Gaetan Chanut

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Gaetan Chanut

Home Mountain: Whistler/Blackcomb

Sponsors: Whistler/Blackcomb, SIMS Snowboards, Rusty Outerwear, Bula headwear, Axis Boardshops, Alterna Films, 8 Miles, Pow Gloves, Electric Goggles, Union Bindings, Nike boots, Cheatha Racks.

When you aren't shredding what are you up to? I am trying to make as much money as possible working as a project coordinator in high end home renovations so I can go back and focus on my snowboarding during shredding season.

What is the best perk of being a Wildcat?To live and be recognized as part of a movement that brings the fun back to snowboarding for what it is! Nowadays, the guys have grown in their wisdom but are still wild deep down. You can tame a wildcat but you can’t kill it!

Which 13/14 SIMS board do you prefer to ride? The X-Wedge with E-Board Technology!

What is your first memory of the SIMS brand? The original Switch Blade that I rode back in 1990. I was still skiing at the time but was thinking of doing both sports full time. I had a Black Snow at the time and I had a hard time doing edge-to-edge turns. One of my friends lent me his SIMS board for a run and it changed my life! Thanks bro!

What was the first trick you mastered? Frontside 360 Indy. I had massive homemade pants that covered my boots and dragged under my edges. The tabletop jumps were blocks of ice. The landings had big dips in them but you didn't really stomp your trick until you actually hit the up hill part. The style was a lot different then too, my game was to turn the first 270 degrees really fast then stall it so I could look back as long as possible until you had to do a quick shoulder twist and land. Poking the indy was forbidden as well. I took that technique to the wind lip on Blackcomb during my first winter there and sent it! Obviously going too big for how flat the landing was! Good times though!

Where is your favorite place to ride your SIMS board and why? My favorite place is Whistler and it's backcountry. The main reason is because that's where I live and I like to come home after riding. The main reason I live there is because I love the terrain: a lot of jumps, cliffs, pillows, tree runs, etc. A lot of it is accessible by chair lift or snowmobile. It's not a huge mission to go places and the conditions are usually pretty stable. Not many bad experiences with avalanches and stuff. The coastal snow is humid enough that it bonds to the older layer really fast. It may not stay fluffy for days on end but it is a snow you can stomp. It has great absorption. 6 to 12 inches of new snow is usually enough to go big as long as it isn’t straight ice underneath. Love it!

How many snowboarding related broken bones have you accumulated? Believe it or not, my only broken bone from snowboarding was a Fibia line fracture I got in Brighton, Utah. The snow is so light there and I tried to make a last minute turn in front of a small tree like I do back at home but this time I washed out and clipped it right in the shin. Small trees have to be respected! That one felt like a baseball bat! If you asked me how many times I was bruised or whiplashed from crashing in heavy snow back at home, it would be in the several hundreds. It's a trade off, I guess.

Are there any weird rituals you do before a big day in the backcountry? I'm not very superstitious but I do have my beliefs. If I litter in the backcountry, something is going to happen to me (nature karma). If I don't help shovel a jump, I'm going to crash all day on it. If I say last jump, I am putting my body on the line. There are also facts about backcountry riding I follow. Take a layer off when you get sweaty so you don't freeze after you stop. Force yourself to drink water because you will get tired early. Put on sunscreen so you don't look like a raccoon later. Wet gloves plays with your mind and makes you chicken shit. Avoid cotton if you can. Snacks are better then big meals. One beer on the way down is good but two is one too many. To complete the list, don't wander around by yourself or try anything stupid when it's time to leave. Nighttime is a cold monster!

There are also facts about backcountry riding that I follow. Take a layer off when you get sweaty so you don't freeze after you stop. Force yourself to drink water because you will get tired early. Apply sun screen so you don't look like a raccoon later. Wet gloves play with your mind and makes you a chicken shit. Avoid cotton if you can. Snacks are better then big meals. One beer on the way down is good but two is one too many! To complete the list, don't wander around by yourself or try anything stupid when it's time to leave. Night time is a cold monster!

You've been a pro snowboarder for a long time, what are the biggest changes you have seen in the industry in the past few years? The biggest changes in the industry I have seen in the last decade follows what can be seen in the rest of the world. The gap between people that make a lot of money and people that don’t is greater. There are a lot more riders as well. They learn the tricks early and want to get sponsored just as early. But with more to offer and more demand from sponsors, salary drops and fewer opportunities it’s really harder to get noticed. I tell the youngsters they need to stand out if they want any chance at it. They need to find their place in the industry or create one. The myth that pro snowboarders don't need to work hard is a definitive bust. Piercing the bubble takes lot of perseverance and commitment. Luck and good connections are very helpful too. Timing is key! If people are not ready for you, use patience. If you think you are better than everyone else entering contests, maybe you are. Be the full package and be a positive role model. The big pros are masters at it. Start practicing early; it will help you for the rest of your life in other endeavors. Snowboard careers are often shorter nowadays but if you truly love the sport, you will stay involved for a long time.

What is the snowboard scene like in BC? It’s definitely the snowboarding Hollywood of Canada. A lot of pros, sponsored riders and hardcore rippers. Everyone goes fast, everything gets tracked out faster and the secret spots don't stay secret for too long! People play hard but they work hard for it. Restaurants, bars and shops all need local shredders to operate. Rent is expensive so houses are usually crowded. Couches get a lot of use too. In order of priorities, people will spend money on their season pass, rent, sport equipment, booze and food. Notice how I put food last. Pubs and bars are all very popular. People don't sleep much in Whistler. They may use naps after riding and before work so they can do it all over again the next day. It's an intense schedule that most locals learn to master pretty quickly! I personally try to think I am too old for this but as soon I am in the presence of fun people in Whistler, it is easy to forget. Whistler keeps people young and that's what I love the most about it. The epic terrain and lots of snow does help a lot too!

What old school graphic should SIMS bring back?I think the best old school SIMS graphic of all time is the Switch Blade which was re-released a few years ago. Every time I went riding with it, people would give positive comments about it! I was also happy when they brought the Noah skate base graphic back. It was one of my personal favs from the early 90’s! It reminded me of how cutting edge SIMS was for snowboard graphics and shapes back in the day. Perhaps SIMS should bring back some of their old school skateboard graphics to remind people where SIMS originated. I really like the SIMS logo with the snake in the middle of the iconic oval with the wings. The snake makes the S and it’s out really to bite! Love that one!

What are your thoughts on having slopesytle in the Olympics? What trick do you think will win the Gold medal? Slopestyle is definitely at home in the Olympics. Multiple big airs and rails one after another…! How could you go wrong? I don’t know what tricks will take the gold but it will always be the combination of style, difficulty and amplitude that comes into play. Basically, it is who can spin the most, flip the most, go the biggest and keep everything under control while looking good doing it that will determine the winner. It definitely takes a true athlete to be competing at that level. In my opinion, you’re a winner just being in one of those competitions!

Bucket list location to ride your SIMS board? For anyone that hasn’t ridden the North West of Canada and the U.S. yet, it should be on top of the “to do” list! Particularly in the old growth forests and clear-cut areas! The heavier but still powdery snow piles up on every little bump forming mushroom pillows everywhere! You feel like you are a bunny in “Alice in Wonderland”! The goal is to catch air constantly! The good thing is that the snow absorbs the impacts so well that even flat landings are manageable. You can just charge and push your limits all the time! The heavier snow really helps making quick maneuvers when going fast so you can really play around and keep perfect control at the same time. I haven’t found any other playground more playful than this! On the other hand, any steep slopes with huge amounts of light powder will make you feel like you are in Heaven! The Rockies, the Alps and other places similar to those are where you want to go for that! You barely feel like you are touching the ground when you ride those conditions! It’s definitely a treat! We could argue forever on which one is the best all around but obviously steeper and colder mountains have their advantages. That big terrain comes with some dangers though so it is best to be well prepared in case all hell brakes loose! At the end of the day, it’s really a personal choice where you like riding the most. It’s also always fun to go somewhere different for a change. It makes you appreciate coming home to your favorite spots even more!