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Rejuvenated by the Mountains

REJUVENATED BY THE MOUNTAINS
March 16, 2017 Nicole Birkhold
In Athletes

REJUVENATED BY THE MOUNTAINS

Chase DeMeulenaere is only 22 years old but has already re-invented himself and his snowboarding in the Elk Mountains.

By Nicole Birkhold

To some, Chase De DeMeulenaere may be under the radar on the pro snowboarder spectrum. But to others, this 22-year-old Aspen valley local has been shredding park, peaks and pow since nearly before he could walk. He’s expanded from solely riding park to making his way up 14ers in the Elks but is charging somewhere on snow nearly every day. And when you can’t find him on snow, he’ll be on the river casting for trout… or on your television screen in the latest Jeep commercial.

Chase in an Aspen Snowmass ad

How long have you been snowboarding?
I started when I was three and I’m 22 now so this is my 19th season.

Where did you grow up snowboarding?
I was born in Aspen and raised down valley in Basalt. When I was younger I rode at Buttermilk. I spent my first couple of years there. I actually started skiing before snowboarding. I started skiing when I was 18 month. I pretty much did both 50/50 until I was 8. I would snowboard on Saturday and ski on Sunday with the family. I finally talked my mom into letting me do the snowboard jam full time when I was eight. My parents have always supported me doing whatever I wanted, for sure, but she wanted me to ski until I was old enough to really make my own choice. My family were all long-time skiers but they were cool with the snowboarding.

Chase in Aspen. Black and White

How did your family get into the sport?
Mostly my mom. She moved here when she was ten. So she was a long-time skier her whole life. My dad was as well. My dad got me into snowboarding. He set me up there.

How did Aspen nurture your snowboarding?
I got my first board from Alternative Edge in Aspen. It was the first snowboard shop in Aspen founded by Larry Madden. He’s a legend. And then Tyler Lindsey. He was my snowboard coach from the very beginning. His first year coaching at AVSC was when I was ten. We grew together throughout the years. He’s totally a positive and amazing human being. Then Travis McClain. He owns Radio. It’s awesome to have a core, local snowboard shop. Those two have really helped me out and influenced my snowboarding.

You shred big lines and park. Which do you prefer?
As it stands now I kinda enjoy taking my past of shredding park into the backcounty. Hitting jumps back there and picking freestyle lines. I Started competing when I was 10 and did that until I was 20. I still love shredding park. In the springtime especially. It’s super fun with all the crew. But really, I got rejuvenated back into the sport with the backcountry. I love getting to know the Elk Mountains and hiking the big lines. That’s what’s been keeping me psyched on snowboarding right now.

Who influences and inspires you in that department?
Doran Laybourn has been pretty inspirational last couple years for me. He has true passion for snowboarding. A lot of people do it for certain reason. But with him he has true passion for the sport. I’ve been going out a bunch with Chad Otterstrom. He’s got a burning passion to go out there and make turns for what it’s worth. That’s it. It’s refreshing. You can get burnt out if you’re in the scene for so long. That kinda happened to me the last couple of years. In the beginning I got out there with my skier friends because the snowboarders weren’t getting into the snowboard mountaineering as much. They weren’t as accessible to head out there with. But that’s changed a lot over the past few years. We’ve got a great crew.

What projects are you currently working on?
I’m trying to maybe work my way on to an Alaska trip with some Strafe people. It kinda depends on snow conditions. Then I hope to knock off a few remaining 14ers that I haven’t done here in the Elks: Pryamid and Capital. We got shut down on Pyramid last year. I’m also working on a project with Aaron Hooper’s film company. So more time spent on that. I’m also working on a personal project but I can’t fully release the details right now. {laughs} I don’t want it to get poached. But basically, I’m a fly fishing guide in the summer. I love it and I love snowboarding. It’s a project that connects the two.

Strafe is kinda known as a skiers brand but they sponsor everyone from ski mo athletes to park snowboarders. What’s cool about working with Strafe?
I like being part of the family and maybe was a bit of the rouge one at first. There weren’t any snowboarders on the team. Since then the support has really grown. Just here in the valley you can see snowboarders are supporting the brand more. Radio is an example of a core snowboard shop that carries strafe product. It sells really well. The product itself is so functional. Pete and John really know skiing and mountaineering and what’s functional and what’s not. It’s getting better and better. Whether you’re shredding the park or hiking a big mountain the spring time it stretches well and works well.I don’t feel, like, shunned from the family. They’ve taken me in. It’s cool to be a part of making it seem cooler for other snowboarders.At first people would heckle me for it a bit but I just stood my ground and didn’t care and gave it to them right back. Now it’s turned into a cool thing to wear around Aspen and Snowmass.

If you weren’t snowboarding, what would you be doing with your life?
Fishing trips all over the place and fishing the world. My other passion in life is fly fishing. I spend a lot of time in the off season guiding. It’s my primary jam. I’m on the river over 100 days a year for guide trips. Once the off season comes around, in between guiding and snowboarding, I take trips with the boys. We went to Wyoming this fall chasing brown trout and I’m going to Mexico to chase Rooster fish. Hoping to head to Florida for Tarpon. There’s longevity for me in that sport. It’s a sport where you can never learn enough, it’s a never-ending process. I can do until the end of time. It will be a part of me forever just like snowboarding will be.

Chase on the river

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