FROM THE MAG: Tales From The Clipped — Issue 3.1

Switch Boardslide—Forest Bailey | Photo: Erik Hoffman

The following article was originally printed in the October 2023 Issue of Slush. To access the full article click here.

Words by Darrah Reid-McLean

On February 2nd, I arrived at Pat McCarthy's cabin in Glacier, Washington, after approximately 24 hours of traveling: Otaru to Sapporo, Sapporo to Tokyo, Tokyo to Vancouver, BC. I picked up my car and drove straight down. Only a maniac would schedule their life that way, but there I was. The next evening, after a full day at Baker, I received a text message from Colton Feldman: “Sorry, this is a little abrupt, but I want to see if you're down to jump on this trip. We leave Sunday for Romania. There's a town called Brasov, it looks pretty hilly. They got about 7 inches of snow. Looks like it'll maybe stay cold enough. Maybe not. We don't really know what we're getting into, but we're going." It was Friday night, February 3rd. I did some calculations and figured I could still ride in the Legendary Banked Slalom on Saturday, then drive to Whistler to unpack my powder stuff and repack my rail stuff, then catch a flight to Romania on Sunday. Hectic but possible. I booked my flight and told Colton I'd see him, Riley Nickerson, Forest Bailey, Tommy Gesme, and Erik Hoffman in Romania.


It wasn’t until my first flight that I began to process what I’d agreed to.  I was about to be on a rail trip with the snowboard video dream team of Colton Feldman and Tommy Gesme.  Veterans, Forest Bailey and Riley Nickerson will also be there. Not to mention, this crew has been on 2 or 3 trips together already this winter, filming for the 686 project, so I'm barging in on a well-established film dynamic. Oh fuck, what the hell am I doing? Panic ensued all the way to my destination.

The team | Photo: Erik Hoffman

By February 6th, we were all piled into a rental van, driving from Bucharest, the capital of Romania, 3 hours North to Brasov. Brasov is located in the Transylvania region, an area specific to Romania, and of course, famous from Dracula lore. I was really excited to meet Dracula, but a disappointing Google search informed me that although Tourism Transylvania markets Bran Castle as the home of Bram Stoker's Dracula, "there is no evidence that Stoker actually knew anything about this castle."


With my vampire dreams disillusioned, I decided to focus my energy on desperately trying to hide my Imposter Syndrome while simultaneously trying to pretend I had even a quarter of the rail trip experience and expertise my teammates had. I've spent most of my snowboard career filming on very small budgets, often in Ontario, with very close friends. It would be an understatement to say that this environment was different. Most mornings I had to pep-talk myself into embracing the new situation. "I'm a good snowboarder. People like me. I work hard. I can do this." I'd repeat these statements to myself in an effort to actually believe them.

She's a very good snowboarder | Photo: Erik Hoffman

We had 14 days to get to work. Riley had already extensively Google-mapped the city of Brasov, so we had several pins to start with. Forest immediately set his eyes on a really unique spot located right beside an official-looking establishment, on what seemed like the busiest intersection of downtown Brasov. The kick-out potential for this spot seemed so high, but I soon learned that Forest thrives at high-bust spots.


I was the most jet-lagged and messed up I've ever felt, but we started shoveling. That was my first glimpse at the work ethic these guys have. Every day, we were out of the Airbnb by 8 a.m. and didn't return until 10 or 11 p.m. All of the spots that I would have written off as impossible came to life with the right tools, lots of shoveling, and Colton's unbelievable ability to sweet-talk authority figures, property owners, employees, and concerned citizens. For the most part, though, people in Brasov were extremely accommodating and mostly just very confused about why a group of North Americans had traveled all the way to their country to snowboard.

Tommy Gesme everyone | Photo: Erik Hoffman

 About 5 days and 100 hours of shoveling into the trip, someone found a rail in an abandoned backyard. The house was probably built in the 1700s and looked minutes away from crumbling in on itself. It looked like it hadn't been inhabited in at least 50 years, but a neighbor alerted the owner that we were on his property. Colton somehow charmed the owner into unlocking the gate for a better camera angle, as the rest of us finished setting up. It was at this spot where I learned that Tommy and Colton can communicate without even speaking out loud, and Tommy will land things perfectly at least 20 times until the clip looks exactly how they both want it to. 

Riley Nickerson | Photo: Erik Hoffman

There was Riley's full day battle on two down rails in a line (these rails were so close together that there wasn't space for even the slightest edge between the two). Followed by the most amount of shawarma I've ever seen one person eat in one sitting. Riley's ability to overcome frustration and self-doubt was one of my biggest takeaways of the winter. A quality that I admire so much and hope I absorbed a little of through osmosis of spending time with him...