Mike Walsh | Powder Report: Haust shreds at Killington's Rails 2 Riches event

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Bless me, shredfather, for I have sinned. It has been more than a week since I last hit a mountain to ride.

Given the average temperature sitting in single-digits all week and a Christmas excursion to the flatter part of the state, I haven't been able to get on a mountain this week, or at the very least wasn't willing to risk the frostbite. So, when I'm unable to hunt down the cords, here at the Powder Report we turn to the pros.

In this week's case, I was able to speak with Richmond-native and proud veteran of the Bousquet slopes, Nate Haust. Earlier in December, Haust took first place in Killington's Rails 2 Riches event. Riding in the male snowboard division, Haust beat out 11 other finalists, including Vermont-locals Storm Rowe, Max Lyons and Tim Major. The prize: a sweet $5,000 chunk of the $25K awarded on the day.

Now, most people who live outside the northeast, particularly those in California, aren't exactly jealous of our week-long deep freeze here in New England. However, one of the first things Haust told me once I get him on the phone from his current home of Truckee, about a half-hour across the border from Reno, is that he misses that classic East Coast snow.

"The weather here is amazing, it's been 53 at the mountain the last few days. Unfortunately we don't have much snow," the 25-year-old Haust said.

It was a repeat victory for Haust, who won Rails 2 Riches in 2016, as well, and was flown back east by a bunch of his sponsors to compete and defend his title. Haust is sponsored by Burton Snowboards, Electric California goggles, Skullcandy, Tite belts, ChecktheFeed.com and local Pittsfield-based Garden MA.

The competition featured an hour-long qualifying session where skiers and riders shared a set of rails and jumps. They had to hike up and hit as many rails as possible, while landing as many tricks as they could in the allotted time. Next up was a 45-minute final session under the lights, with prizes awarded to the top three finishers in each division, plus a best trick winner.

"Honestly, you try to throw down your best tricks, but it is mainly determined on consistency," said Haust, who landed a switch hardway 270 with a roast beef grab and bring back for his finale. "You have to land a lot of tricks, and of course don't fall, there is a lot on technicality of the ticks, spins on and off and that's about it. Usually you don't see the set up that they have until the day of. So from there, you brew in your mind what you want to land. I was lucky enough to land quite a few."

Haust grew up in the Berkshires and learned to ski originally at Bousquet, but made the switch to snowboarding when he was around nine and fell in love. From there, he went on to study at the University of Vermont, where he was on the snowboard team for a bit, but ultimately landed on the team at nearby Sugarbush while living in Burlington for six years. He spent last year in Southern Vermont on the team at Mount Snow, before moving across the country about three months ago. Things are slow around the New Year, but he hopes to do some street park filming in 2018 all over the U.S. and do competitions as they come. Wherever his board takes him, Raust's hometown area will always have a special place in his heart, though, whether coming back to visit family and friends, or to stomp out some tricks to help pay the bills.

"Of course I miss home and all my friends back East, and you guys are getting a ton of snow," said Haust. "The vibes back East, and maybe it's just because I've been around there so long, but the East Coast vibes are good."

I couldn't agree more.

Until next time, keep your tips up and stay spoice!

Mike Walsh can be reached at mwalsh@berkshireeagle.com, at @CLNS_Walsh on Twitter and 413-496-6240.


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