Image Maker: Gabe L'Heureux
Hard-working picture-taker Gabe L'Heureux will tell you that snowboard photographers are the ultimate nomads. "Shoot here, shoot there, travel, travel, travel," he says. "Then suddenly it's late spring and everyone's over it for the season. Then you're sitting there in the heat digging through photos you shot six months ago." Deep into summer photo editing, L'Heureux handpicked a collection for us that personifies the snowboard photographer roaming-the-world spirit: great action and secret moments outside the spotlight -- like this shot of Scotty Lago in France, snatching a post-contest powder turn before the X Games Tignes superpipe lights click off.
"Sometimes the best snow is right in front of your face," says L'Heureux about this shot of Norwegian rider Alek Østreng getting shacked in between practice runs at the 2013 X Games in Tignes, France.
If you were in the crowd at the 2013 Burton U.S. Open watching Ayumu Hirano's second-place run, you'd have seen more than a 15-year-old with an ability to boost. You'd have witnessed a talent for performing under pressure that guys twice his age still haven't mastered. "That pipe event was one of the heaviest snowboard contests in history and the coming out party for Ayumu," says L'Heureux. A year later, Hirano would be standing on the Olympic podium in Sochi.
A few hours after the 2013 U.S. Open superpipe contest drew to a close, the snow started falling, dumping that famous Colorado champagne down on everyone in the Vail Valley. The next day the entire Burton crew celebrated another successful Open by riding powder. "Everyone headed for the Back Bowls and remembered what snowboarding is all about," says L'Heureux.
Is it still considered "urban riding" if the rail is located deep in the heart of Wisconsin farm country? "Ethan brought us to this spot, which was just minutes from his house and right on the Apple River," says L'Heureux.
Dreams of the open road: Legendary Finnish rider Jussi Oksanen takes a spin in his brand new VW Vanagon near San Onofre, California. October, 2012.
In April, 2013, Kelly Clark took a break from the relentless contest grind that is a pre-Olympic year and headed to Baldface Lodge -- an epic cat-boarding lodge in the B.C. Interior -- with the rest of the Burton Women's crew. "Kelly reminded everyone that she doesn't just ride halfpipe, she can shred whatever you put in front of her," says L'Heureux.
This was shot during slope practice at X Games Tignes last year. As this shot illustrates, the French resort of Tignes serves up serious freeride terrain, and its high elevation (nearly 12,000-feet at the peak) makes for tons of bluebird powder days and all-time light and fluffy snow.
"The start gate for the boardercross course was occupied ... Nico improvised," says L'Heureux about this shot of Nicolas Mller stealing the hole shot from some Tignes locals amidst the majestic peaks and crags of the French Alps. March, 2012.
A seamless sequence from an X Games Aspen 2013 practice session shows how dialed in Roppe Tonteri's game gets. "Style and consistency is what makes the world's best slopestyle riders the best," says L'Heuruex.
Most of the world only sees the drama under the lights at X Games' Sunday night finals, but sometimes the best action goes down during practice. "Daytime sessions at X are amazing," says L'Heureux. Here, Shaun White fine tunes his run on the shady side of the pipe. Aspen, Colorado.
Tim Manning, Sean Aaron
The skill to capture snowboarding for the silver screen doesn't come without baggage. "Tim and Sean are two of the best filmers on the planet. Needless to say, they don't travel lightly," says L'Heuruex. "This was all their gear for shooting just one day on the mountain."
Capturing a memorable snowboard photo is a two-way deal -- a partnership between the rider and the photographer. They both have to bring their best to the table. According to L'Heureux, here's what's on the table for this dynamic shot of Torah Bright's finals run at X Games 2013: "Speed, style, a slow shutter speed and a flash."
Werni Stock gets spring freshies in Colorado. "We were in Breckenridge for a park shoot and woke up to two feet of May powder," says L'Heureux. "Needless to say, we weren't riding park on this day." May, 2013.