Yoder and Guch’s odd first en­counter

Transworld Snowboarding - - CONTENTS -

“Don’t meet your he­roes.” Alex Yoder tells me he re­calls hear­ing that ex­pres­sion when he was young. The last time Yoder and I had this con­ver­sa­tion, I was wiping a tear aside at Te­ton Thai—not be­cause the dish I or­dered was too spicy, but be­cause the way he told it was hi­lar­i­ously per­fect. I asked him to re­count it so I could put it on this page for a frac­tion of the ef­fect it had in the mo­ment. “It’s this cool hole-in-the-wall place,” Yoder ex­plains of the restau­rant where he first de­tailed this anec­dote to me.

“Bryan Iguchi’s wife, Lily, helped start the place, and Bryan worked there. We’d go in all the time, and of course I knew who he was. Jack­son’s a small town, and the snow­board com­mu­nity’s even smaller. There was this el­der crew of snow­board­ers in Jack­son—Wil­lie McMil­lon, Lance Pit­man, Travis [Rice], Rob King­will, Guch. They were the badass dudes you’d see at the re­sort some­times, but they would go in the back­coun­try and film. And we al­ways wanted to go into the back­coun­try and film, but we didn’t know how yet. They had this level of cool we couldn’t as­sume or un­der­stand.

We were just a bunch of grom kids caus­ing trou­ble. This day, I think it was a ta­ble of six—the snow­board crew I grew up with. An­ders Ber­ling, Wade Dun­stan, a few other bud­dies. I would never or­der the Pad Thai. Ev­ery­one else loved it, but I thought it was too sweet. I al­ways or­dered the Pad Ga Prao, which is a basil chili dish. I loved it, sort of craved it. Guch brought all this food out to the ta­ble and set a Pad Thai in front of me.

I was like, ‘Oh, sorry, I or­dered the Pad Ga Prao.’ And he was like, ‘No, you had a Pad Thai.’ I was like, ‘I’m pretty sure I had the Pad Ga Prao.’ He’s like, ‘No man, you had a Pad Thai.’ So I was like, ‘Ok, yeah, no wor­ries.’

If it was some­one other than Guch, I might’ve ar­gued the point a lit­tle harder. But be­cause it was some­one I ad­mired, I just thought, ‘what­ever; it’s cool.’ I’ll sac­ri­fice that for not ar­gu­ing with a hero.

Not long af­ter this, I started work­ing there with Guch and Lily. Over the next six years, I be­came part of the Te­ton Thai fam­ily. Guch and I started snow­board­ing to­gether, and he be­came a men­tor to me. He taught me how to snow­mo­bile, how to be in the back­coun­try safely, and en­cour­aged me to do avalanche cour­ses and wilder­ness first responder train­ings. He took me to new ar­eas and helped me with let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion to spon­sors. Stuff like that. It’s funny we had this weird in­ter­ac­tion way back when, and he’s turned into this amaz­ing friend who I highly re­gard for many rea­sons but mainly as some­one I can turn to in any sce­nario. Iron­i­cally, in that mo­ment, I thought it had proved this ‘don’t meet your he­roes’ phrase, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

Bryan Iguchi, Alex Yoder, and Owen Ringwall at the re­sort Yoder grew up on, watch­ing Guch from afar.

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