By Dawne Belloise
Born and raised in Golden, Joey Weber says he grew up smashed between the Coors Brewery and the Jolly Rancher factory, which is why, he concludes, he likes crappy beer and has so many fake teeth as an adult. In Golden, he was a free-range child with a tight-knit clan of friends who would ride bikes from house to house throughout the neighborhoods, exploring the farmer canals which connected all their houses back then.
One of their favorite things to do was make miniature rafts and send them on their way down the canals. “We also had access to a private lake off Fifth Street, but it’s all dried up now,” he recalls and says sadly that it used to be the size of a football field. He would spend every day at the floating dock on that lake from fifth through seventh grades. “We’d pack a lunch, drinks and toys but mostly we’d push the dock out to the middle of the lake, throw out some cinderblock anchors and hang out there all day. It was the ‘90s and life was good working on the best sunburn you’d ever imagine with your best friends.”
He was 13 when his dad told Joey to get a job. He found one just down the street where he could ride his bike to work at a pet boarding business. “I let the pets out, fed them and played with them,” he recalls.
Joey didn’t care too much for high school. Mostly, he was interested in skateboarding. “I spent a lot of time skateboarding in front of strip malls in Arvada. I remember learning how to ollie, it was my turning point. I was so happy.” Joey always had a job throughout high school, at the pet boarding place, bussing at Outback Steakhouse for three years and working for a rock landscaping business.
He was introduced to snowboarding in ninth grade—“My friend’s dad took us to Vail, threw us onto the chairlift and said ‘follow me.’” Joey had spent so much time skateboarding that he picked it up and loved the snowsport immediately. “I was linking turns by the end of the first day. I knew it was something I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.” He graduated in 2001 from Arvada West High School and laughs, “I was so glad to be done.”
Joey tells that his dad was never a college pusher and basically, “I knew I’d be going into the workforce right away and entry level carpentry was going to be my start. I’m a fourth-generation carpenter.” He went looking for work around Cherry Creek. “I rolled up in my old beat-up Toyota pickup truck and said to a foreman, ‘I have my own truck, my own tools, and I know how to read a tape measure.’” He was told to show up the next day at 8 a.m. After three months, he left construction work for Planet Honda as a parts delivery driver.
On his last day at Planet Honda, Joey announced to his friend, “We need to move somewhere we can snowboard every day.”
“We scouted Steamboat and Telluride, and we decided on Crested Butte. We had a friend who we grew up with who moved here to go to the Academy.” And that friend was snowboarding every day, which sounded just about right to them. They drove from Golden to CB the weekend of August 25, 2001. “We pulled into CB South. I don’t know why we thought it was town, but we saw a house with a for rent sign and called the guy. There wasn’t a problem finding houses back then.”
Joey commuted back to Denver to work at his sister’s body shop during his first two months here, spending the weekdays there and returning to CB for the weekends. A friend of his dad’s introduced him to the owners of Flatiron Sports. “I walked in, told the manager I snowboarded and was hired on the spot because they needed a new snowboard guru,” and of course, Joey got his ski pass. It was October, and the mountain didn’t open until late November. He went looking for a night job and came across Lil’s Land and Sea. “I walked in, and the place was full of young, gorgeous women working there, and at the time I wasn’t even 20,” he grins. He started as a Friday night dishwasher which turned into five nights a week. “Those were the best days,” he remembers fondly.
Several years later and with lots of training, Joey was cooking the main meals at Lil’s. “My first winter here, I was working at Lil’s five nights a week and at Flatiron Sports five days a week. I worked two full-time jobs, but the cool thing about Flatiron was that you got a four-hour ski break every day. During busy or holiday times it might only be an hour, but most days you’d get at least a four-hour board break. So, I got to snowboard seven days a week just like I wanted. Working at Flatiron for 10 winters were the best days of my life. Everybody who got a job there was doing it because skiing or boarding was their passion. Oz and GJ… who could ask for better bosses? We skied hard and partied hard.”
As the winters went by, Joey was still working at Lil’s, full-time now in the summers since Flatiron was closed during that season. He spent his days exploring his surroundings, bagging peaks and, “Just seeing what we had in our backyard here.” In 2010, he wanted to switch things up and quit both Lil’s and Flatiron. Joey took a job building cabinets with Danny Byron. “I was ready to get back to my roots of being a carpenter, a woodworker. I grew up working with my dad and little woodworking projects and I thought this would be a rad way to get back into it.” He worked for Danny for two consecutive summers and in the winter of 2006, he started building splitboards, which were still in their infancy. Joey created his own company called “I Rip ‘em You Ride ‘em.” Realizing he could make more money building splitboards, he went full-time with it. In early January of 2010, he broke his ankle. “I’ve broken my left ankle twice and my right ankle once and every time was in front of the Eldo.”
Although he was still able to make splitboards, he had to spend a lot of time sitting after surgery. “I had a metal plate and nine screws in the ankle and they’re still there today. I was healing up and wanted to do something really epic in the snowboarding world. I stumbled across this Facebook page called Tailgate Alaska. Tailgate Alaska was a gathering of backcountry snowboarding enthusiasts. The gathering intermingled with a big-name backcountry Big Mountain snowboard competition event.”
So he bought a one-way ticket to Anchorage and rented a pickup truck camper. “I got halfway to Valdez, picked up this hitchhiker walking down the highway with skis strapped to his pack. I thought he was one of us. We almost killed each other. It turns out he was on serious drugs, like meth or PCP or something. We got into a scuffle with knives. Cops were called but the guy destroyed the camper. I went on to Tailgate Alaska after the police took the crazy guy away and I had the time of my life.”
He was hired to work at the event as staff facility manager for the next three years. Joey received free plane tickets and got in some heli time to ride the Chugach Mountains outside of Valdez. And he never again picked up any hitchhikers, “Except in CB,” he grins.
Joey left CB in the spring of 2013 when his then-girlfriend moved to the West Indies, and he followed. “We got a gig off the Mind My House website,” which connects homeowners and housesitters. Living on Bequia Island, Joey was also hired to remodel the kitchen of the house they were sitting. Those island days were filled with sailing, swimming and snorkeling. When the house sitting ended four months later, the couple went searching along the west coast for a new place to call home, but they landed back in Denver. He was doing small home remodels for a year there. “That’s where I really honed my tradesman skills.”
A year later, Joey moved to Port Townsend, Washington. “It’s really pretty, but it’s a retirement community. It was tough for me. I wanted to ride my bike and never met anyone to do that stuff with.” But he stayed for three years, getting a job with a concrete guy and then with a high-end custom home builder. “But I ended up leaving in 2017 and moved home to CB. I just wanted to come home. I really missed it here. I wanted to be with my Crested Butte family and nearer to my Denver family.” A year after returning in 2018, Joey started his own company, Weber Construction. “It’s been going really well, and I work with my best friend Jimmy Hensley every day.”
He married Tiff Simpson last May 2023. “She’s awesome and I’m so thankful I have her in my life. She’s a breath of fresh air. We love mountain biking and snowboarding together. We spend time a lot of time in the backcountry. We love throwing the bikes on the camper van and going on mountain bike trips.”
Joey feels, “This is my home. I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else, and I feel like I know it so intimately and it’s so comfortable. It’s the community, we’re all here together. You get to jump on the free bus to go snowboarding and say hi to everybody you know who are not going to work either. I love it. When I’m riding my bike or on a powder day, I have to say out loud, this is why we live here.”