Frank Knab — Not your typical Mammoth kid
It’s all business with Frank Knab. Photo: Jeff Curley
By way of Buffalo NY, 22-year-old Frank Knab posted up in Mammoth a few years ago and has subsequently made a name for himself by NOT spending all of his time in the park. Learning early on that investing the backcountry has a more lucrative return rate than blowing it all on the ponzi-scheme of park riding, Frank spends much of his time splitboarding. Big mountain legend Jeremy Jones even told us that Frank was one of the young riders that impressed him the most, stating, “His ability as a top-tier freestyler and jibber to charging lines and becoming really a proficient backcountry rider is some of the most diversity I have seen in a really long time. And I’m not talking about just riding down either, but his whole approach, attitude and all.”
Don’t read this the wrong way — Frank grew up chucking in the park and smashing rails, but when you live in Mammoth and see 400 inches fall (most years) your priorities are liable to change. However, a couple of years ago Frank got so worked that snowboarding at any level was in jeopardy.
You’ve been in Mammoth about five years now, how’d you end up here?
I ended up in Mammoth because of my buddy Pete Schiera who I worked for in Jamestown, NY at his shop which is now called Jamestown Skate Products. Pete worked at Wave Rave in Mammoth for years and told me how sick it was out there and convinced me to move after I graduated high school.
It seems the park scene is so heavy in Mammoth, perfect jumps, sun and all that… why don’t you spend all your time there like everyone else?
I’m from the East Coast and was just into park and rails, but the older dudes that worked at Wave Rave set me straight pretty quick. They started showing me what it was like to ride pow and hike for good lines every day. I was lucky that my first year was a big snow year too back in ’09. Some of the guys just took me under their wing and showed me the way I guess.
The quickest way down? Straight the fuck down. Photo: Jeff Curley
Then eventually you got linked up with Jeremy Jones after a couple short years. How did that happen?
I met Jeremy through my good buddy Brian Sizer, the guy who built the Brothers Skate Park in Mammoth. He knew Jones and I guess passed on some nice words about me. I think Jeremy had just started his board company and was looking for some kids who were more freestyle oriented so it was crazy because he took Sizer’s word for it and next thing you know I’m on a split trip with him up on Mt. Rose in Tahoe. It was pretty surreal because I would always see Jeremy in all the Absinthe videos and of course, his Deeper project, but after meeting him he is just so down to Earth… it didn’t seem like a big deal or like he was this celebrity at all.
And now he hooks you up?
Yeah, pretty much whatever I need he’s down. Those Jones boards are fuckin’ amazing!
Who else do you ride for?
Did you film or do any trips this year?
I did go to Jackson and get to ride with Guch [Brian Iguchi] which was insane and then I did a little trip with you guys to southern Colorado. I’m getting excited to go to Superpark with Volcom here real soon.
Most guys have a cool injury story that happened to them while riding but you got worked a couple of years ago in a totally different way. Tell us about that.
I was just getting a Nacho Buffito from Mighty Taco back in New York and crossing the street, eating this taco in one hand, holding my skateboard in the other and well, I don’t really remember much after that. Apparently I got smoked by this SUV. I guess they recorded he was going 45mph and I flew like 90 feet. So I woke up in the hospital puking blood because my face was all smashed in. I didn’t know what the fuck…
So I’m in ICU and the first or second day I’m laid out there is a shooting in the stairwell next to my room. I guess some doctor shot a nurse because they were in this crazy relationship or whatever. He goes off and kills himself but not before calling in a bomb threat. Luckily my mom was in the hospital with me or else I would have been locked down solo for all this time. After things calmed down I got some pretty interesting roommates because I was in the ghetto — a guy who got stabbed with a screwdriver, a dude who got shot in the ass.
Pointing it for the light at the end of the tunnel, Frank bags another backcountry line. Photo: Jeff Curley
That’s nuts. What was the final injury list?
I broke my nose, both my sinus cavities, I fractured my skull in four places. I had an arterial brain bleed, I punctured a lung, lacerated a spleen, ruptured my liver and broke my tibia and fibula. I also had gnarly lacerations on my arms and legs from the pavement. The worst part was that I had dreads at the time and the doctors just cut out my one unicorn dread in the front and left the rest. So there I am all tweaked with like 3/4 of a head of dreads… ridiculous man.
That’s not the end of it though is it?
Oh yeah. The police wanted to see me after I got out of the hospital. So I limp into the station on my crutches and they start to give me my skateboard, which is busted in half and my clothes I was wearing which are literally cut in half, and right before I turn to walk away they serve me with a jaywalking ticket! So I went off, high on pain meds, no filter profanity rant on this dude… let’s just say my ticket didn’t get reduced after that.
So what are your plans for the future?
I just want to snowboard as long as I can. Big lines, big airs, straight the fuck down [laughs]. I just want to be a well-rounded snowboarder. I love park and rails and I love big mountain and splitboarding too. Originally, I moved out to Mammoth to pursue a career or whatever in snowboarding but after living here and just seeing how cool of a lifestyle it is, it’s like I don’t even need to worry about being a professional snowboarder. When you just do what you love to the fullest things tend to work out in your favor. A couple bumps in the road, but hey…