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Thursday, June 24, 2010
Updated: June 25, 4:54 PM ET
Sammy Luebke the Lost Boy


Lost Boy or not, Sammy Luebke knows how to find a line.

There are some dudes who you just know have cruised the Earth before. Whether in some parallel dimension or as a deer tick, you can tell they are far more familiar with this process than you are. Some call them old souls or throwbacks; I prefer "Lost Boys", only because that movie clearly proved that being a vampire is the s---. Something about these freaks (old boys, not vampires) kind of makes you feel a little weird inside because of their uncommon ease with ... well ... life. How do they, at such a young age, have it figured out? Sammy Luebke is one of these creatures.

He rides with a force uncommon for someone his age. Luebke charges. After witnessing him first-hand this year in British Columbia and Valdez, Alaska, it became clear that he is doing some substantial damage to our mountains and it could be argued that Luebke is a force of erosion all his own. What's most important though is that he has already entered the realm of the dragon. Luebke's freeriding is officially beyond Thunderdome ... and he's only 21.

I had a talk with the man-boy about filming for Standard Films "The Storming" this past season, where he got a special taste of the state he grew up in.

ESPN.com: This was your heaviest year so far, as far as filming and spending the most time in the backcountry right?
Sammy Luebke: It was a year of bigger and better riding for me in every way. I got to ride a lot up in Alaska -- kind of scary -- lots of snow moving. I got to ride with Xavier De Le Rue, which was nuts because as we all know he is a madman. Sooooo ... we had to kind of pick and choose lines around him.

I didn't think that anyone was ready for that or that Standard would even allow dudes to ride with him because he is so mental. It's not easy to prove that you are the best man to fill out Xavier's crew, but from what I heard it was definitely the right call, and that says a lot.
(Laughs) Yeah, he is someone that I really look up to. I think I just got lucky! But it was a lot of fun and it's exactly what I wanted to do with my winter. Being my first year heli-ing it was definitely a little intimidating, but the fact that I got to do it with him and the people around us who were familiar with that kind of thing really made me a better rider. I hope that's where I am next year as well; I just want to be in the heli riding those peaks.

For Luebke life is all about being at altitude in the snow with friends and learning everyday.

Do you think you'll have a longer part in their movie this year?
I am pretty sure I will have my own part -- lots of powder, lots of big mountain stuff. Definitely no park riding or anything; not that I don't love it, it's just that all of my time was spent in the backcountry this year.

You've taken a very different approach to professional snowboarding than most of your friends, or at least the ones your age. It seems like the average 21-year-old pro is hitting the contests hard or riding park more than anything else ...
To the guys that have the power to go out and try and win contests, I think that's rad and they should fully do that while they can. For me, how I choose to ride and make my way is a lot lower pressure though. I also feel I can be myself more creatively. Putting on a bib and dropping in and really trying to showcase your skill is harder for me. I did lots of contests when I was younger and every once in a while I will strap the bib on and see what happens. I like a good contest every once in a while. Just being out in the mountains is what I love, though, actually being in the snow every day and learning about the snow and all of the variables, that's what keeps me going after it -- the fact that nothing is ever the same.

Just being out in the mountains is what I love, though, actually being in the snow every day...

You are talking like someone who has been at this for a while. You are already taking the path that so many people do after they "figure it out." I think it's cool that right as your professional career is starting to take off, you are already climbing the ladder to so many people's pinnacle of snowboarding.
It is definitely cool to get a head start I guess, more in just the knowledge of snowboarding and mountain conditions. I am lucky in that the crews I ride with keep pulling me in that direction. Don't get me wrong, I am all about riding park and pipe -- I grew up doing that -- but if I had my way, I would choose to ride powder and do new things with my snowboarding.

I am lucky that there are people that support me in what I do, like Lib Tech and Oakley and Standard -- these guys gave me the best winter of my life. I think people should pursue whatever kind of riding they want, I am all for it, but as far as freeriding goes: IT IS SNOWBOARDING, there is no mistaking that!

Luebke's never been afraid to come in hot and hammer a turn in even the hairiest spots.