Traditionally Untraditional – An Afternoon With Jason Robinson

Jason Robinson is Not your Traditional Pro Snowboarder.

Photos and words by Connor Shea

When people hear the word “pro,” usually in front of words like skier or athlete, many jump to conclusions about said lifestyle. “Gosh, it must be sooo sick to get paid by sponsors to travel the world and snowboard or play hockey or do whatever,” I can already hear you thinking. 

Turns out, as much as we fantasize about what it would be like to live that life, the truth is obviously much more complicated than that. 

On the other hand, Jason Robinson has had a journey that many in the above paragraph would desire when looking at the surface. He hails from Whitefish, MT. His home mountain… Was named Big Mountain. How fitting.

All of the years honing his boarding skills in Montana eventually led to an impressive and successful profession. Known in particular for his heavy, high consequence line selection and hankering for heli time, his exploits led him to countless Alaskan steeps and spines. He earned the accolade of the 2016 Snowboarder Magazine Big Mountain Rider of the Year. Major video parts stacked as the years went by and he now sits among the greats of big mountain riding. Highlights include the opening part in Absinthe Films’ Dopamine and the ender part in Eversince.

Jason Robinson Getting Spicy
Jason's method of trimming trees is different than yours

“5 or so years ago, besides Manuel (Diaz), Victor (De Le Rue), and I, there weren’t too many guys doing these really big, massive lines while also having a double cork or other sick tricks in the bag” said Robinson. 

However, it can be fair to say that the highest highs can come with the lowest lows when you ask the world for a ride and it gives one to you. That prior sentence is critical to understanding who Jason Robinson is, and why snowboarders like myself respect and admire him so much. Nonetheless, this piece is not a deep dive into Jason’s life, as that has already been written by someone much more qualified to do so than myself. 

What we will be talking about is this: How Jason found his way to Targhee for a couple of days and what it was like to ride and shoot some photos with him.

Jason Robinson hitting the log jam
Safe to say Jason's out on a limb with this shifty

“I’m kind of coming back into snowboarding in a way. I had all the big parts with Absinthe, and that was kind of building and building to getting an ender (Eversince)… I reached my dreams; there was nowhere else to go. I also couldn’t sustain the financial side of all the heli time like other riders with bigger budgets. It’s like now I’m not the one pushing the sport anymore, but I was that person, and now I’m an ambassador for the culture,” said Robinson. 

Spending an afternoon with Jason was a very authentic experience. There was no posse or crew, no Iphones being pulled out of pockets. Snow, albeit lightly, was falling. Upper elevations were Foghee and not worth going up top for photos that wouldn’t go. It was just Jason and I, and we had an afternoon to have fun and make snowboarding look rad. A pretty easy task with Jason’s effortless yet impeccable style.

Sacajawea was the main access into “Side-hit City”. As we boarded along, we both threw ideas out there… and executed them properly and promptly. Standouts include a hefty backside air tree-tap in one of the larger gullies and a ride off the infamous log jam at lift-level next to Sac. We were in the flow, prioritizing style above all else.

Side hits were the natural selection, due in part to where Jason hopes to be competing in less than a month. Natural Selection is the brainchild of Jackson’s own Travis Rice. For those not in the know, it is a backcountry-scaled, natural-hit-inspired beast of a competition at JHMR, among other locales. Jason is in the qualifying competition, where riders assemble a ‘best of their best’ video edit that they hope will propel them forward.

Even I was flipping out at what was shown through my viewfinder throughout the day

As for his choice to come to Targhee, Jason was caught between limited choices when looking for snow.

“It was either the Tetons or SE Alaska, Washington just got a lot of rain, same with Whitefish. I asked one of my friends about coming to Jackson and he was like UGH, Jackson…It’s all about Targhee, man! And that stuck with me so much. This place is so sick and comparatively under the radar,” said Robinson. 

As we made our way down that last cat track, fist bumps and frothing ensued. Judging by the smile of pure joy on our faces, I would say he made a great call.