There’s a phrase out there that goes something like this: “Don’t meet your heroes, they’ll just disappoint you.” Whoever coined it wasn’t a snowboarder and had definitely never met Todd Richards.
The soon-to-be forty-eight-year-old is a bonafide legend. In the sport’s nascence, he was among the group of riders to take elements of skateboarding and bring them to the snow – a trend that radically changed snowboarding’s trajectory. Todd went on to become one of the most influential and competitively successful snowboarders of his day and lays claim as one of the few to have ever beaten Terje Håkonsen in a contest. Recently, he’s built a reputation doing color commentary for NBC covering the Olympics and the Dew Tour, and just days ago received Transworld SNOWboarding Riders’ Poll Legend Award.
Months ago, though, we were sitting face to face talking story on couches at a glamping resort in Ojai, California. In shorts and t-shirts, we discussed where snowboarding has been, and where it’s going. “I want to start from the beginning. How’d you get into it?” I asked. Todd didn’t hold back.
“I initially hated snowboarding, like hated it,” he said. “Back east with blue ice, no edges, no highbacks, it was horrible. Anyone would’ve hated it.”
Damn, I like this guy, I thought.
Todd continued to candidly sound off on snowboarding’s early influences, why progression for its own sake is lame, and why snowboarding’s recent celebratory love affair with the turn is a total fallacy–according to Todd, “It never really left.”
Given his success as an on-air personality, Todd’s comfort in front of the camera was understandable. But what I appreciated about him most was his no bullshit demeanor. So often in interviews, athletes at the pinnacle of their sport pussyfoot around topics, worried about who they might piss off if they say what they really think. Talking with Todd, on the other hand, was a breath of fresh air. With decades of success, he’s got nothing left to prove. Or hide.
So what’s the key to happiness, according to one of snowboarding’s true living legends? “Flip everyone the bird and be who you are.” That, and coffee.
Video shot by Casey Acaster and edited by Brendan Zipfel. Interview conducted by Dylan Heyden