At the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, Minnesota native and Burton Snowboard team member Mason Aguirre missed the podium in the halfpipe competition by less than a point. “At the time, maybe I was a little sour,” Aguirre says from his California home. “But in retrospect, I stomped my run and the whole U.S. team made the finals. It was a good day.” Now 22, Aguirre will cheer on the team in the 2010 games in British Columbia, Canada, while recovering from a shoulder injury.
He first stepped into a set of snowboard bindings when he was 6, making the move to pro riding just nine years later. “My first pro contest was a Vans Triple Crown event in Breckenridge, Colorado. I was 15 and in the halfpipe contest with all these dudes I had aspired to shred with,” he remembers. “I finished fifth and made a couple grand. I remember thinking I could make some money if I kept doing well.”
Aguirre attributes a large chunk of his success to his family, who fully supported his shredding ambitions, moving from Minnesota to California, where ski lifts are plentiful. “When I lived in Minnesota I was riding maybe two or three days a week at night on ice,” he says. “In California I was getting out of school early to ride for a couple hours and all day on the weekend.” Try finding a better after-school program than that.
If you need more proof that Aguirre has the coolest dad ever, you don’t need to look further than the skin on his back. “My dad is deathly afraid of needles,” he laughs. “But he wanted to go with me to get a tattoo. He got our last name tattooed in old English on his back from shoulder to shoulder—vato style. I was 17 and got the same script, but on my calf. It’s not as flamboyant.”
In the past five years, Aguirre’s collection of tattoos has grown to include a half sleeve of the Duluth, Minnesota, cityscape, done by the city’s own Jay Kettelhut at Anchor’s End Tattoo. Aguirre’s back bears a cross dedicated to the loss of a friend who was killed in a car accident. “I’m not the type of person to get fucked up and randomly say, ‘Dude, let’s go get some tattoos,’” Aguirre says. “I put thought into it. I make sure that it’s something that I’m going to want forever.” And with a schedule that includes traveling more than 200 days a year, Aguirre isn’t eager to waste time in the chair—or space on his skin.
While he isn’t entirely sure what his next piece will be, he knows what he doesn’t want. “I actually know people that were in the Olympics that have Olympic ring tattoos in color,” he chuckles. “I don’t want to knock anybody else’s tattoos, but you won’t find me getting any kind of corporate logo tattooed on my body.”