NERD | ANDRE BENOIT


Here’s the damn truth: No one snowboards as hard as Andre Benoit. If you could measure all the newtons of force that he has exerted and withstood while snowboarding over the last 17 years, you would have a large number of newtons and it wouldn’t mean that much to you. But if you could compare, those numbers wouldn’t lie. You would see that there is no rider on the planet as physically punishing (and as punished) as he is. Day after long day, run after run, he hammers relentlessly at the things in his path: jumps, jibs, cat-tracks, trees, banana bread. Nothing escapes.

And he stomps! Very heavily. In a unique way that I have seen few others even accidentally do. His back leg flexes so extremely that his knee almost hits the snow, but not in a crumpling way. Front 3s to cab 10s, Andre’s landings are a paradigm of reliability.

As an original Manboys from the Crapneto days, he’s one salty vet by now, but he rides with the fury of an up-and-commer. He treats his ACLs like his goggles. He’ll use them if they’re there, but I’ve seen him do just fine without. Often, you can yell at him from a board’s length away and he won’t hear you, because his music is cranked. This music is his fortress of solitude. If the source dies or is interrupted in anyway, that’s it, his laser focus is disrupted. He’s going home.

Andre’s not trying to sell you anything; he’s true blue. He needs no fame, no followers, no likes. He does have an Instagram account which he uses exclusively to call out his snowboarding friends for skiing, which they seem to do a lot, only because his photoshop skills dictate it.

This is a man who drinks milk through his nose, and squirts it out of his eye. He draws photorealistic pictures of JK Simmons. Oh yes, and he makes all of his own outerwear.

For the last five years, Andre has crafted his jackets and pants into existence from giant spools of industrial grade fabrics, using nothing but his bare hands and his brains (and sure, a few different machines). To help realize his intricate designs, he’s even constructed a lower body mannequin moulded after his own actual lower body. This thing is always squatting around in his workspace in a permanent “landing a jump” position, wearing whichever pants he’s currently working on. You have to see it to believe it.

By trade, he’s an iron worker. By life, he’s a snowboarding seamster.

 
Andre beniot
PHOTO | Russell Dalby
 

So how did you start making your own outerwear?

I couldn’t find outerwear that I liked, with good cuts and stuff, so I thought I’d give it a try and make it myself. I’m into hands-on work and art, and I was interested in designing something I could make.

So I took a pair of pants and I ripped them apart to get an idea of how they were actually made. Based on that, I drew a pattern that I could tweak how I wanted. For my first jacket, I did the same thing but I had to rip apart several different ones, to find parts that I liked.

How has it evolved since then?

Well, after that, I got a mannequin and made my mannequin legs. From there, I was able to start designing my own patterns from scratch. Experimenting with different materials, and rivets and snaps and stuff. I’ve gotten much better at putting the lining in. That was such a head-fuck in the beginning.

Future plans for massive expansion?

Not really, no. It’s all become something that I just really enjoy doing, like I look forward to it when I’m away at work. I’ve been asked before to make outerwear for other people, but I hope they were joking. I think they know how long it takes me to make each piece.

Every now and again, someone will notice my jacket or whatever, and they’ll ask me what brand it is. I like when that happens.

 
Andre front3 sm
Photo | Chris Witwicki
 

Top 5 Riders To Watch From the Blackcomb Catskinner Chair

Brian O’brien. This 63-year-old human will be in the park before you and shred until the end, when you’ve decided to head home for a diaper change. That, paired with his refined après skills, has given him level 5 legend status.

Jeremie Lafrance. Style is everything for this guy. He’s proven he’d rather do a lofty trick with sleepy style and land on his neck, then flail like an idiot and land on his board.

Jason Wexler. Snowboarding is a way for Jay to harness the power of his ADHD. You can tell he enjoys every moment on the hill. Not even flat light can slow him down.

Logan Short. Logan’s in a constant competition against the world, and he truly enjoys scaring himself. I’m pretty sure that’s how he’s acquired a ridiculous bag of tricks.

Robjn Taylor. His methodical riding over the years has made him annoyingly consistent. If you see him flail it’s because he was curious what it would feel like.

 

Top 5 Outerwear Must-Haves

Stiff fabric. Especially for pants. It just seems to sit better and have life, if that makes sense. Otherwise it feels like you’re wearing droopy curtains. I’ve been using Cordura, which has a dense, solid feel to it, and is ultra durable.

A low, square crotch. This gives you that cowboy, bull-riding look, for when you’re shredding around. The crotch has been my nemesis, I haven’t quite perfected it yet. Holden had this pretty dialled back in the day.

Jacket-pant integration. Sure, why not? Snap them together. It’ll keep your jacket from riding up, or your pants from falling down, and prevent snow from getting all up in there.

Extra inches. Longer sleeves help. No one deserves to have a sleeve ride up their arm just for innocently grabbing their board. Also, a bigger hood is nice. I’m a sucker for that moment when your hood pops up onto your head when you land.

Strategic pass pocket. I like to put an RFID pocket on my left arm cuff. Nothing ground breaking. It just beats having to get fresh with one of those gate robots, just to get on the chairlift.

 
By Robjn Taylor
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