Tim Humphreys rips a turn on a bluebird powder day at Alpine Meadows, photo by Jeff Engerbretson

Tim Humphreys: Forever Young

Rising to stardom during snowboarding’s ‘golden era,’  the Truckee-based veteran continues to defy age and gravity as he adapts to an evolving sport


Humphreys in his signature mandarin orange garb, photo by Jake Pollock

Even the burliest, most steadfast powder aficionado can be forgiven for seeking respite from snow come late spring and early summer, especially after a brutalizing winter. Sometimes we want to mountain bike, or recline at the beach, or play golf. Sometimes the feet just ache and the thought of stooping over to strap on a pair of stiff boots, again, is a bane.

But Tim Humphreys is a different animal.

It’s late May when he is pinned down for this interview, near the end of the Goliath 2022-23 season, and the 35-year-old professional snowboarder is fresh off an intense session applying his technical skills on a big jump line at Palisades Tahoe. After four straight days lapping the park like a rubber-legged teen—recalibrating some old tricks and devising some new ones—Humphreys is fired up on life.

“Summer is the time I snowboard less, not the time I don’t snowboard at all,” he says, an infectious energy in his tone.

Humphreys’ ability to remain passionate about snowboarding—from the riding to the business side of the industry—has no doubt helped him arrive in the super-slim club of two-decade-strong pros. And this past winter was his best one in a minute.

“He’s on a rampage,” says Blake Hunter, Humphreys’ friend and longtime riding partner. “This last year, he just went nonstop. He knows what will work when he’s on his board, and keeps a humor to it all.”

While Humphreys might not have the Tahoe name recognition of a Jeremy Jones or Daron Rahlves, he’s one of the region’s most prolific winter athletes, garnering deep respect across the shred world. He’s battled through years of contests, including Winter X Games slopestyle, appeared in high-caliber films, expertly carved out a niche with social media-friendly GoPro content, expanded into sled-accessed backcountry riding and, after almost 30 seasons of snowboarding, shows no signs of slowing down.

His friends say his upbeat, irrepressible style is par for the course, and that it conveys the stoke that keeps him happily strapping on boots in the cold year after year.

“Once Tim starts talking, he’ll never stop talking. I’ll call him to ask if he has any sled oil, and it will turn into a 40-minute discussion on computers, the financial state of the snowboard industry and who knows what else,” says friend and fellow pro snowboarder Nial Romanek. “But he’s incredible, and he’s still getting better.”


Jersey Roots

Humphreys grew up in suburban New Jersey, where no one cared about boardsport culture whatsoever, he says. He got into riding at the age of 7 when his older brother and dad went snowboarding and brought home The Melt Down Project, the 1995 movie by Mack Dawg Productions. He studied the video, then toyed around with trying to ride and jib in his front yard.

The next season he rode at Windham Mountain in New York, where he was told he would benefit from a coach after he skipped the fundamentals stage and was trying to jib and jump like the riders in The Melt Down Project—snowboarding stars of the day such as Terje Haakonsen, Daniel Franck, Peter Line, Jason Wordell and, “of course,” Tahoe-based standout Noah Salasnek.

Humphries learned to jib and jump after watching his first snowboard video, Mack Dawg Productions’ The Melt Down Project, when he was 7, courtesy photo

“They all had a measurable impact on the way I snowboard today,” he says.

Before long, Humphreys was competing in local park contests and improving at a rapid clip. He spent winters during high school at Waterville Academy in New Hampshire, where he connected with peers and got his first proper coach.

“The first day I saw him, you might say he was a little rough around the edges, maybe a bit unpolished,” says Bill Enos, who coached Humphreys at Waterville Academy starting at age 16. “He wore hip pads and an army hat with netting on the hill and we joked about it, but he came in and soaked up everything like a sponge, and worked as hard or harder than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

The guidance and discipline helped Humphreys advance from regional contests to larger national events, where he began to carve out a name for himself with each impressive performance.

“Bill’s coaching helped me become even more consistent and expanded my bag of tricks further than I ever could imagine,” says Humphreys, who won the first-ever U.S. Grand Prix slopestyle at Mt. Bachelor his senior year. That fall, he received a call from FLOW Snowboards, who signed him to a pro contract.

Tim Humphreys on Eagle’s Nest at Palisades Tahoe, photo by Jeff Engerbretson

“I was at a point where I was maybe going to have to go to college, but I knew I’d just cut class to go ride,” he says. “More school was the literal last thing I wanted to do, but up until that call, the plan was to defer for a year and hope for the best.”

By the following year he was a full-time professional, a reality that sank in after receiving a pay raise and gaining several other major sponsors. Meanwhile, he continued to collect contest winnings and travel the world to snowboard.     

Humphreys started spending time in Tahoe in 2007 and moved here in 2011, about the time he stepped away from the contest scene due to injuries. He gravitated to Tahoe for a variety of reasons, some typical, some not: “The variety of terrain, ample powder, airport proximity and that it was the least like Jersey of all the places I was considering.”

Living in Tahoe also exposed Humphreys to the backcountry, where he learned under the tutelage of friends like Hunter.

“We don’t usually let a lot of people in,” says Hunter, who had ample prior snowmobile experience. “But with Tim it worked out. You gain a lot of trust with a sled crew, and he brought a lot of good energy in, and he’d help others with their riding since he was so strong with tricks.”


Humphreys puts the finishing touches on a jump he spent two days building on Donner Summit, photo by Mike Burton

Embracing Change

The timing of Humphreys’ long career arc afforded him a master class in the shifty and often uncertain nature of the industry.

He spent his childhood years witnessing snowboarding’s meteoric rise in the 1990s, and locked onto a pro career during what most consider the golden era of the sport in the 2000s. He stayed relevant and ever adaptive through the smartphone and social media takeover, and today, snowboarding still fully pays the bills.

Humphreys says he appreciates how the Internet has helped push the sport forward and open it up, yet he also harkens back to the days before smartphones, when contests and video parts reigned supreme.

“I got to briefly taste the fruits of that era, and back then I didn’t have to do as much. I just had to be marketable and be good at snowboarding,” says Humphreys, who landed a role in the 2012 Standard Films movie 2112.

Sadly, he says, “Internet killed the video star after that.”

With online content taking over, the snowboarder with otherworldly riding skills and not much else to contribute became less viable.

“You had to have a lot more to offer and create more of your own content,” says Humphreys.   


‘Tech Support Tim’

This shift toward social media led him to team up with GoPro and become a wizard of short, punchy clips, which have been an integral part in sustaining his career. With more than 75,000 Instagram followers, his content is a mix of technical prowess and tamer “shredding with friends” footage where he can show his chill, sometimes goofy, personality, virtually all of it in his signature top-to-bottom mandarin orange kit.

In an ironic departure from the “spin to win” culture he grew up around, he found that his audience was looking more for relatability than fireworks.

Humphreys with the handplant, photo by Grant Gunderson

“The modern GoPro world that I work with now is dead opposite to the gnarly contest and video part scene,” he says. “Stuff I don’t even want to post because it’s super mellow ends up getting hundreds of thousands of views, and the technical stuff, people seem less interested in.”

However, he still had to stand out from the trend of everyone and their grannies strapping on helmet cameras, and he opted to show more of himself riding with a selfie stick in hand while throwing big tricks. If a switch 900 seems hard enough as is, add the challenge of balancing a steady camera shot on yourself while doing so.

Also, changes in the industry brought out the naysayers, who are keen to knock down a rider’s ways of finding success and earning a living via snowboarding. Romanek notes the odd way that snowboarding is perceived by the so-called “core” insiders, who might see Instagram promotion, or cruising the mountain with a selfie stick, as gimmicky. Yet few of those guys come close to having the skills of Humphreys. “Tim’s more core than people who think they’re core,” says Romanek.

Stacking GoPro clips are but one important element in Humphreys’ full repertoire, where being a Swiss Army knife is more valuable than a specialist. On top of still being able to do the same tricks he could do 10 years ago (as well as adding a few new ones), he’s handy with the techie stuff.

He builds his own computers and has an at-home editing bay. In the process he picked up the nickname “Tech Support Tim” for his ability to help friends with layman computer issues. He’s able to not only edit and release his own footage, but he can pick up additional work around photo editing, social media management and more.

“The computer building is half fun, half work. It’s a side hobby that supports the main career,” says Humphreys. “I chose to build my own edit bay because I knew it would be half the price, exactly what I need and it’s upgradeable.”

On top of that work, he’s an Ikon ambassador, part owner in Nanocraft CBD, works with his board sponsor Nidecker and a handful of others, has traveled with the beer company Samuel Adams for their promotional big air series, and last year filmed with Teton Gravity Research and for the motion picture film Weak Layers


Shredder at Heart

Despite having a bunch of jobs and commonly getting up at 4 a.m. to shovel, hike, and take photos and videos all day, then sit and edit deep into the evening, pro snowboarders will always be lazy bums to a percentage of the populace.

Humphreys acknowledges this unshakable perception. He recalls attending a snowboard event in Boston in the late aughts and ending up at a Celtics game with a chance to meet some of the team. He got to chatting with superstar Ray Allen, who asked him, “So you just smoke weed and snowboard?” Humphreys replied that it wasn’t that casual, and the physical sacrifice was all too real.

Tim Humphreys, left, and Tanner Rainville enjoy Bloody Marys after a day of skiing at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado, photo by Grant Gunderson

Case in point, Humphreys dislocated his elbow riding a quarterpipe during a contest at Mammoth this past spring. He virtually blacked out from the pain when it was time to set the elbow. “A big guy came in with gorilla arms and did it properly, so no surgery needed,” he says. The injury sidelined not only his riding, but his ability to work from a computer and edit videos.

It certainly sucked, but Humphreys is quick to shake off the setback like a veteran who knows he has many years of pro life remaining. He’s not one tiny bit worried about age. He balks at the idea that a post-30s career is not possible, and his former mentor agrees.

“I’m not surprised that he’s doing it at his level still, and I know his pure love for it will never stop,” says Enos, his youth coach.

Humphreys points out how now the focus is less on the teenybopper crowd, and the industry is wisely retooling itself to look at the 40-and-older demographic as a source of longevity and financial stability. He thanks Tahoe snowboarding icons such as Mike Basich and Jeremy Jones for being a driving force in helping that evolution.

He could have easily hung it up for the season after his elbow dislocation with nothing to prove. But given the Mariana Trench-deep base in the Sierra, Humphreys wasn’t about to let a wee elbow injury keep him down. By mid-June he was back on the hill and making the edits to prove it, with a cast on, sliding rails and hitting jumps at only a minorly subdued rate.

Having seen the game change a handful of times in his career, Humphreys is amped to see where it goes from here—although he might not care to predict where that may be, or what he may have to do to adapt. He’s having a blast getting as much out of it as he can, day by day. 

“There’s so much awesomeness around me now, I don’t want to stress about what it’s going to look like five to 10 years from now,” says Humphreys. “I’m kind of amazed that I’m here now.”

Dave Zook, now back in graduate school, lives in vicarious joy through riders like Tim Humphreys, who provide motivation and eternal stoke as the truest ambassadors of the sport and culture.

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