Riddle me this:

Viral video vaults Laurel snowboarder into national spotlight
By: 
CHRIS MCCONNELL
Outlook staff writer
Photo courtesy Andrew Riddle. Laurel street snowboarder Andrew Riddle mugs for the camera during a recent session. The Laurel resident has won a dozen freestyle snowboarding competitions and this week received national attention after one of his videos went viral on Outside TV’s social media feeds.
Photo courtesy Andrew Riddle. Laurel street snowboarder Andrew Riddle mugs for the camera during a recent session. The Laurel resident has won a dozen freestyle snowboarding competitions and this week received national attention after one of his videos went viral on Outside TV’s social media feeds.
Photo courtesy Andrew Riddle. Andrew Riddle attempts to clear a gap during a shoot for a video that has been viewed 1.5 million times in the last week. The 2010 Laurel High graduate has made a splash with clips of him doing snowboarding tricks on urban features in Laurel and Billings, and his video went viral after Outside TV chose it as their “Video of the Week.”
Photo courtesy Andrew Riddle. Andrew Riddle attempts to clear a gap during a shoot for a video that has been viewed 1.5 million times in the last week. The 2010 Laurel High graduate has made a splash with clips of him doing snowboarding tricks on urban features in Laurel and Billings, and his video went viral after Outside TV chose it as their “Video of the Week.”
Photo courtesy Andrew Riddle. Andrew Riddle’s snowboard flexes as he lands on and slides a handrail during a recent video shoot. The Laurel snowboarder has gotten national attention for a recent video he submitted to Outside TV.
Photo courtesy Andrew Riddle. Andrew Riddle’s snowboard flexes as he lands on and slides a handrail during a recent video shoot. The Laurel snowboarder has gotten national attention for a recent video he submitted to Outside TV.

In an age where views, likes, follows and shares are currency, a Laurel man hit the jackpot when an urban snowboarding video he submitted to Outside TV won a weekly contest and went viral. The video–filmed in Laurel, Billings and Utah over the past year–has garnered nearly 1.5 million views and more than 15,000 shares in less than two weeks.

Twenty-six-year-old snowboarder, Andrew Riddle is also a skateboarder, fisherman and all-around adventurer. When the 2010 Laurel High graduate isn’t sliding down handrails and pulling double-backflips off light poles and rooftops, he works as a foreman at FKF Concrete in Billings and raises his two young children–Olivia and Brecken–with his girlfriend Kim.

Riddle first tried skiing at Red Lodge Mountain when he was five but found he didn’t care for it much after his oldest brother took him down a run that was too difficult for a beginner.

As a freshman in high school he tried snowboarding with some friends and was hooked. 

“It was easier and more fun,” he recalled.

In a matter of months he had landed his first flip and hasn’t stopped pushing himself since.

Last year he used his season pass at Red Lodge 44 times and spent nearly a month in Utah riding Brighton and Park City ski resorts. He also spent days at Big Sky and up the Beartooth Pass.

Riddle is a seasoned and successful competitor, winning Slopestyle events on the Smokin’ Aces Tour four times; two at Big Sky and once each at Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho and Whitefish Mountain. He also won the Treasure State Shred Fest in Missoula four years in a row and the Red Door Rail Jam in Billings three times.

Slopestyle events are a judged obstacle course of sorts, consisting of everything from handrails, ramps and jumps where the object isn’t to avoid, but utilize.

He enters contests in the “Open” divisions and has won combinations of cash, snowboards, gear, trips and sponsorship.

 

The Vision

Riddle began filming skateboarding tricks in middle school, but as his snowboarding skill increased so did his creativity, and he began filming urban snowboarding tricks.

“I can build something in the streets that is bigger than anything they have at Red Lodge,” Riddle said. “It’s hard to go to the mountain when there is a lot of snow in town because I want to take advantage when it’s here.”

Getting the necessary speed to do tricks in cities and parks is a challenge usually overcome by tow-ropes behind cars and snowmobiles, and bungee cords.

Riddle said when he first started he would “sit in the trunk of Kim’s car with my board already attached and then jump out after she drove to the point where the bungee was stretched tight.” 

But because many of the urban locations where Riddle now sets up his tricks are in tight spaces, getting towed behind a vehicle is unfeasible. He started using a safer and more efficient way to get the necessary speed: a winch.

Riddle uses a gas-powered model specifically designed to give skiers and snowboarders the acceleration required to clear gaps and launch onto handrails. It has a 600 foot rope and Riddle can reach speeds of 30 mph.

Each street trick requires significant time and effort to set up. Up to seven people were involved in building some of the jumps featured in the Outside TV video. He said he has done some filming by himself but says “three people are ideal: a cameraman, winch operator and boarder.”

Because snow conditions are variable, he sometimes uses pallets covered with carpet to get a better base to pile snow on, and “prepares” the snow when it’s too dry and light.

“I carry a 5-gallon bucket of water with me to pour on dry snow and we use the same torches used for burning ditches” to melt some of the snow and make it more packable.

Riddle said he scouts out some jumps in the summer, but 80 percent of the time he just drives around looking for ideas after it snows.

“Features really change when you put a pile of snow on it,” he said.

The right set-up doesn’t guarantee he will be able to pull the trick off immediately, but he’s persistent. 

“I’ve tried tricks for hours before soreness or darkness sent me home, then went back the next day until I pulled it off. I can’t remember the last time I gave up on a trick.”

He said the pain and soreness has a tendency to go away when he’s focused, and said there is no better feeling than sticking the landing on a new feature. “I get into the zone and don’t feel it.” 

Pushing the limits isn’t without its downsides and injuries are part of the lifestyle.

Beyond the normal bumps, scrapes and bruises, Riddle has also suffered more serious injuries.

He tore his ACL before a contest in Mammoth Mountain, Calif. in 2011 and has had elbow and foot surgery. After a bad wreck in Utah in 2012 he had seizures that doctors attributed to the wipeout.

Seeing a snowboarder doing flips off handrails or buildings and baseball dugouts is not something most people expect and Riddle admits they have been visited by police on several occasions after they received calls from people concerned for their safety.

Riddle said most people are just curious and wonder what they’re doing. 

“We stick to public places and don’t mess around with people’s private property. People are mostly worried about our safety.”

He said on a couple of occasions they spent a day getting a trick set up, then got asked to leave before he attempted it. “That’s hard to walk away from,” he admitted. 

 

The Video

On a buddy’s suggestion, Riddle started a Campfire channel on Outside TV and entered the video into a weekly contest. 

Campfire is a place on Outside TV’s website where people can upload their videos and share to their social media feeds. As people view and like the videos, they get moved up in rankings and the submissions are reviewed and judged by Outside TV’s panel of industry experts based on creativity, storytelling and points earned. 

His video submission–much of it filmed in Yellowstone County–immediately began to gather steam, receiving the most views and likes for the week. Outside TV contest judges and organizers took notice and awarded it the video of the week. After they posted it to their Facebook page as a weekly winner, the video surpassed a million views in a matter of days. 

As a result he is getting some free gear and is currently in second place for the video of the year. The overall winner of the video contest gets invited to the Peace Park–hosted by former U.S. Olympic Snowboard team member Danny Davis–and will appear on Outside TV, which Riddle admits would be “pretty cool.” 

Outside TV Marketing Director Kevin Harrigan said the video went viral on their site and called the snowboarding “epic.”

On Saturday Riddle received congratulations from Kalispell’s Tanner Hall, a world-renowned freeskier and seven-time Winter X Games gold medalist. 

“He gave me props on the video and asked where some of the features in the video was filmed.”

For the future, Riddle wants “to keep riding and keep the positive energy, while living the life with my family. I want to continue to progress and learn and try more.”

Riddle heads to Big Sky on Feb. 10 to attempt to win his third consecutive Slopestyle contest there.

In an email, Smokin’ Aces Events Director Billy Marcial said they expect more than 60 competitors at this year’s event. “The Smokin’ Aces Tour stop at Big Sky Resort has become the largest freestyle skiing and snowboarding event in Montana,” he said.

When you go outside this winter, don’t just look left and right, cause Riddle just might be doing a double front-flip right over the top of you.

Riddle’s video can be found on OutsideTV.com, Outside TV’s Facebook page and Riddle’s Campfire channel at the following link: http://community.outsidetv.com/channel/Andrew8008 The video is also posted on the Outlook’s Facebook page.

Category:

Upcoming Events

  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 12:00pm
    Every Wednesday either at noon or at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org
  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 6:00pm
    Evening immunization clinic, third Wednesday, 6-8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Wednesdays, 7 p.m., 201 1/2 E. Main St., Laurel
  • Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 10:00am
    Mondays, 10 a.m., Thursdays, 1 p.m., Laurel Senior Center, 720 S. 4th St.
  • Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 6:00pm
    Thursdays, 6-6:30 p.m., Old Middle School, Room 102
  • Friday, February 23, 2018 - 1:00pm
    Mondays & Fridays, 1 p.m., Laurel Senior Center, 720 S. 4th St.

Poll

What is your favorite drink