It’s a classic energy drink crossover: Red Bull following two high caliber professionals as one introduces the other to their consequential environment. Wisdom is instilled, collaboration is solidified, and one sport informs the other. So it plays out in the newest episode of Life of Kai, which features Hawaiian big wave surfer Kai Lenny as he heads up to Alaska to tap into some frozen waves, ahem, with Travis Rice.
But what was so surprising to us, was learning how much pro surfers love Travis Rice. Surfing media megalith, Stab, posted a story along with the video and illuminated this appreciation.
“Travis Rice is one of surfing’s biggest man crushes.” reads the subtitle of Stab’s story. While this sentence, of course, extols the admiration felt for one man by a similar-yet-separate subset of high level, sideways-standing athletes, if we read between the lines, it sounds like surfing has a soft sparkle in its collective eye for ‘boarding.
This is the opposite of the usual direction of things as countless snowboarders, both pros and scruffy members of industry have long migrated to Southern California for vacation (pros) and snowless winters (desk jockies), grabbed soft tops and paddled out, familiarizing themselves with the pummeling of Mother Nature’s ocean until eventually they catch a few waves, get hooked, and soon their IG stories are filled with more surf checks than snow reports because, well, the beach is closer and not as cold.
So to learn that Travis’ movies were unassuming trick tips for surfing’s elite rippers like John John Florence and Matt Meola, well, that’s truly a compliment to the 2023 Natural Selection champion, but we’re gonna call it a win for snowboarding at large.
“In Blake Keuny’s The Best Surfing I’ve Ever Seen shot at Cobblestones in West Australia in 2012, Blake explains ‘John [Florence], Albee [Layer] and Matt [Meola] would go back to the house every night and watch Travis Rice in the backcountry to figure out how to grab and rotate. They would go out the following day and tick off tricks with a checklist mentality.'”
Are these “earth surfing” forays a prelude to opening up the dumpster fire of worms that is the frontside/backside nomenclature clash between surfing and snowboarding? Who’s to say. Until then, we’ll be watching How Surfers Get Paid on repeat. (If you haven’t watched this, there are plenty of parallels that can be extrapolated to the snowboard industry when it comes to Nike and energy drinks, so check it out–it’s real good.)