Pat Malendoski is a busy man. Besides trying to find time to ride, surf, golf, mountain bike, or hang out with his wife, he has a booming business designing and building pipes and parks for High Cascade Snowboard Camp and most of the larger snowboarding events. If you get used to riding a pipe or hitting jumps Malendoski's Planet Designs has built, there's no going back. You're spoiled and jaded-worthless, for all practical purposes. Sorta like riding Whistler everyday then moving to SoCal. It may be fun, but it's just not the same. What is it that make his pipes and parks so much better than most? This easy-going guy from Bend, Oregon, sat down with us so we could find out what's behind Super Pipes, snowcats, and the Olympics.
Q. What does your job entail?
My job is like a video game, except for all of the work involved. (5000-plus hours operating a snowcat, twelve months a year). Lately, most of my "jobs" have been centered around professional snowboarding events. Last year I was involved in thirteen different projects. So really, you could say that I'm a professional airport dweller.
Q. How did you start your business?
Originally Ross Peterson gave me the nudge to start operating snowcats. We were on a trip to New Zealand and we decided the only way to make a good park would be to learn to do it ourselves. After a few years of building parks and pipes locally in the Northwest, my friend and mentor, Chris Perkins, influenced my decision to establish Planet Design & Consulting, Inc. Since then, I've been on a routine of traveling internationally for events, camps, photo shoots, and consulting.
Q. What are the deciding factors for building parks and jumps? Do you ever have conflicts of interest, as in what you think is safe, or what will make a contest exciting to watch?
For contests, there are usually the stock venues like pipes, super pipes, big airs, and boardercross. We also do different types of quarterpipes, hips, and slopestyle events. Usually for a contest I'll provide the technical and creative direction, but everything is always tempered with the feedback of top level riders. Like for pipes, I'll talk to Ross Powers, Lael Gregory, and others to help fine tune. For boardercross I'll check with Seth Wescott and Ryan Neptune, and so on. Progression in our sport happens because everybody is getting better and that always keeps the pressure on me because what I build is going to have a direct affect on everyone's level of riding.
Do I ever have conflicts of interest? When people come to a professional event, there's a lot on the line for them. Their careers, money, health … so, yeah, I think everyone always expects things to be perfect. That, however, is a hard standard to keep up with sometimes because of all the variables and time constraints. Snow isn't wood and you can't order the weather, if you know what I mean.
Q. How has your style changed over the years?
Has my style changed? I don't know if it has. I've been able to learn more and more, so hopefully it's at least advanced. When I started operating I was riding a lot and whatever my brain was dreaming up, that was what I wanted to build. A three-year old nagging shoulder injury has put a kink in my riding, and if you're not riding with guts you can lose a bit of inspiration.
Q. What's your favorite event that you've done?
All the events seem so memorable, but the US Open last year went off really well-good weather and great snowboarding.
Q. What's the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job has to be riding a perfect pipe with my friends or hiking a fun jump. Also, my travels take me to places that I would've never seen or been able to experience.
Q. What's the toughest?
Work at some point is still work by definition. So in my case, I have combined one of my passions with work. There's a horrible trade-off if you can't find the balance. Don't let anything ruin your "sanctuary."
Q. How has the Super Dragon changed things?
The Super Dragon has greatly helped inspire and progress a new generation of snowboarders. It's amazing that a farmer (Doug Waugh-may he rest in peace) helped revolutionize an industry and a sport.
Q. What are your thoughts on the Olympics? Will you be building the pipe? Do you think the Super Dragon will affect judging, format, style of riding, anything?
Planet's services have been attained for the construction of the Olympic halfpipe venue. It was a very smart decision to allow the fifteen-foot Super Dragon to be used. The larger transition promotes progression.
Q. Where do you see freestyle snowboarding going?
Most of us are trying to be skateboarders on the snow, so I would bank on the continued shadowing of skating. The future's more rails and skater steez.
Q. What does the future hold for you?
Moving back to the beach. Surfing is my first love. Do you know of any good buys in San Diego?
Planet Design & Consulting, Inc. is expanding. I'm currently working to develop the consulting side of the business and bringing in fresh blood. Ryan Neptune is coming on to design boardercross courses, and Tonino Copene will be designing slopestyle and big air events. Jesse Bolling is Planet's newest operator, also handling many events. Ross Peterson's themediabrigade.com is building the new website planetsnowdesign.com, and a spin off of that site includes planetsnowtools.com.