Alek joins the United Shapes snowboards team!
As the brand itself puts it: "As much more than just a rider, he’s bringing his experience to shape our next collection and the future of United Shapes."
Calling on a deep knowledge, unique perspective and illuminating energy, the people at United Shapes have compiled a conversation of cut-ups, vignettes and perspectives as spoken by Alek himself, to welcome him onboard and capture his movement.
Photography by Michel La Fleur & Gray Thompson
On being a fanatic
“Sometimes I have a hard time deciding what I’m more into, being the rider or if I'm more into being the fan or the fanatic. I appreciate seeing photos of others and what other people do more than actually doing it myself sometimes or shooting it myself. That's the cool thing about snowboarding. It's for everyone. It's for the fanatics. It's for the people that want to do it once a week or once a month. And I think all these different types of people are what create this interesting community. Not just the top 1% of riders doing insane tricks. I think especially in society now where being a winner and being famous or whatever is so in focus that it's almost looked down on if you're not trying to be that and you're just there because you like it. Which is sad and ultimately something I hope we are in a way trying to change too with a company like this.”
On drawing outside the lines
“I thought about jibbing the other day —Traditionally, jibbing is kind of the curiosity that snowboarders had that skiers didn't, that makes you want to try to ride on other stuff. You're riding down the mountain and you see a little log to ride on or a little tree stump to tap or, butters and stuff like that, that's jibbing just as much as riding on a rail. And it's not like transition riding belongs to the superpipe. Everywhere you ride is a transition. Back in the day, everybody rode everything and the norms weren't really set. Now it's like, bound into genres, like, what genre are you into? Are you SuperPipe or are you slopestyle? Back in the day those lines weren't set, so it all just mashed together.
Imagine if nobody practised anything. I think it would be rad. I think a lot of people ride nicer than they think without practising if they just be themselves and not try to be others.”
On getting into it
“I think a lot of people find it at the very curious age of their life. I found it when I was like 10, 11, 12. A year later I got to see a few snowboard films and I was interested in what it was about. And then you see a VHS at one friend's house, at another friend's house, you start to collect all this information. And back then I didn't even know what the tricks were called, we were just trying to gather information. At one point I got my own snowboard VHS and everything just clicked. It was everything I was looking for. It was the music, it was the clothes they were wearing, the tricks they were doing, like the lifestyle it was about. I liked it. There were always a couple of skate clips in the snowboard videos and it was just everything. From then on, I was just like, yeah, this is what I want to do.
And I think as I got older I've seen a lot of friends who also had that went away. And I've been asking myself, why am I not going anywhere else? Why am I just sticking to this? And I think I just realized that I don't think I can find the same community and passion and feeling anywhere else. Maybe some people can, but I don't think anywhere else holds that for me. It challenges you creatively, and physically. You get to be outside; you get to be with like-minded people, you have all these things, and it ticks all these boxes that nothing else really does for me. And I think also looking back, snowboarding introduced me to photography, to music, to films, to graphics and that stuff, it just connected everything I was interested in into one place. And soccer certainly didn't. Now I’m 31 and have been a part of snowboarding, so I’ve channelled my creative senses and tried to be creative in all these different ways my entire life.”
“Is your personal evolution affected by your experiences or by you getting older? It’s probably a mix. When you’re young you just want to jump off stuff and now that I’ve jumped off 500 cliffs with really flat landings, I’m just okay with not doing that anymore. But I think you're so curious at a young age that once you experience all these things you start to strip away everything you don't need. Then you're left with a few things that you really care about, like turning and riding powder. You realize everybody had their phases of, I don't know wearing some fucked up clothes or doing some horrible manoeuvre, and then you realize that that's not crucial for you to be you and you're left with the things that are.
Like I'm very okay with not bomb-dropping anymore. You know what I mean? I might actually do one now that we spoke about it, just for old-time's sake.
I think curiosity doesn't really change, but you narrow your field.
Like playing music as a kid, you play every genre, but then you realize your genre, and you're still curious within that genre. It's the same with snowboarding, you're just so curious about it all. You just want to try what they're doing and what those guys have been doing. One day, a Standard Film comes out, the next day, Think Thank, and all of a sudden you’re one footing and riding lines, and it's all just mixing together; it's all curiosity. And then you just get older, and you realize if you focus all your energy on those things you really like, you just get more interested within them.”
On staying young
“And drawing - I always keep a doodle pad with me and doodle here and there. So I just keep doing all these things that I used to do as a kid. Within snowboarding, you try to think creatively. You edit videos, shoot a photo. You try to find something that feels new and you keep exploring and you don't realize until you're older, like, oh, shit I've just always been doing that. And my friends around me, they stopped when they went to college.
It's pretty interesting to imagine how much knowledge you have that is definitely not a degree or whatever, but that's actually there from just doing it for so long. Yeah. It's really hit me lately, like, the creative part, how lucky I've been to be a part of Snowboarding. You'll channel all these other things and you just keep doing all the things that you did as a kid, but into being an adult. Yeah, it's funny, I thought about it a lot lately. Maybe I've had too much time to think.”
A few words by Gray Thompson
“Alek is one of those people who you meet and you immediately think, man, this person just gets it. One hundred per cent in focus and fully tuned in to it all. Getting to know Alek, I’ve realized how hyper-aware he is within his life, his snowboarding, culture and even snowboard design. This easily transpires into his fluid and refined-styled riding through virtually every genre of snowboarding. With a storied past working with big brands, shooting video parts, travelling the world and riding thousands of snowboards, Alek brings such an enormous amount of insight, perspective and ideas - the kinds you truly only get from living it. We’re so lucky to have connected with Alek for this new chapter, we look forward to exploring the direction into which he helps push us, from shape development to our culture, community and snowboarding at large.”