Corey Van aken
what's your day job?
Outer Range Brewery
highest level of avalanche education
AIARE Rec 1
what's your story on finding your way to snowboarding/skiing?
My first time on a snowboard was when I was 7 with a Walmart Brand velcro strap binding system in my backyard of Craig County, Virginia. I continued to progress a bit just going on trips with my family on the weekends to the closest hill being Snowshoe Mountain, WV throughout my childhood. Just taking lessons and having fun, never really even thinking about it in a competitive or lifestyle way. I definitely wasn't somebody who was super good at a young age though, I would say that I didn't truly find snowboarding until I was much older.
As I got older, I totally lost snowboarding for a long time, probably from when I was 15 until 19 I didn't step foot on a snowboard. I got really into partying and playing music my first year of college, but found myself in a pretty dark place when i was 19 just partying a lot, not having any responsibility, not being able to keep a job, or pay rent, all of it. I was bumming off my parents pretty hard when I remember they told me I needed to find a job that I truly enjoyed and could sustain for more than a week lol. My dad reminded me how much I used to enjoy snowboarding and suggested I try to get a job at one of the resorts nearby.
I remember applying and getting turned down by the closest resort called Winterplace, WV that was about 1.5 hours from home, that was a bummer for sure. Having a restricted license at the time, I was able to get a ride from my friend (Shoutout Lucas!!) 4 hours away to Snowshoe, WV. This was a resort town during October so it was empty, but I managed to ask around some of the shops and found my way to meeting one of the directors of their ski school operations and had an interview right then and there. Got hired, packed my bags and in a few weeks moved out to West Virginia on my own to work through the winter season as a snowboard instructor for the first time, and that season changed my life.
I was HOOKED, and knew that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, was to be on a snowboard and live the mountain life in any way, shape or form I could manage, as long as I could ride my snowboard. I came home that summer after the 13/14 season super determined to find a job out west and move out there to chase this new lifestyle. Over that summer I managed to get hired as a snowboard instructor at Keystone, CO and have been out in Summit County, Colorado ever since.
I started my journey in CO working at Keystone, then slowly transitioned to more of a freestyle coach for Woodward, Copper where I was doing more events with athletes rather than just instructing day to day. Eventually entered in and won some competitions of my own. But all the while my lust for powder and freeriding was growing stronger by the day. Eventually I found my way to Weston and it was a match made in heaven. Now I try to focus my energy on my snowboard into creating content and film projects to portray the beauty and creative flow of this snowboard lifestyle and what it has to offer, as well as promoting ways to protect the outdoors that we use to enjoy these kinds of lifestyles. It's a journey that's only just begun and I can't wait to see where it takes me and who I get to meet and shred with along the way.
Describe Your Best Powder Day in the Backcountry
My best powder day in the backcountry would probably have to be this day in Jackson i had with my good friends Cooper, Ian and Ben. Ian and Ben are local to Jackson and know the area, Cooper is a good friend of mine and an amazing photographer who lives to capture the shred moments out in the backcountry. We managed to get our hands on two snowmobiles (Shout out to Leo!! one for each Cooper and I) and Ian and Ben had their own as well. I think it dumped a fresh 10" or so the night before and the day was nothing but blue skies, good friends, the untouched & untamed natural freeride terrain of the Tetons and Wyoming range and a photographer to capture it all! was one of the best not only powder days, but just best days in general i've had on a snowboard for sure.
Describe A Humbling Day in the Backcountry
A humbling day in the backcountry for me was in Montana of the 19/20 season, we were filming for a big project and the snow wasn't the greatest, i was about to drop into a full mountain run that was super steep, variable looking snow and a lot of technical riding required. We assessed the snow at the summit with the crew prior to dropping and since it was a north facing aspect just hoped it was going to be better down the run than it was at the top, it wasn't.
I dropped in and immediately couldn't hold an edge with how icy it was, managed to avoid going off any major cliffs to my left by sliding on my butt and controlling the direction of my fall with my snowboard as much as i could. Ended up taking out two smaller trees towards the bottom of the run as well. I was very luck to walk away from that line uninjured, it was a very humbling moment that really made me reprioritize my risk management (when trying to get content or create a film) in the backcountry, and what risk vs. reward can truly mean.
I ride Weston because we are a family. Weston cares about not only their riders, but EVERYONE behind the company, they also care not only about who's part of the company but anyone and everyone who's trying to go out and use the backcountry! They prove it by educating the public with courses and meetups and allowing people to learn about the products they're providing and how to properly use them. Weston is so different from any other snowboard company i've ever witnessed or been a part of in that sense, and ill say it again. WESTON CARES.
They also throw badass parties lol.
What does your quiver look like and why?
10th Mountain Division
All boards I can rip in pow, all boards I can rip in park, and all boards I can rip switch.
I love freestyle and i love powder. This quiver allows me to take any mountain or backcountry line and approach it with a creative freeride mindset for optimal fun, style and stompability.
Weston, Blackstrap, Everlaces, Picture Organic Clothing, Wildbarn Coffee