© Brian Nevins / Red Bull Content Pool
Lessons from a legend: Jake Burton’s passion for community lives on
Sixteen snowboarders from across the country gathered to honor the spirit of snowboarding.
In early November, snowboarders gathered in New York City for the world premiere of Dear Rider, a Red Bull Media House documentary celebrating the life and legacy of Jake Burton Carpenter. As the founder of Burton Snowboards, Jake did so much to grow snowboarding as a culture and a sport, but even moreso, he worked tirelessly to listen to the riders and foster a passionate, fun-loving community.
To celebrate the premiere of Dear Rider and the launch of the new Red Bull Winter Edition Pomegranate, Red Bull brought together a crew of snowboarders for a Winter Edition Escape—a week that included the NYC film premiere event, a NY Red Bulls soccer game, a bird’s-eye view of NYC via helicopter ride, a Red Bull mocktail-making class, among other curated activities hosted by Red Bull snowboarder Zeb Powell, and Maggie Leon, a Burton team rider and product engineer. But more than just exciting experiences, the week was an opportunity to forge connections in the spirit of camaraderie. Folks came together from different regions, with different perspectives and backgrounds: pro athletes, members of the snow industry, videographers, photographers, skateboarders, surfers—all united by a passion for snowboarding.
All of the fun was rooted in furthering the reaches of the snowboard community, in building on the foundation Jake Burton Carpenter believed in that is so integral to snowboarding. To get insight into the importance of experiences like this, we checked in with two of the Winter Edition Escape attendees: host Maggie Leon and accomplished pro-snowboarder-turned-industry-member on the Roxy marketing team and co-founder of AAPI snowboard community, Soy Sauce Nation, Nirvana Ortanez.
As snowboarding continues to emphasize the importance of supporting one another and welcoming new members into the fold, Maggie and Nirvana shared their thoughts on the week in NYC with Red Bull and building community in snowboarding, as a whole.
Maggie, as a longtime member of the Burton family, what did it mean for you to come together with the larger community for the Dear Rider premiere?
Maggie: Being involved with Red Bull as both a snowboarder and a host, while also attending a company event with coworkers, was such a unique opportunity. It was really cool to help bridge the gap between people we brought out for the Red Bull Winter Edition Escape and my colleagues at Burton. It was so sick seeing everyone come together to celebrate Jake Burton’s legacy. He was so pivotal in helping shape our sport into what it is today.
What was the best part of getting to hang out with a bunch of snowboarders from around the country and attend the Dear Rider premiere in NYC?
Nirvana: Meeting people!! That’s the best part of snowboarding. You get to meet all these interesting and unique people. We might never have gotten the chance to cross paths with some of the people that were on the trip and I’m so thankful for that. We have friends everywhere!
Was there anything from Dear Rider that resonated with you each in particular?
Nirvana: 100% my favorite part of it was how Jake’s spirit came through—mischievous playfulness paired with drive and determination. That is what snowboarding is built on. Shaun White talked about pulling a fire alarm and Jake calling him after and making fun of him instead of getting mad at him. That was a highlight to hear because sometimes nowadays, people take things way too seriously. You can achieve greatness without having to be such a stoic or solemn person…but I guess that all varies depending on personality. You’re snowboarding, FOR A JOB!! Life is good.
Maggie: For me, it was incredible to see the archival footage that highlighted how our sport has evolved into what it is today. On the design and innovation side of things, it was really eye-opening for me to see how important rider feedback was during the early stages of product development. Overall, Dear Rider motivates me even more to develop the best gear possible by continually working with riders who are riding at the highest level—field validation and testing to the max!
It was so sick seeing everyone come together to celebrate Jake Burton’s legacy. He was so pivotal in helping shape our sport into what it is today.
What is the magic of getting to come together in person with other snowboarders for an event, premiere, or other gathering?
Maggie: Snowboarding community events bring people together and allow everyone to connect beyond just social media. Being rooted in Vermont, I’ve noticed a disconnect between West and East Coast scenes—especially on the female side of things. When I attend events like Snowboy Productions’ IT’S TITS!, an all-women’s event at Mt. Hood in Oregon, it allows me to meet other female riders face-to-face that may not ever come out to the East Coast. It also is an opportunity to expand my circle and make some new friends who all share the same passion, because we all have the same drive and interests regardless of where we live.
In what ways do you see celebrations of community and support of others going on within snowboarding currently?
Nirvana: Now more than ever, people within the snowboarding community are actually listening to one another. For a very long time there were only so many voices calling on the issues at hand (equity in wages, diversity, inclusion, etc.) and now we’re seeing some change happen. You have things like IT’S TITS!, Soy Sauce Nation, Torment Pride Week and Seen Snowboarding that have arisen from grassroots IG beginnings to full-on meet ups and events. It’s a historic time to be a snowboarder in general right now.
Lastly, reflecting back on the week in NYC, what can we do moving forward to foster and enrich community in snowboarding and support one another?
Nirvana: Stop being so cool. For real. The cool guy attitude is so overrated… I’d love to see more diversity behind the scenes too — women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+. That was definitely something about the Red Bull Winter Edition Escape that I admired, a group of riders from all backgrounds and a crew of badass hosts leading the charge in getting all of us together.
Maggie: The ultimate goal is to make snowboarding more diverse and inclusive - whether it’s grassroots events that strengthen local scenes, women’s camps, or positive youth development programs, like The Chill Foundation, our community needs a bit more of everything! We need to use our resources and current partnerships to help foster new relationships in order to help bring people together.