The Red Bulletin Oct/Nov 2020 (US)











OCT./NOV. 2020, $5.99

The breakout rapper

opens up about fame,

identity, love, her

new album—and the

work ethic that made

it all happen





This issue is anchored by features

on Black women who are leaning

into their personal experiences to

transform their spaces in music

and dance. Our cover story, “The

Saweet Life” (page 22), is a revealing

interview with breakout rapper

Saweetie, who talks freely about

how her huge success has been

shaped by formative challenges

and her refusal to be confined by

expectations. And in “Love and

Liberation on the Dance Floor”

(page 34), movement artists Sheopatra

Jones and Yorelis Apolinario reveal

how their art and activism as queer

Black women are intertwined in a

beautiful way. We hope you find

these stories as inspiring as we do.



“Saweetie was so cool as a

person—humble and down for

whatever,” says the Los

Angeles-based photographer,

who has shot the likes of Dr.

Dre, Jamie Foxx, Migos and

Usain Bolt for such titles as

Entertainment Weekly and

Fader and brands like Adidas

and Nike. In particular, Askew

was impressed when the

rapper grabbed a football.

“Her fans would be surprised

to know she’s got an arm like

Tom Brady.” Page 22



“Shooting Sheopatra and

Yoe—two talented and

intelligent Black women—was

amazing, and I have to say

seeing their love for one

another was reassuring of

the positive things in the

world,” says the L.A.-based

photographer. “Black is

beautiful.” Jefferson, a skate

and basketball insider who

also took the BLM protest

image on page 14, has shot

recent covers for Thrasher

and Slam. Page 34

At an outdoors production at Red Bull HQ in Santa

Monica, G L Askew II shoots Saweetie, who’s

holding a skateboard she had built a day earlier.



“Sheopatra and Yoe’s skills as

movement artists, as well as

the warmth of their personal

connection, was beautiful to

witness,” says the Los

Angeles-based writer who

profiled the two dancers.

July’s recent work has

appeared in Vanity Fair, The

Hollywood Reporter and the

New York Times. “What stuck

to me from our interview was

how they make room for and

embrace all that they are in

their work.” Page 34



“It was great to connect with

Saweetie and talk about some

of the things that Black

women navigate in life and

specifically within the music

industry,” says the Brooklynbased

writer who tackled our

cover story. Starling’s work

has been published by Teen

Vogue, Esquire, Vulture and

Pitchfork. “It was a pleasure

to learn more about her early

life and the many experiences

that have shaped her into

such a boss.” Page 22



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22 The Saweet Life

After a summer of viral hits, the breakout rapper Saweetie

opens up about fame, identity, love and her new album.

34 Love and Liberation

Movement artists and activists Sheopatra Jones and Yorelis

Apolinario are the power couple the dance world needs.

44 Renaissance Waterman

Back home in Hawaii, watersports master Kai Lenny is

rediscovering why he fell in love with the ocean in the first place.

56 Win-Win Situation

In just five years, more than 130 colleges have launched esports

programs, attracting students seeking new opportunities.

68 Let’s Make an Ordeal

Cooped up at home in Wyoming, a crew of outdoor athletes

concoct an intense mountain triathlon in their own backyard.



The rapper Saweetie is

many things—and

she’s redefining what it

means to be a BITCH:

Boss, Independent,

Tough, CEO and Hyphy.



At Full Sail University,

students like Megan

Danaher are prepping

for new careers in the

booming gaming





Taking You to New Heights

9 How one man shed 300

pounds on a mountain bike

12 A WWII shipwreck that’s a

magnet for Cuban surfers

14 Skateboarders fighting for

BLM justice in Los Angeles

16 An exclusive travel outfit

lets you ski with the pros

18 A personal protective suit

for the responsible raver

19 Changing the way we view

climate change through art

20 The 1975’s frontman shares

his top activist anthems


Get it. Do it. See it.

79 Travel: Remote getaways

84 Training tips from pro

snowboarder Zeb Powell

86 Dates for your calendar

88 The best new outdoor

barware and snow gear

96 The Red Bulletin worldwide

98 Flipping out in Panama





Dancers Yorelis

Apolinario (left) and

Sheopatra Jones

make the revolution

look irresistible.


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Thanks to a newfound

love for mountain biking

and a drive to inspire

others, Anthony Lopez

has already shed 300

pounds. And he’s not

done: “I have no interest

in slowing down.”

“I am in love with

mountain biking,”

says Lopez, who

was photographed

near Anaheim

Hills, California,

on July 31.


“Everything about my

life is different,” says

Lopez, who wants to

help get kids from his

community on bikes.

Anthony Lopez is on

his bike, grinding it

out. The singletrack

is steep and rutted and the air

in this inland corner of

California’s Orange County

feels hot enough to bake

enchiladas. He is in a small

gear and mashing his pedals

like cresting this wicked pitch

means something.

Lopez, 30, looks nothing

like a typical mountain biker.

He’s Black and Mexican

American and he presently

weighs a little north of 300

pounds. Cranking that body

up an unrelenting trail takes

strength and willpower and

something more than that—

let’s call it guts.

Lots of people turn to an

active pursuit like mountain

biking to change their body

and outlook, to catalyze real

change in their lives, but few

attempt a transformation as

dramatic or public as this one.

Atop an open ridgeline,

admiring a panorama of

peaks in Cleveland National

Forest to the east, Lopez

pauses to recount how he got

here. He had always struggled

with his weight, but things got

worse a few years ago when

his grandfather got stomach

cancer. Eventually, Lopez

stepped in as a hospice

caregiver, spending months in

the trenches—up all night,

administering morphine,

watching a beloved

grandparent fade and suffer.

“I just gave up trying to

control what I ate,” he recalls.

A few days after his

grandfather died in 2018,

Lopez stepped on his scale

and got an error message—

meaning he topped 600

pounds. “That was the low

point,” he says. “I stared at the

display and thought ‘Fuck

this—I want to fix this.’ ”

After some time to gather

his bearings and formulate a

plan, Lopez, who already had

successful channels on

YouTube and Instagram

focusing on automotive

content, started documenting

his efforts to eat smarter and

exercise regularly and

otherwise regain his health.

He initially focused on

boxing and weight lifting to

get fit, but this past spring the

COVID-19 pandemic shut

down those options. Lopez

had happy memories of riding

as a kid so he got a mountain

bike and took a stab at a hilly,

locally well-known 11-mile

circuit called the Fullerton

Loop. “I was only able to ride

a couple of miles that first

time,” he recalls. “It was hard

as hell for me.”

But he stuck with it,

capturing considerable stoke

and disarming honesty in his

social posts, and forged

himself into a real mountain

biker. Less than 60 days after




Lopez carves turns in

California’s Santiago

Oaks Regional Park.

At a low point just

two years ago, Lopez

weighed more than

600 pounds.

his maiden voyage, Lopez

completed the Fullerton Loop.

And now, three months after

that, he’s crushing that circuit

a few times a week. “I am in

love with mountain biking,”

he says with a toothy smile.

“And people seem to be

responding to it.”

That is an understatement.

In the early months of his

transformation he saw steady

interest in his videos, but one

day this spring it blew up. “I

went to sleep with a fully

charged phone and when I

woke up it was dead,” he says.

“It literally buzzed all night.”




In a flash, he picked up

100,000 followers on TikTok

and things took off from there.

Now he’s closing in on

800,000 followers and has

shifted his focus from

automotive content to a digital

celebration of mountain

biking and weight loss.

“I think especially right now

people need some inspiration,

something positive.”

His authentic joy while

riding is hard to miss on the

trail. Lopez flows through

tight switchbacks with grace,

and when he sees little ramps

on one downhill stretch, he

starts launching jumps. “If you

have releases, give them to me

now,” he tells a photographer

along for the ride. “We are

definitely doing this.”

His car-nerd obsessiveness

to detail is on display as he

proudly deconstructs his

recently upgraded steed—a

Specialized hardtail that he

had powder-coated and

outfitted with a new fork and

a gold chain. “I think I’m

ready for a road bike soon,”

Lopez says. He says his goals

for the fall are to try his first

mountain bike race and

complete a 50-mile ride.

To sustain such goals,

Lopez has changed how he

eats—eschewing junk food

and eating small, nutrientrich

meals every four hours.

“I eat chicken and fish, fruits

and vegetables. I eat a little

rice,” he says. When asked if

he feels pressure to stay on

track with hundreds of

thousands of new fans

following his transformation,

he laughs. “No, I don’t feel any

pressure,” he says. “I’m

hearing from so many people

who need inspiration and now

I’m feeling this strength

through for them.”

Lopez hardly feels like he’s

at the end of his journey. He

wants to get down to 210

pounds, but his goals are not

focused on digits on his scale.

This summer was full of

firsts—he shared a jet ski with

his brother and rode shotgun

in his friends’ sportscars and

most recently nailed a

tabletop jump at a ski-area

bike park for the first time.

(“I’m not going to lie,” he says,

“I had tears in my eyes.”) And

when the snow comes to the

mountains of SoCal this

winter, he’s eager to return to

the mountains and strap on a

snowboard for the first time.

“Everything about my life is

different,” he admits,

recalling how he used to take

off his shoes if they needed to

be retied. “I have no interest

in slowing down.”

The afternoon ride is

almost over—all that’s left is

the steep downhill back to the

parking lot. “I’m getting better

at going uphill, but going

downhill—that’s my happy

place,” he says. And with that,

he clips in and bombs down

the trail. —Peter Flax








Utah-based photographer

Will Saunders had been documenting

a crew of surfers and skaters in Cuba

for a fortnight when they took him

to one of their favorite spots.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Saunders

says of the rusted wreck. “This place

felt like a spot out of Tony Hawk’s

Pro Skater. We spent the entire

morning making images of this

unique wave and surfing until the

swell was gone. The game of this

wave is to try to surf under the bow

of the boat while dragging your hand

along its hull—without getting

tetanus. Yojany [Pérez, the surfer

pictured] made it look too easy.”


Los Angeles,




Inspired by the Black Lives Matter

protests that surged in the wake of the

murder of George Floyd, skaters across

the country took over the streets to

show solidarity and join in the fight

against systemic racism. “People and

companies have been so blind in

supporting and hiding racism,” says

the L.A.-based photographer Atiba

Jefferson, who captured this image in

Hollywood on June 20. “Since George

Floyd, our country finally is facing this

ugly lie of what was the ‘American

Dream.’ I used my camera at the protest

to show people coming together to

show change in our community.”





Backcountry Adventure


Got what it takes to ski with the pros? Now you

can jet off to Chile with Ian McIntosh or hone your

backcountry skills in France with Johnny Collinson,

thanks to an exclusive travel outfit.

When it comes to

jobs, Rachel

Findler has one

that is undeniably enviable:

The 38-year-old leads

excursions around the world

for small groups of advanced

skiers who get to beef up their

backcountry skills with the

help of world champions.

But what prompted Findler

to come up with the idea for

her boutique business, called

Uthrive, isn’t nearly as

desirable. After a lifetime of

skiing and several years spent

as a sponsored, medal-winning

freeride competitor, she woke

up from a 2015 knee surgery

knowing something was

seriously wrong. Suddenly

riddled with chronic pain and

fatigue, she was frustrated by

dismissive doctors unable to

provide a diagnosis.

“Obviously, being an athlete,

you are in tune with your

body,” says Findler, who also

ran her own wellness practice.

“You train so hard you know

what pain is, so if you say

you’re in pain, you’re in pain.”

When her symptoms

became so debilitating that she

ended up bedridden, Findler

left her home in ski mecca

Whistler, B.C., to move in with

family in her native U.K. “I was

really depressed and also

scared. I didn’t really know

where income was going to

come from,” she recounts.

“I was lying in bed and

thought, I need something to

look forward to. I need a

passion project.”

Considering she’d always

relished opportunities to take

others out on the mountain

and the fact she just happened

to know many of the world’s

top skiers, Findler came up

with an idea. “I reached out to

all my friends who are pros

No more than 10 participants are allowed on Uthrive’s ski excursions, so

each person’s special access to pros like Ian McIntosh is unparalleled.

and said, ‘Hey I’m thinking

about running these ski trips.

Are you interested?’ And they

all said yes.”

She quickly filled her first

trip—a 2019 excursion to the

French Alps with pal Ian

McIntosh, an accomplished

big-mountain skier and TGR

film star—simply by posting

to Instagram. “I spent no

money on advertising and

marketing. I didn’t have any

money,” she laughs.

Since then, Findler (who

was eventually diagnosed with

an autoimmune condition

called systemic lupus

erythematosus, which she’s

now managing) has held ski

retreats in Chile with

McIntosh; the Swiss Alps with

Freeride World Tour champs

Jackie Paaso and Reine

Barkered; and returned to the

French Alps with pro freeskier

and Red Bull athlete Johnny

Collinson in early March,

Uthrive’s last trip before the

COVID shutdown. A variety of

new excursions are planned

for 2021.

“It’s really rewarding to go

out with these somewhat

strangers, have a good time,

make new friends and at the

end of it they’re like, man, that

was super fun or inspiring or

rewarding,” Collinson says.

They’re getting this cool

experience out of it. As am I.”

Trips are capped at 10

participants, who spend

several full days shredding

pristine powder on some of the

Uthrive pros’ favorite—and

often little-known—off-piste

terrain, accompanied by

Findler, the trip’s pro and two

From France and

Switzerland to

Chile and Japan,

Uthrive travels to

the world’s best

backcountry spots.









Findler says: “The Freeride

World Tour is there and Ian used

to compete on that tour. That’s

how his career started. Austria

is so overlooked. Everyone goes

to the Alps, but Austria is quiet

and that’s what we want. All the

powder for us.”




Findler says: “[World halfpipe

champion] Kyle has been

going here for six years. It’s

his favorite spot in the world.

Japan is on so many people’s

bucket lists. The culture is just

so beautiful and that’s a big

part of it.”




Findler says: “The final stop

of the Freeride World Tour is

in Verbier. It’s just a great

experience to go with Reine and

see the mountain he competes

on and get him to talk about

his experiences of skiing that

mountain and hearing the

stories, the tales from the tour.”

local guides. Then there are

luxe perks like private chalet

accommodations and multicourse

gourmet meals

created by a personal chef,

along with wellness activities

such as morning meditation

and athlete mindset sessions.

Uthrive’s ultra-niche

market is heavy on strong

backcountry skiers facing a

unique two-pronged problem:

They’ve become so advanced

that they no longer have ski

buddies who can keep up,

and they’ve personally hit a

plateau as to how to improve.

“When you’re a very good

skier, the lessons and the

skills you need to learn are

mountain knowledge—

weather systems, snowpacks,

avalanche dangers, how to

use an ice axe and how to

read a mountain and study

the terrain,” Findler says.

“And that’s where the pros

come in.”

Those pros are perhaps

the trips’ biggest draw,

providing not just guidance

on the slopes but also oncein-a-lifetime


throughout the entire trip.

“You’re all staying together,

you have dinners together,

you’re chilling out in the hot

tub, you’re shooting the shit

on the mountain all day.

People really enjoy hearing

their behind-the-scenes

backstories of filming or an

expedition or the ski scene,”

according to Findler. “People

always say, ‘I didn’t know

this was a thing,’ and I say,

‘It wasn’t. We created it.’ ”

—Lizbeth Scordo





As nightclubs and festivals look forward to reopening, this

personal protective suit could be the future of rave fashion.

more complex and desirable

manner.” To satisfy this desire,

Risueño’s studio, Production

Club, has developed a personal

protective suit for ravers.

The Micrashell may make

its wearer look like an extra

from The Martian, but there’s

some serious technology built

in. “We’ve prioritized the safety

element, which relies on a

filtration system similar to that

found in PAPR [powered airprocessing

respirator] suits,”

says Risueño. “Then we added

functional and design features

that make the suit compelling.”

These include an internal

drinks and vape supply, a

personal sound system and the

requisite glowing LEDs: “The

drinking-canister system is a

solution to long waiting lines

and eliminates the possibility

of getting roofied. The

individualized speaker system

helps avoid ear fatigue.”

The Micrashell is currently

in the prototype phase, being

tested by Risueño himself. “I’m

writing this from the inside of

a very loud, safe and ugly

helmet,” he says. The company

has even considered the suit’s

possibilities off the dance floor.

“Drinking, going to the

restroom and potentially

having sex are all things we

could not neglect,” he adds.

“That’s why the suit only covers

your torso upwards.”

Nights spent dancing

in crowded rooms,

sharing drinks and

throwing arms around other

people are all pleasures that

are fast becoming distant

memories for party lovers.

But one collective of club

music fans have made it their

goal to bring back those

moments as soon as possible.


interaction gives you a sense

of purpose that cannot be

substituted virtually just yet,”

says L.A.-based creative

director Miguel Risueño.

“It conveys emotions in a



Greenland’s ice

sheet (shown in

black) melted at

record levels in

2019, shedding

an estimated

370 billion tons.


Olafur Eliasson


To make the world a better place, first you

must change your perspective.

With his latest


Olafur Eliasson

(left) wants us to be the

artist. The prolific Danish-

Icelandic artist’s work Earth

Perspectives comprises nine

fluorescent images of our

planet; to unlock their

meaning, the viewer must

take a deeper look. For

example, stare at the dot at

the center of the globe on

this page for 10 seconds

before shifting your gaze to

a neutral surface. The image

produced by your eyes is, in

effect, your own work of art

and a new, unique view of

the world.

Earth Perspectives may

be easy to engage with,

but the artist’s meaning is

complex. Though best

known for his vast and

conceptual installations,

Eliasson has created this

smaller-scale participatory

piece to help alter our view

of the planet during this

time of ecological crisis.

By presenting areas under

threat from climate

change—including the

Great Barrier Reef and

Greenland’s ice sheet, as

well as the site of the 1986

Chernobyl nuclear power

plant disaster in Ukraine—

the images prompt us to

recalibrate the way we see

our world.

“Earth Perspectives

envisions the Earth we want

to live on together by

welcoming multiple

perspectives,” Eliasson says.

“Not only the perspectives

of humans but also those

of plants, animals and

nature. A glacier’s

perspective deviates from

that of a human. The same

goes for a river.”

Eliasson’s work is part

of the Serpentine Galleries’

Back to Earth program, a

multi-year project that will

bring together more than 60

artists, poets, architects,

filmmakers, scientists,

thinkers and designers in a

call to action on the climate

crisis. Already urgent, this

message now seems even

more prescient due to the

global pandemic.

The current health crisis

has brought our societies

close to a halt, affecting our

economies, our freedoms

and even our social ties,”

says Eliasson. “We must

take the time to empathize

with all those struck by the

crisis, and to seize this

opportunity to imagine

together the Earth we want

to inhabit in the future, in

all its wonders and beauty,

in the face of all the

challenges ahead of us.”

To see Earth Perspectives

in its entirety—and pieces

by other participants,

including Judy Chicago and

Jane Fonda—visit the

Serpentine Galleries online.






Matty Healy, frontman of

the 1975, one of the U.K.’s

most socially conscious

bands, on four songs that

stoke his activist side.

Why limit yourself to

just one musical genre

when you can play

them all? With each of their three

U.K. No. 1 albums, the 1975 have

broadened their sound, creating a

unique blend of R&B, punk, ambient

and synth-pop that has won them a

diverse fanbase. Alongside the

music, the Manchester-based quartet

have made headlines with their

political activism—advocating

sustainable shows, speaking out on

LGBTQ+ rights, demanding a 50/50

gender split at festivals; and the

opening track on their latest album,

Notes on a Conditional Form, features

a speech by Greta Thunberg. Here,

lead singer Matty Healy shares his

playlist of music with something

important to say. Notes on a

Conditional Form is out now.




“I love this track. It’s a

manifesto, and the lyrics [in

which Tosh demands justice

and equal rights rather than

peace] are just so true and

so real. The spirit of this

literally generates all of our

songs, all of the emotional

ideas. Everything starts with

a song like this.”



WORLD” (1966)

“This is an amazing song—

and it’s a very current subject,

obviously. He’s talking about

civil rights and misogyny. He

sings that the world “wouldn’t

be nothing, nothing without

a woman or a girl”—that is so

true. I heard it again the other

day and it made the hairs stand

up on the back of my neck.”




“This band has had a big

influence on us—like on our

single ‘People’—not only

with their political activism

but also with their energy

and urgency. This song is the

most punk rock thing I’ve ever

heard. Honestly, Refused

were the last heavy band that

I really gave a fuck about.”




“At times, Thom Yorke writes

songs that are so odd. This

one reminds me of England

and the disappointment that

fuels our society. We’re so

disappointed in ourselves,

and we celebrate our dreary

shitness right across the

board. It feels like a very true

English statement.”



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Saweetie, 26, was

photographed for The

Red Bulletin outside

of Red Bull North

America’s HQ in Santa

Monica on July 7.




After a summer of viral hits, the breakout rapper

Saweetie opens up about fame, identity, love,

her new album, Pretty Bitch Music—and the work

ethic that turned her desire for success into reality.


Photography G L ASKEW II


As a Bay Area native,

Saweetie embraces

the region’s culture,

style and “hyphy,”

or upbeat spirit.

Believe it or not, Saweetie

has always been the underdog. It’s not

immediately evident by her beauty,

raving fan pages, pristine jewels and her

ability to smash the internet with rap

hits. But proving others wrong with her

quiet charm, laser focus and work ethic

has always fueled her ability to beat

the odds.

For many artists like Saweetie, whose

virality creates a pipeline to stardom, one

may assume that their track to success

was swift and without hard work. It

wasn’t so easy in Saweetie’s case. Before

the glitz of her “icy” career, she was an

undergraduate student at USC with big

rap dreams. When she wasn’t in class—

or working one of her three jobs—the

go-getter was uploading Instagram

videos of herself rapping in her Jeep.

Gradually, she built a buzz on social

media, and in 2017 she dropped the

video for “Icy Girl.” Sporting long

platinum tresses, a fur coat and expensivelooking

satins, she embodied the attitude

and luxury that she would ultimately

manifest into her current reality. The

viral video catapulted her into the

spotlight, and she hasn’t looked back


Born Diamonté Quiava Valentin

Harper, the 26-year-old Northern

California native grew up across enclaves

of the Bay Area. As the daughter of

young parents who were often busy with

work, Saweetie moved around a lot and

was mostly raised by her maternal and

paternal grandmothers. The frequent

relocations often made her the new kid

at school, which forced her to gain

confidence and learn to adjust quickly.

Although her classmates picked on

her as an outsider and underestimated

her abilities because of her looks,

Saweetie tuned them out by excelling at

sports like volleyball, skateboarding and

track and field.

Now, as a rapper, Saweetie is

breaking records with nonstop bops

like “My Type” and “Tap In.” Her songs

capture the Bay Area’s hyphy, upbeat

spirit and encourage listeners to have

the maximum amount of fun and selfconfidence.

Her message is not about

having a specific look, but more about

expressing a bossed-up energy that grants

fans permission to shower themselves

with love, good times and, of course,

beautiful things. Saweetie admits that

she’s learned a lot about her artistry

since her earlier EPs and guarantees that

her evolution is apparent in her debut fulllength

album, Pretty Bitch Music, which

releases this fall. It’s a more textured

project, with a ranging production that

lets her audience discover more of her

layers as a woman.


With 7 million

followers on

Instagram, Saweetie

has mastered the art

of giving fans a taste

of her extraordinary

life—like when she’s

trying out her brandnew


the red bulletin: You’ve brought

a lot of fun to Instagram and social

media while we’ve all been stuck

inside. What’s that experience in

quarantine been like for you?

saweetie: I always tell people if I

wasn’t an artist, I probably would post

like once a year. Why? I don’t know.

Social media used to give me a lot of

anxiety, especially when I first popped

off, because it was so many people with

things to say, and it just gave so many

people access to me so quickly. It made

me kind of become a recluse from social

media, but then I realized that social

media is an imaginary world. Good and

bad things happen there. Once I was able

to develop my mental toughness and

learn how to steer through social media,

it became fun for me, and that’s when

I started selectively showing my


You also show a lot of family and loved

ones on social. How does their energy

impact who you are?

They bring out the best of me. If I’m

working, it’s not that I’m not comfortable,

but no one else can bring out my

personality like my family. I can just be


Which family members have been the

most influential in your life?

My grandmother, because I lived on and

off with her throughout my childhood.

A lot of people don’t know that, but my

grandmothers really raised me, and I feel

like they did a really great job. I had

really young parents who were always

out working, so definitely my

grandmothers, on my Filipino/Chinese

side and then on my Black side.

They come from different cultures,

but they had the same in the work ethic.

They were always working. They were

always getting their hair done. They

always smelled good. They always kept

their house clean. As a little girl, that was

normal for me. When people say things

like, “What inspires you to be a boss?

Like, what makes you wanna empower

women?”—these are things that were just

regular for me growing up, like women

in my family, all different types, shapes,

sizes, even attitudes, right? You know

how that goes. [Laughs.] But no matter

what, no matter what the circumstances,

it was always love and support. So for

me, that just comes naturally.

Where exactly did you grow up in

the Bay?

I grew up all around the Bay, primarily in

Hayward. One of my grandmothers lived

in the city and the other one lived in

Sunnyvale. I lived in San Jose as well,

but I used to move around as a little kid

because my parents were so young, so

everybody used to babysit me.

But it just made me develop a tough

skin, bouncing around from schools. It

made me an adapter, because if you’re

constantly changing new environments

as a little kid, you never really become

comfortable. You learn how to make the

best of your situation. I really resented

my childhood because I don’t feel like

I grew up as a regular kid, but I felt like

it prepared me to be in this business.

I’m persevering no matter what the

circumstances and dealing with different

types of people, problems. It made me

a really strong young woman.

What about the Bay Area culture and

style has influenced you as a person

and an artist?

A lot of people are surprised that I’m able

to do my own glam. I can do my own hair

and makeup, but in the Bay Area,

everybody wants to look good but be

unique, too. I’ve always been colorful;

I’ve always been dying my hair. I’ve

always been trying to make myself look

good. It inspired me to want to be fly.

I love the Bay Area because it’s like

home of the pretty girls with bomb-ass

attitudes. We’re so down to earth, we

know how to party, but we still like to

“I love the Bay Area because it’s like

home of the pretty girls with bomb-ass

attitudes. We’re so down to earth.”


look good and handle our business.

That’s what made me who I am on the

day-to-day and who I am as an artist.

A lot of creativity and uniqueness comes

from that.

Some people have tried to discredit

your credibility to wear classic Bay

Area styles like long nails, bamboo

earrings and baby hairs. In your

defense, some fans pulled up your

childhood photos. Talk to me about

how it’s always been a part of you.

Because I went to college and I can speak

properly, people feel like they can

question my “authenticity.” But who says

a girl like me can’t go to college? Who

says a girl like me can’t wear long nails

because I got an education? There are all

these false theories and stories about me

because my success makes people feel a

way. But when I think about it, I’m like,

“Damn, I’ve always been this girl.”

But what really stripped me, as a

woman of color, was college. When I

went to San Diego State—and especially

USC—it’s predominantly Caucasian, and

I felt like I couldn’t be myself. College

made me feel like I couldn’t be who I

truly was because I had to conform. It

took me about a year or two to feel

comfortable with raising my hand and

participating in class because I came into

college talking so much slang.

I go to these classes and they’re using

all these big words, and I’m like, “What’s

going on?” I didn’t have the confidence

to be vocal because these other kids just

had a different type of education

preparation. It made me feel like I had

to change. So that’s why I love spending

time with my family and getting back to

my roots. [College] made me robotic

because I felt like I had to be what society

expected a student at a prestigious

university to be like.

You also played sports, right? When

did you start?

Girl, I came out of the womb playing

sports. [Laughs.] On my grandmother’s

side, it’s like all boys, so all the girls are

pretty much tomboys because we’re

always kickin’ it with the boys. I used to

race in the streets with no shoes on.

[Laughs.] We used to race all day and

play football. I would try to mimic the

older kids. Tetherball, kickball and

baseball—whatever was around for

us to play, we did, or we made up our

own game.

My dad used to tell me I smell like

“the great outdoors.” [Laughs.] I would

come in with mud all over my jeans. Tree

branches stuck in my hair because I was

climbing trees—just super dirty, so I was

always in the streets as a little kid.

I played a lot of basketball. All the

girls in my family played—my cousins,

my aunties—but it just wasn’t my cup of

tea. I couldn’t hang, going up and down

that court, so my mom forced me to try

out for the volleyball team, and I hated

her for it. But I immediately fell in

love and started playing volleyball

around sixth grade. Whenever school

had Powder Puff, I would always play

quarterback. I have an arm. And in high

school I ran track.

In terms of success or hard work, how

did sports impact the way you read or

operate in the world? Any long-lasting


I honestly feel—not to get super

sentimental—like, this is purpose. This

is God’s plan for me because I went

through so much shit growing up. I also

had to deal with fighting in the athletic

world because I was a transfer student all

the time. I was always the new girl and

people weren’t so welcoming.

I remember when I tried out [for

volleyball], it was very uncomfortable.

None of the girls liked me, and they said

all I wanted to do was play sports so I

could show off my ass, and other weird

rumors. It was almost bullying, but like,

mentally. People were trying to count

me out. I had to fight to prove that I’m

“People like to question my ‘authenticity.’

But who says a girl like me can’t go to

college? Damn, I’ve always been this girl.”


“I came out of the

womb playing

sports,” Saweetie

says. Although she

played basketball,

she fell in love with

—and excelled at—

volleyball as a teen.

“You have to be headstrong, believe

in yourself and be comfortable with

making your own mistakes.”

athletic. I told one of the girls on varsity,

“I’m gonna take your spot,” and I did. I

always had that competitive edge to me.

It made my determination, my ambition

and my ability to persevere. It made me

mentally tough, and in this industry, you

have to be mentally tough.

At what age did you know that you

wanted to be a rapper?

Definitely when I was a sophomore in

high school, because these boys are

rapping in class. I was like, “OK, y’all

cool, but I’m gonna go home and write

my own rap.” So I came back and when

I spit my shit in Algebra 2 the whole class

went crazy, so I thought, “Wow, maybe

I could do something like this.”

In college you started rapping from

your car on Instagram. Were you like,

“Let me try this out and see what

happens,” or were you actively trying

to make it big?

It was like, “I can’t afford the studio.” As

a new artist, it’s sometimes very difficult

when you’re not blessed with a great

engineer. When you are inexperienced

and a new artist, you sometimes don’t

know when you’re dealing with a weak

engineer because you’ve never done it

before. I had a rough start because

[my first] engineer just outright sucked.

I was like, “I’m tired of wasting my

money, and I’m gonna just record online

because everybody knows I wanna rap

so I’m just gonna start posting it.” That’s

why I was using all of these classic beats,

because I didn’t have any connections to

any beatmakers.

A lot of new artists struggle to get

their songs on the radio and the

charts, but “Icy” went viral, “My

Type” was a hit, and “Tap In” keeps

getting bigger and bigger. What’s your


You know what, girl? I have no secret

formula. When I meet upcoming girls,

whether it’s Tay Money or Mulatto,

because I did hop on their songs, I try

to share as much as I can, because I feel

like I made a lot of mistakes early in my

career because I had no guidance.

I loved sharing what it took me to get

to this point. You have to be headstrong,

you have to believe in yourself, and you

have to be comfortable with making your

own mistakes. I can’t sleep at night when

I do something that someone told me to

do. I didn’t even believe in it, but I didn’t

have the courage to make my own

decision. And then I have to take it to

the chin because I took so many other

people’s advice.

Work hard, develop a great team and

make sure that they’re the right team.

Just because you have a team doesn’t

mean that they know what they’re doing.

Get the right mentors. You should always

have someone to go to who can be

insightful, who can play devil’s advocate.

I do my own treatments. I pick my

beats. I co-produce a lot of stuff. There’s

a common denominator between great

workers and artists, and nothing that

I’m doing is new. Anytime someone asks

me something, I’m always excited to

share, because if I could save someone

the time that wasn’t saved for me, I’d like

to do that.

Women in rap have been making

the most interesting music lately, but

there’s a sentiment that there isn’t

enough space for them to exist equally

and be successful. What do you say

to that?

The numbers prove that that’s a lie. [An

identifier] that I would love to just be

removed from the conversation is “for a

girl” or “for a female rapper.” Like, we’re

just rappers, and our fanbases, our charts

and our numbers all prove that we’re

equals. I used to hate the comment—

especially at USC—“Oh, you’re pretty for

a Black girl.” No, just say I’m pretty. I feel

like it’s a backhanded compliment and

although “for a female rapper” isn’t as in

your face, you’re still telling me that

female rappers aren’t doing their part.

But we are. And we have to do that, plus

more, because we have to get our weaves

done, we have to do our lashes, our nails.

You know that shit takes five to six hours

a day. That’s a lot. And lots of money.

My overhead is somebody’s tuition per

month, so quit playing with us because

we really go hard.

Some people have an unfair tendency

to underestimate or simplify a woman

who looks really good, but you’ve

embraced your beauty. Has that ever

made you feel like you’ve had to prove

more or go harder?

Pretty privilege has been associated

with my brand, but if anything, it’s

been a hindrance. When people see a

“pretty girl,” they associate her with

being mean, with getting her way all the

time—but my lifestyle was the exact

opposite of that. So I didn’t want to shy

away from it. I’m a bad bitch, so I’m

going to be proud of it and give that

power to my fans.

And a lot of people—especially

men—are upset by women rapping

about their bodies. You have lyrics,

like in “Pretty Bitch Freestyle,” where

you definitely are celebrating your


I can attest to a moment like that. I

remember when I did the song with Kid

Ink and Lil Wayne, “Yuso,” and I was so

proud of this moment. I was like, I’m

gonna hop on that nasty song because

I got some shit to talk. And I always

tell myself if I’m gonna be nasty, I’m

going to be like Missy. I love Missy and

Missy’s nasty, but she’s gonna make you

laugh with it. I worked really hard so

that my bars were creative, fun and in

my opinion, tasteful. When “Yuso”

dropped, I got negative responses like,

“Oh, she’s the college girl,” or “She’s

classy, she can’t be talking like that.

Wow, she just ruined her brand and

her career.”


“I have an arm,”

Saweetie says. And

indeed, she does.

Here she’s captured

right before she lobs

a bomb across an

empty parking lot.

Saweetie admits she

likes the “finer

things,” but she’s also

a tomboy. “I’m not

just some robotic

pretty girl. I’m a

human,” she says.

Yes, I went to school, but when I see

my man, I’m gonna get freaky. I just call

them “confused fans,” because your

mama nasty, your grandma nasty,

your great grandma’s nasty, too. When

you make people uncomfortable, the

easiest thing they can do—without really

being a critical thinker—is go to their

first thought. So that’s where the tweets

and the hate came from. Celebrate

whoever you are as a woman because

people say, “Oh, she’s too conservative.

Oh, she’s too nasty. Oh, she’s too this. Oh,

she’s too that.” You’ve gotta block those

people out and just do you the best way

you can.

You’ve recently opened up about

your relationship with your boyfriend,

Quavo. What’s it like to navigate being

two very real humans and young

people in love who are also both

public figures?

It’s difficult, but I feel like it’s very

grown-up. I feel like this is my first

relationship where we’re very mature

about a lot of things. I think it’s

important, especially in Black love. I feel

like communication is really important

because—I don’t wanna generalize what

it is—but for a while, I struggled with

expression, because as a kid I was taught

to just suck it up and move on. But you

can’t do that in love. It’s not healthy; it

builds resentment.

Healthy Black love was important

to us and we know that we wanna be

together and stick together. We both just

learned from past mistakes of our own

and we’re working together to be

healthy. It’s not about being perfect;

it’s about being healthy. It requires

both people to participate; otherwise

it’ll fail.

Talk to me about the album Pretty

Bitch Music. That title is an acronym,


It took me so long to start saying “bitch”

in my rap. If I’m going to use this word so

my listeners can have that much more

relatability to me, I’m gonna let them

know what “bitch” stands for. So that’s

why I broke it down: BITCH means Boss,

Independent, Tough, CEO, and I’m from

the Bay, so the H means Hyphy. When I

sift through my fans’ comments, they say

that I make them feel pretty, I make them

feel confident, I make them feel like they

should go out and get their bag, so it’s

like I make “pretty bitch music.” I have

all these layers and all these moods that

can be shown in my project.

How would you describe the layers

that you peel back in this album?

As a woman, I do like the finer things in

life, but I’m also a tomboy. I’m also a

family woman. I also can get my feelings

hurt. I do have emotions. I’m not just

some robotic pretty girl. I’m a human and

through these songs—whether they’re

sentimental, personal, uplifting or fun—

you’ll be able to get that because the

project is over 15 songs. I’m really excited.

I’m finally figuring out what my artistry is.

And the sound? You’ve said this is not

what people may expect from you.

I didn’t have the right guidance at first.

The people around me kept trying to go

to the big hitmakers, and no one could

really understand me as a person

because I’m complex. But with this new

project and working with people who

truly know me as a person, I’m finally

able to have everything interconnect. I’ve

been hearing, “When people listen to

this, they’re gonna be able to meet you

before meeting you.”

Are you opening up more and showing

other sides of yourself?

I’d say I’m learning how to. At first, I

didn’t know how to have my personality

come over a beat, which was super hard

when it wasn’t a beat of my own. I’m

learning how to take a song into my own

hands and execute it the way Saweetie

would do it.

“Healthy Black love is not about being

perfect; it’s about being healthy. It

requires both people to participate.”






As movement artists and

activists, Sheopatra Jones

and Yorelis Apolinario are the

power couple the dance world

needs. Here’s how they make

the revolution look irresistible.



Yorelis Apolinario

(left) and Sheopatra

Jones were

photographed in

Santa Monica for

The Red Bulletin

on July 29.


As partners in

life and profession,

Sheopatra and

Yoe exude affection

for each other.


rom their townhome in L.A.’s San

Fernando Valley, professional dancers

Sheopatra “SheStreet” Jones and Yorelis

“Yoe” Apolinario nestle closely on the

couch for our virtual interview. It’s late

July, and these partners in movement—

and life—exude affection, even over

Zoom. It’s like entering into a warm hug.

Yoe’s face brightens when asked to

describe her fiancée’s dance style: “I feel

like the ancestors come down through

her body and they are guiding her

movements,” she says. “It feels like

a sermon.”

Sheopatra is just as big a fan of Yoe:

There’s nothing she cannot do. The

execution of everything she does is at the

highest level. When I watch her dance,

I’m always overwhelmed by how

excellent she is.”


They don’t finish each other’s

sentences as much as they “yes and”

them, helping each other flesh out

details while constantly serving as

mutual hype women. Their unspoken

dynamic feels like the most natural thing

in the world—totally uncontrived and

adorable as hell.

In their world, there’s no separation

between their art and their activism. The

very fact of their existence—as queer

Black women and “movement artists”

who approach their visibility with

intention—is a daily form of resistance.

Indeed, by the end of my interview

with Sheopatra and Yoe, it would be

clear that in order to understand their

art-activism, I would also need to

understand their love—for themselves,

each other and their community.

“I feel like the

ancestors come

down through her

body and guide

her movements.”


Videos of Sheopatra

and Yoe dancing

have received props

from legends like

Chaka Khan and

Diana Ross.

Both Sheopatra and Yoe have

worked with some of the biggest

names in music today. In Chris

Brown’s 2019 music video for

“Undecided,” Sheopatra plays a smooth

carnival barker; she has also danced for

Missy Elliot and Pharrell. Yoe did a sixmonth

stint as a dancer for Taylor

Swift’s 2018 Reputation World Tour.

She has danced behind Backstreet Boys,

Jordan Fisher, Alyson Stoner and

Tinashe. Her moves have caught the

attention of Justin Bieber and Kehlani.

And with almost 145,000 combined

Instagram followers, they’ve received

props from songstresses like Chaka

Khan, Grammy-winning singersongwriter

H.E.R. and Diana Ross.

A video of Sheopatra and Yoe dancing

to Ross’s hit “Muscles” went viral in

January 2018, with Ross reposting the

video on her own Instagram. Wearing

tailored menswear suits, the duo

freestyles at a pace that pays homage

to Ross’s soulful 1982 groove—written

and produced by Michael Jackson—

while interpreting it for the present

day. The video has almost 300,000

views to date.

When Sheopatra dances, she looks

energized, powered by something

ineffable and deep. Her movement is

playful and serious, smooth and staccato.

And she seems to be just as delighted as

the viewer by the inherent surprise of the

free-form movement coming through her

moment by moment.

Yoe’s high-energy movement is at

once graceful, reflective and wild. She

freestyles with fluidity and an

athleticism ingrained by studying dance

since she was 8 years old.

Whether they’re dancing together or

separately, Sheopatra and Yoe transform

entertainment into live-action demos of

what liberation looks like for women of

color within the cyphers of the vibrant

Los Angeles dance scene. In the words of

the late author and civil rights activist

Toni Cade Bambara, as artists they

“make the revolution look irresistible.”

As active Instagrammers, they also

make the revolution accessible. Their

2018 video activation, titled “Say It,”

features Sheopatra, Yoe and four male

dancers, all dressed in vintage Black

Panther Party garb. From the patio of

a house in the Los Angeles hills

overlooking the city below, they each

take turns freestyling to the protest song

“Hell You Talmbout” by Janelle Monáe

and her artist collective, Wondaland. The

expansive landscape, paired with their

bold movements and the song’s lyrics—

which call out names like Eric Garner,

Sandra Bland and Trayvon Martin—has

an unmistakable galvanizing power that

taps into the outrage over unarmed Black

people who’ve been killed by police.

The dancers transform entertainment into live-action demos of liberation for women of color.


“I’m always

overwhelmed by

how excellent

she is.”

Whether playful or

serious, their freeform


enchant viewers.

On their Instagram

feeds, evocative

freestyles and


appear alongside

impromptu salsa


For Sheopatra and Yorelis,

documenting their choreography or

freestyles in parking lots, tennis courts

and the sidewalks of L.A. for social

media isn’t just about racking up views

and likes; it’s about using their platform

to amplify the voices of marginalized

groups and the causes they have long

championed, like the Black Lives Matter

movement. They have supported BLM

since it emerged in 2013 as a response

to the killing of Trayvon Martin.

For this duo, movement equals

activism. “I have never met another

woman that moves the way [Yoe]

moves,” Sheopatra says. “Even that is

activism, just being who you choose to

be and not allowing society or anything

around you to force you away from

what’s your call to do, what your gifts

are, and to be the greatest.”

Yoe adds: “Even in our videos, where

we have just a simple setup of a camera,

and we have friends around us in the

dance—that’s a form of activism. That’s

seeing Black and Brown people having

fun, being boisterous instead of a lot of

the things that are presented to us.”

Growing up in Memphis, Sheopatra

was largely self-taught as a

dancer. Her first love was the

Memphis strut style called jookin

(rhymes with lookin’), which artists like

Janelle Monáe and Jon Boogz have

helped usher into the mainstream.

During high school she started taking

studio classes, and when she was 19 she

moved to Los Angeles at the urging of

her brother, a professional drummer who

was pursuing a career in L.A.

But after three months she had “an

L.A. freakout” and returned home. Back

in Memphis, she dove even deeper into

jook and took classes in other street

dance styles. About a year later, her

cousin called and booked her a one-way

ticket to Los Angeles before they hung

up. Three months later she was back in

Los Angeles and has been living there for

more than a decade.


“It’s a raw

experience when

you watch her—

you’re really gonna

feel who she is.”

Now 30, Sheopatra is a full-time

performer, and her dream of dancing

professionally has come true after many

years of grinding in the L.A. dance scene.

Today she dances many styles—

popping, breaking, funk, contemporary

and the fast footwork of house. With

jook as her foundation, Sheopatra

eventually gravitated toward popping

and has garnered national attention for

her smooth fusion of the two. This is a

rare combination, according to Ryan

Webb, a veteran dancer (also known as

“Future”) and the director of education

at the Washington, D.C.–area dance

company Urban Artistry.

“Mixing popping and Memphis

jookin, that was kind of unheard of in

the hip-hop community,” Webb says.

An archivist who has spent years

documenting urban dance styles to

preserve for future generations, Webb

recommended Sheopatra to Red Bull

Dance for entry into its 2019 Dance

Your Style competition in Honolulu,

where she advanced to the semifinals.

(She ultimately lost to the dancer


Memphis native Sheopatra and Yoe, who grew up in Tampa, Florida, met in 2015 through an

audition for Fox’s reality competition show So You Think You Can Dance.

“She’s not trying to be trendy,” Webb

continues. “She’s truly being herself as

an artist. There’s something that’s really

genuine about her. You really get

something that’s not cookie cutter. It’s a

raw experience when you watch her—

you’re really gonna feel who she is.”

Although Yoe, 25, comes from a

background of formal training in ballet

and modern that spanned her childhood

growing up in Tampa, Florida, she took a

liking to hip-hop dance classes early. After

high school she was part of a breaker

crew called the Flooridians and did a stint

as a go-go dancer in a nightclub. As one of

the only girls in a crew of B-boys, she

eventually realized that she didn’t like

breaking. But she loved freestyling,

something she hadn’t encountered before

as a classically trained dancer.

“Coming from a world in ballet where

I’m told where to put my body 24/7 and

‘you don’t have the body for this but

keep trying’ into a world where [you’re

encouraged to] find your own style,

I really couldn’t see myself reverting

back,” Yoe says.

When Yoe dances, Sheopatra says,

“she has no fear in her movement. Even

if she’s afraid, you won’t know until six

months later. She’s literally like, ‘Oh I’ve

never river-danced before. Cool, I gotta

learn river dancing.’ Then you go see

the performance and she’s the only

person you can see on the stage because

she’s standing out that crazy among the

crowd of dancers.”

Yoe says Sheopatra has been

instrumental in exposing her to new

styles: “When I started learning jookin



collaborator and

videographer Brian

Smith, Sheopatra

and Yoe direct and


cinematic activism

that calls for justice

for Black lives and

female solidarity.


“It is cool to see

artists represent

something bigger

than themselves.”

from her, it made sense, because I loved

Southern trap—I loved Three 6 Mafia

when I was little—and Memphis jookin

and Southern trap music are married.”

Then she giggles, “I feel 9 years old every

time I try to jook, and I’m still

discovering new styles.”

In 2015, Yoe got her big break on

Season 12 of Fox’s prime-time competition

show So You Think You Can Dance and

made it to the top 14. She has been

dancing full-time ever since.

Sheopatra and Yoe actually met at the

audition for So You Think You Can Dance.

They felt a connection right away and

exchanged numbers, but they opted to get

to know each other as dance collaborators

first. Eventually, their professional

relationship evolved into a romance that

blossomed almost four years ago.

Then in October 2019, under the

guise of shooting a new dance video,

Yoe orchestrated a surprise marriage

proposal surrounded by a group of their

close friends. Sheopatra was genuinely

surprised but quickly accepted.

They just have the best

communication I’ve seen within a

relationship, observes Alexa Nof, their

close friend and dance collaborator.

They’re so great on their own that

together they’re even more powerful.”

Nof adds: “They’re very loving toward

each other but they’re also not so much

[into] physical touch in front of people.

They show it through their actions.”

Nof is a member of the Council

Women, the dance company Sheopatra

founded in 2015 not long after she met

Yoe, who became a member of the

group. The Council is also something of

a chosen family, where six women are

committed to actively supporting one

another in pursuing their professional

and personal goals.

The Council Women’s first big gig

was at the 2019 Dance Your Style U.S.

Finals in Las Vegas. In a video clip from

the performance, Sheopatra, Nof and

company member Crystal Jackson,

dressed all in denim, dance barefoot on

a sidewalk that has been transformed

into a battle stage. The enthusiastic

nighttime crowd circles around them


In 2015, Sheopatra

founded the

Council Women, an

all-women dance

company. Yoe

became an early


as they confidently perform their streetstyle


When Sheopatra asked Nof to be an

inaugural member of the Council

Women, Nof was a professional dancer

getting hired more to choreograph than

dance. Reflecting on her regular

freestyling—as well as being exposed to

a variety of new dance styles through the

Council—she now finds herself, five

years later, getting more gigs as a


They keep motivating me to this

day,” Nof says. “There’s not a day that I’m

not watching them as if it’s my first time.

They always surprise me [and] just

continue to inspire me.”

Webb of Urban Artistry is equally

inspired by the pair and their vision. “I

want to keep shining light on artists that

are standing for justice and equality,

and also bringing these art forms into

different platforms to be appreciated

by different types of people,” he

underscores. “It is cool to see artists that

represent something bigger than


As they cozy up on the couch

during our interview, I ask what

Sheopatra and Yoe are working

toward in the future. What the couple

offers is more a mission statement than

a bucket list, and that mission is nothing

short of the harmony of their art and


For Yoe, she wants to see the

professional dance industry “create the

standard of respect” for its artists. “I

want to make changes so that when

people come in after me, they don’t have

to go through the same things I went

through,” she says. “They don’t have to

feel uncomfortable about going up to a

choreographer and saying, ‘I don’t know

if I can wear this leotard in this music

video’ and not feel like the villain.”

Sheopatra’s response is more

philosophical but shares the same

conviction. For her the heart of her work

is “the betterment of myself, my people

in the world, by any means necessary,

using the art form to create change

beyond our time on this Earth.”


At Jaws in Hawaii in

2016, the powerful

swell of El Niño met

its match with pro

surfer Kai Lenny.





On the eve of his new series, Life of Kai, watersports master

Kai Lenny has reignited his creative spark back home in Hawaii,

rediscovering why he fell in love with the ocean in the first place.


Lenny poses with the

waves in front of his

house in Paia, Maui,

in October 2019.


Kai Lenny says he’s searching for pure

entertainment. Isn’t he always? But since

he’s been locked down at home on Maui

since early spring, when COVID-19

scratched his plans for 2020, he’s had to

settle for adventure closer at hand. Yes—

it took a global pandemic to finally slow

Kai Lenny down.

You can imagine that it took all of

two minutes before the 27-year-old pro

surfer started to get antsy. Even just

talking on the phone, his infectious

energy pours across the line and you

know that he doesn’t like to sit still. After

all, this is the same guy whose parents

used to take him to the beach every day

as a toddler to tire him out so he would

sleep through the night. He’s used to

jetting off on a plane every week or two.

“It’s the longest stretch I’ve been home

probably since I was 12 or something,”

he says.

That’s how he ended up sailing

across the Kauai Channel on a foiling

catamaran with two-time World Surf

League champion John John Florence in

July. “We were just on the phone talking,

like, ‘Hey, we should do something fun.

What if we sailed your foiling boat from

Oahu to Kauai? Let’s do it!’ ” Lenny says.

A week later they pushed off from

Oahu on Florence’s Flying Phantom. It

looks like a spaceship; the foil extends

down from the bright-red hulls, lifting

up the boat and allowing it to rocket

across the surface of the water. Lenny

and Florence dangled off the side

somewhat precariously. Nine hours

later they arrived in Hanalei, Kauai.

When asked about the crossing, Lenny

says in his trademark stoked tone, “It

was so much fun.”

But it was more than just the

challenge of crossing the channel that

excited Lenny. It was the spontaneity

of it all. Normally it would take a year

or more to pull off something like this.

Lenny and Florence (and their people)

would have to coordinate their

schedules. Between contests,

sponsorship obligations and other

projects, the chances of finding an

overlapping day or two when they’d

both be home in Hawaii would be nearly

impossible, not to mention a lot of

hassle. But with both of their lives on

hold, Lenny and Florence are free to do

whatever they want in the interim.

This spontaneity is a major

contrast to how Lenny typically leads

his meticulously focused life chasing big

projects and big goals. “He has this

incredible can-do attitude—I can do

that, I’m going to do that—when

everyone is like, ‘You’re crazy, man.

You’re out of your mind,’ ” says Johnny

Decesare, founder of Poor Boyz

Productions, who has been filming the

watersports prodigy since he was 11

years old. “He looks at things differently.

What he really sees is opportunity and


And Lenny had ambitious plans for

2020: travel with his friends to chase

gigantic waves on every big swell around

the world, while also giving it his all on

the competitive circuit. “Literally, as soon

as I really committed to it, it was like the

whole world came to a standstill,” he says.

While his goals are on hold (for now),

his latest project, Life of Kai, which

launches in October, offers a glimpse at

some of the innovative and mindboggling

things the pro athlete has been

up to and is capable of. His other web

series, Positively Kai and 20@20, which

Growing up in Maui, a young Kai Lenny found mentors among surf

greats like Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama and Robby Naish.


debuted this summer, highlight Lenny’s

fun adventures and insane, physicsdefying

antics at home and abroad. Life

of Kai, on the other hand, delves into

what it really takes to be Kai Lenny.

“I think people see a general vision

of most pro athletes, myself included,

that you just go out and do this,” Lenny

says. “I really wanted to capture what I

have to go through—the good, the bad,

the tough moments, everything that

leads me to my best times, whether on

top of the podium or riding the biggest

wave of my life.” He wants to inspire

people, too. “How much dedication are

you willing to put toward something

and how much passion is fueling that

fire? That unrelenting determination

has been the magic behind me. Hopefully,

I inspire kids to follow their passion

and think, If he can do it, I can do it,”

he says.

The series was shot in the fall and

winter of 2019/2020 and follows Lenny

through an abbreviated big-wave season.

Sure, you get to see how Lenny preps his

body and mind to surf massive conditions

(and survive mighty wipeouts) at surf

survival training camp, and how he puts

those tools into action as he competes in

the Jaws Big Wave Championships in

December and the Nazaré Tow Surfing

Challenge in February. But the series

also gives you a better sense of who

Lenny is and his approach—as someone

who is constantly learning, innovating

and is always 10 steps ahead of

everyone else. You’ll see how he

adapts to different situations, whether

it’s equipment or technology failures or

fickle weather systems, and how he

refines his surfboards and hydrofoils.

Life of Kai really is just the life of Kai.

“Kai looks at things

differently. What he really

sees is opportunity and


By now you probably know the

story. Kai Lenny is the wunderkind

whose parents moved to Maui to

windsurf. He was a prodigious young

windsurfer himself—a tiny kid flying

high above the waves at Hookipa Beach

Park who used to sew mini sails and kites

during circle time at his Montessori

school. His mentors include Laird

Hamilton, Dave Kalama, Robby Naish

and other famous pioneers who were

literally inventing new ocean sports in

his backyard. It rubbed off on Lenny.

He’s a stand-up paddle world champion

many times over (winning his first title

at age 18), winner of the grueling

Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World

Championships and one of the most



Jaws, January 2015:

Lenny puts up with

the rain to find

his pot of gold at the

end of the rainbow.

dominant wind- and kitesurfers in the

world. Yes, he surfs, too. He’s a fearless

big-wave rider who can also kick some

impressive aerials on a shortboard.

Lenny isn’t just a good athlete. He’s

a gifted waterman. He has a keen vision

of the ocean and looks at it differently

than most people. “He sees the sea

surface and what’s under the sea surface

and uses that energy,” says Decesare. In

big waves, Decesare says that Lenny’s

mind is like a calculator, putting aside

fear to work out different variables and

factors. This gives him the confidence to

perform in conditions that would make

normal humans blanch.

It’s hard to imagine that the kid

with the wide smile that hints of

mischievousness and constant delight

didn’t have a place in the lineup when he

was younger. He wasn’t taken seriously,

because he was a multi-sport athlete. His

first loves were windsurfing, stand-up

paddle and kitesurfing while everyone

else was surfing. Even his mentors like

Naish tried to prepare Lenny for the day

when he’d have to set all other equipment

aside and choose one sport. His dad,

Martin, remembers watching other kids

hassle his son and asking him if he just

wanted to focus on surfing. Lenny looked

at his dad and said, “Why would I want to

do that? All the sports I do are so fun.”

In the back of his mind, Lenny knew

he could be an all-around waterman. He

loved the ocean and didn’t want to

pigeonhole himself. He wanted to take

advantage of whatever the conditions

offered and use whatever equipment he

needed to have a good time. But even as

he became a gifted athlete and champion

stand-up paddler, he still didn’t get much

credibility. “Other surfers were like,

‘Stand-up paddle kid, windsurfer,

weirdo.’ They didn’t really give him

much credit as a surfer,” says Decesare.

It took a while for Lenny to gain the

respect of his peers, and it was his bigwave

surfing that helped him prove

himself. Lenny has surfed the massive

waves at Peahi, the famed Maui break

also known as Jaws, on every type of

board since he was 16 years old. He’s

able to perform so well precisely because

of his windsurfing and kitesurfing

background. People started to take

notice, especially as Lenny began to

focus more on surfing.

They came to realize he’s not a onedimensional

surfer but the complete

package, from big waves to Sunset-style

waves to Pipeline to shortboard aerial

trick waves to incredible, giant towsurfing

waves, who’s now a champion in

the big-wave world,” says Decesare. In

2019 he racked up two big-wave awards:

Men’s XXL Biggest Wave Award and

Men’s Overall Performance Award. This

year, he garnered five nominations

across three categories for the 2020 Red

Bull Big Wave Awards.

A big turning point came when

Lenny began competing well on the bigwave

circuit. He won the contest in

Puerto Escondido in 2017. He backed

that up by winning the Nazaré Tow

Surfing Challenge with his teammate,

Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca, last February.

Lenny and Chianca are friends and

competitors. They were at surf survival

camp together, which cemented their

friendship and the blind faith that as

partners they would pick each other

up on a jet ski as 60-to-70-foot waves

threaten to annihilate them. That rocksolid

camaraderie allowed Lenny to

enter the contest feeling calm, focused

and collected.

Both surfers’ gifts for big waves were

on full display in Portugal. “Lucas and

I want to ride the biggest waves in the

world, but not just ride them and

survive. We want to perform and do

huge maneuvers,” Lenny says. “My focus

for years now has been how can I take

snowboarding-type maneuvers and

implement them into big-wave riding.

These guys can do it on huge mountains

in Alaska. Why can’t I do it on huge waves

in the ocean?” While others may have

chosen a safer route to the shoulder,

Lenny took different lines and flipped

360s while riding down the steep faces

of Praia do Norte waves.

“I love the fact that ultimately

I can achieve something I

couldn’t do before. On top of

that, I love the art form of it all.”



Moment of reflection:

Lenny takes a break

from his surf session

at Hookipa on

October 6, 2019.

“For me, it’s never been about

beating someone else. It’s

about beating myself.”

They looked like they were just having

fun, too. You have a sense that Lenny and

Chianca would be out there whether or

not there was a contest running. They

stayed in the water for two hours after

the competition wrapped up because the

waves were still pumping. Once they were

out of the water, Lenny looked at images

on a phone. He chuckled and said, “I love

big-wave surfing.”

Still, despite his success and long

overdue recognition within the surf

community, you’d expect Lenny to have

a little chip on his shoulder. Instead,

he’s laser-focused on performing at the

highest level and eliminating as many

gray areas as possible.

“For me it’s never been about beating

someone else. It’s always been about

beating myself,” he says. He loves rising

to the occasion in competitions when

he’s facing the best in the world. It forces

him to push himself to the next level,

to a place he wouldn’t go without the

pressure—what he calls encouragement—

of someone who rides better than he

does. “The reason why I’ve been so

consistent and getting better across all

my sports stems from being purely

passionate on the deepest level for what

I do. I love the sports all the way down to

the technical stuff, like my equipment. I

love the fact that ultimately I can achieve

something I couldn’t do before. On top of

that, I love the art form of it all,” he says.

That relentless march toward

progress and innovation is baked into his

DNA. From an early age, his parents

helped him set goals, baby steps that

would blaze a path to riding mountainsized

waves. For example, when he was

around 9 years old, his dad showed him

the spot up at Hookipa where all the

windsurfers eventually wind up. Martin

taught him where to come in so he could

climb across the rocks. “Eventually,

when he would go out and push himself,

he’d get clobbered. But you’d see him

twinkle-toeing around the rocks. He

knew what he was doing and he was

fine,” recalls Martin.

When Lenny was in his early teens, he

and his dad would sit down every year

and plan out a road map of goals Lenny

wanted to achieve. They continue to

revisit the plan annually, tweaking it

here and there and adding more to the


Daily acrobatics,

October 2019: Lenny

does a backflip on his

foil board in the

waves off of Hookipa.


list. Now, instead of plotting when he’ll

become a world champion, his dad says

Lenny’s thinking of more ambitious goals

and charting a path toward a lifelong

career as a professional athlete.

In some ways, being stuck at home

during quarantine has been a

throwback to old times. Lenny can

toss equipment in the back of his truck

and tackle whatever the conditions offer

up that day: windsurfers, kites, wings

and multiple boards painted cobalt blue

with a red racing stripe down the

middle, a nod to his love of Formula 1.

Maybe he’ll throw in some paddles for

good measure. He’s also taken time to

do things he normally doesn’t have time

for when he’s home for short stints, like

mountain biking, training on his brandnew

road bike or hitting the gym. His

dad says, “It’s been wonderful having Kai

just be Kai at home and getting to know

him again.”

When you give Lenny some leniency

and freedom, it’s hard to keep up with

him. Really, the constraints of being

home have allowed Lenny to become even

more creative. Instead of training for his

next competition, meticulously checking

his gear for his next trip or worrying

about his sponsorship obligations, he’s

been reconnecting with what he really

wants to do.

“I’m able to focus on what caught my

eye when I was a little kid and fell in love

with the sport, which is the sport itself,

versus the stuff surrounding it, you

know?” he explains. He’s more concerned

about perfecting the subtleties of various

maneuvers, like the feeling of looking

over his left shoulder when he does a flip

while windsurfing, or really spotting the

landing when doing full 360 airs while

surfing. He’s landed new tricks, too.

After cocooning at home for months

rebuilding, training and gearing up

without distractions and external

obligations, it wouldn’t be surprising if

Lenny explodes back onto the scene

once competitions resume and travel

restrictions are lifted. He says it’s given

him a new perspective, one that’s more

inward focused and analytical. Over the

past few months, Lenny has tried to

break down situations to understand

what allows him to be who he is and

have his best moments. “Is it when my

gear is set up this way? Is it how I wake

up or how I approach it? Do I like to be

a little more relaxed or focused? That

sort of thing will make me much more

successful when it all returns,” he says.

And Lenny can’t wait for it all to

return because he still has goals—many.

“With foiling, I want to ride huge swells

in the middle of the ocean and travel

from one land mass to another. With

big-wave riding, I want to ride the

biggest waves in the world and ride parts

of the wave that either no one has ever

done or only a very few people ever have,”

he says. There may be a Life of Kai, Part 2

in the future, too. And that’s just off the

top of his mind. There are plenty of

missions he hasn’t even dreamed of yet.

“I just want to do everything. I’ll see

someone across the world do something

incredible and then I really want to do

that. I’m so inspired by their approach.

For me, it’s more that I need to get to that

point and then the actual destination of

accomplishing it,” he says. “For the rest

of my life, so long as I have goals ahead

of me, I’ll always be entertained and

having fun.”

“So long as I have goals

ahead of me, I’ll always be

entertained and having fun.”


Photographer Fred

Pompermayer took

this otherworldly

shot at Jaws in

January: “Whenever

Kai is in the water,

I know something

special will happen.”


Win-Win Situation

Five years ago, there were only a handful of colleges with esports

programs. Today there are more than 130. With the gaming

industry exploding, savvy schools are attracting hungry students

who seek careers in a wild new frontier of opportunities.


At the vanguard of

collegiate esports,

Full Sail University

in Florida opened its

$6 million gaming

arena in May 2019.



Full Sail student

Megan Danaher is

captain of the

Armada’s Overwatch

Varsity Squad.

ne Sunday morning in early March,

Megan Danaher meanders through

the Fortress, an indoor auditorium on

the campus of Full Sail University, a twoyear

college near Orlando, Florida, that

prepares students for careers in the

entertainment industry. The Fortress,

which at 11,200 square feet is the largest

collegiate arena for competitive video

gaming, or esports, in the United States,

reflects this academic mission. A giant

screen hangs over a brightly lit stage

where a banner reads “Hall of Fame

Week.” The heavy beats of R&B music

blare through enormous wall-mounted

speakers. Camera operators and

photographers surge through a crowd of

young people, some of whom wear blackand-orange

jerseys that signify their

membership in Armada, Full Sail’s varsity

esports team. Danaher strides confidently

toward a group of guys standing in a

circle and takes off her sweatshirt,

ruffling her bangs and revealing her own

Armada jersey. Her gamer handle is

stitched in block letters across her upper

back: Peptoabysmal.

Danaher is the captain of Armada’s

Overwatch Varsity Squad, and the team’s

only woman. A first-person, team-based

shooter game, Overwatch is defined by its

fast pace and complex graphics. Several

of Danaher’s teammates wear black face

paint under their eyes, and now they

crowd in close, jerseys shimmering in the

strobes. There are Lleaf and Anarchy,

Yakisoba, 2A1Z and Beaverbiskit. “I just

washed my hands,” says Danaher. With

the threat of COVID-19 just beginning to

emerge, the organizers have provided

Purell and disinfectant wipes, along with

stickers to indicate whether someone


Danaher, aka

Peptoabysmal, is the

only woman on her

team. Below: Hand

sanitizer at an event

in early March 2020.


prefers an elbow bump to a handshake,

but people are still mingling. The group

fidgets nervously, eager to take the stage

for the upcoming tournament.

The Fortress is quickly filling to

capacity in anticipation. The hall this day

provides a smorgasbord of delights for a

gamer—fierce competitions, deep expert

commentary, practice sessions on stateof-the-art

sponsored MSI Stealth

computers, free swag and a chance to

meet their favorite players. A dozen

students from two League of Legends

teams are already duking it out. The

action is broadcast onto the giant screen.

Two commentators twirl pens between

their fingers and call the action. In

another corner a student is deep into an

NBA 2K match with Toxsic, a professional

gamer. From atop the stage, a host

shouts, “Don’t go anywhere, ’cuz you

don’t wanna miss the next match!”

Armada’s Overwatch coach, an impish

and enthusiastic semi-pro, convenes a

quick huddle with his players. “What do

we have to do?” he screams. “WIN!”

comes the thunderous retort. Danaher,

who, like everyone else at the conference

in the early days of the pandemic, is sans

mask, turns aside from the group and

grimaces at her hands. “Ugh, I gotta wash

’em again now.”

The tournament at first is lopsided.

The fighters battle, shouting into their

headsets as fingers scamper over

keyboards and mice. Pandemonium

consumes the crowd. Armada esports

teams are good. Really good. The

challengers, Full Sail varsity hopefuls,

can’t quite keep up. The looming rout

doesn’t seem to dampen enthusiasm,

though. A particularly vocal fan in the

front row screams and hoots with utter

abandon, jumping out of his seat,

oblivious to stares, while behind him a

young woman stares with quiet, rapt

fascination at the onscreen drama. The

whole event is being livestreamed on

Twitch, the platform of choice for gamers

the world over.

Esports has been growing as an

industry for years. More recently,

colleges have been getting in on the

action. And for those that aren’t, perhaps

they should be. Esports is set to surpass

$1.5 billion in revenues by 2023,

according to the Esports Ecosystem

Report, published by Business Insider

Intelligence. Meanwhile, the number of

venture capital investments in esports

doubled between 2017 and 2018,

according to the accounting firm

Deloitte, representing a more than 800

percent increase in actual dollars, to

more than $4.5 billion. Nationwide,

hundreds of schools have opened esports

programs in recent years and more are

on the way. Robert Morris University in

Chicago, which merged with Roosevelt

University this year, was the first school

to embrace esports in 2014. Since then

more than 130 collegiate programs have

popped up all over the country, in dozens

of states. They range from the small, like

Roosevelt, to the big, like the University

of California, Irvine, which was the first

public university to create an esports

program in 2015. In 2018, when Boise

State University, in Idaho, opened its

esports program, 20 students enrolled.

Last year there were 200 applicants.

Esports revenue is set to surpass

$1.5 billion by 2023. Smart colleges

are getting in on the action.


The whole esports space is full of

problem solvers. They had to do

that to get where they are.”

The interest in our university based on

esports is a big part of the conversation,”

says Chris Haskell, who runs Boise’s

program. “We advise colleges that are

thinking about opening esports programs

that whatever space they’re planning for

in year one they need to have a plan for

how to double that in year two,” says

Michael Brooks of the National

Association of Collegiate Esports, a

governing body for college esports.

But there’s something else going on.

Gaming is the largest area of interest for

males and females between the ages of 10

and 20, according to statistics compiled

by NACE. Those figures place gaming

right at the cutting edge of a substantial

shift in the corporate landscape of the

future. An entire ecosystem is emerging

that caters to virtually every aspect of

creative and business life that could

possibly spin out from the ubiquity of

video games in modern life. Before

the world went into a COVID lockdown,

stadiums were routinely filled with tens

of thousands of people for professional

Overwatch League tournaments. The

games’ viewership figures dwarfed

those for more traditional sports leagues

like the NFL or NBA. And increasingly,

colleges are feeling the economic

windfalls. NACE-registered schools

gave out some $15 million in gaming

scholarships during 2019.

In schools and corporate boardrooms

across the country, a convergence of sorts

is underway. On one side of the equation

are employers looking for independent

thinkers with a wide range of skills. That

could mean the ability to manage an

online community, or it could mean

knowing how to build or jerry-rig a PC

to work faster or better or with more

graphics. On the other side is a massive

gaming community that, by virtue of its

problem-solving skills, is uniquely suited

to meet that demand.

“If you want to be the best player at

your chosen game, you had to have

figured out a lot on your own,” says

Brooks. “Employers are looking for people

with these skills, and now they’re

discovering through esports that there’s

this whole subset of students who have

these skills.” In other words, a timely and

potentially very lucrative meeting of two

demographics is unfolding, driving

change in the college experience as well

as the hiring process. “If you’re thinking

of being a rapidly moving company, you

want people with a technical ability on

the software or hardware side, but you

also need people who are good at

problem solving, and the whole esports

Before lockdown,

stadiums were full

of esports fans.



Known as the

Fortress, Full Sail’s

esports arena is the

largest in the country.

At 11,200 square feet,

the facility can hold

up to 500 spectators.

According to NACE,

schools gave out

some $15 million in

gaming scholarships

in 2019. Enrollment in

esports and gaming

programs is soaring.

Events at Full Sail are

currently on hold, but

if there’s any industry

that can transition to

a completely virtual

new reality, it’s likely

to be gaming.


“I would love to go full-time esports.

To live a comfortable life off of

video games would be the dream.”

space is full of problem solvers,” says

Brooks. “They had to do that to get to

where they are.”

With large-scale sporting events on

hold—baseball and basketball seasons

are underway again, but the roaring of

the crowds has been replicated—live

video-gaming tournaments are also on

pause, at least for now. But if there’s any

industry that stands a chance to

transition to a completely virtual new

reality, it’s likely to be gaming. Already,

colleges are adapting. At Full Sail, where

fully half of the students were remote

learners to begin with, the entire student

body had gone remote within a week of

the first closures. Students there have

continued their learning via Zoom and

engaged more fully with each other

through online club gatherings.

Back in March, as Danaher and

her teammates bask in their

Overwatch victory, on the other

side of the Fortress, Gus Hernandez

rallies a crowd to the NBA 2K match.

Hernandez is a man happily defined

by his hair—a glorious bouquet of lightred

curls fashioned into an impressive

Afro. (“I decided to own it,” he says.)

Hernandez is enrolled in Full Sail’s

sportscasting degree program, and as he

paces behind Toxsic, the pro gamer, he

puts his skills to the test. “And ... Booker

moves, passes and ... scores!” he says,

seemingly delighted as much by the

spotlight as by the game on the screen.

As a kid, Hernandez always wanted

to be famous. Raised in a Brazilian family

in north Boston, he grew up watching

his stepfather play rounds of FIFA and Pro

Evolution Soccer on a PlayStation 2

in the family’s modest two-bedroom

apartment. Hernandez spent hours

listening to legendary Boston sportscaster

Jack Edwards broadcast local soccer

games on an old radio and soon began to

imagine himself behind the microphone.

He also started to appreciate the more

“energetic, emotional commentary” of

New England Revolution games he

discovered on local Portuguese stations.

“That drew me in,” he says.

Hernandez was in his early teens when

he first discovered Twitch, and he started

commentating games on his own feed.

A company called Sinai Village found him

and asked him to commentate several Pro

Clubs soccer games. When he was 17,

a league in the United Kingdom offered

to fly him over to do one of their games.

The trip ended up being canceled, but

a spark had been lit. As his Twitch feed

grew, Hernandez branched out to other

games, like Counter-Strike. Recently he

opened up the Twitch stream for Counter-

Strike: Global Offensive and found that his

own feed topped the list. “I would like to

think those streams would be attracting

organization owners,” he says. At age 19

he already has an enviable brand and a

position in the marketplace that is likely

to attract attention. “People tell me that

I have a really exciting style of

commentary,” he says.

These days, he commentates every

major Super Smash Bros. event in

Florida, while also keeping up with nonsoccer

games, too. “I would love to go

full-time esports,” he says. “To live a

comfortable life off of video games,

something that was a safe haven for me

growing up, would be the dream.” Until

that happens, he would like to find a

more traditional sportscasting job at a

local network, or an ESPN. His dream of

being famous has morphed only slightly.

“I always wanted to be some sort of

talent, but I never thought it would be

in sports,” he says. “With esports, it’s

a realistic goal for me.”

The demand for people like

Hernandez is exploding, even as an

infrastructure to support their dreams

continues to grow. Career choices

abound: Shoutcasters to call games to

millions of fans; managers to organize

the growing number of live events,

which are on par with or even surpass

NFL or NHL audiences. Coders,

designers, animators, copywriters,

product managers, game designers and

technicians—all are in high demand in

the global entertainment marketplace.

This, then, is the boom that has

everyone excited, not least the students

themselves. “This is a whole different

Sportscasting major Gus Hernandez commentates esports games all across Florida.


dynamic these days,” says Sari Kitelyn,

who heads up Full Sail’s esports programs.

“Gaming can really bring you career


Sports, of course, have always offered

avenues to employment. Traditional

athletes have leveraged their skills in

conjunction with sports management

programs to find work off the field. But

now, the skills and tools being developed

within esports are presenting a different

degree of opportunity. “Think about

consumer brands and how they’re

engaging with the public,” says NACE’s

Brooks. “Almost all that is shifting to

an online interaction, to managing

communities, streaming, to livestreaming

in particular, with personalities and

events, and that’s where we see a ton of

advertising, marketing and journalism

interest, and esports is right there

teaching people how to do that.”

By early afternoon, the Fortress

has begun to empty. Danaher,

Hernandez and another Full Sail

student, Erik Alpizar, take a break in

a lounge area. Danaher munches on a

cinnamon pretzel and talks about her

two cats, Cookie and Gazlowe, who

she named after a goblin in World of

Warcraft. The conversation turns to

games. Alpizar, who did a stint in the

Navy, is a devoted player of Dragonball,

a one-on-one fighting game. By his own

reckoning, Alpizar is one of the top five

players in Florida. (He placed 96th out

of some 1,200 players in a Las Vegas

tournament last year.) “When I was really

in the thick of it, there was a month

where literally on a Friday night I was

driving to Tampa, and then on Saturday

I was in Jacksonville, and then the

following week I was in Miami. And then

the week after that, I would be in Orlando

Full Sail student Erik Alpizar is a devoted player

of the one-on-one fighting game Dragonball.


“This is a whole different dynamic

these days. Gaming can really

bring you career opportunities.”


Members of

Armada, Full Sail


varsity esports

team, go up

against their



at a venue they have over at a Buffalo

Wild Wings.”

Alpizar tells Hernandez and Danaher

about Arslan Ash, the Red Bull-sponsored

Tekken player from Pakistan who

seemingly came from out of nowhere to

beat a South Korean master named Knee

at the 2019 EVO event and took the

mantle of world champion. Tekken had

opened doors in unexpected ways for

Pakistan and its people, he explains; a

country often in the headlines for stories

about terrorism or geopolitics was now

making news about video games. “It was

just an excellent thing in esports,” he says.

There’s no negative connotation for

people from Pakistan ’cause the common

person doesn’t care. People that play

games don’t care. With esports being

global now and picking up steam, it’s so

easy for any community to just step out

and be like, ‘Oh, hey, we’re opening to

make it more public. Hey, we’re from

Pakistan. Hey, we’re from Jordan. Hey,

we’re from all these places, all who can

play.’ There’s a 7-year-old girl who won

a Pokémon grand final from Indonesia.

It’s like this is our path to world peace.”

Full Sail’s Hall of Fame week has

been an annual celebration for

more than a decade. A select

coterie of graduates who have done well

in their chosen field and given back to

the school in some way are invited back

each year to be inducted and speak to

current students. In that sense the school

feels like the pipeline it advertises itself

to be—a place where people who know,

more or less, what they want to learn are

connected with a workplace that wants

their skills. “Everybody wants everybody

to move,” Kitelyn says. “Everybody’s

almost all in together to keep building

and providing some infrastructure to

the industry. Because obviously the

economic impact has been huge so far.”

One graduate being honored in

March is Erin Eberhardt, who graduated

a decade ago and now works at Blizzard,

the L.A.-based gaming giant. Raised on a

7-acre plot in rural Ohio, Eberhardt was

a free-range child, but in the evenings

the family gathered to watch her father,

an air traffic controller, game with

friends. “We had chairs sitting behind

Dad, and we’d be all like peering over

and would pop out, just screaming like

maniacs, like little kids.” Eberhardt went

to a traditional university but found it

uninspiring. She got a Full Sail degree in

2010. When she entered the job market,

YouTube and other streaming services

were just ramping up. Twitch didn’t yet

exist. She got a job at Disney working in

development and then moved over to

PlayStation for five years.

Esports experienced a surge in 2016

when the Overwatch League was

announced. Eberhardt applied to the

game’s maker, Blizzard Entertainment,

and got hired. Since then she’s seen a

steady influx of professionals from other

sectors into the gaming world. “We’re

seeing a lot of people from traditional TV

and film coming in, a lot from the NFL,

the NBA,” she says. “We just have this

amazing nexus of these awesome minds

all working together on this product.”

She predicts that the next generation

of hires is going to come straight from

the world of collegiate esports. “This is

exactly what is growing the next future

generation of who is working in esports,”

she says. “It’s in the collegiate level.

Pretty much every single major [at Full

Sail] could find themselves working in

esports at one point because it’s kind of

‘all hands on deck’ right now.” Full Sail

is feting Eberhardt in part for her role

in staging a massive live event last year

around a game called Hearthstone.

Danaher, one of Eberhardt’s mentees,

views the Hearthstone event as a key

moment in her own development. “It was

perfect,” she says.

The arc of Danaher and Eberhardt’s

respective trajectories in some sense

mirrors the growth of the industry.

A decade ago, when Eberhardt was

entering the job market, gaming was still

an incipient industry. Full Sail didn’t

have an esports team. Now Danaher’s

options stretch out attractively in

multiple directions. Like Eberhardt,

Danaher grew up gaming. “I was the

nerdy girl that liked video games,” she

says. She did theater and sports, too, and

thrived on the team sports environment

and the human connection. Now she

Full Sail alum Erin

Eberhardt now

works at Blizzard



It’s not just kids playing video

games that has executives from

Hollywood to Orlando drooling.

The Full Sail


campus in Winter

Park, Florida.

studies creative writing. Danaher’s ideal

job would be to stage the kinds of

massive live events that draw hundreds

of thousands of people to arenas around

the world for gaming events. Her parents

have come around to her point of view.

“Back then they were probably like, ‘Get

off those stupid games and do your

homework’ sort of thing,” she says. “But

now they kind of see, like, yeah, there

actually are jobs here. She’s not just

goofing off.”

After graduating this coming

October, Danaher will begin a master’s

degree program in sports management

at Full Sail. She envisions a career

devoted entirely to esports involving

project management, team management

and team building. She has her eye set

on an outfit in Texas that runs an esports

stadium. “I would help build the team,

manage the team, make sure that they’re

getting their practices, they’re sleeping

right. Making sure that their mental

health is still doing OK,” she says. “I

just want to do things that help build

a team up, like things that I’m doing

right now, but in a larger capacity that

I get paid for.”

Full Sail University began in a truck,

literally, a 26-foot GMC motor home. It

was first conceived as a mobile recording

studio where artists could learn the

basics of music production in short, goaloriented

sessions. Today the campus

consists of several single-story buildings

tucked away in an otherwise mostly

empty grid of office spaces and small

businesses in Winter Park, Florida, in

suburban northeast Orlando. Its

graduates have gone on to work in the

biggest studios in Hollywood, including

Netflix, Amazon and Disney. Every single

Marvel film that has appeared in theaters

to date has at least one, and often more

than one, Full Sail graduate. The School

of Sportscasting is named after famed

SportsCenter alum and radio host Dan

Patrick, who is a frequent visitor. Dave

Arneson, the creator of Dungeons &

Dragons, taught game design at the

school until 2008. With courses costing

$450 an hour, it isn’t cheap. But

applications continue to stream in.

It’s not just kids playing video games

that has executives from Hollywood

to Orlando drooling. It’s all the other

stuff. “Twitch has about a thousand job

openings right now but they don’t have

candidates for those skill sets,” says

NACE’s Brooks. Computer engineers,

database managers and sound engineers,

especially those who have a solid

background in gaming, are in demand.

“We hear the same thing for Microsoft.

They’re naturally seeing that their

current employees are also gamers.

That’s where they’re getting employees

from. That’s the population they want

to get in front of.”

This is driving meaningful

connectivity between the corporate

landscape and the collegiate one. It

actually starts even earlier than that.

“You’re going to have some of these

semi-trained, semi-pro kids that are

coming out of high school being

recruited into collegiate programs,”

says Eberhardt. “They’re being recruited

for the skills that they have in their

gaming.” She points to the Overwatch

tournament inside the Fortress, and the

entire Hall of Fame experience at Full

Sail. “Those were all students,” she says.

The sound guys, all the runners, the

PAs, the lighting, the rigging—all a

student-run production. That kind of

experience is exactly what we’re looking

for at studios.”


At Full Sail

tournaments, it’s

a totally studentrun


from the PAs to

the lighting,

sound and

rigging people.


It’s the end of the day at Full Sail and

a crowd starts to gather in front of a

large outdoor stage where a screen has

been set up behind a pair of chairs and

a game console. As the audience begins

to fill in, Hernandez and Alpizar take the

stage. Full Sail’s Armada Smash Bros.

team will be taking on challengers from

the audience. A few brave souls take the

stage. Elijah. Then Kenneth. They both

lose. The crowd starts warming up. The

next contestant, Logan, puts up more of

a fight. More people sit down, settling in

for a long evening of video gaming. On

stage Hernandez and Alpizar are finding

their rhythm. The warm Florida air is

soothing. A steady thump of dance music

wafts in from somewhere else on

campus. You get the sense, on this

pleasant evening, that everyone who is

here is exactly where they want to be.

“This is esports, baby!” Alpizar shouts.

Employers everywhere from Twitch to Microsoft are looking for applicants with a gaming background.






Cooped up by COVID, a crew of

Wyoming outdoor athletes concoct an

informal but intense mountain triathlon in

their own backyard. The so-called Laramie

Brunch—which combines biking, climbing

and a glacial-lake crossing—is a tough

reminder that one does not need airlines or

mass-start events to rediscover the soul

and hard-earned joys of adventure.


Photography GREG MIONSKE


Two competitors in

the Laramie Brunch pick

their way up the

technical face of the

Diamond in Wyoming’s

Snowy Range. At the

top, they’ll be halfway

home in this homegrown

adventure triathlon.


The lake is calm and the skies are

leaden. We were hoping for a Rocky Mountain

dawn—pink welkin with the promise of warm

sunshine—but it is not to be. Dark clouds roll right

above our helmeted heads, enveloping the towering

rock ramparts. If it starts to rain, or more likely

snow, our mission is over.

We are shivering when we finally dismount from

our heavily loaded steeds. It is daybreak, bleak and

desolate. We’ve bicycled 45 miles and gained 4,000

feet—from the benighted plains at 7,000 feet up to

Lake Marie, at almost 11,000 feet, in the Snowy

Range of southeastern Wyoming. Martha can’t feel

her feet. Justin’s on the edge of bonking. Alice is

being stoic. We all pound trail food for the calories

of heat and slug back electrolyte-laced water.

“Critical Error #1,” says Martha. “I didn’t bring

enough warm clothes.”

I’d told her that her puffy winter jacket was

overkill for this undertaking, so she left it at home.

But now I see that there is still deep snow in the

couloirs between the stone faces.

To warm up, we do jumping jacks together along

the shore of the lake.

We are two teams: Justin and Alice; Martha, my

fiancée, and I. Justin unstraps a packraft from the

handlebars of his mountain bike and I pull one from

my panniers. We set to work inflating our tiny boats.

Martha packs our rope and climbing gear and

harnesses into two dry bags. Alice does the same

with their mountain climbing equipment.

Both packrafts, 4-pound inflatable baby boats,

are meant for one person, not two, let alone the

addition of two heavy sacks of climbing gear. Our

biggest fear is capsizing. Lake Marie was frozen solid

a month ago, so the water is unbearably cold. Heart

attack cold. We don’t have wetsuits. I admonish

Martha to be careful as she gets into the raft.

“I know, I know,” she replies.

She delicately kneels in the bow and I get into the

stern, my knees almost against her back. We push

gently away from the bouldery bank and begin to

paddle in unison, our two dry bags of climbing gear

bobbing along behind us on a cord.

I’m immediately paddling too hard.

“Don’t go all Lewis and Clark,” Martha says.

I try to stay calm and match her pace.

The water, thankfully, is tranquil. We paddle

silently through the black water like Vikings on a

raid. Trout are leaping here and there, their rings

expanding. Massive-antlered moose lurk along the

shore, concealed in the shadows of the forest. A bald

eagle, its white head visible against the black clouds,

circles above us. The world is silent.

Gliding across this alpine tarn, it feels as if we are

floating through another time. A time before cars

and traffic, overpopulation and pollution. A time

when the sky and the earth, the lakes and the woods

and the stars, were still part of a human’s life. A time

that kept quiet and remained humble, confident in

the intrinsic value of its own stark serenity.

We thought it might take us an hour to raft across

Lake Marie (named after the first woman to be


The confinement of

COVID-19 had been

driving us crazy. We

had to do something

big, hard—and close.

Harper, Large and Joel

ride back to Laramie

as an evening storm

rolls in.

elected to the Wyoming State Legislature, in 1910)—

especially if the wind kicked up. Instead, stroking in

synchronization across the velvety water, humming

“Lake Marie” by John Prine, we make the half-mile

crossing in 10 minutes. Alice and Justin follow close

behind us, paddling smoothly, soundlessly.

When our packraft bumps against the boulders,

Martha clambers out with a grin. “That was more

enjoyable than I expected,” she whispers brightly.

“Leg two, of six, completed!” I reply.

We pull the raft out of the water and place rocks

inside it to keep it from blowing away. We open our

Walmart dry bags and are dismayed to find they are

filled with lake water. All our gear is soaked, but

there’s nothing we can do. We cinch on our climbing

harnesses, bandolier the climbing gear and slings

across our chests, clip our rocks shoes to our

harnesses and start tramping up the talus. Alice and

Justin are just behind us.

We have crossed the moat and are now working

our way to the castle walls. Clouds have kept the sky

dark, but the fat, furry marmots, whistling to one

another, sound the alarm of our approach.

We reach the base of the 700-foot face of the

Diamond, put on our rock shoes and begin to climb,

silently storming the castle.


The Brunch delivered on all counts—technical challenges, scenic vistas and socially distanced camaraderie, all followed by pizza and beer.


The confinement of COVID-19 had been

driving us crazy. We had to do something.

Something big but close. Something hard but

possible. Something fun!

“Ever heard of the Jackson Hole Picnic?” Martha

asked me one afternoon. She’d lived in Jackson for

a summer.

I shook my head.

“It’s a mountain triathlon. Bike 20 miles from

Jackson to Jenny Lake, swim the 1.3 miles across,

hike up the Grand Teton—over 7,000 vert—then

reverse it all.”

“Sounds like a solid day,” I said.

“We should create our own picnic,” said Martha.

“Right here in Laramie.”

We googled the Jackson Hole Picnic. It was the

brainchild of writer/photographer David Gonzales.

After failing twice, he finally did the picnic in 2012:

23 hours out and back. Gonzales says he named it

the picnic for two reasons: “You gotta bring a lot of

food, and it’s not an organized event.” Gonzales has

since created a few other picnics in mountain towns

in Montana and the Northwest. Always, participants

have to do it on their own, totally self-supported.

In truth, mountain climbers have been pedaling

to their projects for at least a century. In 1931,

alpinist brothers Franz and Toni Schmid bicycled

from Munich, 200 miles south through the Alps to

the base of the Matterhorn, made the first ascent of

the notorious North Face and then rode back home.

Moreover, the word “picnic” has been used

ironically in many alpine climbing tales, most

notably in Felice Benuzzi’s 1946 picaresque classic

No Picnic on Mount Kenya. Benuzzi and two other

Italians were being held as WWII POWs in Kenya.

They escaped the prison camp at night, trekked for

days, climbed the north face of Mount Kenya, then

returned across the savannah and snuck right back

into the POW camp. Glorious!

In five minutes, Martha and I mapped out our

own six-leg picnic: Bike 45 miles from the Pedal

House bike shop in Laramie, Wyoming, up to the

Snowy Range; cross Lake Marie by any means;

ascend the Medicine Bow Diamond—five pitches of

technical rock climbing—choosing your own route,

5.5 to 5.11; run or rapel off the mountain; recross

Lake Marie; ride back to Laramie.

“You can get across Lake Marie any way you

want—swim, paddle, canoe—but everything has to

be carried on your bike up and back,” she declared.

“Boats, ropes, climbing gear, PFDs!?”


After watching a couple YouTube Jackson Hole

Picnic vids, Martha said, “Looks too much like a bro

fest. We should require male/female teams.”

The next day we pitched our idea to Joel Charles,

chief bike mechanic at the Pedal House.

“I like the co-ed requirement,” said Joel.

“Sausage and eggs! Why don’t we call it the ‘Laramie

Brunch?’ ”

So we did.

It would be a local event for local outdoor

athletes. No sponsors, no professional athletes, no

prizes. You ride your own bike, whatever it may be,

climb with your own gear and wear your own

clothes. By the end of the week, we had four

2-person teams:

Justin Bowen, 28, a serious rock climber and

grad student (in watershed management) who has

lived in Jackson Hole for six years; and his partner

Alice Stears, 26, serious cyclist and Ph.D. candidate

(in botany), who once rode from Missoula, Montana,

to Eugene, Oregon.

Martha Tate, 32, an emigration attorney, ice

climber, globetrotter and adventure gal; with me,

61, as her comrade.

Amanda Harper, 30, a mountain guide, mountain

bike racer, co-director of the University of Wyoming

outdoor program; and Joel Charles, 42, sometime

climber and former bike racer, father of Josie, 3.

Matt “Large” Hebard, 43, a former savage bike

racer and present savage ice climber, father of two

sweet daughters; and a mysterious female partner

none of us had ever met. Large insisted her name

was Rihanna and claimed she was a CrossFit badass,

gorgeous as a model.

Martha, the author,

Justin and Alice

celebrate a

surprisingly quick


It would be a local event for local

outdoor athletes. No sponsors, no

professional athletes, no prizes.


We scheduled the Laramie Brunch for the last

weekend of July. Boulder-based photographer Greg

Mionske drove up to document the fiasco, and my

daughter, Addi, volunteered to be safety boater and

cheerleader (she made posters—“Are U Suffering

Yet?” “How About Now?” and “Home Stretch”—and

would wave them, shouting much-needed

encouragement, throughout the Brunch).

In terms of technical skills, the hardest part of

the Brunch would be climbing the chossy, 700-foot,

glass-slick quartzite face of the Snowy Range

Diamond. Because the rockfall risks on this

obscure wall are so substantial, nobody climbs

there except a handful of locals. Indeed, the

chances of getting whacked by a falling rock were

great enough that we decided only two teams

could climb on the wall at the same time, on two

separate routes, 200 horizontal feet apart. Two

teams would do the Brunch on Saturday, the other

two on Sunday.

It wasn’t a race. It wasn’t meant to be a sufferfest.

The point was simply to push ourselves with friends

in the mountains—and to finish.

The risk of rockfall is

high enough that

teams agreed to climb

200 feet apart.

Off belay,” I shout down at Martha, 200 feet off

the deck on the Diamond. I have been careful

not to knock rocks on her. We are on a route

called Overhang Direct, first climbed in 1959 by K.

Hull and R. Nessle. They rated it grade III, F-7,

A-2—the modern YDS climbing grade is perhaps


I gobble a PBJ while Martha climbs. When she

gets to my stony ledge, she traverses over to the

anchors, only to discover that the nylon webbing we

put in just last weekend has been chewed through

by marmots, the devil’s scouts.

Unbelievably, the next set of anchors, over 300

feet in the air, are also munched by marmots.

Luckily, above the third pitch—the money pitch, the

big overhang with lots of exposure and razor-sharp

rock—the anchors are still intact. I lead the fourth

pitch, Martha quickly leads the fifth pitch and we run

to the summit together. We have taken the castle.

“Halfway!” I yell.

“Two and a half hours,” says Martha. “Our fastest

ascent yet.”

Surprisingly, the clouds have thinned and the

weather improved. We can see far down onto the

high plains, almost making out Laramie 45 long

miles away.

“It’s all downhill from here,” I say.

“We still have to paddle back across the lake,”

Martha reminds me.

Martha eats her PBJ while I peer over the cliff

looking for Alice and Justin. They are climbing a

different route, called the Red Spot, first ascended

by R. Frisby, R. Jacquot and J. Mathiesen in 1965.

I can’t see my friends and call down into space.

An unintelligible reply wafts up the wall.

The threat of rain has vanished—we can relax.

There is nothing quite so piquant as sitting on top of

a mountain you have just climbed, staring out over

the landscape. You are filled with a profound sense

of satisfaction. You can sense the magnetic power of

the planet. The earth, after all, is just a big round

stone. When we are gone, geology will continue.

After an hour Alice and Justin top out. We take

the obligatory summit photo—all of us hugging and

yahooing—then start hiking down the trail. Back at

our boats in half an hour, we repack the dry bags

and prepare to paddle.

“I can’t believe how calm the water still is,”

says Alice.

The Norse gods are smiling down at us and we

know it.

We slide back across shimmering Lake Marie, the

water having transformed in the past few hours

from murky black to teal blue. Again, John Prine’s

song floats with me.

“Five legs finished,” says Justin as we haul our

boats up out of the water. “One leg left.”

We take our time collapsing our packrafts, rolling

them up and securing them to the bicycles. We dip

water from the lake and drop in iodine pills. We eat

again. I realize I have a flat and pump up my tire.

Everything feels natural and unhurried.

We saddle up and begin to ride. In just two

miles, we surmount the 11,000-foot pass, called


Hard pulls: Crossing Lake Marie in a boat built for one (left) and riding in a paceline on the way back to Laramie.

Libby Flats, abruptly stop pedaling and fly down

the mountain.

At the base of the Snowy Range is a mountain

town called Centennial, population 250. Centennial

is 30 miles from Laramie and according to our selfconcocted

Brunch rules, food and beverages obtained

in Centennial are allowed. We had passed through

this one-horse town before dawn when everything

was closed. There was a headwind and we were

naturally looking forward to a tailwind on the way

home. Alas, during the day the wind shifted 180

degrees, so now we have a headwind riding back.

This seems downright unfair, so we dismount, stable

our steeds, pull up chairs on the patio at the Bear

Bottom Bar and Grill and order pitchers of cold beer

and platters of tater tots.

“I thought this was going to be a sufferfest,” says

Martha, popping a tot in her mouth.

“Me too,” adds Alice.

Pouring himself another beer, Justin says, “I feel

better already!” Justin is riding his fat-tired

mountain bike with clipless pedals but no cleats on

his shoes. This doesn’t bother him a bit.

I’m sure there are serious cyclists who would

question the wisdom of stopping for pints of strong

IPA before riding the final 30 miles of a mountain

triathlon, but that’s just the way we do it in

Wyoming. Besides, tater tots have been scientifically

proven to be the perfect food for long bike rides.

We hang out eating and drinking and telling

stories for two hours before finally saddling up and

riding away. We are ostensibly two teams of two, but

in actuality, from the first minute on our bikes, we

have been a team of four.

With encouragement from Greg and Addi every

10 miles, we roll back into Laramie just after 5 p.m.:

15 hours for 90 miles of biking, 1 mile of boating,

a thousand feet of rock climbing and several long

rest-and-fuel breaks.

Martha and I sleep like dead Vikings but manage

to rally the next morning, drive up into the Snowies

and hike up the back of the Diamond by 11 a.m.

Greg is leaning over the face taking photos and

fiddling with his drone.

The two Sunday teams—Harper and Joel, Large

and Rihanna—are somewhere on the face below.

Martha and I drink cold beers waiting for them to

summit, shouting down words of harassment. They

too chose to start at the Pedal House at 2 a.m.

They’ve been moving for over 10 hours when they

finish the wall and clamber onto the top of the

Diamond. But look! There are only three of them.

Martha and I were expecting to meet Large’s

glamorous hotshot.

“Where’s Rihanna?” I cry.

The threesome break into laughter.

We have been snookered. Rihanna never existed.

The CrossFit babe was only an adventure avatar.

Large couldn’t find a female partner so he made one

up for us. They worked together as a threesome all

along. They even wore matching red onesies!

Harper carried her gear on her cross bike, using a

giant seat bag and handlebar bag. Joel rode one of

his old steel-frame racing bikes with no panniers or

gear, but tethered to the front of Large; Large rode

his 40-pound, $5,000 cargo bike with almost all the

team gear—ropes, wetsuits, everything—in a big

black box. It was not a happy arrangement.

The ride up here totally crushed me,” admits

Large, standing on the summit of the Diamond. He

looks dead and is only halfway done.

They opt to rappel the face while Martha, Greg

and I walk down. Back at the edge of Lake Marie, the

threesome slowly stretch into full-length wetsuits.

They will swim rather than paddle. They pull on large

rubber flippers, step into the water backwards and

then, using dry bags for flotation, start swimming.

Their crossing of Lake Marie is painfully slow because

Large barely knows how to swim.

“I hate water!” Large bellows. He is on his back,

holding the dry bag on his chest like an otter,

In terms of technical skills, the

hardest part of the Brunch would be

climbing the Snowy Range Diamond.


The Laramie Brunch is like any other triathlon that includes technical rock climbing in matching onesies and midride stops for tater tots.

kicking as best he can. But he doesn’t know how to

flutter kick. Instead, he kicks as if he were pedaling

a bike, frantically pounding his legs straight down.

Martha, Greg and I are in the safety canoe and

find it all hilarious. Large disagrees. “This is the

longest I’ve been in the water in my life!” he yells.

Joel and Harper seem to be having a good time,

flutter kicking and chatting away. They swim beside

Large as psychological support. At one point, I truly

worry for him. His face is gray and his eyes pinched.

He looks like he might start sinking. Nevertheless,

he eventually makes it to the far shore.

“I told you I hate water!” he roars from the bank.

They all drink mimosas with friends and family

alongside Lake Marie, drying out their wetsuits in

the sun, while we load the canoe back onto my car.

Large rallies with a little beverage.

Eventually the threesome saddle up and grind

slowly up over the pass. On the way down out of the

mountains, Large never touches his brakes. He

passes us at 50 mph. They buy snacks in Centennial

but do not tarry. The weather, which had been

bluebird all day, is turning. Thunderclouds are

filling the sky, casting black shadows across the

plains. The wind is blowing uncharacteristically

from the east. An upslope wind portends poor

weather in these parts.

Large, Joel and Harper battle this headwind all

the way back to Laramie. It looks exhausting. On a

bike, wind is always worse than an uphill. They are

racing directly into a storm, hoping to beat it, and

they almost do. Just two miles from Laramie they

get caught—buckets of rain and pelting hail. The

wind swirls like a dervish. To the north, they spot a

funnel cloud, which gives them sufficient inspiration

to get the damn ride done. Sometime after 6 p.m.

they slosh up to the Pedal House: more than 16

hours of suffering.


That night Martha and I had a party at our

house for everyone who had made the

inaugural Laramie Brunch a success. We had

boxes of local pizza and all kinds of local beer. Addi

made twice-baked potatoes that disappeared


Justin showed up first with more beer. He was in

high spirits.

“I feel great!”

He said he actually had gone to the gym in the

afternoon. It was too wet to climb hard so he pumped

iron instead.

Justin and I immediately started planning our

next adventure together: a new route on the north

face of the Grand Teton.

Alice arrived next. She cycled to our house in the

pouring rain, not giving it a thought. She looked like

she was ready to do it all over again. “I feel just

fine,” she said brightly. She was leaving the next

morning for a backpacking trip across the Gros

Ventre mountain range in northern Wyoming.

Harper showed up with more beer and friends.

“I’ll do it next year!” she said excitedly.

When Large and Joel finally arrived, Large was

wearing an expedition down parka, he was still so

cold. He was wiped. He slouched on the couch and

could barely speak. Perhaps the gods were punishing

him for poaching the event without a proper partner.

But Joel was in fine form, telling stories of his

bike-racing days in Boulder. He hadn’t ridden a

bike for a decade—he claimed to have trained for

the Laramie Brunch by drinking one less beer a

day—and thanked Martha for coming up with an

adventure that got him back on the bike. He said the

final stretch into Laramie brought back corporeal

feelings he hadn’t had since he stopped racing.

We all told stories. That’s what we humans do.

Martha told one about running a half marathon in

the excruciating heat of Alexandria, Egypt. Justin

had a tale of living in a van and ice climbing in

Kyrgyzstan. I told a story of getting sepsis on a bike

ride across Russia.

Everybody had their own tale of struggle and

perseverance, failure and triumph. Everyone had

their own epic. That is the nature of the tribe of

outdoor athletes.

As everyone was leaving, Alice thanked us and

said, “The whole reason I did this was I needed

something to look forward to. COVID has made us

feel like prisoners. This was a wonderful escape!”

Felice Benuzzi, World War II POW, would be


Everyone had a tale of

struggle and perseverance,

failure and triumph.

Everyone had their own epic.


10 issues for $12




Get it. Do it. See it.


Solitude is bliss

on Lake Powell.




Getting away from it all is hard when everyone is

trying to do the same thing. Here are four ways to

get creative—and cut yourself off from the crowds.



Do it


Discover Public Lands



California’s Sierra Nevada

mountain range, which runs

400 miles from the Mojave

Desert to Oregon, is home to

the state’s most celebrated

natural wonders. It’s a place

where you can climb the

Lower 48’s highest peak,

Mount Whitney, one day and

hug the world’s largest tree

the next; spend half your trip

touring Yosemite National

Park and the other half

floating on the emerald

waters of Lake Tahoe.

Understandably, campgrounds

in the area are almost always

running at capacity—which is

why those in the know have

cut the campground cord.

The area is overwhelmingly

public lands,” says Bureau of

Land Management (BLM)

Bishop Field Manager Steve

Nelson. “You won’t come

across many “no trespassing”

signs and there is still a high

level of self-discovery here.”

Specifically, Nelson is

referring to BLM and Forest

Service land, where camping

is actually allowed almost

anywhere—as long as you are

versed in Leave No Trace

practices and respectful of

things like seasonal fire

restrictions and no-go zones

near trailheads, main roads

or designated campgrounds.

Simply familiarizing yourself

with which agency manages

what (and mastering the art

of car camping off-grid) is

like having a skeleton key to

secret campsites in some of

the most beautiful swaths of

wilderness in America.

In the Sierra, there are

beautifully secluded pit stops

just a few miles off the east

side’s main artery, U.S. Route

395. The Alabama Hills, a

BLM-managed stretch of high

desert, full of RV-sized

boulders, has many dirt roads

that take you far beyond the

day-trippers. Two more

options: Find a secluded spot

near Mammoth Lakes and

Skip the campgrounds and find your own secret campsite.

enjoy an outdoor pint in town,

or park near Lee Vining Creek

as a launchpad for day trips

into Yosemite (bandit camping

is strictly prohibited within

most national parks).

The next level is exploring

the network of dirt roads that

crisscross Forest Service land

and take you deeper into the

mountains. Many of the

unmaintained roads between

Isabella Lake and Sequoia

National Park lead to such

Rush-hour traffic

on Lake Tahoe’s

Emerald Bay.

isolated alpine valleys, you

could ignore the must-see

stuff altogether, set up near a

bubbling river and stay put for

an entire week.

Nelson notes that not every

dirt road leads to a parking

spot in paradise. And if it does,

you may not be alone. He

urges you to simply keep

exploring. “No one gives away

their favorite spot anymore,”

he says. “Which is why it gets

tougher every day to find

them.” Of course, that’s

probably a good thing.

Make it happen: Off-grid

adventures on public lands

require next-level carcamping

and leave-no-trace

skills. The best resources for

identifying boundaries are

your GPS or map apps like

Cal Topo, which typically

have a feature showing colorcoded

agency boundaries.

The BLM and Forest Service

websites list all the rules and

regulations for using the land

safely and respectfully.

Mastering the art

of camping offgrid

is like having

a skeleton key to

secret campsites

in the most

beautiful spots.


Remote Getaways

Pololu Valley has a classic hike that

ends at a black-sand beach.


The Waipio Valley

has breathtaking

views—and truly

breathtaking hikes.

Quarantine in Paradise


When the state of Hawaii

announced a mandatory 14-

day quarantine upon arrival,

many decided to put their

vacations on hold. For others,

however, a vacation is a

quarantine of sorts, and

there’s no better place to stay

put than the remote northern

tip of the Big Island, where

lush cliffs plunge into the sea

and the locals like a lot of

space. “It’s a little like Oregon

meets the tropics,” says Bruce

Bromberg, the revered chef

and co-founder of the Blue

Ribbon restaurants, who

moved to the Big Island in

2015. “There’s almost no one

living next to someone else

and it’s the perfect place to destress

and decompress.”

The island of Hawaii—

which shares the same name

as the state itself—is five times

larger than the second biggest

(Maui), with nearly the samesize

population. Bromberg fell

in love with the Big Island

during a James Beard

celebrity chef event. A year

later, he, his wife and his

daughter moved to Puako, a

low-key town halfway

between Kona and an idyllic

outpost in the north called

Hawi. Hawi is a place that

somehow remains remote and

undiscovered-feeling, despite

being the turnaround point

for the annual Ironman

Triathlon in October.

In Hawi, house-arrest is not

a bad thing, especially if you

rent an isolated plantation

cottage with wraparound

decks and sea views, and

several acres between you and

your nearest neighbor. Most

rentals sit on huge parcels of

land, and Bromberg says the

town itself has a deep local

Hawaiian vibe. There is a kava

tea hut, an Alpaca farm and a

penchant for living off-grid.

The local Kohala Grown

Market makes these great

smoothies,” he says. “We come

here and get fruit I’ve never

seen or heard of in my life.”

Bromberg heads north to

hang in Hawi every chance he

can get, often on his way to

go hiking in one of the five

stunning valleys that

converge at the end of the

tiny Kohana Mountain Road,

Route 270. Each valley

radiates away from the sea

within two huge natural

reserves. Closest to Hawi is

the Pololu Valley. “We hike

down the cliff to a stunning

black-sand beach that’s


world peace

in Pololu.

great for swimming,” says

Bromberg. “People disappear

into these valleys for days,

camping.” The furthest,

Waipio Valley, is the most

well known but is typically

accessed from the east, rather

than through Hawi. The best

part: Even when things return

to normal and Hawaii does

fully open to tourists, little

will change in Hawi because

the tourists never came here

in the first place.

Make it happen: Pay close

attention to the state’s rules

around outside visitors and

triple check with your rental

host about regulations on

their end—both can be fluid

these days.


Do it


Go Back in Time


A four-hour drive northeast of

Portland, Maine, just beyond

the historic fishing village of

Lubec, is a lighthouse.

Geographically speaking, this

lighthouse is officially the

easternmost point in the

United States, punctuated

severely by the steep and

craggy cliffs above the Bay of

Fundy, across the U.S.-Canada

border. And Lubec is a town

that truly feels like the end of

the road. The town of about

1,500 salty souls is in fact

largely cut off from industry,

technology and even tourism.

The weather isn’t just small

talk here—it’s a throwback

town where livelihoods

depend on understanding

tides and predicting low

pressure systems. It also

happens to bookend some of

the best hiking and camping

in the Northeast.

Lubec is also the

easternmost point of what is

known as “the Bold Coast”—

an empty stretch of coastline

between Milbridge and Lubec

that has so many nooks,

Lubec has


throwback charm.

crannies, caves and cliffs, it

makes Cape Cod look like the

Hamptons. While it may not

be all that surprising that you

can get a world-class lobster

roll at places like Quoddy

Bay Lobster, few people

realize that the state’s best

wilderness experience is

actually an hour beyond

Maine’s natural crown jewel,

Acadia National Park. The

Bold Coast has dozens of state

reserves and wildlife refuges,

both inland and along the

coast. Lubec’s Coastal Trail,

within the 532-acre Quoddy

Head State Park, soars along

hundred-foot cliffs before

dropping onto a crescent of

sea-sculpted cobblestones.

Leaving Lubec, headed

back toward Portland, the

Bold Coast Scenic Byway

(which parallels much of the

Bold Coast’s Scenic Bikeway)

passes dozens more spots for

coastal hiking and camping, as

well as fresh seafood in small

fishing villages. Cutler is a

good jumping-off point for

multi-day Lost Coast-style

adventures along the Fairy

Head Loop, a 10-miler in the

The West



marks the


point in the U.S.

Cutler Coast Public Reserve,

dotted with primitive camping

sites and side trips for whale

watching. While most reserves

in the area have primitive

walk-in camping options,

there are a few established

campgrounds. One of the best,

McClellan Park campground,

is in fact right at the beginning

of the Byway (if traveling east

to west).

Fall presents a particularly

unique opportunity on the

Bold Coast. Even during

“high season” it’s pretty quiet

here. But by October, locals

begin drinking at the bars

again, seasonal inns shutter

and the sea begins to stir.

Of course, sunshine is a

rarity this time of year, but

the Bold Coast is that rare

place where moody weather

actually enhances the


Make it happen: There are

direct flights to Portland from

all over the U.S. It is always

important to respect the

most current regulations

regarding travel into Maine,

and the safety of the small

communities that live along

the Bold Coast.

Admit it: You want a lobster roll.


Remote Getaways

Serenity meets

adventure on a

Lake Powell

houseboat trip.


Hire a Houseboat


Houseboating might have a bit

of an image problem—

floating RVs are not exactly

subtle. But the truth is a multiday

cruise on one of America’s

most stunning lakes is the rare

vacation that blends serenity,

fun and adventure. Captaining

a vessel into an empty cove is

exploration at its finest;

careening from the top deck

into the water using the boat’s

waterslide—while holding a

beer—brings out your inner

7-year-old; watching the sun

set over national parkland, as

the Milky Way appears above

you, is as close to backpacking

as you can get without a heavy


America’s houseboating

mecca is Lake Powell on the

Utah-Arizona border, where

the Colorado River meets the

Glen Canyon Damn to create

a 186-mile-long reservoir,

with 96 major side canyons.

If stretched out, Lake Powell

would be longer than the

continental United States.

Surrounded by protected

National Monument and

Recreation Area land, it’s

easy to get lost in the lake’s

endless tributaries, deep in

the mind-bending orange

canyons, beneath 200-foot

sheer sandstone cliffs, or

beached on a seldom-visited

sliver of sand. Lake Powell is

surrounded by natural arches,

slot canyons and precarious

spires. But most of its

shoreline can only be reached

by boat (or a prohibitively

long, dry hike), cutting crowds

to a fraction of what they are

along road-trip routes in the

area. And the deeper you go,

the fewer boats you see.

“Escalante Canyon, at mile

marker 69, is just beyond

where most people will cruise

to,” says Robert Knowlton,

general manager of boat

rentals and tours for the

houseboat marinas on the

lake. “It’s my favorite spot; I’ve

been back there and not seen

anyone for two or three days.”

The boats he rents vary in

size, bedroom count and

amenities. All come with a full

kitchen and outdoor grill, but

high-end cruisers come with

things like rooftop hot tubs

and bars. Before you scoff,

Knowlton says a hot tub can

make a fall trip. “In September

and October, evenings are

cooler and the hot tub feels

great,” he says. “Fall is my

favorite time of year here—

daytime temps stay below 100,

the water is still warm and the

lake is less busy.”

Busy or not, houseboating

is social distancing in the most

literal sense. Stocked with

enough provisions to get you

through a four-to-seven-day

stay, you spend the entire time

with only the people sleeping

on your boat. Even if you do

see other boats during your

trip, interaction with other

humans is entirely optional.

In the fall, Lake

Powell’s waters

are less crowded

but still warm.

Make it happen: The two

houseboat marinas on Lake

Powell are Wahweap on the

western end and Bullfrog, 95

miles to the east. Which one

you choose depends largely on

where you live—people from

Colorado or Texas go to

Bullfrog; Californians tend

to hit Wahweap. Pro tip:

Take advantage of “preboarding,”

in which you can

board your houseboat the

night before the start of your

trip—between 5 and 9 p.m.—

and cast off at first light. It

costs extra, but less than the

hotel rooms you would need

to book that night anyway.


Do it






Snowboarder Zeb Powell reveals

how he prepares for his gravitydefying


“I don’t really do the

standard tricks,” Powell

says. “I like to try less

traditional tricks—and

then see if I can make

them crazier and harder.”

Known for his innovative, stylish riding, Zeb

Powell, 20, became a snowboarder out of

adversity. A self-described “crazy child,”

Powell learned to snowboard at age 8 after his

local skatepark closed. On the mountain, when

an instructor tried to force Powell, a goofy-foot,

to ride regular, he nearly gave it up. Still, the

passionate skateboarder took to snowboarding

quickly. “It came naturally, and I didn’t really

have a learning curve,” he says. “I just like

flying through the air.” While attending

Stratton Mountain School (in Vermont),

Powell began competing nationally in

slopestyle events. Intensely creative, he

constantly experiments and takes a “ride

everything” approach. As he invents tricks and

puts his spin on the sport’s signature moves,

Powell pushes his body into ever more extreme

positions. In January 2020, he won the X

Games Knuckle Huck, which rewards stylish

and innovative aerials. ”I want to do something

that people have never seen before.”




“With a new trick,

I break it down”

“At Stratton Mountain School, we

had trampolines and a foam pit,

and were always going crazy on it.

That’s where I pushed my air

awareness. With a new trick,

I break it down. If I’m trying to do

a 720, I’ll do a 360 first and review

the video. If I like it, I’ll keep doing

it or build off of it. Usually, it’s a

grab that no one else is doing.

There are so many variations.

I think skateboarding’s really

broadened my variety of tricks.

A big part of it is confidence—

believing I can do the trick and not

bailing halfway through it.”


“It’s all about how

to push myself”

“I don’t really look at it like

training. It’s just snowboarding.

I watch videos of other riders who

inspire me before I go out and try

to focus on my ambitions for the

day. I think ambition breeds

creativity. Being in a light mood

also is important to my riding. I like

to have my friends just laughing, to

be around people who make me

smile. When I went to X Games the

first time, everyone was all serious,

and it definitely influenced my

riding. Then I figured out how to be

in my head and make my own jokes

and keep myself happy.”



“I try to be a diverse

snowboarder—to ride jumps,

rails, halfpipe and big

mountain. When I’m bummed

or down, I know that I just

need to get on my snowboard

and I’ll be fine. I get so much

joy out of it. I think that’s

what it’s about.”


“I don’t go to the

gym at all”


“I think I’ve only had

five salads in my life”


“All my friends are always mad

at me because I don’t go to the

gym at all. I run sometimes if

I haven’t been active for a while.

But I think skateboarding and

wakeboarding do most of the work

for me. They keep my legs strong.

I think wakeboarding helps with

my core, too, because I’m getting

pulled at like 20 mph. And I’m

doing all kinds of tricks. It definitely

keeps me strong and makes me

more agile. I am into yoga, but

I don’t really have a long enough

attention span for it. I would

definitely like to do it more.”

“I always have granola bars in my

backpack. I like Clif Bars, especially

the White Chocolate Macadamia

Nut flavor. If I eat two of them, I feel

like I’ve had a lunch. That’s about it

when I’m snowboarding—granola

bars and water. I’m actually a picky

eater. I’m like a kid. I’ll eat tacos,

but I won’t eat them with

everything on them. I’m, like, plain

guy. I need to change it. I like to

keep PB&J in my room, in case

I get hungry. I like fruit. I’ll eat

vegetables, too, but I don’t go out

of my way to eat them. I think I’ve

only had five salads in my life.”


See it





Although the slate

for this Los Angelesbased

film fest hasn’t

been announced yet,

it’s confirmed that the

show will go on in

some shape or form.

Last year’s lineup

included a rousing

world premiere of

Queen & Slim,

directed by AFI

alumna Melina

Matsoukas and written

by Lena Waithe.

Thru October 22;

Available now


In 1998, a 24-year-old Jimmy LeVan landed a jump on his BMX from the top of the stairs at St. Mary’s

Church in Austin, Texas, to the pavement on the other side of the road. It has since become known

as the “Austin Church Gap,” attempted by countless others but so far only nailed by LeVan, the X

Games rider who went on to carve out an innovative and influential career in street BMX and create

the renowned Metal Bikes brand. It’s just one moment in his dramatic life story, as documented in

this captivating film, which also details a terrifying spill he took in 2007. “I flatlined and died four

times in my coma,” LeVan tells the camera, matter-of-factly.





In the throes of a global pandemic,

the NYFF team quickly pivoted its

setup to accommodate for drive-in

screenings and virtual press passes

for its 58th installment. According to

programming director Dennis Lim,

this year’s slate focuses on answering

one question: Which films matter to

us right now? Headliners include

Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock (right),

Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland and Azazel

Jacobs’ French Exit. Thru October 11;





This documentary

was intended to be a

celebration of a newly

minted F1 race team

—Scuderia AlphaTauri,

formerly Toro Rosso.

But, following the

cancellation of the

Australian Grand Prix

in March, it became

an unprecedented

glimpse into the

mindset of an F1

team during

lockdown, and their

eventual debut at the

Austrian GP in July.







After kicking off

this summer, the

global gaming

extravaganza comes

to a head in the U.S. in

November before the

world finals. The event

is the official 1v1

League of Legends

tournament for

gamers, with more

than 35 countries

participating. For the

online competition, the

leaderboard activation

can only be accessed

through a Red Bull

Solo Q Limited Edition






If you’re a student with

an innovative idea that

could enact positive

change in the world,

this global tech project

is providing an outlet.

Get your application in

by October 25, and the

selected winners will

receive mentoring,

workspace and microfunding

to help realize

their idea, before

showcasing it at a

global workshop

in December.






Freeride snowboarders

Anne-Flore Marxer and

Aline Bock spent a winter

making this film—set in

the inspiring landscape of

Iceland, a country ranked

top for gender equality by

the World Economic Forum

11 years running—about the

push for equal rights in a

sport historically dominated

by men.





This year will likely be most

remembered for long

periods spent indoors.

Thank goodness, then, for

this cathartic bike movie,

which celebrates the

feeling of just letting time

fly and enjoying it. Filmed

in stunning locations

worldwide—from the

deserts of Utah to the

mountains of Patagonia—

and featuring the kinetic

skills of riders including

Brett Rheeder, Thomas

Vanderham and Casey

Brown, this cinematic

journey will help you

reconnect with nature

or, at the very least, make

killing time at home more





This winter’s coolest new gear for skiers,

snowboarders and backcountry adventurers.


You’ll appreciate

the stretch of

Black Diamond’s

Dawn Patrol Hybrid

Pants when you’re

tackling a steep

uphill pitch.





Breathable soft-shell fabric with four-way stretch

minimizes clamminess and provides freedom of

movement for bootpacking up steep pitches.

Fabric on the thighs and cuffs is reinforced with

a proprietary membrane that is less stretchy but

more protective: Even wet snow won’t soak

through, due in part to the Empel DWR treatment

that’s sustainably produced and contains no

toxic PFCs. $299;


DPS’s carbon laminates make for super light skis,

but the Pagoda Tour’s construction of ash and

paulownia, sandwiched with strips of aerospace

foam, dampens chatter on hard snow without

sacrificing power; it holds its own against heavier

skis and climbs like a ski-mo lightweight. Tip:

Order it with DPS’s Phantom, a semi-permanent

waxless base treatment that offers great glide

with almost no maintenance. $1,300 (+ $150 for

Phantom base treatment);


Torn between light weight for the uphills and

power for turns? These boots are Scarpa’s nocompromise

answer. The no-friction walk mode

borrowed from its ultralight Alien touring boot

offers range of motion for comfortable uphilling.

A custom-moldable liner and Boa closure

prevent hot-spot blisters and cold toes. Ready to

rip? Three forward lean angles, a burly power

strap and the carbon-Grilamid cuff offer lateral

power with precise control. $800;


Extremely breathable yet rugged enough for

daily wear, the Sanction (and women’s Solitaire)

combines multiple Gore-Tex fabrics: Pro-Shell

Stretch on the front and arms feels unconfining,

while everywhere else, standard Pro Shell

delivers lightweight durability. Two internal drop

pockets secure even extra-wide skins, and the

Solitaire (designed with pro Amie Engerbretson)

includes a zippered vent on the collar to keep

goggles from fogging. $750;



Slim and ultralight, this leakproof travel mug

claims precious little space in your pack and

weighs just 8 oz. But its double-walled vacuum

insulation keeps beverages hot for up to four

hours—and on a cold, wintry tour, sipping a

steaming drink can mean the difference between

pressing on and retreating home. Not too big or

small, the 14 oz. capacity is just right. $100;


With women’s (Sopris 30-l) and men’s (Soelden

32-l) designs, Osprey’s first airbag packs feature

plenty of thoughtful touches: a cavernous main

compartment; attachment loops for everything

from ice axes to skis and boards, even sleds; and

Osprey’s comfortable, secure harness. Alpride’s

electronic E1 airbag system has simple

rechargeable capacitors for fast inflation and

auto-test LED indicators to constantly monitor

the system. $1,200;

The rugged, versatile Spyder Sanction and

Solitaire integrate multiple Gore-Tex fabrics.





Until now, you had a choice for technical shells:

high-performance or eco-friendly. The Demain’s

solvent- and PFC-free Xpore technology is half

the weight of competing waterproof/breathable

membranes but performs just as well. The shell

fabric is made of a blend of sugarcane waste and

recycled polyester, with technical features like a

powder skirt, pit zips and ergonomic hood. You’ll

stay dry and warm, while helping keep winters

cold. $500;



Always a great-fitting bib—because Burton sinks

major R&D into designing pants for women—the

uninsulated Avalon now features two-layer Gore-

Tex for extra durability and waterproofing. Pores

in the lining open to release excess heat but

close when the body cools, perfect for stop-andgo

activities like resort snowboarding. The dropseat

construction lets you answer nature’s call

without removing your jacket. $300;


With equal abilities on hardpack and in the

backcountry, the limited-edition Stratos defies

easy categorization. The narrow sidecut and

basalt stringers help keep the edge locked in

while carving corduroy, but the directional shape

that tapers to the rear and a setback stance

option offer exceptional float for deep natural

snow. Most hybrid boards aim for capable

performance in all conditions, but the Stratos

achieves mastery. $580;


The original step-in bindings were finicky, but the

concept is irresistible: Just step in and slide for a

secure, slop-free connection to the board that no

strap binding can match. K2’s Clicker X HB has

an intuitive toe-first step-in, a large platform for

fast edge-to-edge response, and a stiff nylon

highback for extra ankle support. Tool-free

adjustable lean angle lets you dial in your

position. Pair with K2 Maysis Clicker X HB boots

for the full package. $250;


Smaller faces shouldn’t mean a smaller view.

These women’s goggles feature cylindrical lens

technology for distortion-free vision at every

angle in a size and shape that fits smaller heads.

The Magna-Tech interchangeable lens system

uses 14 powerful magnets for a secure hold and

a fast, tool-free swap. Ingeniously, the magnets

pair with compatible MFI Facewarmers for an

airtight seal against the elements. $230

(includes two lenses);


Giro’s lightest helmets yet at 14 oz., the Grid

(men’s) and Envi (women’s) are stylish, comfy—

and don’t skimp on protection. It starts with

MIPS Spherical, which features a ball-and-socket

system of concentric spheres of EPP foam that

slide against each other to protect the brain from

rotational impact energy. The helmet also offers

a cozy Polartec padded liner, adjustable venting

and compatibility with Giro-branded Outdoor

Tech audio systems. $280;

The WM3 goggles are made to fit smaller heads

and have an ingenious magnet system for lenses.


The Arbor Veda is

ready to rip all

over the mountain

and has a great


story, too.


Nimble enough for freestyle and burly enough

for big lines, the Veda feels at home all over

the mountain, just like its designer: pro rider

Marie-France Roy. Arbor’s Grip Tech sidecut

design puts power under your feet for precise

edge control, while subtle angled riser sections

at tip and tail pull contact zones slightly off the

surface for a less-grabby feel. Roy’s climateactivist

role comes into play, too, with FSCcertified

wood cores, recycled steel edges

and bio-resin laminate construction.


Tweaked this year,

the acclaimed

Enforcer is lighter

and more playful—

and just as

powerful as ever.


As a perennial “best of test” pick, you’d think

Nordica would leave the acclaimed Enforcer

alone. The latest tinkering makes the new

version lighter (9 lbs., 5 oz. per pair), but what

matters is where: Trimming heavy plastic in

the tips lowers swing weight for quicker turn

initiation, and lets Nordica extend the wood/

carbon hybrid core further along the board

length for a more playful feel. At 100 mm

underfoot, it’s equally at home slashing

grooves on fresh-laid groomers or blasting

through powder and chop in the bowls.







Lined with brushed flannel, the Cassiar LT (and

women’s Ravenna LT) delivers a bit of warmth on

chilly lift rides, yet the lightweight fabric and

streamlined tailoring keep pace on aggressive

descents. Pit zips dump heat, a powder skirt

seals out deep drifts, and three-layer Gore-Tex

will remain waterproof for years. Smart seaming,

with articulated elbows and gusseted

underarms, offers freedom of movement and

keeps the fit trim and sleek. $599;


The Polartec Alpha Active technology inside this

hardworking midlayer is spooky good at keeping

you comfortable. The airy, lofted insulation

provides warmth without bulk and pulls moisture

away from your body. The result: You stay warm

and dry whether you’re bashing moguls at full

blast or hunkered down on a long lift ride. With

a generous hood, full-zip front and men’s and

women’s styles, it also makes a great shell layer

for high-energy winter sports. $289;

Hydaway Collapsible

Water Bottle

The size of a hockey puck when

empty, this light silicone bottle tucks

neatly into a jacket pocket and offers

a more sustainable alternative to the

single-use plastic cups that skiers

find at lodges’ water stations. Instead

of drinking from those one-and-done

vessels, just expand this 25 oz., BPAfree

bottle and fill ’er up. $30;


Connected Straps

These data trackers attach to boots’

power straps to analyze skiers’ turns,

calculating such metrics as edge

angle, arc shape, pressure control and

G-forces. Results are reported via

Atomic’s Connected App, which skiers

can use to evaluate their technique

and compare it against users

worldwide. $499;


The world’s top-selling women’s ski was

redesigned this year to keep its easy-turning

likability—while expanding its ferocity. All six

lengths (from 147 cm to 177 cm) feature a new

beech-and-poplar core that’s optimized for every

size, so each model delivers a progressive flex

and solid edge hold. That gives the Black Pearl

more high-speed stability, yet the tip and tail are

soft enough for easygoing maneuvers. Fast or

slow, this ski obliges. $780;


Here’s a Goldilocks option for resort skiers who

tour beyond the lifts: The Shift Pro 130 (and

women’s Shift Pro 110 W) is light enough for

uphilling but burly enough for uninhibited

descents. Credit the Coreframe construction,

which sandwiches super-stiff carbon between

weight-saving polyamide. The heat-moldable

shell and liner ensure a blister-free fit, and thin

soles allow for solid power transmission from

boots to skis. $850-$975;

The Shift Pro is a Goldilocks option for

resort skiers who tour beyond the lifts.

POC Cornea Solar

Switch Goggles

Many lenses with transitional tints

that fade in dim light require seconds

(even minutes) to adapt to changing

conditions. But the Solar Switch

instantly adjusts its light transmission

and lets skiers zoom between sunny

slopes and shady glades. Solar energy

powers a liquid crystal technology

that’s layered between the antiscratch,

anti-fog lenses. $450;



This rugged barware is as dapper as it is durable, whether you’re

enjoying a good drink in the backcountry or your backyard.


The Camelback

Horizon Wine

Tumbler is

designed to bring

joy to outdoorsy

wine snobs.



Don’t use just any tumbler for vino; the 12 oz.

Horizon’s curved interior wall mimics the bowl

shape of a good wine glass to concentrate the

aromas and flavors of your favorite vintages.

The no-slip silicone base pad and adjustable

slider lid reduce the chance of splashes and

spills. Stainless-steel construction is

dishwasher safe and keeps even delicate whites

at a constant temperature. $25;



Skip the flimsy neoprene koozie for this

superior option. The double-wall vacuum

insulation keeps drinks cold for hours, with no

messy condensation to slick your hands. The

stainless-steel construction is durable, dent

resistant and dishwasher safe. It comes in a

rainbow of colors to mix and match, and three

sizes that fit everything from conventional 12

oz. brews to slim seltzers to tall 16-ounce cans.



This slim growler is the ideal companion when

you’re on the move. The 36 oz. capacity is perfect

for pouring a cold, frosty brew for yourself and

a friend or two post-adventure. Vacuum-sealed

insulation and a copper lining keeps beer or

other drinks cold for hours, and the screw-top lid

is leak free and can be clipped to a pack for easy

carrying. The stainless-steel construction with

optional powdercoat finishes will offer years of

dependable use. $45;



Have whiskey on the rocks—on the rocks—with

this stout tumbler. The insulated stainless-steel

construction keeps ice cold up to nine hours

with no slippery condensation on the outside.

A generous 13 oz. capacity works for straight

pours or cocktails, and the slidable plastic lid and

rubberized bottom pad add security for unstable

surfaces. Also makes an ideal coffee mug for

lazy weekend mornings. $15;



Take wine for the picnic without worrying

about fragile glass bottles thanks to this

tall 25 oz. tumbler with a leakproof lid.

The generous size will hold a full 750 ml. of

your favorite wine. Double-wall insulation

keeps your Fruiliano at a constant chill, and

the BPA-free stainless steel won’t pick up

flavors from previous use.



Bring your own portable party with this

sweet cocktail kit. The 32 oz. mixer has doublewall

vacuum construction and features a

cap with a pour-through setting for perfect

pours. Two insulated 8 oz. tumblers keep frozen

drinks cold for hours (lids help prevent spills),

and the four-pack of 10 oz. stainless tumblers

(single-wall) let you share your latest cocktail

creation with even more friends. $106;


The problem with growlers—even the tightest

lid can’t prevent the fizz and freshness from

escaping eventually. The uKeg solves that with

an automatic pressurization system using simple

CO 2

cartridges. Just fill and pressurize for 64 oz.

of fresh, perfectly carbonated beer for up to two

weeks (it’s fridge safe). A pressure gauge and

sight glass help monitor vital signs, all in a

striking steampunk style in stainless or copper

finishes. $159-$179;

The uKeg growler can keep beer perfectly

carbonated for up to two weeks.






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cover of this month’s

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(Rush), who currently

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Join the #outdoorstate

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Action highlight

All flip, no flop

In case you couldn’t tell, Dimitris Kyrsanidis loves the beach. “The San Blas Islands

[in Panama] were one of a kind,” says the Greek freerunner. This parkour project,

shot on the tropical coast of Central America in February this year, was titled

From the Office to the After Office. Fortunately, Kyrsanidis’s line of business

doesn’t require a suit. Watch him in action at

The next

issue of


is out on

November 17.






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