Gumby is an absolute legend in the world of snowboarding... and beer. He jumped off the scary mountain cliffs and appeared on the covers of snowboard magazines at a time when many of us were still pulling a duck behind us. He is a founder of the famous snowboard & ski event Xbox Big Day Out and currently has his own brand of beer Man and Wolf Beer. You will learn more about this iconic snowboarder in the following interview!
Hi, how are you? What are you up to these days?
Hey, I'm great been hiking my own private empty ski resort here in Val d'Isere France. No lifts, no rich idiots, no ski instructors, no kooks, just old friends and deep powder all to ourselves. LIFE IS GOOD.
Sweet! For those who are unfamiliar with you, please can you tell us, who's Gumby?
Gumby is on walkabout, born in Australia to Fijian mother, moved to Europe to reconnect to my English father in London in 1994. Grew up windsurfing and surfing on Sunshine coast Queensland, and I discovered snowboarding in a windsurfing video in 1990. When I finished high school that year did my first full winter season in Thredbo ski resort in Blue mountains, and never looked back, I've been doing winter seasons ever since. You might say I have an unhealthy addiction to sliding SIDEWAYS sports.
I have spent my entire adult life in the snow sports industry. I was lucky enough to become a professional snowboarder in 1996. Which I am so grateful for because that experience has led me down some very interesting paths. I owned and operated Xbox Big Day Out snowboard event from 1997 till 2007. I also managed Val d'Isere snow park for 5 years, which lead to working on many city snow events projects shaping jumps. Then in 2008, I opened a snowboarding lounge bar and shop with a great friend of mine, and that finally lead me into my current business which is Man and Wolf Beer. The idea behind MAW is to combine all my passions of snow skate surf and of course drinking beer! But, at the end of the day, everything I do is so I still go snowboarding.
How long have you been snowboarding? Since 1990?
Yes I've done seasons since 1990, while I was pro I did back to back seasons North hemisphere Southern hemisphere. As soon as I became pro, my job was to progress my sport and the only way to do that is ride ride ride. I lost count after 30 seasons some time ago.
What does snowboarding mean to you in 3 words?
Nature, stoke, soul.
And in 3 sentences?
The connection to nature is very magical part for me, learning to listen to nature's voice is key to staying alive in high mountains also for filling your soul.
Stoke, you put it in, it gives it back.
Mountains energy fills your soul if you let it, quiet your mind turn off the noise of life. People talk a lot about this, the real skill is doing it.
Can you tell us the legendary story about what happened in 95' on British Championship in Val d'Isere?
Ha ha, most my exploits out-date the internet. Well done you found one.
That was my passage into British snowboarding folklore. The British snowboarding championship came to my home resort, so I and a bunch of other local riders decided to crash the party. It's a humbling life experience, we thought we were better than them, turns out we were wrong because the British snowboarding scene welcomed me and I made life long friendships at that event. It started with us trying to cheat in the boardercross, then we sneaked the halfpipe because they shaped a rad pipe. Then on finals day on big air, a large crowd of locals appeared. I was one of a few riders that anyone knew, so every time I was due to hit the big air the crowds started chanting my name over and over. I'd jump and people would go crazy. I didn't qualify for finals but my dear friend Ed Leigh got his first-ever job as a commentator. So as he was reading out finalists and my name wasn't on the list he yelled my name Gumby and the crowd went crazy. So I had a couple of shots of tequila and hiked up past the start gate for the inrun and by an extra 30m. By the time I passed the group of finalists standing at the normal start point, I was already tanking full speed. I hit the small kicker going very fast, planning a big front 180, I remember being upside down so long and so high I saw my friends faces looking up at me and I also had time to see I'd passed the landing, lucky my reflex told me to flip my head into a backflip and I managed to land on my legs in a heap. I thought I was k.o, I put one hand in the air to show I was ok and the crowd went crazy. I was pissing and shitting blood for weeks, I snapped my snowboard, but man what a day! Black fly made an ad out of the sequence even though I wasn't sponsored by them. I'm fairly sure I broke my back and ribs but never saw a doctor because I'm stupid like that. It's not the craziest dumbest thing I've ever done but it's in the top 5. I made a career after that going big and crashing. I love hitting things full speed, it's what we did.
I heard that you used to get in fights easily back in the days, is that true?
I'm a lover, not a fighter, but yes it's TRUE. Like many young men full of ego and too much testosterone, I had more than my fair share of fights. Mostly with stupid rich arrogant skiers in the 90's, I once spray-painted skiers suck on the back of one of my snowboarding jackets and some rich local ski guide skied up to me and tried to make me crash. Then punch me in the face, that didn't end well for him. Maybe it was because of my slogan jacket, but fuck yeah, I seem to get into fights with skiers a lot. But, saying that I will fight anyone that is being a d*ck on the mountain. A few years ago some punk snowboarder, spayed my daughter when she was learning to snowboard on a green run. I chased after him, to say, dude, have fun but have some respect. He told me to fu*k off, so I broke his nose.
Spicy history haha. I'd like to come back to a Xbox BDO. So you organized a session called Big Day Out that firstly started as a friendly competition and barbecue between snowboarders and skiers, and years later it turned out into one of the biggest snowboard and ski events with thousands of spectators. That’s quite a big thing! How did you felt about that?
It left me with incredible memories, skills, contacts, which I'm thoroughly grateful for, it turned out to be very hard work, the fun session turned into a monster. It started, as a boardercross event and big air to fuel the war between skiers and snowboarders, which ended up with over a million euros budget per year from Microsoft via Xbox games console. We created carnage in one of the world's biggest ski resorts for a week each year. At the last couple of events, we had over 20,000 people at night finals with crazy live sets of hardcore music. Roni Size was the best live act, that was a heavy, out-of-control party that caught everyone off guard. Following year we had Scissor Sisters, Fabio and Grooverider, Martin Solveig and many more. So many great riders came to the event mostly for free beer, free party and to get laid, also because as soon as the event got big sponsorship budgets we put in in place a `riders first policy` and made amazing slopestyle courses. We had a mission to build the biggest hip jump and break the world record. That made building very difficult and expensive but worth it when riders turned up. Each year to see the reaction on and off the snow. Humpus Mosesson did set a record for the biggest frontside air at the time. We ended up being part of TTR world tour as 4-star event. It was great giving back to the sport which gave me so much.
Alright, let's get to your coop with Horsefeathers. How did you met with HF guys and started this coop?
In 2015 I felt in love with a Czech girl, together we started a beer brand called Man and Wolf Beer, her great grandfather was a famous brewer at Pilsner Urquell. She helped me set up a partnership with an award winning Czech brewery, as our brand is all about combining my passions and sharing our love of snow skate surf and beer. We partnered with Horsefeathers on your rad event Sneak the Tweak.
At this event I met Hanuš, the owner, and HF team and right away we kicked it off and knew I wanted to be a part of the team. I've been around the block and lived through 2 maybe 3 generations of snowboarding industry, I've had many sponsors, too many to list here. Some I'm proud to have worked with and many that I'm not. I've been fortunate enough to meet and hang out with many brand founders, some great ones and others only in it for the show and the cash. It didn't take long to see that Horsefeathers is based first on pure love and passion for snowboarding.
Horsefeathers shares my pure love and passion for snowboarding, that's why I've join the team as an old generation rider. Surfing industry keeps taking care of it's iconic riders for life, it's something snowboarding has been weak at doing, but thankfully recently that's changed and getting better every year. Big wave surfing and big mountain riding takes a life time of experience to do safely and well. Peter Mel at 54 years old has just surfed one of the best waves ever surfed at Mavericks, Nathan Fletcher at 48 landed biggest airs on a surfboard. I've still got plenty to give on a board and I'm so proud that Horsefeathers supports old guys like Steve Gruber and I.
Yes, I suppose that true love for snowboarding and for beer as well make a strong base of this cooperation. :) Is there any piece of the HF collection that you enjoy the most at the moment?
Yes, I love my new jacket Ymir dull gold, its ticks all boxes, warm, dry, strong and looks great. With lifts closed in France I've been splitboarding up over 25,000 m this winter so far, I've loved having a breathable lightweight warm technical outerwear.
And what are you doing when you're not snowboarding?
Work hard, play hard, party hard is my mantra. But I have two kids, so I try my best to be a good dad with them as they are my most valuable assets in life. I travel a lot between the Czech Republic, France, UK, Australia and Fiji. Everything I do is based around mountains and oceans, surfing has taken priority over snowboarding now for me, as I get older I'm drawn back to mother ocean.
Also, I love my job very much. Starting Man and Wolf Beer has been the best decision of my life, I strongly advise anyone to think hard about what you love and turn it into a money-making venture because that way it feels less like a "job". It's not easy, nothing is, but it helps.
Any last words?
Life's tough, get a helmet.
Finally 5 quick questions
1. The raddest spot you ever snowboard? Hanies Alaska
2. How many covers did you have? 6 covers total
3. Dream spot to conquer? Russia
4. Thing that you are most hyped about these days? Beer, surf, making handmade snowboards, my kids learning to surf and snowboard
5. The best advice you've been given about snowboarding? Do it a lot in all conditions all the time, no such thing as bad weather, only bad equipment. Speed is your friend.
Follow Gumby on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dontfollowgumby/
Gumby's snowboard mags covers