Marcus Stephens is a name very few have ever heard of outside of certain shred circles and that’s fine with him. He’s not a young buck on the come up, but he’s not a washed up super pro, he’s just a guy that has had a chance to try to stay in the shred game. Because of his story and the fact I’ve known him for over half his life it was time to drop an interview on the Internet world. Wisdom, humor, and real truths abound in what some might call an overly lengthy interview.
Angry Snowboarder: Western NY, to Washington, back to Western NY, and now to Colorado what can you say about the journey in the pursuit of the shred game?
Marcus Stephens: Long. So many times I thought it’d never get moving. And so many times it’s shot off in some direction at the speed of light and so many times I thought I was done for good. Now here I am again old, washed-up, and somehow finding a way to make it work again. It’s certainly not dull.
AS: Well that’s for sure. Who’s helping you on this chapter of your epic journey?
MS: You. Haha.You introduced me to Don and the guys at Echelon after I said I was contemplating a mini-comeback. Things have just started to snowball from there.The support from you and some of the old industry homies has been amazing. Really cool to have people out there willing to support me and help me take another shot at what I love. Thanks, by the way.
AS: Haha you’re welcome, I’ll send you a bill for this interview later. What’s it mean to be at this point of your life and still shred?
MS: Ummm…. That’s a tough one. I guess it means I get to be happy a little bit longer. There were a lot of times between 2006 and now where I wondered if I’d ever be able to get on a stick again. It was pretty fucking depressing, honestly.
To be feeling healthier and getting a 2nd chance to chase the dream that I felt like life snatched out of my hands is amazing. I feel super lucky. I just want to enjoy it as much as possible, and surround myself with good people and good vibes.
AS: Yeah you’ve been broken for a while whats your laundry lists of injuries look like?
MS: Ya know, on paper, it’s not that impressive. haha.
AS: It never is.
MS: I’ve had some sort of issues with my spine and hips since I was about 12. But there’s still no definitive diagnosis. Short version: I randomly lose my mobility and end up in excruciating pain. Can last for an hour or 5 months. It’s a mystery. Shattering my collar bone and tearing my hip flexor didn’t help. And then I’ve got an incurable disease that roughed me up pretty bad for a while. But I’m in remission and feeling pretty good.
AS: So growing up at Holiday Valley do you feel that you got a different view of snowboarding compared to most people?
MS: Yes and no. It was kind of us just doing our own thing at first, living in our little WNY bubble. But we loved it just like kids in big market areas, and we put in just as much time. eventually, we figured it all out.
It did take me a long time to realize where snowboarding could take me, though. We didn’t have a lot of guys making it big around here. So that didn’t really seem like an attainable thing until I got out around the country a little bit and realized I could hang with these kids from all over.
AS: We definitely lived in a bubble, it’s like a time warp back there. How did it feel to go from big fish in a small pond to a little guppy in the big sea?
MS: Riding shitty parks (they’re better now) in even shittier conditions definitely toughened us up. Moving to Washington was like moving to a giant foam pit. The transition was nice for me. Washington has a strong scene without being overly saturated. It was easy to make friends fast and I managed to make myself standout in the contest scene there pretty quick. Being the token black kid always helps.
Doesn’t matter how big the salt shaker is, the pepper that snuck into it always stands out.
AS: Since you’ve been out of the pipe game for a bit how do you feel about the level things have gotten to?
MS: It’s pretty silly. Even if I’d stayed in it, I have a hard time picturing myself getting quite so gnarly with all the doubles. So much consequence…. And I really prefer the style of singles anyway. But those guys deserve a lot of credit. That stuff is super intense.
AS: Yeah shits to a level I doubt many people will touch now.
MS: Agreed. I personally think it’s gonna get too risky if they keep pushing. More tragedies like Kevin and Sarah are the last thing snowsports need.
I’m all for progression but… call me a pussy, I think rider safety has to start getting more consideration so we avoid more stuff like that.
AS: Well maybe they should just pay you guys like they pay those over paid babies in the NFL and NBA since you know you might die. When’s the last time some guy did a dunk and died?
MS: True story. But when’s the last time our sport sold out a 25,000 seat arena at $100 a pop for 80 games?
AS: Hey I saw at least 20 people at Dew Tour here last year.
MS: Isn’t it free to watch that?
AS: Probably, I don’t pay attention to what goes on when it’s here. I’m of doing important things like standing on the knuckles of jumps and lurking in blind spots on runs.
MS: I can’t wait to join you.
AS: Dude we’ll go lurk so bad it’ll be awesome. How does it feel to be moving to Breck this winter?
MS: Awesome. I’ve wanted to for a long time. And I finally feel healthy enough to do it. Nervous and excited at the same time.
AS: I know you told me earlier you were going to go around twice this winter but any thoughts of saying fuck it and huck yourself to three times?
MS: The possibility is definitely there. It’s just a matter of finding the right jump and feeling comfortable holding on that long. I’m not really worrying about it, but I’m not ruling it out either.
AS: Think triple chucking is going to become a standard in the future?
MS: I think it’s already happening. I just hope the simplicity and style of simpler tricks doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Triples are great, but I’ll always appreciate control. I like to see big, steady, floaty tricks. It’s like instantly turning real time into slow motion. so sick.
AS: But we have Twixtor for that with our GoPro edits now.
AS: Not a fan I take it.
MS: I don’t know. They’re really cool. I think it just gets old when every edit you see looks the same. I’m old school. Well…. just old, too. I guess I’m clinging to the past a little bit.
AS: So is it true after the age of 25 you’re irrelevant in snowboarding?
MS: At the entry level it’s definitely tough. Brands are filling their teams with younger and younger talent these days. It’s the Shaun White formula. Every company is looking for the next one to grow with the brand and become a superstar that stays on board for the long haul….. and hoping that they don’t turn out to be colossal douche bags.
AS: How was it going on your first team trip to Hood?
MS: Hectic. Ghetto. And probably the most fun I’ve had in a long, long time. The team is full of really good people. And despite mother nature shitting on us most of the trip, we all still had a blast. I see a lot of good times in our future.
AS: Yeah conditions weren’t ideal but we still managed to have some fun on that trip and you did spin some 1080’s.
MS: Hahaha…. Yea. That jump definitely wasn’t big enough. Jordan’s doubles were terrible ideas too.
AS: You two were so full of bad ideas on that trip it was amazing!
MS: We had to do it for the sake of the edit.
AS: All about getting the shot.
MS: Except the second ones…. Those were just to show off for those chicks. We did the second ones for pussy.
AS: Haha yeah that’s always a good idea.
MS: We need better weather on the next trip. So we can do that stuff on day one, then reap the benefits for the rest of the trip. Doing that 24 hours before we left didn’t give us any time to milk it.
AS: Nothing like pow days in May.
MS: 2 inches of sticky Cascade concrete topped with rain every day is NOT the recipe for a banger spring edit. Why was there no hot tub footage, though? I mean seriously…. that shit was gold.
AS: Because no one should have ever basked in the disease that was that cesspool of filth!
MS: Bullshit, I spent all day on my bum ankle cleaning that thing up. It was pristine. So what if Oregon has green water?
AS: That’s questionable at best but hey we survived that trip and didn’t blow up the car so I think it was a win win situation.
MS: For sure. And all those shenanigans really boosted my Instagram follower count. @nigbeats.
AS: Any advice for the younger kids trying to get into snowboarding right now?
MS: Stay committed, and don’t lose the fun. Mark Reininga is a prefect example for kids out there. He grew up here and wasn’t even the best rider in the area. But he stayed committed and he kept it fun, and in no time at all he was absolutely killing it. Now he’s living his dream in Mammoth and making everyone here super proud. All you’ve got to do is want it enough, and keep your head on straight.
AS: And finally the thanks and shout outs obligatory section
MS: Gotta give a huge thanks to you, everyone at Echelon Snowboards, Phatman Snowboard Shop, and most importantly, all the people both here and there that have supported me and are helping to make this second chance possible. I’d name everyone but we’d be here a real long time.
Follow Marcus on Twitter and Instagram: @nigbeats