Noah Salasnek remembrance snowboarding

On April 19th, 2017, Noah Salasnek passed away after a long battle with cancer. In the days that followed, scenes of his shifty backside 180 entered and departed my consciousness. Still images of his tweaked nosebones resurfaced from the depths of memory. It made me think about the belief that cameras can take part of a person’s soul and how, just maybe, Noah’s is eternally in the mind of anyone who watched the magic of him riding a snowboard.

Noah entered snowboarding during the critical years of snowboarding’s development in the early 1990s. One path led towards day-glo outerwear, hard boots, and essentially a continuation of ski culture. The other, an adaptation of skate style that would make snowboarding something completely its own. Noah was a pioneer of style, someone who drew countless individuals to this culture through his iconic video parts in Fall Line Films, Standard Films, and Mack Dawg Productions, and helped to immortalize the connection between skate and snow with the unforgettable skate truck graphic on his first pro model for Sims Snowboards.

To his friends and fans, Noah was larger than life. He embodied what it meant to be a snowboarder. We asked some of them to share their memories and reflections of a hero passed. If this is your first introduction to Noah, we hope you can see why he is regarded as a true great, on and off a board, and why the esteemed list below holds him in the highest regard.

Thank you Noah, for everything. — Jens Heig, Editor

Portrait by Dano Pendygrasse, action photography courtesy of Trevor Graves

Mike “Mack Dawg” McEntire, friend and founder of Mack Dawg Productions

“If you snowboard and do not know who Noah was, it is time to learn. Noah was a pro skater and a pro snowboarder. He could ride any transition on land or snow with ease. His biggest and most important contribution was bringing skate style to snowboarding. He changed snowboarding for the better. Trust me, so much better. He is among a small handful of elite riders who shaped the sport, and for that we should all give him thanks. He was the reason I got into snowboarding and had any interest in filming the sport at all. He made it look so good that I followed him around for years capturing and sharing what I was lucky enough see play out in front of my lens. He has passed, but the foundation that he laid down will live forever.

I met up with Noah a week or so before he passed away. We talked story for hours and laughed about all kinds of random stuff we used to get into. After that I headed out to help film Peace Park. Danny’s picks for the event included a lot of really young riders who are making their way to the top. It was so cool to be reminded of the influence that Noah continues to have on snowboarding firsthand. It made me smile all week as I saw Noah’s signature pokes, tweaks, and spins infused into the next generation of super shredders. They may have never heard of him but their riding sure has. This will be Noah’s everlasting legacy in the sport. Each time someone gets in the air and puts skate style into their riding Noah will be looking down proudly. You did good Salaz. Thanks for making snowboarding look so freaking cool!”

Noah Salasnek snowboarding trevor graves photography

Jeremy Jones, professional big mountain rider, activist

“Few riders had as wide of an influence on snowboarding as Noah. At the start it was his skate influence, then he led the charge on bringing freestyle into lines and finally, and maybe his largest influence, was what he did in Alaska. His descent on Super Spines changed both skiing and snowboarding. It showed us spines were possible to ride and sent both skiers and riders on a spine hunting frenzy that is still happening today. I did not spend a ton of time with Noah but I was fortunate to be around him during this era. I was 19 and a no name and he was at the top of the sport and was leading the charge tactically and technically. He was so sharp, witty and the life of the party but also was very approachable and shared his knowledge.

This is the Noah I choose to remember. Smart, funny and totally committed to progression.”

Noah Salasnek snowboarding trevor graves photography

Chris Roach, friend and professional rider

“It starts from how I met Noah. His good friend Aaron Vincent and Eric Tervo were all from the Bay Area and Marin County. They were skateboarders. I saw them at Boreal, at nighttime, probably in ‘87 or’ 88. It was like a breath of fresh air. They didn’t even have their alpine skills, they were still developing snowboarding themselves, but they already had the skateboarding concepts with tranny and what you need for snowboarding. From that point on, snowboarding and skateboarding took over for him. It drove Noah. His passion for making things better. He was always developing, he was always being creative and trying to squeeze the most out of something. With that drive, he pushed snowboarding and opened up a lot of doors. It was nice to watch him and be a part of something special. I didn’t really have the support to do a lot of things. Noah made sure that he was always there to help out. “You’re not missing this one, you have to go.” He was generous in that way. His door was always open to people. That generosity, and his way when you would talk to him, he gave it to you. That’s what I will miss the most from Noah. That light was bright in him.

Noah had the ability could touch so many just from his personality, his character, and being a great human. That’s the gift, how you treat people, and how he did. Yeah, he was a great snowboarder and a great skateboarder, but he was a good friend. Pass that gratitude, love, and generosity on. That way you still have that feeling, connection, and touch. Pass on the gift. That’s how we can remember him.

Noah did everything Noah’s way. That’s something that we all can’t say. He did it his way. That was important to him, I know that. He went first. That’s a nice thing when somebody can do that.”

Noah Salasnek snowboarding trevor graves photography

Dale Rehberg friend and former professional rider

“Noah Salasnek, what a true leader he was in snowboarding. He was way ahead of the curve in the skate scene, he brought that to the snow, then he took everything next level by ruling crazy lines in AK. I looked up to him as a kid growing up in Wisconsin, and I looked up to him as I followed him around Squaw Valley later in life. It’s sad to have lost such an icon of our sport at such a young age. Let’s be sure not to forget who he was and what he did for the sport we all love. RIP Noah. You will never be forgotten.”

Noah Salasnek snowboarding trevor graves photography

Roan Rogers, friend and former professional rider

“Noah was one of my heroes growing up in the Midwest. New Kids on the Twock was probably the most influential snowboard video of all time. This one video changed my life and set me on a path to be a snowboarder and to eventually make it to Tahoe. Squaw to be exact. The first time I meet Noah was in 1991 on a Mack Dawg trip to France. Noah was very down-to-earth, I knew then we would be great friends. I still remember his first trick on that trip, the most beautiful backside 720 I had ever seen. Noah was the king of Squaw and everyone wanted to ride with him but no one could keep up. He would skate full speed off the KT-22 lift and strap in as he was riding off into one of his favorite lines. Noah had a great sense of humor and was full of energy, he was super talented and was a natural at anything he tried. He will be forever missed and his legend will never die.”

Noah Salasnek snowboarding trevor graves photography

Trevor Graves, photographer and friend

“One dies as one lives. What else can better prepare you to die than the way you live? The game is to be where you are as honestly, consciously, and as fully as you know how. Once you have awakened, you can’t fully go back to sleep. Noah lived hard, rode hard with style and commitment. He was an originator and by being who he was, when he was in his prime of life, he influenced how snowboarders are today. He will never truly sleep because he is part of all of us in the community of snowboarding.”

Noah Salasnek snowboarding trevor graves photography

Chris Bradshaw, professional rider

“I just hope he knew how many people he really touched in his time. I’ve been inspired by him from a young age, there was only a handful of guys filming anything available for the public to see at that time and he was one of the illest. Him and Roach were my Pippen an Jordan as a kid! Still have and watch my first shred vid The Western Front out of pure respect for the originators, to the point that my own son is named Noah after the love I have for shredding, which is greatly inspired by Salasnek. Rest in peace to a real one, thank you for everything over the years Noah. You will not be forgotten.”

Noah Salasnek snowboarding trevor graves photography

JP Walker, professional rider

“I think a lot of people have that special moment when they first discover snowboarding and realize that they want to snowboard for the rest of their life. For me that moment came while watching Fall Line Films’ Critical Condition. Even though I didn’t know much about snowboarding at the time, I knew that this kid Noah Salasnek, who was a featured rider in the movie, was doing things on his board that looked completely different than the majority the other riders in the film. I instantly identified with him and the way he rode, and was quick to let anyone know that he was my favorite rider. Just in case it wasn’t already apparent by my Noah pro board, floppy beanie, long blonde hair and goatee. He could do no wrong, never disappointed with his newest video parts and innovative riding. From the smallest most tech jibs, to psycho AK lines and everything in between, Noah still remains one the best all-around riders to ever do it. I’ve expressed this before, but my hope is that Noah realized how he inspired me and many others before he passed. RIP brother.”

Noah Salasnek snowboarding trevor graves photography

Jeremy Jones, professional rider

“I never met Noah, not one time! Pretty crazy, considering how close I ended up working with Mack Dawg Productions. Noah’s riding was something like no one else. He would surf cornices, then pop up top and “butter-the-muffin”, spin out of it, and tap a tree. It was beautiful… More or less, surfing, skating and snowboarding while snowboarding. Noah would simply terrorize a slope, rarely leaving it without being heavily jibbed all the way down. I drew influence from Noah more than any other pro. Noah showed you could do it all, just thrash it all, in total style! Noah was everything that snowboarding was meant to be and he brought it to the screen! We all as snowboarders should hold a deep gratitude and respect for this dude, even if for only the fact that snowboarding wouldn’t be this way had Noah Salasnek not boarded.”

Further viewing:

Powder and Rails: Noah Salasnek part one and two
Noah Salasnek in Standard Films’ TB2: A New Way of Thinking, 1992
Noah Salasnek in Mack Dawg Productions’ Upping the Ante, 1993