Last winter, Nial Romanek spent much of his time logging shots for Flow?s 2012 team movie, and each month, as he stacked clips, rumors of double boardslides, close outs with big drops, and frontboards on burly rails circulated around the Midwestern upstart. After the season ended, in June, he drove from Tahoe to Mount Hood and spent the summer lapping the Windells park. Those who knew Nial, enjoyed fun, summer laps with him, and those who didn?t, always asked who he was. There?s no doubt that Nial is a workhorse on a snowboard, with easy style and a deep bag of tricks, and as summer went by, the word was getting out.Flow?s movie has just premiered, preseason rail jams have begun, and it?s almost time to start filming again. The hype has begun to build around this guy, and his shy-until-you-get-to-know-him exterior is letting his riding provide the response.Welcome to the family, Nial.

Nial back blunt 270 to 5050. Summer 2011. p: Darcy Bacha/WindellsWhere did you grow up riding? Northern Minnesota, this place called Giant?s Ridge.You were on the park staff there, right? I was on the park staff and there weren?t that many rails. I took a welding class in high school and built some rails for the mountain. I built one rail, and [the mountain] was psyched on it, so I built a couple more, because before that we had just wooden boxes with no edges and three metal rails.How did you get into riding park when there wasn?t much of facility where you rode?I don?t know, we just did it anyway, just shredded on what we had. That?s probably the reason that I ride switch a lot, because my park didn?t allow you to learn a ton of different things. On a twenty foot jump, there aren?t that many things you can do, so the next step was to learn tricks switch.What are the top three best things about being from the Midwest/Minnesota?You learn how to ride on ice, if you can ride on ice, you can ride on anything. I guess we don?t have an excuse to complain about the cold. This may sound weird, but I think having a good work ethic. People from Minnesota have really good work ethic, work hard and take pride in what they do.When did you move out to Tahoe?I moved out to Tahoe in 2006 and then moved back to Minnesota in the summer for two years. Since then, I?ve been out in Tahoe the rest of time.
Nial switch front blunt in the Windells park. photo: Erik Hoffman/Windells Who did you live with last season? Any good stories?I lived in Tahoe Donner with Dakota, Steve G., and my friend Cullen from Bear. Last October, we had a Halloween party. There was a band upstairs that [Brandon] Cocard and Tim Eddy are part of, I can?t remember the name. Dylan [Alito] jumped from the second story to the first floor in the house and now we call it the Alito Gap. I think Dakota was Santa Claus or something really dumb. Dakota walking around with a Santa hat on, blacked out, is a pretty good costume.You spent last summer at Mount Hood, what were you doing up there?I hosted Session 1 at Windells and then just stayed up there and snowboarded, since I filmed a bunch last year and didn?t get to really ride park that much. It was my first time living up there. I feel like if you?re trying to be snowboarder it?s one of those things that you have to check off your list, to live at hood for the summer.You ended up with Austin?s Saga credit card one night in Govy?tell us about that night.It was either dance party or a premiere, and he was buying me and a bunch of our friends drinks. I think he got too drunk and was going to leave, and he asked me if I wanted more drinks and gave me his card. I honestly don?t remember much more after that. I remember waking up and having his credit card in my wallet and being like ?how did that happen?? and then it slowly came back…What went down on the Saga surf trip to the Oregon Coast?It was really sweet. I was really down that we got to go surfing because I had only gone one other time. It was raining a little bit, but it was still awesome.  First day, I almost caught a wave or two. One time I really, really committed to the wave, my nose went under, I flipped and hurt my head, so I just quit that day. That night, we went to an arcade and I?m pretty sure that was Austin?s favorite place. He was just spending money on the arcade all night. Then, we got a hotel right by the beach. The next day, we went back to this other break and I got worked again. That was about it.That was your first time meeting and hanging out with a lot of members of the Saga Fam. How was that? It was good. Everyone was super chill and very friendly. It was cool, we all hung out, snowboarders and skiers. Honestly, I didn?t know who snowboarded or skied. I don?t care who does what, everyone?s super nice.
When camping, it’s helpful to get bottles of water that do not have giant leaks in them.You?re one of the first snowboarders to be involved with Saga, what does it mean to you to be on the Saga Team as a snowboarder?Being a snowboarder, sometimes it?s weird to be on Saga, because skiing is more involved with Saga than snowboarding is. As an up and coming snowboarder, it would be nice to help change the image of a ?ski outerwear company? to just an ?outerwear company.? A lot of the big companies in the industry were started as ski companies, but if you have legit riders, and legit people involved in the company and supporting the company, it?s going to be a legit product and people are going to be stoked on it.What?s the difference of you riding for Saga verses a snowboard-only outerwear brand?I guess it?s kind of more of a risk starting out, going with a company that is just getting involved in the sport. I know their outerwear is on point. It can be more rewarding, but it?s a riskier maneuver. With certain brands that have been around for a while, they have an image that they like to maintain, but with an up and coming brand when you?re an up coming rider, you can work that into the brand which can make you a bigger part of the brand itself, if that makes any sense.So there?s lots of benefits for you riding for Saga?The benefits are that the people that I deal with, I know them. If they back me in the beginning, I?m sure they?ll back me later down the road. Also, being a newer brand, it?s smaller. I have more interaction with them than if I was in a big company where it was like, ?ok, send this kid product.? I talk to Austin, see him a bunch, and he calls me randomly to say what up. It?s way more on a personal level than just on a business level.
Back 180. photo: Darcy Bacha/WindellsYou?ve been turning a lot of heads the last year, especially recently. What is it like being on the come up, trying to get noticed, get where you want to be?what?s it like to be Nial Romanek right now?I guess I?m just really stoked right now. I?ve been trying to do this for a while now and it seems to finally be paying off a little bit. I?m kind of getting where I?m trying to go, not there yet, but one day. I?m learning a lot, way more about the business aspect of snowboarding. Before I thought you just snowboarded and that was it; there?s a lot more politics and stuff that you have to deal with. When you?re coming up snowboarding, people are trying to get you ride for different companies and you have to see what the best route to make your goals happen is, and also make the people happy that are going to support you.I feel like this is a really big year for me. I really need to show people what my snowboarding is all about. People are at least looking at me a little bit, I?m starting to get a little bit of light, so I figure I should try to snowboard to the best ability that I can and back up the hype that?s been put on me. That?s what it comes down to.What are your plans for this winter?I?m going to do all the rail contests I can and film a part for the Flow movie. Also, Flow is going to be coming out with a web series.What?s your kit you?re going to be running for Saga?I will probably be mostly be wearing a sweatshirt or flannel on the streets. I?m also going to run the camo jacket that has the black patches, and the slim fit pant in black or gray.Winter is just beginning. What do you want to accomplish that will make you stoked at the end of the season?I guess what I want is to film the best part I can and make people stoked on my snowboarding, the tricks I do and the things I hit. I ?m not trying to be somebody I?m not, I would be stoked if people accepted me as a good boarder.