Pro snowboarder Ralph Backstrom has not strapped into his snowboard since April 3, 2017, when he took a dramatic, high-speed tumble down Verbier, Switzerland’s infamous Bec de Rosses slope. It was the final competition run of the season in that year’s Freeride World Tour and although Ralph didn’t know it at the time, that run would mark a major transition point in his life.
That same year, due a variety of reasons, Ralph—the 2013 Freeride World Tour champion and a two-time winner of the Verbier competition—lost his three highest-paying sponsors, The North Face, GoPro and Smith. “Once my sponsors were no longer paying the bills, I had to figure out what would,” Ralph said. So he figured it was time to switch gears, put his snowboard away for a bit while he focused on his next career move. In summer 2018, Ralph and ski racer Travis Ganong did something you might not expect from professional athletes: They opened Pacific Crest Coffee, a storefront coffee bar and small-batch roaster in Truckee, California.