Real name: Doug Fagel
What terrain do you like to ride? Everything. Park to powder.
What would be your dream snowboard trip? One year, around-the-world, snowboarding every stop.
Other hobbies/interests? Love the music scene in San Francisco. Love to kite surf (I try to travel for snowboarding or kite surfing whenever possible). I love taking Huxlie (my 4-year-old Alaskan Husky) into the backcountry for snowboarding missions.
Why do you spend so much time in the Sierra Snowboard online community? Because people keep asking me questions. ;)
Best advice you would give someone new to SierraSnowboard.com? Get to know the members, and don’t wait on buying an item, because it will sell out.
Words to live by (e.g. favorite quote, unsolicited advice)? “The future is no place for your better days.” (from a Dave Matthews song)
By Paul Raymore
Like most riders over the age of 20, Doug started skiing first, through school trips in the Northeast.
He had the opportunity to try snowboarding at age 13 and went riding a mere three times before deciding that fall – what would be his second year snowboarding – to buy his own full snowboard setup with his own money.
“My mother was like, ‘Why don’t you just ask for this for Christmas?’ And I told her straight up, it was October and I needed to go snowboarding before Christmas. So I couldn’t wait.”
That setup was “pretty sweet” – a 146 Liquid Mercury, with Switch step-in bindings and Switch step-in boots.
“And then from that point on, I snowboarded as much as possible. I still skied a little bit during that first year because I couldn’t go as fast on my snowboard, but that changed when I was 15. I pretty much stopped skiing except for every once in a while, though I can still hold my own on skis. I like to ski and I love to snowboard.”
Doug was one of the first riders in his town to actually stick with snowboarding. There were many others who had tried it, but not too many who stuck with it like he did.
“I don’t know what it was that drew me to it. It was like skating, and I was into skating, so maybe it was the tie to skating that brought me toward snowboarding.”
After graduating high school, Doug headed off to Clarkson University to study Computer Science and become a nerd. But fortunately, his brother recommended that he get a job as an instructor at his local resort – Whiteface resort in the Adirondack Mountains of New York – to get him out on the hill on the weekends and make some extra cash.
What happened next is the classic snow-bum story…
“I went up and got the job. Then after a couple weeks teaching snowboarding, I decided college wasn’t the right thing for me at the time and started teaching snowboarding full time… So I moved up to this tiny tiny apartment about 20 minutes from the resort and snowboarded every day.”
(Note: According to Doug, he actually did manage to finish his first semester of college and pass all of his classes.)
That first year Doug got about 140 days on his snowboard, and as his ability and confidence levels skyrocketed, so did his ambitions in the sport.
He started competing in boardercross, slopestyle and big-air events, but quickly realized that he could have a life-long career in the sport if he stayed with snowboard education.
“I realized that year that staying in education – teaching people how to snowboard, coaching people how to snowboard – was a better way of keeping myself snowboarding, rather than having to rely on stomping a big trick or pushing the envelope beyond what I wanted to and on someone else’s terms. So that year I decided I wanted to be in snowboard education as a career.”
That same year, the Adirondack mountains got eight feet of snow in one two-week period, opening up many new backcountry lines that were rarely rideable. Getting the opportunity to explore more of the backcountry spurred Doug to start thinking about living somewhere where the mountains were bigger and better.
“New York is a great place to be, but I wanted a place that averaged 500 inches of snow a year.”
Friends already living in the Tahoe area and the huge concentration of ski resorts in the region convinced Doug to move out to Truckee, California in October of 2001.
Continuing to create a career for himself in snowboard instruction, Doug strove to distinguish himself as a teacher, working his way up to his current position as a Full Cert Examiner and Snowboard Vice President for the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, Western Division.
Now Doug oversees the snowboard certification for any instructor looking to develop their professional qualifications.
“When I came into that role, I brought with me the Western Freestyle Accreditation. So when I got into the organization out here, I created the freestyle accreditation program – which is a two-level freestyle program – to actually train and education instructors how to better teach both competitive athletes or just the general public.”
But even though most of his teaching experience has been on the freestyle side of snowboarding, at his core Doug sees himself as a freerider.
“I never really considered myself to be a freestyle rider. I always considered myself more of a backcountry rider… I love to ride freestyle. I spend a lot of time in the park, I try to spend as much time as I can in the pipe. But when I started snowboarding back east, I was freeriding. And any time you wanted to do a trick you found a natural drop off or a cat track or step-down. That’s where I came from, those are my roots, and that’s still my greatest draw toward wanting to ride freestyle. So whether it’s a cliff drop or a natural feature, that’s much more my preference when it comes to throwing tricks on my snowboard.”
Now onboard as the resident snowboard instructor at Sierra Snowboard, Doug hopes to continue making snowboarding more accessible to others.
“Snowboarding has really been able to change my life in a way I never could have perceived when I started snowboarding. But making it more accessible to other people can do the same thing. My path is going to be different that someone else’s path, but [I hope to] allow more people to get involved in the sport and realize how it’s not just a sport but a way to approach day-to-day life.”
Looking ahead, expect to see Doug providing a lot more resources to help new and progressing riders get deeper into the sport.
He promises to bring all of the items below to the Sierra Snowboard community:
• Guides for riders who want to help teach their friends to snowboard.
• Instructional videos and articles that break down freestyle progression in a way that starts with fundamental skills.
• An emphasis on bringing more style into people’s riding.
• A glimpse into the world of backcountry snowboarding.
• And last, but not least, his formidable mopping skills to each stop of the 2010 Sierra Snowboard World Tour (ask any of the Expert Members who witnessed Doug with mop in hand and you’ll want to see it for yourself).