Snowboarding has always been about the hustle.
Airing a little higher, going faster, learning to ride with style—the things we do to move forward often are the things that make us love snowboarding the most. And then there are the daily challenges. For the average rider, just getting to the hill takes time and effort. For those aspiring towards sponsorship, it’s all about getting noticed and riding your best. When you see someone on a podium, or in a video, it’s because they’ve learned to live by the hustle.
Take Tristin Heiner, who, by winning Burton’s grassroots rail jam series at age 16 found himself 5,500 miles away from home in Tokyo, Japan. He was the lucky winner to earn an invite to compete in the world’s largest street snowboarding contest, Burton Rail Days.
“That was probably the coolest prize I’ve ever heard of for a local rail jam,” Tristin explains. “It’s a good experience for a kid like me because we don’t get that opportunity very often and it allows us to get exposure. It’s not just winning money. Now a lot of people know my name, which is awesome.”
But it wasn’t a casual journey to Rail Days. Tristin’s spot in the lineup did not come with a plane ticket. With the first half of the hustle behind him, he now had to come up with enough cash to get to Tokyo.
“I didn’t think I could go because I couldn’t afford it,” he says, “but I worked every single day all summer because I knew it would be worth it. I worked for a logging company and did construction, and got a job building movie sets.”
It was worth it, and not only for the contest. To Tristin, who had never left the United States, spending a few days in the heart of Tokyo was a priceless experience.
It was my first time out of the United States, so I’ve never seen different cultures and the way people live elsewhere. We ate raw food almost every meal. We went to Denny’s and they had rice and onion soup for breakfast. It was insane.
The airline lost Tristin’s board in transit. Luckily, it arrived in time for the contest, and he immediately stepped up to the most challenging lines on the course. He kept his cool and stood out among some of the world’s best rail riders like Zak Hale, Sebastien Toutant, and Ethan Deiss. All in front of a crowd of thousands, broadcast on TV and across the internet.
From unknown amateur, to hanging with the big dogs in the global spotlight. That’s what the hustle is all about. This year, hundreds of riders will compete for the same chance to shine (and a healthy chunk of cash) at Burton Qualifiers, and this year two riders from the finals will earn spots in the roster at Burton Rail Days in Tokyo. Get out there, one of them could be you. ∆