Matt Goodwill started snowboarding more than 13 years ago when things were very, very different. "It was before metal edges and the first year they had highbacks. I came in right when things were getting easier better technology," Goodwill says of the equipment options in 1986.
"Snowboarding is still it," says Goodwill though he concedes that it's sometimes easy to get clouded by all the hype and commercialism that has made the sport so popular. "I started way back in the day when it was friends and family making snowboards, nobody was cut-throating here and there. Now it's politics and dollar signs, but I guess that's the business."
He speaks from experience. Goodwill's original board sponsor, Morrow, was one of the many companies swallowed up by the infamous snowboard industry "shakedown" of the late '90s. Goodwill's now riding for Nike ACG, so his apparel and boot needs are taken care off.
We spoke to Goodwill while he was in Seattle for a Niketown "Road to the X Games" in-store promotion. "Nike's been really cool," he says. "They definitely helped me out during some tight times there."
Goodwill's days of uncertainty are now behind him, and he is still down with the soul of snowboarding, riding with friends and living near the Washington Cascades mountains. He recently purchased his parent's home (the house he grew up in) and has no plans of leaving his home state. Though his competition and filming schedules require that he spend a good portion of the season traveling, Goodwill spends as much time as possible at his local playground, Stevens Pass.
His passion for the sport and for mountains has taken Goodwill far in a relatively short time. He spent the past five years competing on pro circuits and has appeared in snowboard films for the past eight. And he has no intention of pulling back the throttle on his snowboarding career any time soon.
In 1993, Goodwill won the Snowboard World Extreme Championships in Valdez, Alaska, which he followed up with wins in both the '94 and '97 King of the Hill Championships, also in Valdez. He also took seconds in both the '98 Red Bull Extremes in Verbier, France, and the '98 Rip Curl Heli Challenge in Wanaka, New Zealand.
In 1995, Goodwill was riding in the Chugach Mountains, outside of Valdez, AK. It was a "weather day" during the King of the Hill competition, so he and some buddies went freeriding.
"I knew I was falling, but I didn't know how far I was falling, so I just started hitting my board back and forth, and I could feel the tip and tail hitting. Finally, I just stopped and I was probably 40 to 45 feet in."
Though Goodwill was carrying an avalanche transceiver, he had become separated from his friends, thus leaving survival up to him alone. Luckily, he fell into a 10-foot-wide section where the two walls zippered together any other part of the crevasse would have swallowed him whole.
"There was a crack in the ice, so I started climbing, rock-climbing style. The crack got bigger and bigger. I stuck my elbow in there...eventually my whole arm, up to the shoulder. Then that crack stopped and another one started on the opposite wall, so I switched over to that."
All tolled, it took Goodwill about 45 minutes to climb up the distance he had fallen. When he reached the base, he took a big shot of whiskey and declared, "I've already won this contest."
But it was important for him to get back out on the snow that day. He took some more runs and ended up losing his King of the Hill crown that year, but came back in '97 and reclaimed it.
After talking to other survivors of crevasse falls, Goodwill decided to develop the Blue Room Club. "I started meeting people who had been in that same situation, inside the blue ice walls," said Goodwill. It's like a support group, right? Sit around and drink coffee out of Styrofoam cups?
"We sit around and drink, but we don't drink coffee."
Nothing nearly as epic has happened since, but he's always prepared for the worst. "Now, my pack is fully loaded all the time I've got ropes, an ice axe, ice screws. Hopefully, I won't have to use it," Goodwill says.
Never one to have a sedate life, Goodwill's upcoming seasons will undoubtedly involve lots more fun. Upcoming plans include a trip to New Zealand for the Rip Curl World Heli Challenge, where he finished 7th last year. This season, Goodwill took a respectable 6th in the Legendary Mount Baker Banked Slalom, which he won for the first time as a pro on '98-'99.
Back home in Lake Stevens, Washington, the snow continues to fall and, as always, Goodwill keeps on riding.
Mary Catherine O'Connor, MountainZone.com staff