Words and photos by Rom Marcucci
English muffin, egg, pasteurized cheese product, fake ham. It begins simply enough. I’m so hungry. I have to order a second. Wipe the sleep from my eye, the grease and guilt from my mouth. Somehow, McDonalds always leaves me unsatisfied. Perhaps it’s the feeling of throwing away an equal amount of trash to the food I’ve just eaten, the total lack of nutritional value, or the fact that those $7 could have gotten me a bomb breakfast anywhere else on earth.
Puget Sound from above
I’m not anywhere else on earth. I’m in the Reno airport. It’s deserted. Truly deserted. Early in the morning, it should be filled with commuting suits. Instead, it’s filled with fake cowboy hats, images of desert kitsch, and bored looking TSA employees. I feel like I’m in a ghost town gift shop, not about to step onto a jet. I step onto the jet.
Eugster on the Sea to Sky
The jet lands in Seattle. It too, is empty. The baggage claim spins, myself and the few other passengers grab our bags. I step out into the rain. A huge pickup pulls up. I step in. We pull off. The tank fills. For $30. This was unheard of a few months ago. We race toward the border.
The crossing is again disquietly quiet.
“Where are you headed?”
“Where are you from?”
“Seattle and Tahoe”
“Have a good trip”
Two questions, no passport check, and we’re through.
Through Vancouver, traffic free. Up the Sea to Sky, no construction workers. Into Squamish, no shoppers. Whistler beckons, welcoming us with cold, wet arms. It is pouring rain and the world’s busiest resort village is again empty. It’s been a while since I’ve left Tahoe, and I begin to wonder what on earth is going on with the rest of the world.
Strip mall shopping: an important part of any good trip
The world’s impending slumber is all I’ve read of the news lately. My first international journey confirms my worst fears. I step down from the truck. My breath crystallizes in the dank night air. Andrew tosses the valet the keys. We snag our bags and step inside. My vision whites out as eyes shift from dark to intense light.
Shift. The grand interior of the Chateau Fairmont. Jason Levinthal checks in to my right, grinning broadly. Ahead are the members of LINE Canada, partaking in a spontaneous party. To the left, members of LINE Europe, more old friends, and further down the hall, our open bar and glutonous opening dinner buffet.
Jason talks bags
The Chateau is warm, bright, welcoming, and importantly, abuzz with people. We spend two days there. I awake to the staff as the phone rings. “Good morning, Mr. Marcucci.” They get my name right. Shockingly polite. Quick breakfast, then we all hit the demo room.
Josh and Jason get the shot
The demo room is brimming with skis. Every LINE model in every size. What skis should I take? New Prophet 130s? It’s raining down here in the village. Is there snow on the hill? I hear minimal at best. There is a minipark open though. I grab the Afterbangs instead. Psyched.
Butter: look where the ski flexes…
We ride three lifts in the rain. Everyone is shockingly pumped. Line Europe is wilding out by the demo tent. The US reps are swapping out skis and ripping the groomers. Josh Malczyk, Jason Levinthal, and I hit the mini park. Although I’m in Whistler, it is December in a less than epic snow year, so it feels more like childhood at Loon Mountain NH. The crew downloads the lift and walks back to the hotel.
Andy the engineer talks about how the Afterbang’s flex is created
The hotel’s $15 a plate cafeteria hosts us for lunch. Delicious. The staff - again - too polite. I’m not paying for anything: thanks LINE. The afternoons fill with meetings. I won’t bore you with the details. Kevin the sales guy talks about how many skis we need to sell. Andy the engineer discusses LINE’s new constructions. Josh the TM informs about the team, Pollard, and the Traveling Circus. Jason the bossman pumps us up with marketing and product.
The new skis get an inspection
Product, there’s a lot of gorgeous new. It is clear to me just how busy LINE has been this past year. The Shadow is a new women’s all mountain freestyle ski. The Pandora now has early rise, the Prophet 130 even more than before. The Bacon comes in more sizes. The new Chronic Cryptonite rips. There’s the Mastermind, which reminds me of the Invader but with more all mountain versatility. I see pointy sticks with grips, dope looking new hoodies, and of course, the Afterbang.
The new Afterbang video…dropping soon?
The Afterbang is another first in LINE’s long history of them. This ski has been quietly under development for four years. The level of secrecy is almost astonishing. Athletes signed confidentiality agreements. Even those on the inside knew little about the ski. Engineers went so far as to hand paint the sidewalls of the early prototypes so they would look more like normal Invaders, Chronics, or Anthems.
Every other ski on the market has a core that is laid up vertically. The Afterbang is horizontal seven ply maple like a skate deck. The deck construction results in an very customizable flex pattern. LINE is able to move the butter zone right in front of the binding, easing butters and presses. This ski is so much fun in the park. Secondly, durability is increased exponentially. The engineers have a field day testing this ski in the lab. They slap it on flat metal in the freezer, slap it against rails, purposely chip it, soak it in water, freeze it, then try to break it. The Afterbang outperformed every other ski in these tests. It’s like a cockroach: tough.
Up close and personal with the Afterbang’s wood top
Not a tireless cockroach, the meetings stop eventually. The days end in fine style. Dinner is another absurdly filling and tasty affair. Stuffed full of fine meats and Canada’s premier beer, Kokanee, I lay my head down on the starched, high thread count pillow. VIP. I feel like one briefly, about two days a year.
Despite the lack of snow, lack of money, lack of consumer spending, blah, blah, blah, these few days proved everything was going to be just fine. In fact, for some, it is going to be amazing. LINE is still selling unique, fun skis. The team still kills it. I still have a job. It will still snow next season. When it does, things are going to be very, very good.