Family Affair
Max Silverson
A pair of skis are the ultimate transportation to freedom. - Warren Miller

We wanted to talk to Dave and Vanessa because they are two ambitious snowboarders who have developed a lot of off piste wisdom over the years. You might even call them a snowboarding power couple. They have both been at the top of the snowboarding world and continue to explore the most remote heights of the backcountry. Vanessa is a celebrated full time artist and Dave owns Cheetah Factory Racing, which manufactures snowmobile accessories and racks for carrying skis and boards. These two superstars are raising their four year old son Drake, and still striving for first descents and backcountry expeditions.  

Has having a child changed your assessment of risk in the backcountry? 

Dave: I think it does. You definitely try and make smarter calls, but it’s more in your mind before you go out there. Once you get into the backcountry, you’re kinda in the moment, you kind of forget about everything. If the avalanche danger is high on certain days, you definitely think a bit differently.  You try to always be smart, but I think that has a bit to do with age too, you become more aware of the risks as you get older.  

Vanessa: Or say, if you are in a helicopter together, and that helicopter crashed...you have to think about those things. You didn’t think about that before having a kid at all. I think it forces you to get a bit more responsible, where in the past you wouldn’t think about consequences as much. It’s the same as just being young, and then getting older.

What are some of the challenges you face in introducing your son to snowboarding?  

Dave: I love it! It’s super motivating to share the experience with him. I look forward to it, seeing him learn and get into it, it’s exciting.   

Vanessa: Yeah! And then one day he’ll be shredding with us! And then we’ll all be in the helicopter and we won’t have to worry any more.   

Which do you think is a bigger risk: Teaching kids to snowboard or not teaching your kid to snowboard?   

Vanessa: Oh, not for sure 

Dave: Yeah, not for sure.  

Vanessa: Snowboarding is a lifesaver. Snowboarding saved my life...as the saying goes.  

Do you ever worry that Drake will manifest his inevitable teenage rebellion by aspiring to land a desk job in a cubicle?  

Dave: I’d be ok with it! Haha! As long as he gets out on the weekends.   

Vanessa: It’d be pretty sweet if he got into golf. 

Dave: Or tennis! 

What do you see as the biggest risk you take?  

Dave: Getting in my car and driving to the city. That scares me because it’s totally out of your hands. When you’re in the mountains you can evaluate things. When you go to the city, there are thousands and thousands of people that have to be on point, all it takes is one person to be off a bit and they can take you out. The odds are against you.  

Vanessa: Or just not getting enough exercise and sleep, it’s the biggest risk leading to health issues. 

Dave Basterrechea and Vanessa Stark discuss their passion for the mountains, and how parenthood has changed their perception of risk.
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