He's the happiest guy I know. And I don't even need to see him in person to know he's around. All I need to hear is that booming laugh of his - an exuberant, half-crazed chortle that rises up directly from the pit of his belly and envelops everything around him in a joyful buzz - to realize that Brett Tippie is in the house.
And it doesn't really matter what he's doing. His laughter follows him wherever he goes. On his board. On his bike. Before a crash. During a crash. After a crash. With his buddies. With his young daughter. Or just talking about the good o' days. Simply put, the man is as high-spirited as a human being can possibly get.
But just because he's always laughing doesn't mean life has been a cakewalk for the legendary freerider. Or should I say Frorider TM ...
Pioneering snowboarder. Groundbreaking mountain biker. Bold. Fearless. A risk-taker in every sense of the word. But approachable - totally approachable. The guy is the quintessential working-class hero. He treats everyone the same - insider or fan, casual participant or hardcore stud. "Hey guys - nice to see ya," he'll say. And pull out a few more chairs to make room for the newcomers. "C'mon in - join us," he'll add with a chuckle, "The party's just startin'." Truly, there are few in the dog-eat-dog world of action sports that are as naturally friendly as he is.
Given these qualities, one might be excused for being just a bit envious of the Kamloops-raised Tippie. But careful - this same personality mix can lead to some very scary places. "I've gone from the most amazing highs to some dark and nasty lows," says the 42-year old. Laughs - but this time there's just a hint of a cloud behind his good humour. "And if it wasn't for my family and mountain friends - I'm not sure I could have come back."
Hold that thought. We'll get back to it later...
Born in 1969, Tippie spent most if his youth exploring the adventure-friendly geography in the hills and draws of the place the local First Nations call "The Meeting of the Great Waters."
"I was blessed to be raised in Kamloops," he says. "Everybody there was a little bit nuts, you know, but in a good way..."
Meaning? "It's a working town," he explains. "People are tough there. They aren't afraid of a few cuts and bruises." More laughter. "It was also a great place to grow up if you were an athlete," he adds. "It was a big enough town to create good competition among the kids there. But not so big that there were big-city distractions." It also meant, says Tippie, "that if you wanted to be cool - if you wanted to be kissed by the girls - you had to shred hard!"