Stephan Jende

This winter took a little while to arrive. But the dry conditions affecting much of the West until only recently weren’t a problem in the Midwest, where dropping temperatures and plentiful snow guns opened up trails at Trollhaugen, Wisconsin; Hyland Hills, Minnesota, and other area resorts right on time. The hills that flank Minneapolis are an oasis of tow rope-accessible parks, making them a perfect place to get your board back under you at the beginning of the season. This November and early December, a legion of riders from Utah and the PNW headed to Minnesota and Wisconsin to spend the start of the season. We checked in with Sam Taxwood, who logged three weeks in the Midwest to kick off winter on the ropes.

How many pro snowboarders are in the room right now? 
There are three currently. 

It seems like everyone is migrating to the Midwest. 
Yes. It is currently Cole Navin, Parker Szumowski, Jake Durham, the cinematographer, and myself. 

Why is everyone there? 
Everyone is in Minneapolis and/or Wisconsin because there is no snow as far as we can tell that is suitable to ride anywhere else at the current time.

Streets aren’t open yet either? 
No street spots. Today was about 48 and sunny. Feels like March. There are some resorts open in Utah, but it is just like shit conditions right now. I have been here for two weeks and it has been really fun.

How long you staying? 
I leave in a week, so three weeks for me.

Have you ever done three weeks for early season in Minnesota? 
No, this will be my first preseason in Minnesota. 

Preseason Minnesota verses Utah. What are you thinking? 
Minnesota 100% takes the cake. You get to ride rope tows the whole time. You don’t have to hike or unstrap; you are just ripping. 

What resorts have you guys been riding? 
We’ve been riding Hyland, Wild, and Trollhaugen

The Triple Crown of the Midwest. 

How are your new boots holding up on all that tow rope time? 
Boots are great. Solid to break them in out here. 

How does it feel to be in the second year of your signature boot line? Shock value gone? 
No, dude it is awesome. I can’t believe it, honestly. Still cheesin’. My ten-year-old self never imagined having my name on a Vans boot and shoes. Just counting my blessings daily. 

You like one color way better? 
Ha, I don’t know. They are both pretty different. They both have their pros. I don’t think they have any cons. The latest version is a little wilder, I guess. 

With all the projects coming out this year, have any favorites? 
Good Sport. I only saw it on a foggy evening in Salt Lake, but that is my favorite. I watched a video from an up-and-coming crew from Calgary last night, I think it was called Here’s Where the Story Ends. There’s a kid in there named Quin. Really cool footage I was psyched on.

Are we going to see any clips from you pop up? 
Nope, I was on the injured list last year. 

Not a terrible year to be on the IR. Obviously you never want to be, but with COVID and so many travel problems…
100% couldn’t agree more. 

What did you do to stay busy? 
Rode my bicycle, physical therapy. I rode the resorts at home a bit and went on a couple mellow spring trips, but took it easy. 

You are riding your bike in the winter? Just in the city? 
Yeah, in Utah. It was pretty warm last year. I was getting up a bit. I was getting up in the canyons. 

How was the coastal bike trip you did a few months ago? 
Portland To LA. It was great! Really fun. We raised $23,000 on the ride–it was wild. It was for TWILA, which stands for To Write Love On Their Arms, and they basically create opportunities for people to seek help or point people in the right direction and put money towards getting people the help they need and creating a good space around mental health and suicide prevention. I would definitely do it again, but hopefully somewhere different. I think next year, I was talking with Cody Warble’s dad about riding from Copenhagen to the bottom of Europe somewhere? 

And are you an ambassador for Rapha now, right? 
Yeah, they have been cool. This dude Sean works there–he is a real sweet guy. I got out on the bike a bit two summers ago and he has been really supportive of helping me out with gear and also got us dialed on that trip. We made a little video project with Monster Children with Jerm and Jack Dawe. It was fun. 

You logged more bike miles this year than on snow? 
Yeah, maybe.

Lifelong, after all those miles, you think you have logged more on your bike or on your snowboard? 
Snowboard, 1000%.

Time, of course. But miles, how many you think you have ridden on your board? 
Dude, no idea. Just even today we did a lot on the rope tow, you know? 

You are going to have to get a pedometer one day at Hyland to see how many miles you have under your feet. 
That would be hilarious, actually. 

A GPS track of all your tracks at Hyland would be a sick shirt.
Maybe tomorrow I will turn Strava on and see how it goes! 

Update: We haven’t heard back if he did, but we can’t wait to see what Sam has in store for this season.