Passion and Parenting With the 686 Family


"Becoming a parent is a right of passage. It’s is one of life’s pivotal moments where we bring another life into the world and bring a whole new set of responsibilities upon ourselves. Being a snowboarder has its risks, but becoming a parent does not mean you have to lose your passions and put all your time into picking out the right daycare or what pair of dockers to wear with your penny loafers. Get the family together and head for the mountains!" -Patrick McCarthy, 686 Team Manager

We checked in with some of the parents who are part of the 686 family and how they are navigating both life in the mountains and being a parent.

Michael Akira West - 686 Founder and Creative Director 

How did your winters change when you had a child? 

Several ways. Being present was my goal and even though I’m in the mountains less, my presence being outside is so much better. Having a child brings you sensory measure of purpose. I’m here for this, I’m doing this for that, etc. 

What has been the hardest part of being on the road away from your kids? 

They're always on my mind. They don’t need to say “come home” when you want to already be there with them. Technology helps, along with an understanding wife, but I try to bring something tangible like a toy or drawing with me as a constant reminder.

Do you look at the risk/reward differently since you have become a father or just keep sending it?

Ha, good question. This past season was my very first time wearing a helmet. Yes, of course your well-being matters when you have someone else to answer to. It literally hit me when my son asked "Why do I have to wear a helmet when you're not?" So I had to do it.

Do you want your kids to snowboard?

Of course and I tried; the first few experiences were horrible. I was “that guy” with the temper tantrum kid that didn’t want to do anything but go inside. Bottom line is you could introduce them or have an influence, but in the end they will do things because they want to. 
 

How do you see things in the future? 

The kids rule the world and I’m stoked to be able to encourage them to make it happen their way.
 

Any advice to other parents out in the snowboard industry?

It’s a trip to bring the next generation to do the things that you love. That first smile and stoke is all it takes to be hooked!

Sammy Luebke - 3x Freeride World Tour Champion Snowboarder

How did your winters change when you had a kid?  

Honestly when I had my first daughter, it was really scary because I was young. I had to learn how to manage my time at home with my new born alongside being away for 2 or 3 weeks at a time while on a snowboard trip. I just made sure to work hard while I was away and then spend as much time as possible being a new father while back home.
 

What has been the hardest part of being on the road away from your kids? 

Being gone from kids is really mentally tough. There’s always a lot of build up and anxiety before a trip because I’m gonna miss them so much. At the same time I need to be focused on my riding, contests, filming, etc. I'm still trying to become a master of this balance in life.

Do you look at the risk/reward differently since you have become a father? 

I definitely take my health into consideration but I’m always trying to progress. I try taking the calculated risk approach. At the same time I want my kids to grow up making smart decisions and be safe, but also to enjoy life and not always fear the things that hold so many back from really living.

Do you want your daughters to snowboard?

Oh yes. I bought them boards as soon as they were big enough. I don’t want push it on them too hard but always have it be part of their life. It’s given me so much joy and led me to so many great friends and I hope they get to experience that. I want it to be organic for them and it has been, which is awesome because my oldest daughter Alexa asks me to take her riding now and she's picking it up pretty fast. 

How do you see things in the future? 

Hopefully riding as long as my body will let me and being able to share with my kids the same experiences, beauty, and knowledge the mountains have giving me through out my life. Much love!!

Any advice to other parents out in the snowboard industry? 

Work hard. Inspire people with your riding and actions. Be a good role model. Most importantly, give your kids as much love and guidance as you can. Don’t take the little things for granted because, just like that, they are all grown up and they start hanging with their friends more than you. 

 

Patrick McCarthy - 686 Team Manager

How did your winters change when you had a kid? 

Honestly by the time I had Rowen, I was a full time team manager. So working with my wife to schedule our lives around my work schedule was the difficult part. Those eight day team trips and long weeks at trade shows were tough, but we just needed to work with either our parents or Bethany’s work schedule to make it all work. Finding balance and working with the resources we have around us was key.
 

What has been the hardest part of being on the road away from your daughter? 

The hardest part for me being on the road is missing those little moments with Rowen. Also sometimes for me it takes a little time to assimilate back into the family life. Raising a child for me is all about slowing down, shifting from 5th gear into 2nd or 3rd and slowing the daily pace down a little bit.
 

Do you look at the risk/reward differently since you have become a father?

Not really. I think when you try to change your riding style you put yourself at risk of getting hurt. So its important to remember to keep sending with confidence or pick and choose days to keep it with in reason if you're not mentally in the right place.
 

Do you want your son or daughter to snowboard?

I am already on it. We've been stacking days each year. I keep it fun, make sure to take her up on the right days and when she is ready to hit the lodge for a chocolate brownie, you have to abide.
 
How do you see things in the future? 

For the two of us, we need to just keep going. Finding the right days to go up, keeping it fun, enjoying some sunny days up at the resort and keeping the progression going.
 

Any advice to other parents out in the snowboard industry?

Learn to slow down and appreciate the little moments. Your powder day will be waiting for you. "Just take your time" is the best advice I got from my wife. Don’t push it too hard; if they want to build a snowman just build a snowman. Take it slow and enjoy the small moments and triumphs.
 

Phil Jacques - 686 Team Rider

How did your winters change when you had a kid? 

She was born in September so I had almost a solid 4 months straight with her and my girlfriend before the season started and that helped a lot because I had enough time to build my bond with her before beginning to travel. The only thing that‘s really changed is how I plan my trips away from home. I try not to go on trips that are too long and I try to space my trips so that I have enough quality time at home in between.
 
What has been the hardest part of being on the road away from your daughter? 

Knowing that I’m missing all those little things that she does. But at the same time, this winter hasn’t been too busy travel-wise since it all stopped in March because of COVID. So I got to spend a lot of time with her which I wouldn’t have in a normal season. There’s good in everything it seems. 
 
Do you look at the risk/reward differently since you have become a father?

Not really. I mean no one is out there trying to get killed already. But maybe I just think about it better before I do something. I just hurt my shoulder mountain biking and it sucks not being able to care for her the way I’d like to. But it’s all part of the kind of sports that we do.
 
Do you want your kid to snowboard?

Yes, for sure! Hopefully she’ll be into it.

How do you see things in the future? 

Hopefully we can ride together for a while and she enjoys it, until she’s old enough to not want me around anymore haha  

Any advice to other parents out in the snowboard industry?

Just do the best you can and be the best you can. I think it’s the only thing we can really do.


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