormick, Jon Kooley, Jordan Mendenhall, Nick Dirks, and Bob Plumb.
You came up with Think Thank. How did you get lined up with them originally?
I have known Jesse Burtner since I was like 8 years old because we both grew up in Anchorage. Jesse was working at the local shop, and he is sort of just a polarizing force so anyone who was into skating or snowboarding sort of wanted to be around him. He was definitely one of the main staples of our snowboard and skateboard scene, so I always looked up to him.
He would take me skateboarding sometimes and was just really a role model in my life. Then when I started filming he asked me to do Think Thank, and so I left Alaska and moved in with him and his wife for like a year. It was super cool. He's pretty much my favorite person in the world.
How did the switch from Think Thank to Videograss happen?
Well, Justin just asked me and I thought it would be interesting to work on another project because I had been doing Think Thank for like five or six years. It was sad leaving, but a lot of the Ashbury and Holden team film with Videograss, so it was sort of a sponsor thing, and a lot of my friends are in the Videograss movie.
How do you feel about snowboarding being such big business now? Do you ever think about how all the money affects the culture?
I do sometimes. I mean if it's more money for my buddies then it seems pretty rad. I do remember growing up skateboarding in the 90s though. If you were a skateboarder people didn't really like you, and it was kind of cool because it created a counter culture. Now skateboarding and snowboarding are so mainstream, that it would be more counter culture to ski or rollerblade.
Sometimes when all the money comes in you feel like this thing you have been doing your whole life is losing its identity, but at the same time the actual act of snowboarding remains the same. It's one of the most beautiful things you can do on this planet.