Of the 50 million who viewed that viral edit of a father-daughter tandem snowboarding Mammoth Mountain, quite a few have made comments like this one:
“Idiot your gonna snap her neck,” by YouTube commenter Nick Tish.
Or this: “No matter how much of an expert you think you are, or how many years you been doing something…Sooner or later something tragic will happen,” by commenter idesofmars.
Those remarks might be warranted if, as some other viewers have figured out, the gnarliest tricks weren’t done with a doll wearing the little girl’s snowsuit. But all the attention — and ire — the video has stoked were the design of former pro and legendary big mountain snowboarder Steve Klassen, the creator of the clip that he says is the most viewed snowboarding video in history. Like ever. With 50 million aggregate hits among all the channels where it’s been shared.
Yes, that’s Klassen and his daughter Kinsley ripping together — in most of the cuts, anyway. Klassen and Kinsley are capable of throwing down some rad, and very creative, tandem bangers. The heaviest tricks, however, six to be exact including the frontside 50-50 on the wall-mounted rail, were done by a friend holding a doll made to look like Kinsley.
Look carefully: Klassen uses a board with a faux-wood top sheet, while the stunt double uses a green-tinted board. Notice that the girl he’s carrying looks suspiciously rigid.
Several aspects of the video — the happy birthday message in the description, the saturation of the colors, the embellished tricks, were carefully engineered to get the goat of helicopter parents and haters of all kinds. “We did whatever we could to get under their skin,” says Klassen, who owns Wave Rave Snowboard Shop in Mammoth. “People did not expect what was coming. We threw the doll in there to rock people, man. It’s still working,” he says of the video, released in 2015 that has made the rounds again this winter, with the help of outlets like The Inertia and Fatherly.
Never mind that numerous commenters have pointed out the differences between the tricks done with the green and faux-wood snowboards, others continue to write nasty things about Klassen’s parental judgment.
“Here’s what I want to say to people writing the negative comments: Get up from your computer, take your kids outside and spend time with them in nature,” he says.
Not only does he NGAF about the haters, he’s at work on a longer, more extreme version of the video. The next one, now in production, may give helicopter parents an aneurysm. Either that, or it’ll teach them to learn to ride tandem with groms, because this one will have more of a how-to aspect.
When groms graduate from tandem riding like Klassen’s son has, they have a leg up on kids without that experience, Klassen says. “My son knows how to draw his lines and keep his speed. I think it’s a great way to teach somebody.”
For those who still don’t like the real tricks Klassen and Kinsley do together, Klassen still doesn’t care. He’s been tandem snowboarding for years, first starting with his one-year-old son in 2009. When Kinsley reached the same age a few years ago, they began ripping together. In all that time, Klassen has never had a wipeout.
“I’ve never dropped her, I’ve never fallen. It’s way more dangerous for her to ride on her own. That’s the part the haters don’t understand,” he says. The worst experience Kinsley’s had, he says, is when she once cried after getting sprayed with a face full of snow on a powder day.
Before riding tandem, the Freeride World Tour veteran and Arbor Snowboards rider always takes stock of the snow conditions, his ability at that moment, the team’s synchronicity, and his gear. “I put that all together into a matrix and figure out how I can ride to make sure I never fall.”
Kinsley’s got her own snowboard and rides that when she wants. But even after years of tandem ripping, she still asks to stand between his feet. She made up most of the tricks they do.
Klassen has more tandem-riding content, but it won’t show up online because after the criticism he’s received he believes it could get him into hot water. That’s why he’s only showing it on screens at Wave Rave; the only way to see it is by stopping by the shop in Mammoth Lakes. “Come in and ask them to turn the music up loud. It’s next level shit people are going to freak on,” Klassen says.