RIPPING | GABRIEL JACQUES
Interview by Max Trudel Photos by Renrob Gabriel Jacques Age | 25 Place | L’Ange-Gardien, QC Sponsors | Bataleon snowboards, Dragon, Vans,...
Blindspot is out! And we caught up with the best person we could think of, Joseph Roby, to give us the inside scoop of what it’s like to work with the Blindspot crew.
Behind The Scenes, by Joseph Roby
I have only been apart of a few trips during my short experience documenting snowboarding. As a photographer, a fan, a human, this particular trip will remain as one of the most memorable.
If you’re reading this, you already know about infinite street terrain and consistent snow in Quebec. And there’s also a good chance you’re not reading to be told (again) that snowboarding is all about fun and style. You can scroll your feed to see that. Or better yet, hit the slopes yourself.
What you might be here for is the inside knowledge. You probably read the captions on social media, even the long ones. You just want to know the story. How it all went down. Something to tell your friends. To learn something about a rider you look up to. Hopefully, you’ll read something here you couldn’t find anywhere else.
This is my experience taking these photographs. Two weeks with some of my favourite riders. See how Louif Paradis is constantly challenging himself to look at his surroundings differently, and how he brings others along for the ride. How Sam Taxwood will accept every challenge tossed his way. And how Mark Wilson comes back from an injury with the same burning passion for snowboarding. Anyways. Hopefully, maybe, you’ll learn something.
Louif Paradis, Frontside Creeper, Frontside 180 Out
Louif has always been a reference, a trendsetter, he has always looked ahead of his time. From his patent Backside 270 to Fakie, to perfecting natty speed, a good guess would be the next big thing will be hitting street featuress into hill bombing. By hill bomb, I mean the turns you get as a reward for landing your trick, a victory slash. This after-slash is known in the backcountry, it’s different in the streets. Like the GX1000 crew in skateboarding, the runout can be more impressive than the trick itself. You can be hypnotized by the satisfaction of watching a guy going crazy fast down a hill. This is what Lou has managed to do in recent years, and I’m sure this will continue to blow minds and influence people in the future. Hitting a street spot that lands in a steep powder slope. Isn’t that the best of both worlds? The feeling of snow lifting when you smash your tail into powder, riding triumphantly out of a white cloud? Isn’t it the reason we all snowboard? Of course, it will take time and effort to find the perfect spot. In the end, it’s worth it. Although everyone has their own vision, we sure appreciate the way Louif sees things.
This creeper to drop reflects this idea well. And it almost feels like a cutback on a wave. Going up the face, opening the shoulders, landing switch and riding down a steep powder hill, all in one beautiful motion.
Sam Taxwood, Frontside 50-50 to Wallride
This tunnel was built in 1930. Now derelict, it lies beneath the whole upper part of Quebec City and spans 1.6 kilometres. Its main purpose was to allow travellers from around the world to travel from Quebec City to Montreal during the winter. People were arriving in Quebec City by ship but couldn’t make it to Montreal because of the ice.
In our particular case, it was once again used by an international traveller, and like a train, there was no way of stopping him.
Nowadays, if you’re crossing the tunnel you might run into dirty needles and other weird stuff. Louif told us a story that one time, he biked through it at night with a friend in the summer. They went from a bar on the riverside to a strip club on the city side. The light at the end of the tunnel can be a heavy source of motivation. I’ve been driving by this spot for a long time now, and I couldn’t wait for someone to hit it.
Sam took on the challenge and dealt with it in three tries. Although, the journey to the first attempt was a long one. Mammouth Durette hit this spot earlier in the winter, thanks to him there was already a transition. Unfortunately, it was on the left wall and we had to move it to the right-hand wall. I know this will sting for Mammouth since he didn’t land his trick after a two-day battle.
Mark Wilson, 50-50 to Boardslide
As you know, there were three riders on this trip, and everybody took turns having their “own day.” That’s how it goes, to make sure everyone gets footage and photos in the allotted period of time.
We started that morning not really knowing what to expect. Like, pretty much every day, when I think about it. But to put things in perspective, the next two photographs were taken the same day. This day was Mark’s, and we went to scope in a little town 45 minutes away from Quebec City.
This region is called Beauce but should be known as the “Land of Kinks.” Geographically, all the villages in this region were built along the river, most of the urban infrastructure stands on a hill. That whole “river in the city” thing tends to be a great factor for the number of street features available when you’re looking for new places to snowboard.
Mark’s original idea for this feature 50-50 to back lip, which is fucking gnarly, see how close that fence is? In the end, it was deemed almost impossible to get your tail past the fence in order to get into Backside Lip position. And the thought of catching and flying onto his back made no sense after coming off a serious back injury.
But man, this 50-50 to boardslide felt good. And it was another trick in the bag for what was about to be a fully stacked two weeks.
Louif Paradis, Backside 270 to Fakie
As a fan, it’s hard not to get excited when you get the call. Knowing you’ll be working with your favourite riders. I’d say my biggest fan-out moment on this trip witnessing Lou doing a Backside 270 to Fakie. It’s the guy doing the trick, (to quote Jon Stark). Such a crazy feeling to realize this was going down. “I don’t want to claim anything,” Louif says, “but I got something in mind.” To be honest, I didn’t even leave the car when the guys first went on to scope this spot.
An abandoned house, right on the side of the regional road. I later came to the conclusion that this house was deserted due to spring floods, which are super bad in this particular town when the snow melts.
We had just come from hitting Mark’s kinked rail, it was getting late and I felt like the guys would call it off. Well, they didn’t, and the rest is history. I feel very lucky to have been a part of it. Thanks to Louif for giving it one more try for the fisheye, we were all pretty stoked.
Waiting around figuring out how and when your day will start is common for snowboard trips. And 100 per cent of the time, you don’t know how and when it’s going to end. It’s constantly unexpected and we wouldn’t change it for the world.
Sam Taxwood, Switch Frontside Wallride to Boardslide
To talk about this trick I need to tell you how the day went down. It was on the last day of our two weeks. I had a 6 p.m. flight to Vancouver that evening. Everyone was pretty satisfied with the trip so far and everyone had a bunch of tricks in the bag. So, we were taking it a little slower, and these guys didn’t plan to get started until the afternoon. Kind of late, so I figured I’d have time to go shoot with another crew earlier in downtown Quebec City. Phil Jacques was riding this gnarly spot. So, I got there around 10:30 a.m. We shovelled, and shovelled, and waited for everything to set. I was looking at the time, and it was now 2 p.m. or something. Phil strapped in, hit it, and landed it first try. I had my photo.
Right away, I checked in with Sam and Louif to see where they were at. Sam had given this wall to rail a couple tries already but wasn’t sure if it was really going to work. They were 30 minutes away from where I was, and I had my flight in mind… Fuck it, let’s go. Got there around 3 p.m/, He had just landed Backside Wallride to Frontboard right before I got there. And I arrived just in time for the first switch-to-switch attempt. Boom, 3:45 p.m., we’re done.
There were so many kids near the school watching. One, in particular, was there with his father, this kid was a super fan of snowboarding and of Sam’s riding. They were waiting patiently for him to land before asking for his autograph. It was such a feel-good moment. They took pictures, Sam signed the kid’s board and everyone was stoked. He later told me how glad he was that I was able to make it in time. At one point, he wasn’t even sure if this would go down, but when everyone shows you how bad they want you to get it, it’s easy to get motivated.
I got home around 4:15 p.m., packed my bags while my girlfriend gave me the angry look for being so late, and made my flight just in time. Is it a cliché to say “best trip ever?” Fuck it. Best. Trip. Ever.