Justin Latimer | Get Down & Give Back
Published Date: 03/25/2021
Read Time: 6 Minutes
Justin Latimer talks buying his first snowboard at the age of 7 to becoming a Snowbird and Rossignol Athlete in his early 20s, plus his involvement with Wasatch Adaptive Sports and the direct impact the organization has had on his personal life.
We could not be more psyched to shred some light on long-time Bird athlete and all-around professional fun-haver, Justin Latimer aka Lati. Lati is one whose stoke and love for adventure is tough to measure. His genuine and sincere adoration for the sport and snow-capped mountains is evident as Lati shares his experience growing up between the mouths of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon. From hustling to buy his first snowboard at just 7 years old, to becoming a Bird and Rossignol athlete in his early 20s, Lati has entered the snowboard scene with a unique style and a deep passion for slashin’. Lati unfolds his story behind getting involved with on-mountain local non-profit, Wasatch Adaptive Sports (WAS), and expresses unwavering gratitude for the work WAS is continually doing to break down barriers for those with adaptive needs. Lati’s humor and light-hearted spirit make you feel right at home as his genuine and sincere lust for life effortlessly welcomes you into his exuberant sphere of influence. It is an absolute pleasure to interview one of Snowbird’s most humble and down-to-earth shredders, Justin Latimer.
(Photo: Eric Sales)
The man, the myth, the Lati.
Tell us about your first memories at Snowbird?
I came up skiing at Snowbird with my neighbor and the Gulini family when I was about 6 in 1995. We did one run on Chickadee and I was just following my friends around trying to keep up, pretty loose pizza vibes. I remember my first Tram on a powder day that year, being so small and double ejecting 10 plus times down Regulator Johnson. The older kids in the Gulini family were boarding and I just remember thinking that snowboarding looked way more fun. I had been skateboarding, it just felt more natural. I got my first board a year later. I mowed lawns all summer long to go to Play It Again Sports that fall and got a used Lamar board. Stiff as a 2 x 4, equipped with red, yellow and blue bindings. We would go down to Bywater Park, sled and build jumps on snow days after school. Later on, in school, we were able to come up to Snowbird on Fridays by bus and rip around for gym class. Hard to beat that as a kid.
As a young buck, who did you look up to and who influences your riding today?
I was influenced by the Tech Nine scene. I would pass their house as I would hop on the bus for school. Aaron Bittner, JP Thomich, Justin Bennee, MFM, Stevie Bell, Mark Edlung, Casey Nelson, the Leines Brothers and the Provo Brothers. Those were the local pros I would see around at premieres and get super hyped as a youngin’. All the Absinthe movies have always fired me up. Current friend stoke from Zach and Faye Gulini, Rachel Burkes, Harrison Fitch and Ryan Hudson.
(Photo: Justin Olsen)
Tell us about your journey to becoming a Snowbird Athlete.
When I was 20, I moved up to the Alta Peruvian Lodge in Little Cottonwood Canyon after a few years of community college in Salt Lake. All I could think about was being in the mountains. I was able to ride every day, living and working up there for a couple years. A friend from the P-Dog, Alta’s infamous bar, Mica (Alta Snowboard Team), asked me to do a freeride contest in Colorado with him. We ended up top five and we both got an invite to participate in the 4* Freeride World Tour contest series in North America. I spent the next few years traveling and competing. That turned into getting some help from Rossignol after a few decent finishes. That’s about the time I started getting involved with the Bird as an athlete.
Are you a Gad Valley, Peruvian Gulch or Mineral Basin guy?
Peruvian side! Can’t go wrong with north-facing steeps all around! Chips spring laps are hard to beat.
What’s your board set up on a powder day?
Set back and surfy. I like stiffer boards. Rossignol makes some really fun, surf-style shapes. The Sushi is a go-to for over a foot of fresh! Rossignol Juggernaut 161 for more freeriding days!
(Photo: Eric Sales)
You’re camping out overnight for a big powder day at The Bird. Which lodge are you staying at and why?
The Cliff Lodge, because it’d be rude not to hot tub on the roof! The Cliff Spa is the best around.
Where is your favorite place to grub at Snowbird?
Nothing like a Gritts breakfast burrito with all the veggies to fuel you for a long day of Tram laps. Extra avocado, please!
How has snowboarding impacted your life?
“Snowboarding has given me a community, friends and an outlet to deal with hardships in life in a healthy way. It's given me a purpose and some direction to focus on and strive forward whether it's a new feature or a new adventure.”
(Photo: Sam Watson)
Where would you like to see snowboarding head in the future?
I would like to see it less “cool guy”, more inclusive to all and more affordable. With the huge amount of people getting into the backcountry over the last couple years, I would like to see people taking the proper steps to actually understand the dangers and realize that avalanche education takes a lot of time! It’s not like you can take one class that will teach you all you need to know. It’s a lifelong learning curve with many unspoken lessons from the mountains.
You’ve been volunteering with Wasatch Adaptive Sports for 5 years. Can you tell us about your time volunteering with them and how you got involved?
Working with WAS has opened my eyes and has made me extremely grateful for the time I get in the mountains. Seeing a kid who has never been able to walk pop ski boots on and see them stop for the first time, or teaching someone to link turns on a monoski and seeing their face full of stoke like you’ve never seen before! It's all just finding that flow state no matter what your weapon of choice is. It’s so beautiful to see and share that moment with people. My best friend, Zach Gulini, had a Traumatic Brain Injury when we were 14. That’s how I first got involved, biking and skiing with him. Later on, I became more involved when my mom had a stroke. We were able to get her moving and recreating on bikes and sit-skis. I was able to get to know Peter Mandler, the founder, and he was really a huge support for me. It has made a huge positive difference in all our lives! Brought tears to my eyes to see my mom skiing for the first time after her recovery. I’ll never forget it.
What does Wasatch Adaptive Sports mean to you?
“This program has fueled me to share the sport I love with people who wouldn’t normally get a chance to be recreating in the mountains. It has changed my family's life for the better. It is amazing to share moments in the mountains with people who are so grateful to be there.”
(Photo: Breezy Burnett)
What is the best way to get involved?
Check out their website at wasatchadaptivesports.org/volunteer. They are always looking for spirited folk who are interested in encouraging and enhancing lessons. They could always use an extra hand on-mountain during the winter season and around the Salt Lake Valley during the summer months.
We can’t thank Lati enough for sharing his time with us between travels. Though we’ve “seen better,” as Lati would say, we appreciate his unfaltering thirst to spread the good vibes and good times with any and all who seek it. Cheers Lat!