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​Stoke the Fire Athlete Edits: Parkin Costain

Parkin Costain is one of the lucky ones, with a world-class big mountain playground just a stone’s throw away from home in Montana. This year, the Black Diamond athlete yet again proved he isn’t just a grom anymore, with a high caliber performance shredding on home turf alongside Kai Jones and Tim Durtschi. The trio teamed up for an unforgettable trip to the powder heaven that is Cooke City, Montana for a few weeks in a cabin ski touring and snowmobile access shredding, deepening friendships, stacking footy, and learning the intricacies of snowmobile culture. We caught up with Parking to hear about how the trip went, his approach to risk, Dales, and getting stoked with his friends. If you haven’t already seen it, Stoke the Fire is on tour now, so be sure to check the listings for your nearest tour stop!

How did the Cooke City trip come to be?

I think this trip came about with a few of us wanting to get out in some zones a little closer to home, go a little deeper than we ever have before, so yeah, we're just out here exploring some terrain that's not too far away from home. It's been really fun getting a little deeper than normal and finding a lot of sick stuff.

Cooke City is about one thing: powder skiing. | Nic Alegre photo.

Have you spent a ton of time around there?

Definitely I've gotten out around Cooke quite a bit, but it's been really fun to explore Montana this year and just get out further than we ever have before and find some pretty big lines and then mix it in with some sick pow skiing and a lot of really unique features this year. Yeah, it was a super fun crew, and I couldn't be more stoked to get back at it. After all the chaos last year, this was a really, really great way to start the season off and make it come full circle and get back on the road again with something a little closer to home and still feel like we're making all the right decisions and having a good time out in the mountains.

Tell us more about the actual road trip part.

Yeah, definitely a road trip with a little bit of hilariousness with Kai Jones in the car. I gave him a ride out here, and that kid's a freaking hoot, man! He's so funny to hang out with. I love it. I love the youthful mentality, and I'm going to try to keep that as long as I can. I'm going to keep hanging out with 14 year olds. Truth be told, we actually got into some pretty heavy podcasts, so it wasn't quite just hysterical moments the entire time. We listened to some pretty in depth podcasts about Tanner Hall and some legendary skiers we were super into. It's been fun to hang out and get a little bit of their backstory and then think about where we're heading.

Cruising around Montana is always a super beautiful place to drive. I cruise around here a lot, and it's always something new that I'm finding out here. It's just like super wind-scarred terrain, really gnarly and rugged, or out in some beautiful vistas with a great sunset is always something that you're going to enjoy. The drive over here was something special, I think, that the whole time we were right at sunset, not the whole trip, but we had some really pretty moments on the way over here, and it was awesome.

Do you ever use those road trips to scope lines for winter?

Cruising around here there's always some peaks I'm checking out and thinking about. It’s always like, “I think I could get up on top of that, and if it fills in a little more, maybe there's going to be a sick line off the top.” Yeah, it was super fun cruising this way, and I think I'm always looking out the window seeing if there's anything else I can see.

This counts as powder skiing too. | Nic Alegre photo.

Can you tell us more about the cabin the crew stayed in when you got to Cooke City?

This year we did something a little different, and it's been a minute since I really stuck it out in a cabin for a few weeks. This place is something that really brought some good memories along with it. I'm super excited we stayed out here this year, a lot better than a Super 8 somewhere on the side of the road. This was a little bit of an excursion getting out to it. Then the zones, you roll right out the front door and you're just sledding up to them.

They did have WiFi here, but it didn’t work, so nothing we wanted to check out ever loaded. It felt pretty good to unplug for those few weeks, and I'm excited to probably try to keep it that way a little bit more when I head back home and just try to explore and get out in the mountains as much as I can.

Cooke City is known as one of the ultimate snowmobile-access ski towns. What was that experience like?

Yeah, there's a whole different vibe, once you get over here and just see the Dales everywhere you go. Pulling up Main Street, there's nothing but sleds. Everyone parks their cars the minute they get here, and from day one to the end of your trip you're not driving your car. You're just sledding around everywhere, so it's a super unique experience. It's something I love about this place, but yeah, the culture of sledding is something to behold.

Parkin claims he's supposedly a "turbo Dale". Here's why. | Nic Alegre photo.

Please enlighten us. What is a Dale?

I don't know. I think a Dale...supposedly I'm a turbo Dale, but I don't know what that means. I don't even have a turbo on my sled. I just like to go full pin as much as I can, and then I think a Dale is some dude who tries to sled pretty hard and might have a few mishaps here and there, but yeah, gets out in the mountains and isn't afraid to freaking send it.

It was really cool to see and be a part of it, especially with how much of a motor head every one of these Dales is, to see them appreciate the effort and hard work it takes to get to the top of some of these peaks. I think every time we skied something gnarly, there was at least a group of five or six sledders down at the bottom waiting to cheer us on. Even if we weren't hitting it right away, they were there to watch the whole process. I think a few of them even said it's the best video clip they'd ever gotten on their cell phone, so that was pretty cool. I think it's something that is really cool about Cooke City, everyone’s just getting along and just out here exploring the mountains.

Outside of just skiing, what did you guys get into on down days?

So I showed up on this trip a few days late. The dudes had already been pushing really hard for four or five days, and yeah, everyone wanted a down day. That's what they got. A few hours into the down day I was bored, and we were like, "Dude, let's go build a jump." Since he's always got energy, Kai and I found two sheds or cabins or something that was buried in the snow that looked like a building, and built a take off from the right side of one cabin to the left side of another cabin, and had a little session, had a little bit of a Dale crew watch us. That was a super fun down day. In all honesty, it wasn't really a down day. We sessioned, I think, that thing for five or six hours or so. It was a good little process, and yeah, I hadn't ever skied anything like that before, so it was super unique. I liked it.

Down days. | Nic Alegre photo.

I have no idea, but I'm always looking for a smooth landing somewhere. Even if people say it's not going to work, I think there's always a way to line something up where if you just change it a few degrees, you're not going to hit the ground as hard. That's always my goal. I don't like stomping flat all the time, so going for transitions is where it's at.

You’ve got a creative eye. Is there some type of feature that’s your favorite?

Yeah, I'm really always looking. I've had a little bit of a camera eye my whole life where I've been into filming with video cameras, my cell phone, my drone, anything I've got out in the backcountry. I think I'm always trying to line something up that looks aesthetically pleasing, and then also not impactful on the body. Yeah, I just always have my eye out there. If I see something that looks unique and it looks like it's got a landing or it looks like it's got a high mark I can put up on my sled, I think I'm going to hit it, and yeah, try to make it work as much as possible.

I think it's definitely something I inherited from my dad, especially with him, with all his bike trails he's got going on now, I think it's an intuitive eye that I've learned from him over the years. I remember building jumps in the front yard in the sandbox. It was always something I was going for.

Let’s talk about the skiing in Cooke City. What did you guys get into?

This trip was especially eye opening because I had a vision and an idea of what this place has to offer, but every time we rounded a corner, we seemed to find something new this trip. It was really cool. We showed up on day one and were able to go ski blower or ride pillows for a few days, and then the sun started to pop, and we rounded a few more nooks and crannies and just found bigger and bigger terrain with more and more exciting features to go and explore. Yeah, it's got a little bit of everything for sure, and it's been a super unique trip.

What's it been like riding with Tim and with Kai?

Tim and Kai, I look up to both of them. They're both super great in their own right and I freaking love them. Hanging out with those dudes is a hoot. It's always a good time. If one of us is down or tired, the other one's going to amp you back up. It's never a dull moment, those two, and it's been a really fun last few weeks.

Do you feel like the crew builds off of each other and feeds each other, stokes each other’s fire?

I think the whole crew works with each other in a certain way that even if they're doubting my jump ideas, the closer and closer it gets to finishing it, it starts to bring up their stoke levels, and if I'm doubting a line because it looks like it's flat and then Kai stomps a 60-foot drop, I'm pretty hyped. That gets us all going and makes the trip super fun.

Feeding off the crew's energy is a big help when it comes to doing stuff like this for Parkin. | Nic Alegre photo.

What happened with Kai’s 60-foot drop?

Yeah, so going into this face that we had all started to explore about halfway through the trip, I think, Kai and I both lined up some features on the looker's left side of a face. Yeah, I saw some decent size cliffs, stomped everything, and it was super smooth. We started to look towards the bigger edge, and it didn't seem too much bigger. There was a line that I was thinking about throwing a 360 off, and Kai just wanted to air. Kai won the rock-paper-scissors, so he hit it first, and the closer and closer he got to the face, the bigger and bigger the cliff started to look, but he didn't stop, didn't hesitate, and just punted this thing all the way to the bottom. It was insane. With how small he is and how big that cliff was, he freaking stomped it. I don't understand, but it gave us all a bit of motivation to keep pushing it the rest of the trip. Yeah, it was unreal. I was stoked.

It looked like you guys got into some pretty real mountain stuff to access the lines. What was it like sharing that with Tim and Kai?

Getting to some of these lines we were hitting, there wasn't always an easy way to get there. So our sled guide and I put in this sled track and after that we started to boot pack along these ridges, which turned into some pretty hectic moments at times. There were a few decent size rock gap things that you had to step over, and then massive, school bus sized cornices on the edge. It was really cool trying to navigate all that and be safe along the way. With a little bit of a drone eye, we were able to line ourselves up into what we wanted to hit, and yeah, super gnarly but super cool getting to explore that up there with Kai.

What went into creating the ridge jump line you built for the film?

Yeah, so fortunately/unfortunately, I was going up the Himalayan Highway (our sled access track) and Tim couldn't figure out how to turn around his sled in the proper location, so he high marked up what looked to be a really good landing. I probably wouldn't have noticed it if it wasn't him, but right after he did that, I noticed there was a perfect transition, and I was like, "We're going to build a jump there." It also happened to be right on the ridge line, so sunset or sunrise is all time, and it's north facing, so snow is good. Everything lined up for it to be a perfect zone for us to build a really, really unique feature.

I think the next day, after I saw that track put in, I kept telling everyone about it. I was like, "I'm going to go build this jump. I'm going to go build this jump." Then I did. I started going up there about 2:00 in the afternoon. It was ready for a sunset session, and went ahead, started building it, slowly started to realize it was a bigger project than I had envisioned. Snow was deeper and firmer in areas that made it a lot harder to do it solo. The rest of the crew showed up about an hour later, and all started putting in a lot of work. Everyone was confused at first, but didn't stop working, which was sick. We put in the work, didn't finish it by sunset. I think Kai, Tim and I stayed out there until 7:30, 8:00 after already being in the field since 5:00 am, which was a lot, but we had two days left in the trip, so we were like, "Got to make it happen." Tim was freaking out because he didn't think we were going to finish the jump in time, but we all worked really hard for another hour or two and this super unique feature came together, probably the craziest feature I've built so far. Yeah, it made it super rewarding when it all came together and we got to hit it that night, and sunset was all time super beautiful.

You can't tell us that Kai actually moved that much snow.

Kai didn't move very much snow. I let him just pretend that he was moving a lot of snow, but he was trying. He's just not big enough yet. Hopefully he eats enough burgers this year that he can throw a little bit more next year. It was super great to see him this week. He got strong enough to start his own snowmobile. That was a great moment. He just couldn't do it at first, but after a few days of struggling, I think his arm grew a little bit. He was able to get it done.

Catching a few moments of rest here and there with the boys. | Nic Alegre photo.

What was the most memorable moment of the trip for you?

I think the most memorable is probably Tim unfortunately crashing himself. He went for a dub flat really early on and just cased it with his tips and whipped his head. That made him shut it down for the day. He definitely rung his bell a little bit. Yeah, it was a super fun jump to still be able to session it after that and I'd always envisioned building a feature somewhere that I could do a single just into a double back flip, not that it's super gnarly, but just because it's something I'd always thought about doing, and I wanted that smooth transition of landing one flip straight into another one straight into the back, and yeah, that was super fun to lay down.

What does it take to go into a new zone and crack it open and figure it out. Can you walk us through the process of that?

We were super fortunate on this trip to have all the right cards in play to make things happen the way they did. When we're going into a new zone, you never want to hop straight onto the biggest thing right away. Fortunately we were here long enough to work our way up there from skiing just pow lanes to then hitting pillows to some mini golf, and then slowly started to feel more comfortable about the snow pack and see things around us that were confidence inspiring. We just started to work our way up throughout the trip and, yeah, finally got onto some bigger stuff towards the end. It was really sick. Stoked it all came together, and couldn't have been here with a better crew.

What is stoke to you?

I think stoke is definitely just when you're feeling your best out in the mountains, or out doing whatever you love with some friends, or your partner, or anyone that you love hanging out with. And when the vibe is just right, and you just always feel like anything's possible, I think that's when stoke is at its highest. And it's definitely been a trip full of stoke, and I think it's something that I'm going to try to have throughout the rest of my life. I think what really stokes my fire out here is just trying to be as creative as possible, and try to line up things in the terrain that look super unique and that are different than what other people would have really thought of, and this trip was full of that and I'm super stoked to have made it all come together, and it's been a really good one.

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