STRATTON SPOTLIGHT: ZEB POWELL
A candid Q&A with X Games Gold Medalist and Stratton Mountain School (SMS) Alumnus Zeb Powell about his off-season workout plan, his ties to Stratton Mountain, and his plans for the upcoming season
INTERVIEW BY BENJAMIN LERNER
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY RED BULL ®
Watching Zeb Powell coast through the snow with smooth and stylish finesse is an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Powell first achieved worldwide fame with his gravity-defying Gold Medal run at the X Games’ Wendy’s Snowboard Knuckle Huck in 2020. Since then, he has continued to build a name for himself as a force to be reckoned with in the international snowboarding scene.
Having graduated from Stratton Mountain School (SMS) in 2019, Powell recently made a triumphant return to the Stratton Slopes during the Red Bull® Slide-In Tour in March 2022. While here, he and his fellow Red Bull® Team Members Jesse Augustinus, Maggie Leon, and Brantley Mullins shared their love for the sport with riders of all skill levels and showcased their signature stunts.
As Powell prepares for the upcoming season, we at Stratton Magazine had the privilege of speaking with him about his off-season training regimen, the lessons that he learned during his time at SMS, and his favorite places to relax and decompress during the off-season in Southern Vermont. By remaining grounded, humble and determined in his pursuit of athletic excellence, Powell has managed to stay ahead of the curve in more ways than one—and has carved a unique niche for himself in the professional snowboarding community that is every bit as remarkable as his showstopping aerial maneuvers.
Q: Thanks so much for joining us for this interview, Zeb! To say that we’re big fans is an understatement – we are thrilled to have you here with us! It was awesome to have you back at Stratton for the Red Bull® Slide-In Tour in March, and we’re looking forward to your next visit with eager anticipation. Given the fact that we caught you during the middle of the off-season, we want to know all about your daily routines and fitness training regimen.
Let’s kick things off with a question about the beginning of the day: do you have a morning ritual that you like to start your days with?
A: My morning ritual has been more planned out recently. I like to be effective with my time. I wake up, take a shower, grab something to eat, and then I sometimes journal a little bit. I write down aspirations and plan for whatever’s coming up to try to get in a good headspace.
Q: That sounds like a great way to manifest positivity. What do you like to eat for your morning meal?
A: I usually eat some eggs with lots of vegetables, sometimes with a side of fruit or pancakes with blueberries, strawberries, or bananas.
Q: Vermont is famous for its maple syrup, which goes perfectly with pancakes. I understand you’re out in California for some off-season training right now. Have you managed to find any Vermont maple syrup out there?
A: I love Vermont maple syrup! I haven’t found it out here, though, so I’ve just been using regular syrup on my pancakes for now.
Q: We’ll make sure to have some Vermont maple syrup ready for you whenever you come back to Stratton! After you wake up and complete your morning ritual, what does a day of off-season training hold for you? Take us through it.
A: I do a lot of core work, back work, and dynamic stretching. I also do squats, lunges, weight training, leg presses, and calf presses. Leg strength is important, so I do exercises that help me to get the strength and support that I need. I’ve also been working with my trainers to learn how to land better. I tend to “go big” with how I ride, so shock absorption is import- ant. I’ve been working on keeping my knees in the right condition for those land- ings. Other than my workouts, I like to stay active with skateboarding, wakeboarding, and swimming on days off from the gym. Wakeboarding helps to engage your core, and skateboarding helps with balance.
Q: Do you have any favorite skateboarding or wakeboarding spots to visit during the off-season?
A: I like to go wakeboarding in Valdosta, Georgia down by the Florida-Georgia line. As far as skateboarding, Mount Hood in Oregon has a great skatepark. I’m usually there during the summer, so I skate there a lot.
Q: What kind of music do you like to listen to when you’re powering up for a training session?
A: I actually have a playlist that I made specifically for workouts. It’s got all different types of music that I don’t normally listen to 24/7. If I had to pick a go-to artist, I would have to say it’s A$AP Rocky. Sometimes I like to sit back, watch music videos, and get some inspiration from the creative side. I’ve also been thinking about dipping my toes into making music, as well. I like so many different kinds of music, from R&B to Hip-Hop and Pop music. I want to keep working on seeing what goes well with my own musical style and what doesn’t. My musical creativity fluctuates. I sing catchy songs sometimes and I rap sometimes. It’s just whatever I’m feeling at the moment.
Q: We would love to hear some music from you in the future, Zeb! You and A$AP Rocky are both very creative—and you both bring a lot of style to your respective athletic and artistic performances. You’re especially well-known for your groundbreaking riding style. There is truly no one else in the world who rides like you do. In past interviews, you’ve said that the time that you spent training at SMS had a big impact on your riding style, and that you learned to perfect some of your tricks and spins on the SMS trampoline. How did training on the trampoline help you move forward with your riding and find your style?
A: I spent a lot of time working on my schoolwork at SMS and maintaining the balance between training and academics. I remember I would go to the trampoline and the foam pit there to decompress. It was fun, but it was also important in terms of training. There was a lot of friendly competition there. We would go to the trampoline and foam pit and do the craziest flips and just push ourselves to try different things. It was beneficial both mentally and physically. It didn’t feel like we were pushing our limits, though—we were just having fun and learning new things.
Q: Sounds like a lot of fun! Speaking of fun, the Red Bull® Slide-In Tour was absolutely epic when it came to Stratton in March. What was it like to come back to Stratton and showcase your skills at the same mountain where you trained in your younger years?
A: It was really cool. Stratton is like home to me, so coming back there is always nice because some nostalgia falls into place. It was fun to be able to relive my experiences there, have fun, and show everyone who showed up there a good time, as well.
Q: During your time at SMS, did you have any favorite hiking spots to go explore ring the off-season?
A: I always liked hiking and biking up on Stratton Mountain. Any time we got a chance to hike, bike, or run up the mountain was great. Stratton has an awesome base village where there are a lot of places to get food. It was always a nice move to get up there, hike or bike a bit, come back down, and go to the village.
Q: Stratton Village is, indeed, a great place to hang out and get something to eat! Any favorite spots to visit in the Village while you were going to SMS?
A: Sometimes I would go to the deli to get a sandwich, go bike, come down, and maybe even do the same thing afterwards—or grab a slice of pizza from the pizza shop there. There’s a lot of good spots down in the village.
Q: Nothing beats a filling sandwich or slice after a long day of hiking or biking. Do you have any other favorite places to visit in Southern Vermont outside of Stratton?
A: Honeypie has really great burgers, and I also like Bob’s Diner on the way to Manchester. I’m a huge breakfast guy, too, so I love that place. I love their pancakes, and I had some great hash brown casse- roles there back when I was at SMS.
Q: Before we let you go, we would love to know—what are your plans for the upcoming competitive season, and how will it differ from past seasons?
A: Honestly, this season is going to be a big switch. Most seasons, I just kind of did what there was to do, whether it was going to a photoshoot or going to a competition. Now that I’m more established, it’s time for the next step in terms of doing my own thing and making my own way on the marketing side. I’m going to be working on developing my own line of boots, putting out content, working with organizations like Hoods To Woods Foundation and Chill Foundation to advocate for inclusion, and making new events happen. I’m spending the summer and fall planning to make those things happen and making sure that we make the most of the season outreach-wise and impact-wise. I’m looking forward to elevating to the next level and seeing it all come to life in the next season.
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