An Unexpected Journey: Chris Roach
When Grass Valley, California-born Chris Roach became a pro snowboarder in the late ‘80s everything was raw and punk rock. Snowboarding was a new movement and Roach was at the gritty helm. “It was just so exciting and so much fun,” Roach says. “I already was living that life as a skateboarder so that was my lifestyle. It didn’t seem like we were doing anything outside of what everybody should be doing. Punk’s the music our generation listened to, so it all just blended.”
A career with sponsor Santa Cruz spanned two decades with the iconic rider traveling the world and experiencing snowboarding in its most pure day. At one point, Mike Ranquet and John Cardiel rounded out this elite team who pioneered tricks, style, and in the end produced cult classics The Hard, The Hungry and The Homeless and Upping the Ante. Then, as quick as it started, it all came to a screeching halt.
“I was living my life a little raggedly, my lifestyle needed to change and Santa Cruz was changing their program and not putting as much effort into the things that I wanted to do,” Roach explains. “I was maturing and Santa Cruz was not going where I wanted to go with snowboarding.”
About a year later Roach launched his own excavating company, CR Trucking & Excavating, and also started a family. He and his wife still live in Grass Valley and have five kids. The oldest is 20 and the youngest is 7. “This helped me grow up in the ways I needed to and put some perspective into my life,” says Roach.
“I don’t feel like I took snowboarding for granted, but I certainly didn’t absorb enough of it,” he reflects.
“For the past 12 years, I would go ride with my brother on a perfect pow day at Sugarbowl,” Roach says, “But it had to be a perfect day because I was missing most of my knee except for the ACL.”
Chris would put his boots on in the parking lot and look up knowing the snow would be insane, but deep down he also knew the pain was going to extract the joy out of riding. “You can’t do the things you want to do when your legs aren’t together like that,” says Roach, “So I finally had a cadaver put in for the ACL and had some other work done. There is still some pain there, but it’s nothing in comparison.”
With less knee pain, Roach had a new drive to get back on his board, so much in fact that a short year later he is the front man of newly formed D-Day Snowboards. “This thing is going to take off — our vision is right and the industry is ready for a brand like this,” a hyped Roach exclaims.
“Nico Nolan is our brand manager and team manager,” Roach continues. “Nico knows all these guys and he’s the one who got everyone together.”
With a team that includes Andrew Burns, Deadlung, Laura Hadar and Eric Messier, Chris is admittedly stoked. “Burns is pure snowboarding. He lives, works and breathes shred. Our Tahoe rider is Eric Messier, whose free and loose style is fun to watch, plus he has a big heart too. Deadlung’s approach to snowboarding is for everyone to enjoy — he’s the king of shuffly wizard tricks. Laura Hadar holds down our women’s division, she’s our girl and we couldn’t be more proud. This crew has Ranquet and myself as their board sponsor.”
Yes, you heard it right. Mike Ranquet, the Pacific Northwest Roadkill legend, is D-Day’s latest addition.“He was and is still one of my best friends,” Roach says. ”He just had twins and is a busy man, but I think that seeing me this year and with D-Day coming about, there was no question he needed to be a part of it. With Ranquet, there will be no stopping us.”
“Everybody’s style gels perfectly with our image and what we want to do,” Roach adds.
And for Chris that’s in part what D-Day represents — style. “I think everyone has their own,” he says, “It’s great to see that style still dictates.”
Roach’s vision and hopes for the legacy D-Day will one day leave are authentic and speak directly to his character. “I want our riders to finish out their careers with D-Day and be stoked to talk about our company that they rode their whole career on and always got what they needed from. Loyalty means a lot to me, obviously, I rode for Santa Cruz for 20 years. I pride myself in that.”
That said, Roach never thought he would be a snowboard company owner, but is glad he is. “I’m so happy and so lucky that I was able to take this time away to know where I’m at. I’m thrilled to be a part of snowboarding again and to take on a new beginning.”[newsletter]”An Unexpected Journey: Chris Roach” was originally featured in Snowboard Mag Volume 11, Issue 1 | The Product Collection. Don’t get the magazine? Subscribe to Snowboard Magazine here.[/newsletter]