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Alta States

From Heaven to Hell and back again - Brett Tippie's trial by fire



"Live your life like you want to remember it..."

Brett's favourite saying from grandfather Lawrence Tippie


Imagine being a small-town jock with no connections and no money. You've had to manage your own career, earn all your own cash, and generally come up with creative solutions to intractable problems. The hard-work gene is hard-wired in your soul though. You've been taught - over and over - that nothing comes to those who sit by and do nothing. Making sacrifices to achieve your dreams seems entirely natural to you...

You have fun at what you do. Sure. You're living the dream, baby, But you know it's all about getting better. You take chances. Push the envelope. Make yourself available for whatever comes your way. Anything - as long as you can keep doing what you're doing.

And then suddenly - wham! - success is staring you right in the face. People are sending you airline tickets to events halfway around the world. Big-name sponsors are lining up to pay you to wear their clothes or ride on their gear or appear in their movies. And everyone - and I mean e-ve-ry-one - wants to be your friend.

Think that might get your head spinning a wee bit? Brett Tippie says he didn't even see it coming. "It was almost like a dream," admits the 42-year old dad now. "I couldn't really appreciate what was going on. I was having too much fun..." But when the parade finally ended - when everything he believed in was lying in dust at his feet - the guy with the eternal laugh track in his belly realized that the time had come to change his ways. "It was either that," admits Tippie. "Or cut myself a headstone..."

Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself again. Where did I leave off last week? Oh yeah...

From chance meetings with snowboarding icon Craig Kelly and future super-lensman Christian Begin in Rossland in the early 1990's, Brett Tippie soon found himself on the leading edge of the then-blossoming snowboarding movement. "The sport was doubling in size every year," he says. "All eyes were on us." He stops. Takes a breath. "After my first foray into pro racing, I decided: 'Wf hat the heck. I'm pretty good at this.' So I spent another summer tree planting - did you know I planted over a million trees in this province - and got myself ready for the U.S. Pro Tour."

His summer training style? "Well," he says with a bottom-of-the-tummy guffaw, "I couldn't afford to travel to New Zealand to train. But I'd found these gravel pits near Kamloops that had some good steep slopes. So I trained there instead..."