Interview: Mark Rainery

Mark Rainery recently put out his REcut part, stacked with a big serving of Japanese powder. We caught up with the Alaskan rider to hear about what took him to Hakuba last winter, where he connected with Shin Biyajima (who was in The Fourth Phase), and his brother, 241 rider Go Biyajima, on his path to good lines.

Mark was friends with my brother, Shin, first, and I had met him once on the Happo One ridge, but I didn’t expect I would later meet him again in the States. We ended up both staying for a week at  photographer, Justin Kious’ house in Bellingham. Because we are the same age, and part of the same Mt. Baker crew,  we quickly became good friends. We got stoked from each others riding and that pushed us to ride even harder.  He is considerate and an all round nice guy. He’s also the guy who gets everybody hyped and I’m looking forward to riding with him again.   – Go Biyajima

 

Let’s start with the classic opener: could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where did you grow up and what was your first board?

I grew up in Juneau, Ak and started snowboarding when I was 12 or 13. My first board was a Molly 148 – the brand that became MLY.

What made you start snowboarding? Can you tell us about your path from ‘regular guy’ to pro snowboarder?

I started snowboarding because of peer pressure. Ha ha! All my friends were already really good at it and couldn’t stop talking about how awesome it was. I just wanted to be cool, ya know, so I gave it a try. The second question is weird to me since I don’t consider myself a pro snowboarder – I’m a snow bum.

Was there a trick you dreamed of doing in those early days that you can now do on auto?

I always thought back rodeos were cool. Ha ha! And wildcats.

How has growing up in AK influenced your riding?

I’m lucky that I can call this place home. We have weird weather so the snow conditions are extremely diverse, which makes you have to adapt quickly. It’s made me able to appreciate all types of riding. We never had super manicured parks either. All of us just cruised around the mountain looking for natural jumps and jibs. I still ride like that and enjoy that kind of terrain the most.

Mark Rainery Hand DragHand drag  📷 Jeremy Lavender

 

Nice. Let’s talk about your new edit – what is REcut, and where was it shot?

The footage from the REcut is from the past three winters. Well, there’s only one shot from three years ago, the little chute to slash, that was up on Haines Pass. That season I sliced my knee cap open in January and could barely walk for almost two months. I was fortunate to have some friends to go explore Haines with later that spring. That made the season worth it especially since the ski area in Juneau didn’t really open that year due to warm temps and low snow coverage. After that season I really wanted to try to do more of the freestyle stuff that I had been thinking about, so I moved to Wanaka, New Zealand to just ride park at Cardrona. I lived in an 8 person dorm at a hostel and hitchhiked up to the mountain everyday for 3 months. It was so crazy seeing all these insane park riders in person, I had never experienced anything like that. I mean, I prefer hiking in the woods but those jumps were so perfect to learn stuff on.

After that,  I was invited to film with a bunch of friends for the Middle Path Project’s eco-conscious shred flick, Floating Pyramids. That was the craziest season I’ve ever had. Spent the first part back home in Juneau and got a couple shots. Then met up with the Middle Path crew in Hakuba, Japan, right as the snow started piling up. Rode deep pow, explored with Shin Biyajima, it was pretty amazing. Then spent the next month at Ian Wood‘s place at Stevens pass. Spun and flipped for 4 weeks, was so sore but started to ride away from some of the tricks I had hoped to land which felt great. Then spent the next month camping up on Thompson Pass outside of Valdez trying to ride bigger lines. That trip was crazy since we drove up in Ian’s and Tamo’s converted waste veggie oil rigs! After that I got a job at Mt Hood working in the HCSC kitchen. It was nonstop winter for two years, a big deal for me.. ha ha! Last season I broke my collarbone in January but had had such a great winter up to that point filming with the Baker and Stevens dudes. Sorry that was really long winded… ha ha!
Basically, I just wanted to release my best stuff since it gets scattered around and I hadn’t had a personal part in a few years.

Sick. Let’s focus on the Japan part in REcut. How did that trip come about?

The Middle Path Project crew set up a film trip that touched on some of the packaging waste issues in Japan, as well as highlighting the Hakuba valley shredding. We had some amazing days at Goryu, Happo One, and Cortina.

Mark Rainery Pow Cloud

Making powder clouds in Hakuba 📷 Jordan Ingmire

You mentioned earlier that you rode with Shin Biyajima. How was that?

Riding with Shin was short and memorable for me. I missed out on a crazy long exploratory mission early in the trip that he took the crew on so when he asked to cruise again I was so excited! He, his brother Go, who I became friends with last season in Baker, two of their Jackson Hole homies, Sean Fithian and I decided to go check out a north Happo One zone near ‘the Face of No Return’ at the end of our trip. Shin, for starters, forgot his beacon, and Go forgot his poles for skinning. We linked up at the top after Shin retrieved his beacon but Go still didn’t have his poles. Whatever. Go killed it on the ski track without the help of poles in some pretty intense wind. We skinned for a few hours until Shin thought we were at the drop in point, but was sort of guessing too. We assessed the snowpack and dropped in,  and Shin ended up nearly running into kamoshika! We all regrouped again and watched the startled animal thread out of sight in a hurry. At this point in the run we could see the valley floor and it looked like one roll over and we were partying down the drainage to the cars. We decided to party lap it! We weaved in and out of each other, slashing whoever was close, loving the pow and the epic run we were having! Then, abruptly, one of the JH homies threw on the brakes up front! The whole crew screeched to a halt on the backside of the rollover, such a sketchy spot. We totally misjudged the terrain and were stuck above a mandatory 10m cliff exit into a narrow chute. So Sean, Go, JH homie, and I are hanging out up slope from JH homie 2 and Shin, who are totally committed to dropping the cliff because they got sucked too far downslope. The four of us up slope waited to hear how the exit was from Shin as the two of them figured out the cliff. Shin told us to hike up and try to gain the lower ridge since the chute was blown out. F**k! The four of us started bootpacking up to an outcropping of rocks but couldn’t get past it – too steep and technical. At this point Shin can see a line we can ride down but it has three cruxes and is so steep! Ha ha! Whatever, we’re in it. Gotta go at this point. Go steps up and finds the line with the help of Shin. He sends it and gives the rest of us some confidence that we are getting out of there. Sean follows, makes it to valley floor and then so does JH homie 2. I’m last off the slope and at this point the last crux is literally an ice luge down a chute to a sharky ass cliff then a wide open run out to the crew. I go for it and end up on my back sliding head first toward the cliff, not very chill. I hit some soft snow and was able to swing back to my feet and stop just before the cliff. Took a breath then joined the posse and we got the f**k outta there – we still had to deal with snow bridges and water crossings before we got to the van. Highly sketch! Probably tons of no-no’s but such an adventure! I love that stuff – let’s get really scared and survive! Ha ha! Not all the time though! Shin and Go rule Hakuba, I have so much respect for them, and can’t wait to shred with them again!

Mark Rainery Miller Flip

Miller Flip on Douglas Island 📷 Chris Miller

How does the riding in Hakuba compare to AK? Would you ever do a season here?

Terrain wise there were lots of similarities but Hakuba has the craziest gullies and drainages I’ve ever explored! Pillows and playfulness remind me of the PNW but that pow in Hakuba was its own style. Deep and always snowing. I could definitely see myself spending a whole season there under the right circumstances! Plus the food!

Like what?

Ramen. All day. Sushi too, and mochi, the ice cream in rice dough, I believe. Shin introduced that to us one night and was so hooked for the rest of the trip.

Mark Rainery Ice Cream

Yukimi Daifuku (mochi-covered ice cream)

Oh yeah, that ice cream is so good! Ok, back to REcut, the editing was so on point. Did you edit it yourself?

Thanks, man! Yeah, for the most part I edited everything but I’d also have Spenser (from AK Livin) give me feedback throughout the process. It helps having someone else give you a different perspective since I’m seeing it over and over so many times, I miss or overlook things. Spenser understands what a good shred is so his attention to detail was really appreciated.

Which is harder, riding or editing?

Riding is much more difficult, at least in my opinion. I ended up going into a film program at university after finishing high school and somehow got the degree in four years – I had snowboarded five days a week while taking a full course load. Since then I’ve just done little video projects in Juneau with the university and other local businesses. I mean, growing up all my friends and I would make shred vids, I was just one of the few who put a bit more energy into them. I mean that’s pretty much what I’m still doing – I just don’t touch the camera as much anymore. Being behind the camera or in front of the computer can be really difficult and require serious skill but the scare factor associated with some of the actual snowboarding makes it more challenging. That’s probably why I like it more. Either way, if you’re a rider or a lensman, it takes a different kind of person to want to spend a season gathering clips in the backcountry year after year. I look forward to it all summer and fall. I’m obsessed, I guess.

Nice. Do you think that the filmers/editors you work with feel pressure from you being a qualified video guy? Are you hyper-critical of how people edit your footage?

No, definitely not. I don’t throw it out there like I have high expectations because of it. I only want a filmer to capture the moment because it takes a lot of effort to cultivate scenarios where that magic can take place. It’s teamwork, there’s gotta be good communication and productivity on either side of the lens. Most of the recent, and best stuff, has been filmed and edited by Sean Fithian. We became good friends making shred vids in Montana together so I trust pretty much all his camera and editing choices. I think it usually works out better if i try not to be hyper-critical, which can be hard. But if I’m not helping run camera or spending time at the computer then I don’t think I deserve to have much of a say.

Mark Rainery Road GapMt. Baker Road Gap  📷 Annie Mac

 

How many boards did you bring to Japan?

Three – a Capita Super Macho 165, an Indoor Survival 158 and a 162 Black Snowboard of Death DIY splitboard.

Did you end up using all of them?

I only rode the split two days in the whole month we were in Japan – we used our snowshoes almost everyday. I would ride the Super Macho most of the time since the conditions were usually deep but I also smashed it a bit and had to have a shop repair it. That took a handful of days so I ended up being stoked I had the (Indoor Survival) 158. It did a lot better in the deep than I expected. Got to hit a wallride and try my first FS double corks on it, which was rad. It would’ve been epic to have some sort of fish-shaped board over there just for surfing through the trees. Next time.

How’s riding for Capita?

I’ve been stoked on almost every single Capita deck I’ve ridden. I love the Mercury on backcountry jumps, the BSOD for anything pow related and the super macho was perfect up in AK. I like that they’ve invested so much into creating a green production facility with the Mothership. There needs to be more of that, not just in snowboarding too. Also, having a bunch of boards getting recognized in board tests that are under $500, that’s pretty sick for the average consumer. They have a lot of great things going on as a brand. And of course I’m stoked they now have a splitboard and Union bindings to go with it.

Great to hear. Thanks for your time, Mark. Any final words?

Thanks to you for taking an interest in my little edit and wanting to ask me some questions! Never done an interview before! I’d also like to thank my Mom & Dad, and family. Scotty and Spenser at Aurora Projekt, Jake and Deez at Boarderline, Patrick at 686, Mark & Scott at Capita, Riley at Union, Myles at Coal, Stephen at VZ, Jules at Stevens Pass, Beavons at Crack Grease Wax, Sean and all the filmers, Ian at Afterhours, all the photogs: Jeremy Lavender, Jordan Ingmire, Justin Kious, Annie Mac, Brad Andrew, Chris Miller and all the shred homies! Thank you!

Keep up to date with Mark’s shredding by following him on Instagram and peep his Vimeo page.

Mark Rainery portrait

📷 Jeremy Lavender