Growing up in the Northeast leaves an indelible impression on a person. The cold temperatures, the unforgiving hardpack, the omnipresent ice–the road to pursuing snowboarding as a viable profession is loaded with frost heaves. But for those who grow up in the northern Appalachian Mountains, this all just means that going after a life filled with snowboarding requires some entrepreneurial spirit and grit. Lane Knaack has both in spades. Honing his skills at Hunter Mountain in New York when he was young before spending his adolescence steeped in the scene at Stratton in Southern Vermont, Lane’s heavy talent and easy style catalyzed a pro career that eventually landed him in Tahoe, an ideal place for his all-terrain take on snowboarding. But Lane’s ATV aesthetic extends off his board, too; his impact on snowboarding has continued, first through running the terrain park at Woodward Tahoe for nearly a decade and currently, through his company HFM Welding, which has built features for resorts and events across North America. In 2020, Lane and his family returned to the East Coast and set down roots in New Hampshire. And HFM continues to thrive as Lane contributes to the scene he grew up in through the same love of boarding, but this time with a welding machine in tow. You can ride HFM features all the way from AK to Pennsylvania. You can check them out at events like East Street Archives Homesick and JBL Peaks on Peaks. And this winter, you can hit them–open for everyone and for free–in Dover, NH at the Garrison Hill Hike Park, a project that Lane has been instrumental in bringing to life. We checked in with Lane to learn more about HFM, Garrison Hill, and hear what he’s been up to. Thanks, Lane, for all you do for snowboarding. – Mary T. Walsh
You moved back to the East Coast a few years ago with your family after working in operations and terrain parks in Tahoe for years. What brought you guys back East?
We moved back in the fall of 2020 during the craziness of the world. Our daughter, Ro, had just turned 1 and Reno just didn’t seem like where we wanted her to grow up. After twenty years out there, it was time to get back closer to family. Both my wife, Ali, and I wanted to do our own thing, and being fortunate enough to be in a position to try and do so, we went for it.
You guys are living in NH right? On the Seacoast?
Yes, we are inland from Portsmouth a little bit right on the border of Maine and NH. Nice, quiet, tiny little town. My better half grew up around here, so real close to her family and we have some of her good friends real close by.
How has it been getting back into New England riding and the scene there? In what ways is it the same/different than when you were coming up?
It has been an adjustment for sure. Mainly the snow and weather has been nuts the past few seasons, to say the least. But the scene out here hasn’t slowed down at all. People are diehard, to say the least. It has also been super fun to reconnect with people I grew up shredding with, as well as meet a lot of people I never had a chance to. And the newer generations, as well, are dope. When we first got back people were so welcoming, reaching out, it was super cool.
I imagine raising your daughter in the New England mountains is pretty special, too?
I love the thought of her growing up out here, doing the same things we did. It is for sure a cool thought. But who knows what she will really be into. Right now, she humors us with snowboarding more than anything, I think.
Where do you go riding mainly when you’re home?
The last few years have kind of been all over: some days at Gunstock; McIntyre in Manchester, NH; a bit of Okemo in VT. But this year we have passes to Mt. Abram, up in Maine where we built our tiny home last summer. We have been going up there a bit this winter already. It’s a super mellow mom and pop resort. Pretty chill area.
You have a long history of working in resort operations and terrain parks (in addition to your pro career!). How did you get into this originally, in addition to your snowboarding?
My last year filming we worked on a project at Kingvale called Big Trouble in Little Truckee. That season, Day Franzen and Jay Rydd built a ton for us to film on, which we always got to do the handwork on, but I got to help out doing a lot of handwork on the day to day park which I really loved, as well. When reality set in and I had to find a job, Bridges had told me an old friend, Eric Rosenwald who ran slope maintenance at Boreal back then, was looking for a supervisor for the park. I hounded Eric till he gave me a job in the park. I loved it and ran with it. Working for a small resort with an even smaller team, you learn to do everything. Making snow was so fun, always riding around in the cats and watching, then just taking them and learning to move features around to help out. Things just naturally progress when you are always willing to jump in and learn.
While you no longer work in-house for a resort, you are still ingrained professionally in the snow industry through your own welding company, HFM Welding. And now you operate in New England. Tell us about HFM and what brought you to starting your own operation.
All throughout working at Boreal, I loved when it was time to make or fix anything. I learned to glue things back together my first winter there just out of necessity. When something breaks in the park, if you don’t fix it, it’s out of commission. And over the years, I just took a real liking to it. My best bud, Matt Melilli, who had also taken over slope maintenance at Boreal, is all about heavy metal. Through a lot of joking around, we would weld “HFM” (Heavy Fucking Metal) on all of the features somewhere, on a leg or foot. We had talked a few times about how we should do our own thing, like what SPT does, but we never got around to it. After I left Boreal, I started making park rakes and needed a name for the LLC. Seemed to be fitting. At first it was just a side project, but after I left Diamond Peak, my last job in Tahoe, and we decided to move back East, I just wanted to play with metal. We have just been pushing along, building the company ever since.
What sorts of projects have you worked on with HFM?
In the snow world side of things, I started out doing contract work for Okemo in Vermont, building rails for them in the summer a couple weeks each year. Will Mayo from Tow Pro Lifts has put me in contact with some customers of his, as well. Building out features for a few personal parks is the coolest. I have also partnered with Mike Bettera and Effective Edge, which in return has brought in work from a lot of resorts and companies that he works with from here in New Hampshire all the way to Anchorage, Alaska. And I’ve done fab work for SPT over here, which has been super cool. It’s been a wild ride, for sure.
And then there is all of my work out of the resort world, ranging from a lot of ornate railing systems and foot bridges to a full retrofit/modification, a solid waste disposal system, farm and heavy equipment repair, truck bed build outs—I’ve even recently made an aluminum urn for a repeat customer. Random and crazy are the best ways to describe the last three years.
What is it like being back East and contributing to the snowboard community and scene there?
It has been awesome being back. seeing a lot of old friends and meeting a ton of new friends has just been super cool. On top of that, being able to take what I have learned over the years and put it to good use is always rewarding. My favorite part of working at resorts was always watching people fall in love with what you spend your life obsessing over. It’s really awesome! So, to be able to help bring that into a community setting is super rad.
What is the Garrison Hill Hike Park and how did that project come about?
Garrison Hill Park is the big park in the city of Dover, New Hampshire. Way back in the 60s they had a rope tow for a small ski and tube hill. Over the years, there has always been the area for tubing and skiing/snowboarding but no lift for a long time. There have been times where they have had people put boxes or rails in on the hill, but it was never maintained and just would fall apart over the years. This summer the town invested heavily in a new cement skatepark for the community. The parks director, Gary Bannon, is one of those awesome people who believes in what the youth are into.
A friend who I met the first night the local tow rope Powderhouse Hill was open, Cameron Spear, is from the area and really into shredding. He has been bugging the town for a while now and got a bunch of us together to meet up and talk with Gary at the park. We talked ideas and dreams for an hour, Cam and I spoke some more on ideas, put a few sketchups together and sold them on the hill revamp. We are still working on the master plan, but the town got behind the first steps pretty fast.
There aren’t many public hike parks like this in North America, in general, but the numbers are growing! The community and accessibility aspects of bringing snowboarding to people and youth can have so much impact. Why was it meaningful to you to bring this to fruition in New Hampshire?
Really, the main thing between the skatepark and this is having something for people to do. Keep kids busy, give them a place to go—and also for people like us who are addicted to this shit. We are about 45 minutes from the closest resort, so having something close to home is super important. It’s the other half of the barrier to entry, which is accessibility, that seems to be the most important part. Forget being able to afford it if you can’t even get there.
What features did you build for the park?
There was a pole jam and a small flat bar already there, and now we have a new line with a 22-foot down rail, double barrel 2-inch round down-flat-down (really mellow kinks but a good length flat), and an up-down double barrel, as well. Really we were going for just fun, rider-friendly rails for anyone to start out.
It’s been a slow start to winter (everywhere), but is the plan for the park to open as soon as Mother Nature brings some storms that way?
As soon as there is snow on the ground it’s free and ready for anyone. All you have to do is respect the area and anyone there. Bring home what you bring there, and have fun.
Speaking of community, with Homesick last year, it seems like there’s some rad momentum happening in the East for events and gatherings that the area has been missing for a while. What are your thoughts on this?
Homesick was super fun last year. Really felt like the old days. Mostly, just seeing people from 25-30 years ago is a trip. Also you have Lucas and Tonya Magoon with the Goonjam tour that starts with two stops on the East and is such a rad community event, McIntyre is doing some really rad grassroots events. Methodology at Gunstock is awesome. Loon does some rad events. New England is such a consolidated area that the community, even though it’s spread out over a few states, seems really close and will go the extra mile to stay tight-knit.
With everything that you have done so far in snowboarding, returning to your roots while continuing your work to contribute to the next generation is something really rad (to put it lightly!). Can you let us in on any projects you’re working on for this winter or that you have upcoming and what this winter is looking like for you?
For starters, hoping to be able to ride a bit more than the past couple years. I have been talking again with the guys from Homesick about helping out with Zeb’s rail jam, to what extent is still to be determined. Then whatever work pops up between now and then. Haha. The waves of my work are wild and you never know when they are coming in. It’s always last minute and people need it now.
Last question, best thing about the East Coast?
Family, people, food, space to breathe, land. I can go on for days. Although I’m still getting acclimated to the weather. It’s good to be back.