The Argentinian Snowboard Team Takes Over the Mammoth Lakes Crib

Oct 20, 2020

“They should have filmed us walking into this place,” says Martin Jaureguialzo, assistant coach for the Argentinian freestyle snowboard team, of the moment when he and the team first saw the Mammoth Lakes Crib.

“I shouted that I was going to get dibs on the best bed,” says the coach, who, on his social media platforms, has dropped the “guialzo,” and just goes by Martin Jaure. The 29-year-old stands a head taller than the three snowboarders he coaches, and his already wide grin grows as he tells the story. “I see the first room on the right, I grab the bed. Well, Matí [Matías Schmitt, an endearingly scruffy 27-year-old who competed in PyeongChang last year] yelled, ‘the bed next door is better!’”

Schmitt and Jaure are flanked by Federico Chiaradio (an 18-year-old World Cup competitor who sports a shy smile and a mop of curly hair) and Pedro Bidegain (21, who just joined the team this season). Fede and Pedro feel more comfortable speaking in Spanish, but their enthusiasm for the condo translates. 

Linking Up With the Mammoth Lakes Crib

Before linking up with The Crib, the foursome were scrambling to line up housing for the weeks leading up to the U.S. Freeski & Snowboard Grand Prix. Since February is summertime in Argentina, the team wanted to get a few weeks of on-the-snow training in before they competed at Mammoth Mountain in one of the top five (and also the longest-running) snowboarding competitions in the U.S.

“It was all hands on deck” trying to find a place for the snowboard team, said Jaure. After sending multiple emails to Airbnb properties and almost getting scammed on Craigslist, “we figured we’d just get a hostel for a week and then figure it out.” A week was less than the team was hoping for, but if it was all they could swing, it would have to do.

That is until Lara Kaylor, who runs the Mammoth Lakes Crib program sponsored by Mammoth Lakes Tourism, reached out about hosting the team at The Crib in the weeks leading up to the competition.

“We didn’t know if it was true,” admits Schmitt, slicing avocados for guacamole on a snowy evening in late February while water boils for yerba mate.

But thankfully The Crib would make their dreams of competing at the U.S. Freeski & Snowboard Grand Prix a reality.

Life at the Mammoth Lakes Crib

There’s a half-dismantled wax iron sitting on one of the kitchen counters that Jaure plans to fix after he puts a sardine-and-tomato quiche in the oven for dinner for the team.

There’s cardboard taped all over the floor and a contraption that looks like a bit like the lid of a coffin with a cut out window—Jaure’s special rig for waxing snowboards on top of kitchen counters.

The WiFi password is written on a tag for ski socks.

The team have definitely made themselves at home.

Around 7 p.m., another Fede stops by for mate and guacamole. This is Federico Romano, who, though not on the team, is featured in Schmitt’s series of Vimeo videos “Argentos in Mammoth” (Fede Chiaradio is also featured in these films, most of which begin with an attempted trick gone horribly awry).

Training in Mammoth Lakes

All three of the team members had previously spent time in Mammoth Lakes, sponsored by the Federación Argentina de Ski y Andinismo (Argentine Ski and Mountaineering Federation). Well, all except coach Jaure, who was initiated at the tail end of “Februburied,” Mammoth Lakes’ highest-recorded February on record.

When Jaure’s girlfriend came to visit, he recalls, “We were driving around and I realized, she probably doesn’t know all these piles of snow are actually… piles of snow!” The snow just doesn’t get Mammoth-style crazy in Argentina, says Jaure, who lives in the capital of Buenos Aires “where most people don’t have any idea what snowboarding is.”

Schmitt, born in Bariloche, adjacent to Argentina’s largest ski resort, says their season is only about three months, and that traveling overseas to train is the only way to go pro.

Which, of course, makes it disappointing when conditions don’t cooperate, which was the case at the U.S. Freeski & Snowboard Grand Prix.

But the point, says Schmitt, is just being in the mountains. “The weather was not great, but it was so fun, such a great couple days of riding.”

Off the Snow in Mammoth Lakes

And the group of four young Argentinians found plenty to enjoy, even during the storm cycles that kept them out of the park, said Jaure. Like meeting the New Zealand snowboard team at the Snowcreek Athletic Club for an impromptu game of basketball. Or playing their own Argentine version of racquetball (“None of us knew the rules, so we made them up!”). Or losing a curling tournament at John’s Pizza Works to a group of Mammoth Lakes locals. Or staying up too late at the Latin Night at Mammoth Rock ’n Bowl (“Who told you about that?” asked Schmitt when questioned).

“We’re very thankful for The Crib and all their sponsors for letting us come stay,” said Jaure, nodding to the fact that Mammoth Lakes Tourism did kind of take a chance letting four under-30 snowboarders have the run of the place for a couple of weeks. “We didn’t destroy the house at least!” he said with a laugh.

Jaure has a clear sense of satisfaction when it comes to how well he, Schmitt, Chiaradio and Bidegain “lived together, and how we were organized as a team.” Considering one can pretty much count the members of the Argentinian Snowboard Team on one hand, it’s a good thing they’re all so tight.

“It has been a work of years,” said Jaure of their camaraderie, “and I’m very proud of it.”

Sarah Rea

Sarah Rea has lived in the Sierra for 20 years (eight in Yosemite and seven so far in Mammoth Lakes), but has been eating cast iron skillet pancakes for most of her life. She learned how to make soap from bacon grease when she was four and has always loved picking wild berries. She thinks…

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