ANDREW BURNS INTERVIEW | AGAINST ALL ODDS
By Rob Lemay | Photos [o] Ben Girardi Andrew Burns. That name goes hand in hand within Canadian snowboarding. It’s one that...
In my experience, there are few things in life I refer to as “BANGER. The house Raman at Kuma’s Restaurant in Tofino—BANGER. My girlfriend’s ass, BANGER.
This past season with the Manboys was the most epic we have had. But specifically that one fairly normal day in a fairly normal zone in Revelstoke—extra BANGER. (Take note at my consistent usage of the capital letters, a sign of high PUNCTUATION!)
In all my years of documenting snowboarding, I have never experienced anything like that day. Due to a few morning mishaps, vibes were not exceptionally high. Following the first stomp and cheers from the boys, the tide changed. In fact, the tide changed for the movie as a whole. We went from having a great little snowboard edit with some decent clips to something we were genuinely proud of showcasing. Enders were landed, the biggest Method I’ve ever filmed was stomped, when the dusting of snow settled my camera documented 15 keepers. This was the first time I felt complete anxiety about the importance of returning to the hotel and doing a triple backup on my cards as soon as humanly possible.
Enough ramble, read on to hear all about this day from the Manboys themselves. — Nate Laverty, Director, Filmer, Editor
Photos by Darcy Bacha
Mark Sollors | Chris Rasman | Jody Wachniak | Matt Belzile | Rusty Ockenden | Craig McMorris
March 11th, 2016
Mark: We were in Revelstoke for a few days. We had jumps built, and it was greybird and snowing for days. It just wasn’t working. Then we woke up to this blue day, and we’re like, “If we’re going to land anything, today has to be the day.”
Craig: It’s two hours from door to sledland, on the gnarliest washboard road. Shitty. Especially when you’re doing that five days in a row and you’re not getting any shots.
Jody: We’d put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make an A-grade movie that stood out and we’re trying to get clips. It was seriously stressful at this point. That day, driving up to the spot, to unload sleds and we got stuck in that mud bog.
Matt: By we, you mean me.
Chris: Matt hadn’t been up to our zone yet. He just arrived from Baker. We had to drive through a sketchy mud bog at the top of the trail. We warned Matt on the radio, because he loves his off-roading shit so much.
Rusty: The loggers told us, “There’s a stick in the mud with a flag on it, go to the right of that or you’re not going to make it.” We all knew.
Chris: Matt’s like, “Ah, fuck it.” and goes dead centre. He was up to his doors in mud, just flooring it, and you just see rocks and mud and everything stuck. It was the worst. We’re all just looking at each other, like, “Oh, no!”
Mark: The stress was high. We were all on edge. So pissed off.
Rusty: We were ready to just leave him there.
Matt: If it weren’t for our photographer, Darcy Bacha, and his winch, my truck would still be on the road.
Craig: I would have just lit it on fire, and filed an insurance claim.
Chris: It really didn’t take that long, maybe a half-hour setback. Not that big of a deal. From there we didn’t stop until we got to the Lake. It was go, go, go. We took our trail in, and it was blue. Stoked. But we had no idea how long the weather would last. Went to the jump Rusty and I built, and got it ready. Figured we’d session that first. Mark and Craig had more work to do on their jump.
Chris: Our jump was totally good to go except for doing a couple sideslips. I knew because of the type of jump it was, I just wanted a big trick. I wanted to get a Double Rodeo on it and Rusty knew he wanted a Backside 1080, so there wasn’t really any question.
Craig: I wish I would have saw Rusty and Rasman, because Rasman’s Double Backside Rodeo… I’ve never seen anybody do it like that. It’s so crazy looking. I’d love to see that in person, but I heard it.
Rusty: Everything just seemed to look good for a Backside 10 for me. So I decided to try that, and I hadn’t done a Back 10 in two years or something. It’s funny, kids in the park, they’ll do 10s every run. And I know how many Backside 10s I’ve done in my life because every single one of them was filmed. I got that third try, and after that I didn’t snowboard for the rest of the day.
Chris: We’re here with the whole crew, we wanted to make sure everyone gets shots. Rusty and I agreed that if we got the tricks that we wanted, we’d let the other guys hit it. Sure enough, Rusty got his within three tries, and I got mine within four or five tries. And then, yup, Jody, Belzile, get up here. You guys get a trick on it while it’s still blue out.
Jody: Yeah, I hit it, with a nightmare landing, but I had just got back from a rail trip and had zero backcountry shots. Didn’t have a successful rail trip either because it was raining the whole time, and then the next day would be -30°C. So, I was already pissed off how my season was going.
Matt: Yeah, Jody did not give a fuck.
Jody: I’m like, whatever. I’m getting a Backside 720 on this stupid jump.
Chris: It’s 11a.m. and we’re pretty much done. Mark and Craig are still working on their jump; they’re hearing cheers. On the other side of the lake, our screams are echoing. So they’re finishing their jump, and they know shit’s gone down.
Mark: We were all on the same radio channels. We had our radio sitting up right next to where we were shoveling, and we could hear them communicating. “Okay, Rusty dropping in.” We would stop and just listen. Every now and then you would hear this, “Oh, yeah! Oh my God!” way in the distance and you’re like, “Yeah! Somebody landed.”
Jody: Because we had both filmers, it was little bit tense. We were only supposed to have a two-hour window of weather. Everyone’s really keen to get one clip under their belt. Then Matt and Rasman were all, “Dude, get this before they kill us!” And that’s why when I land everyone’s so excited. Kind of excited that I got a clip and that Rasman and Rusty just destroyed this jump, but they’re more excited we wouldn’t get in trouble by Craig and Mark.
Mark: I don’t think people understand how fickle the weather is. To have cold temperatures, good snow, and no wind. Having those line up, it doesn’t happen very often. You look at some people’s video parts, and they’ve actually filmed them in maybe one week in March, and the rest of the season is spent and chasing.
Chris: We ripped over there because Mark and Craig were being all antsy. I think we got there faster than they thought we could. They hadn’t finished their in-runs runs yet. “How much longer are you guys going to be?”
“At least 15, 20 minutes?”
And Jody’s like, “Well, I have a step down that I have ready, so I’m going to hit that.”
Jody: Oh yeah, so I had my step down, and I got a Back 1 first try and Cab 3 first try—super happy, because I got two tricks and I’d didn’t think I would land either of them. I was like, yes, finally, I have three clips. In an hour!
Mark: Yeah, I think we were definitely in a zone. We had spent so much time trying to get things going, and it just didn’t work. We didn’t expect to have a full blue day. We didn’t know how long it was going to last.
Craig: We didn’t know, “Is this jump even going to work? Is this even going to worth hitting?” Mark drops in and does a front 3 and it was sick, stomps it, it’s on. And I was behind him.
Mark: Craig went to town. I mean, I know Craig is a great snowboarder. He’s proven that over and over, but man, the tricks he has, and just how well he was riding on that jump, was so fun to watch.
Craig: It was just the craziest relief when I landed my Front 10 Double. I was like, “Oh, shit, I can snowboard. I can land in powder.” Telling myself it’s easy. Just do it.
Craig: Then Mark tried a Front 10, but he landed a Front 9 double by mistake. It was so sick. That’s in his part.
Mark: Then I went back up to try to do the Front 10 Double again. I fully committed, kind of over-spun, and I landed like 90° and smashed my face into my knee.
Jody: Mark’s knee smacks him in the face, and he just yells, “I think I broke my jaw!” Then the vibes went down. We’re like, “Oh my God, we’re far out here. Mark just kneed himself in the face and is just sitting there like a cannonball.”
Mark: Oh, man. Thank God for mouth guards. That was one of the first times in a long time landing in a hot tub, my face went straight into my knee. So thankful I had a mouth guard in. Could have been so much worse.
Craig: Then I tried a Frontside Double “Toe-deo” Rodeo. That trick, I was like, “Ah, shit. I don’t know if I’m going to land this.” It just doesn’t come around properly. It’s kind of awkward.
Matt: Craig did a Front Double Rodeo off the toes, and we were all like, “What the fuck was that?
Jody: Some kind of flying saucer trick? I didn’t even know what it was at the time, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. In our movie, he’s like, “What was that all about?” So sick.
Mark: I guinea’d it with the Front 3 and I just made the landing. I took that slam and I kind of chilled for a little bit. Then I was feeling good, but I wasn’t ready to try the 10 again; there was a hole now where I would have drifted. I forget who it was, but it was probably Jody saying, “Dude, you can Front 3 the hell out of that thing.” They kind of just got me stoked to do a stock Front 3 and I came into it and I just tried to pop as much as I could.
Jody: I was like, Mark, just do a Front 3! You don’t get paid to do Front 10s, you get paid to Front 3s. You’re the best at them, you’ve got the best style. Do a Front 3 Indy! That’s what everyone wants to see.
Matt: In real life, Mark went so big that it looked like he was just going to land on the lake.
Jody: From our angle where we were all posted up. I was like, oh no, this is where Mark dies.
Chris: We were all just losing it. It was the best thing we saw all day, for sure.
Craig: The sickest Front 3 I’ve ever seen in my whole life. The greatest. He just kept going up. Not even his hair is moving in the wind. Like the Mona Lisa. Perfect.
Mark: It’s fun doing tricks that are comfortable and getting an overwhelming response of people being stoked.
Craig: I really wanted to do a Triple Wildcat this year, and I kind of looked at it, “Maybe that will work.” I’m going to try a Double Wildcat first. What had happened is, I came in, and kind of was on an edge when I took off. On a Wildcat you want to be flat-based. I did one Wildcat, and in the second. I could feel myself starting to go back 180, and I was like, “Oh, fuck, I’m going to catch my heel edge so hard.” I just arched my back and put my switch nose down, and then I was riding away. I was like …
Jody: Craig just twisted his shoulder and then sniped the landing rode away. Then just pretty much fell into the snow, freaking out he just got three hammers on this jump.
Craig: This is insane! Before that, I was watching Instagram, and Alek Oestreng did that exact same trick on a park jump, thinking, “That trick doesn’t make any sense.” Then I landed it by accident. It was inception. In my subconscious. I fell asleep to it and then I woke up and I could do it. Never done one in my life. It’s all luck. Everything in life is luck.
Chris: Then Matt hit his jump. Matt hit it I think two or three times, and then I was like, “Can I hit this with you, too?” Because at this point we watched Craig and Mark get a bunch of tricks Rusty and I have been standing around. I’m hitting this with you. I was all fired up, and I hit it once, and got that Switch Backside 180. Then immediately after, Matt landed his Frontside 7.
Craig: Belzile did a really rad Frontside 7. Everybody has shots at this point. Now we’re just, “What the hell? We just filmed our entire video in one freaking morning.”
Craig: I had built a jump a little bit further up the gully, a step-down thing. Sollors had seen something he kind of wanted to do, so we ripped over there while Belzile and Jody were riding. I tomahawked, then I did a Cab 5 and landed that. I was super stoked to hit two jumps in one day. Pretty rare.
Jody: Mark’s feature, when he was building it, all of us thought he was going to land in this one zone, which would have still been really sick. Then he was on the top and threw a snowball where he wanted to land, and we were all like, “Holy shit. That’s a banger!” So we all kind of started freaking out again.
Craig: Sollors’ Method. He built the run-in, and it wasn’t fast enough. I’m kind of lazy and I might have just tried it anyways, but he really knows what’s up. He built some speed humps and made it work properly. You’ve got to be 110 per cent sure you’re going to have the right speed on this kind of stuff. That was really cool. I learned a lot riding with him.
Matt: Mark’s Method. Yeah, it was heavy. It was so big.
Craig: Massive Method through the trees. That was super sick. He was pretty nervous about
that. It’s scary when you’re up there, and you’re just like, “Holy shit, here we go. This is going to be really big and scary. I’m going to go for it.” He got that shot.
Chris: I know people always say that film doesn’t do shots justice, but film does really not do justice for this one. He was falling out of the sky, into a tiny little landing, it was fucking nuts.
Rusty: Yeah, I strapped on my board three times out there. I didn’t actually have a snowmobile, mine was broken. So not only was I shuttling people around on their snowmobiles all day, but at the end of the day, everyone was all, “Let’s go film snowmobiling!” And they’re all like ripping around and I was just lying on the lake. Just freezing my ass off for like an hour, dude. Thinking, I hope they come back for me?
Rusty: I just thought the day was pretty special, Anto wasn’t there, but other than that we had the whole crew and that was a rare experience for us to have everyone together. I had been keeping track of footage all season and after that day, it was like, we have a fucking movie.
Mark: That was so fun, because it’s not often that all of my friends are in the backcountry at the same time. Every jump that went down, you had your friends to ride up to when you landed your trick, all so excited. It goes a long way when it’s your best friends are cheering you on.
Rusty: People don’t really admit it because everyone pretends to be modest and humble, but you want your part to stand out. You want to do better than other people, and anyone who says otherwise is giving you a load of shit. But with us, we care about the project as a whole. When people say “the Manboys,” you feel like that’s you, no matter which person in the crew you are. We’re intertwined. When we do good as a whole it’s good for all of us, you know? That attitude makes the project better, too. When people are looking out for each other and want each other to do well, that helps a lot.
Mark: At the end of that day, there’s a photo of all of us on our sleds looking over Revelstoke Valley. We were out of energy. We were burnt. We were just enjoying the moment and the stress was gone. We were all smiles, just chilling. I wouldn’t have wanted to be there without those guys. That was my favourite day in the backcountry I’ve ever had. That’s going on a number of years.
Craig: That was the best. Everybody hit a bunch of features. Everybody had shots. Everybody was really stoked. It stayed sunny the whole day, which rarely ever happens. It was the perfect storm. A gnarly day. It’s so funny how you’re so bummed one day and then the next day you’re like, “Oh, this is really fun.” It keeps you coming back. And at the bar that night Fishbowls were on special. They’re quadruples in a fishbowl. Pretty self-explanatory. Craziest drinks ever. Red Bull, vodka, blue food colouring, and Nerds around the outside of the bowl. You’ll have Type II juvenile diabetes if you drink more than one of these, which we all did.
Mark: My dad always said, “Luck is a combination of preparation and opportunity.” I think that day in Revelstoke we were prepared because we had jumps ready, we were in a right state of mind, and the opportunity of that one sunny day presented itself, and we took advantage of it.
All photos Darcy Bacha, Revelstoke BC.