Pro Snowboarder Nils Mindnich on His Roots & Favorite Gear
Backcountry Sponsored Athlete Nils Shares His Evolution in Pro Snowboarding
Nils Mindnich was a young snowboard prodigy in the east before going backcountry after high school. He entered the ‘19/20 Freeride World Tour as a wild card, and came out the champion. He’ll be one of 24 athletes competing in the 2021 Natural Selection Tour, repping Backcountry Gear & Apparel, and applying his skills at the most epic backcountry tour to date. We spoke with Nils about his journey into snowboarding, his other outdoor pursuits, and his gear closet.
Tell me your background and your path to professional snowboarding.
My parents taught me how to snowboard when I was six. At the time, my mom worked at a ski resort in Vermont and the mountain served as a daycare for my sister, brother, and me. When we weren’t in school, we would stay at the mountain and just snowboard all day.
Vermont being as remote as it is, a lot of the competitions would take a while to drive to and I remember our parents would have us sleep in our outerwear so they could carry us into the car in the morning. My brother and I picked it up pretty quickly and before I knew it we were on the Burton kids’ team getting flown around the world doing contests and photoshoots.
At 14, I enrolled at the Winter Sports School in Park City, UT. Shortly after graduating high school, I started riding for Salomon Snowboards and they gave me the opportunity to work with Snowboarder Magazine on their movie Foreword.
For almost six years, I filmed a video part and took college classes during the off season. It was at that point that my focus pivoted to the contest world again, except this time, it was a wild card spot on the Freeride World Tour. The tour suited my riding style and got me fired up for the next phase of my career focusing on events like the Natural Selection Tour.
What’s another way you disconnect in the outdoors when you’re not snowboarding?
Spending time outside is in my DNA. Growing up, all I wanted to do was play outside, whether it was building bike jumps or hiking. In high school, a friend introduced me to rock climbing and I was immediately hooked.
I remember there was one trip in particular that acted as a catalyst for my obsession with climbing. I had just graduated high school and a friend brought my brother and I down to Moab to climb some desert towers.
I found myself leading pitches with potential for taking falls up to 80 ft. Instead of getting scared, I found myself deeply drawn to it. I think I’ve grown to love climbing as much as I do because it’s one of the few sports that I can feel as focused and present as I do when I’m snowboarding.
Tell me about your snowboard gear closet.
I’m fortunate to ride for companies that put so much effort into their products. The entire Salomon Freeride line is amazing. I spend most of my time carving around on the Super 8, but I also love the Speedway and Dancehaul. For my goggles, I wouldn’t choose anything else besides my Giro Axis and Jackson helmet. Helmets can be fickle and the Jackson is so light I hardly notice it.
As far as my outerwear kit is concerned, I wear the [Backcountry] Cottonwoods Jacket and Bibs. The material is amazing, it’s extremely durable, and the GORE-TEX makes it equally as waterproof. Boards and outerwear aside, I think I spend the most time in my Spruces Merino Baselayer—I practically live in my baselayers during the season.
The Natural Selection Tour is hosting a high number of women riders compared to most snowboarding competitions. What does this mean to you as an athlete and for the snowboarding community?
I think it’s great. There are infinite ways to get down one of those courses and to be honest I could probably predict the way most guys would navigate it. Yet, to have the same course approached by ladies is so cool to me because I think they’ll find more creative ways to use the space, which not only makes me stoked, but I think it’ll inspire the snow community in general, men and women alike.