Fans of Ashland High School's snowboard team rarely see the slides, jumps and aerial spins that earn points from judges.
Even most of the team's friends and families have never witnessed the tricks and turns that take place on remote, snowy terrain.
Until now. Thanks to generous parents or part-time jobs, several team members now possess wearable video cameras that can capture what's going on when snowboarders get together or when they practice solo.
The Ashland High School Snowboard team competes in slopestyle from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25, at the Mt. Ashland Ski Area.
The ski area hosts three freestyle competitions that are open to all snowboarders. The entry fee is $15.
• Friday, Jan. 25: Rail Jam with multiple feature set up on Sonnet starting at 6 p.m.
• Saturday, Feb. 23: Boarder X and Skier X with a course of banked turns and jumps starting at 10 a.m.
• Saturday, March 23: Slopestyle with jumps, boxes, rails and bonks in the Center Stage Park starting at 10 a.m.
Call 541-482-2897 or visit www.mtashland.com.
With these sturdy cameras mounted to their helmets, snowboarders can shoot as they race over rails, boxes and trees. They just turn the camera on and turn their head.
Since Christmas, there has been a flurry of amateur snowboard videos posted on websites. Search "Mt. Ashland" at youtube.com or the AHS Snowboard Team's Facebook page, and you'll see the ups and downs of team snow sports.
AHS snowboard coach Matt Faurot used to record team members' moves on his smartphone. He could then replay the shaky but short videos on his phone as he and a student traveled the chairlift on the way to try the maneuver again.
"A lot of the kids haven't seen what they look like," Faurot says, "so they need a visual of their style, their attack."
Now, the team has a GoPro Hero 3 Silver Edition, which cost $300, and Faurot is practicing with the wide-angle lens. Weighing only 2.6 ounces and designed with noise reduction and motion-stabilizing features, it's not difficult for him to use it no matter where he is.
"It's a step up from the phone," he says, "more durable, more beefy and waterproof. I just have to figure out how to screen the videos. Do I bring a laptop to the mountain?"
When Faurot, 43, started snowboarding in 1987, the only technology he saw on the mountain was a camera and a laminating machine that made badges proving that maverick snowboarders had passed stopping and turning tests.
Now, he can systematically capture footage on each of AHS's 32 snowboard team members.
Faurot, who co-founded the team with an AHS parent in 1999, says videos help him to analyze the snowboarders' style and progress, especially as they prepare for Friday's competition at the Mt. Ashland Ski Area and later competitions at Mount Shasta and Mount Bachelor.
High-definition footage, compared with blurry cellphone videos, also gives him movie-theater content to splash across the wall-long screen at the season-ending banquet.
"We can show movies and photos of our practices and competitions to the parents," says Faurot. "Not all parents get to go to the mountain because they don't ski or snowboard or they are too busy working. It's not as convenient as watching your kid play basketball. So we try to bring the sport to them."
On a recent Saturday, the Ashland team was practicing on Mt. Ashland's Schoolyard terrain park next to the North and South Medford High School snowboard team.
When Medford snowboard coach Heath Franklin saw AHS junior Frank Bungay fly by with his helmet camera, Franklin shook his head.
"It used to be iPod Touches and now it's helmet cams. I feel sorry for parents who think they have to buy all the latest gadgets," says Franklin. "I see a lot of beginners and intermediates with the GoPro cameras and all I can say is, 'You're not ready to be called a pro yet.' "
Later, Frank, 16, shrugged off the comment. "I don't see myself as a pro snowboarder or a professional filmmaker," he says. "They are both just hobbies that I enjoy."
Since Frank's parents are not on skis or snowboards, they had not seen how his team became state champions last year. But now they can watch Frank's winning moves on short videos that he records from a Contour ROAM2 camera that he stuck with adhesive to his helmet.
From hours of raw footage, he creates five-minute or so videos. "The length of the video depends on the length of the song I'm running with it," he explains. "I like to keep it short and not boring."
The pounding song "Not Giving In" by John Newman and Alex Clare played throughout a recent video, which captured Frank's point of view in the bowl on Mount Ashland.
He says the wide-angle lens makes the chute look wider and masks the fact that there are treacherous rocks on both sides. "In real life, it's sketchy," he says.
He quietly adds that he's happy the camera is shock-resistant. Sticking out an inch from his helmet, he has banged it on a tree branch and a pillar in the lodge, but it survived. And unlike his goggles, the lens doesn't fog up in the cold.
When he uploads new videos on YouTube, his subscribers — including teammates — are alerted. One video documenting the Jan. 12 practice earned the comment "Nice lines, awesome powder" from a viewer.
Frank confesses that some team members occasionally ham it up — "throw down" — when they're being filmed. But his videos are more about entertainment than analysis.
He uses the words "fun" and "not boring" as often as most teenagers. But he does like to consider some of the artistry of filmmaking when he edits.
Reluctantly, he mentions that he won an award in the Ashland Independent Film Festival's student category when he was 9. He and a friend made a stop-action movie using Matchbox and Hot Wheels miniature cars.
For his fast-action snowboard movies, he'd eventually like a pole mount to hold the video camera out in front.
But no matter how good he gets at filming and editing, he says, "It's not as exciting as real life."
Reach reporter Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or firstname.lastname@example.org.