Snowboard Iskola

Ten years ago, staff introductions in the High Cascade lodge at the start of summer brought Nirvana Ortanez and Andrew "AK" Kelly together. They became fast friends, and Soy Sauce Nation, a term coined by AK while working as a sales rep on the East Coast two years earlier, started to slowly and surely become something more.

Flash forward to 2024 and Soy Sauce Nation is where community is formed, an intersection of heritage, shared experience, and love of snowboarding. And what started as an idea that immediately clicked for so many people, has evolved into an annual event that brings a sense of belonging and being a part of something into beautiful realization.

AK and Nirvana brought Max Tokunaga into the SSN fold years ago and the triumvirate of snowboarding's finest launched Soy Sauce Nation Stir-Fry in 2022. Immediately, the community gathering was a can't-miss week of the season. It's grown every year since, a meaningful momentum that emphasizes the best things about snowboarding: finding a sense of belonging and riding with your friends (and making new ones, too).

This year's Stir-Fry went down during a spring snowstorm in Tahoe as the all-time crew collected at Boreal spent three days riding powder park. SSN just released a Stir-Fry sizzle reel featuring (in order of appearance) Luke Tokunaga, Raibu Katayama, Hiro Sun, Johnny Brady, Jetson Smitobol, Keyser Murphy, AK, Iris Pham, Alice Gong, Antonio Astillero, Nirvana Ortanez, Max Tokunaga,  Tania Anjali, Steve Lauder, and Russell Lee.

The SSN crew put it best.

"Your legacy - is our legacy. 

Stir-Fry starts with your decision to show up.

We define ourselves by common goals & aspirations. Most importantly Soy Sauce Nation is built upon shared-experiences. You called out of work, canceled plans, drove hours through terrible weather and flew from all over the world to be at Stir-Fry.

So here’s the truth - you didn’t just show up so you have meaning in your life, you showed up so others have meaning in their life. It’s the action of thinking of others that is at the core of how we define our community.

We are in this together.

People think America is a melting pot. In reality it’s more like a cobb salad where people pick around the things they don’t want or like. For us we rather opt for a classic Stir-Fry, the original meal that brings together a mix of ingredients into one harmonious dish and is always better when enjoyed with loved ones.

Our lives will constantly change. But our goal will always remain the same. Build a community, be kind, be grateful, be confident, see the world, and then go out and change it for the better.

We love you all so no matter where life takes you, make snowboarding a part of it.

We’ll see you next time.

- Soy Sauce Nation

In Loving Memory of Won Suh"

Filmed by Carlo Marasigan and Ted Borland. Edited by Ted Borland.

Read more about Soy Sauce Nation's history. In 2019, we spoke with Nirvana and AK for Layers in issue 32.1.