SPIN to WIN | Kael Hill
By Evan Rissi | Photos Liam Glass | Issue 8.2
If you’ve followed snowboarding in Canada for a while, you already know who Kael Hill is. Turning heads for years now, his control over a snowboard is almost as unparalleled as his colourful history. Not needing snow (or sometimes not even a board from this decade), Kael kind of does what he wants. From snowboarding just for money to jumping from longboard to longboard, Kael looks at snowboarding and life in the same way: spin to win.
What’s up Kael?
Just in Edmonton right now, working on a lot of different things. Working on some cool apps and interesting side projects, but also getting ready to dedicate my season to creating a fundraising mechanism to help less fortunate and unprivileged kids get new gear, passes, transportation, and training. Starting a web series called Stunts for Kids with Nitro to get it off the ground, along with some other partners. Also helping to open up a training facility at Silverstar.
How did this come about? Why?
For the most part, a lot of it has to do with the struggles that I put myself through trying to make snowboarding happen without funding. I also had some issues with abusive situations when I was a kid, so that’s the motivation for giving back there. For me, it’s an understanding that the snowboard industry is all about people that “take take take,” and don’t really give back.
Yeah, and create a job for yourself at the same time.
There’s that, too. A job with a sustainable income would be great. I don’t need millions; just keep food on the table.
Food for whom? What table?
That’s another thing. One of the main reasons to really create some financial success for myself is that my babies’ momma took my two kids away to Saskatchewan. It’s at the point where only a lawyer can fix it, so I need to be able to pay for that, as well as be able to have some financial stability at the same time.
So you have to prove to the lawyers and whoever else that you deserve to have your kids back in your life?
Exactly. The easiest way to do that is through actions, so I’ve spent massive amounts of effort on personal development and growth to be able to sculpt the life that I want to be living to get my kids in my life full time. There was a bunch of weird stuff as well, like her mom made me leave the hospital right when my first kid was born so I couldn’t sign the birth certificate. Like, I was out of town working, and she had a freak out after my second kid was born—who I’ve only met three of four times—and I came back and they had packed everything into a U-Haul. They stiff-armed me and drove away. It’s been a wild ride. They prevent contact on all avenues. Blocked on all social media, phone calls, mail… full black out.
"It’s a cool feeling to know that you’re pushing boundaries that no one else is doing, entering uncharted waters for the human species. I want to explore it like any great leader or seeker of truth.”
Is that legal?
I’m on my daughter’s birth certificate. They actually came after me for child support, but that kind of blew up in their face a little bit. It’s given me a chance to revamp myself and come back when the time is right. I would reconcile with them, and with the mom of my kids—not in a romantic way—but I’d love to be in my kids’ lives in a much bigger capacity.
What spurred you to do the snowless boarding?
A lot of it has been a natural progression. When I’m bored, I’ll use parking blocks to train balance, presses, and switch ups… I filmed a full part probably four years ago in Regina, but my friend lost the footage. So, the idea has been in the creative sphere for a long time now, just waiting for the stars to align for it to work. I knew it would stir up a lot attention; I always like to challenge how seriously people take themselves. CBC picked up on it and implied the climate change angle, so I just went with it.
Yeah, I saw you on the CBC message boards arguing with senior citizens. Also, the first thing I thought when I saw you doing that was that Mikey Leblanc did it on Jackass around the year 2000.
Yeah, he totally did. I’m in no way claiming that I did it first. He did the first one from a longboard and did a rail. He did it on an eight-set or something, so I wanted to take things to the next level and do it on a massive quad kink. From there, I’ve been getting creative visions of what to do next, and new ideas pop up and clarify over time. Like for example, going from a longboard to another longboard. Constantly breaking ground is awesome—whether it catches on or if no one else ever trys it—because it’s exploring stuff that’s never been done. It’s a cool feeling to know that you’re pushing boundaries that no one else is doing, entering uncharted waters for the human species. I want to explore it like any great leader or seeker of truth.
So you’re saying you hit rails on a snowboard without snow for world peace.
You bet [laughs], in some way. I’m not perfect, but I’ve really become inspired to take charge of my dreams and create big visions and projects to inspire other people.
No one is doing it a) because they don’t want to, or b) because they probably can’t. Do you ever trip on the fact that you can snowboard only a handful of times a year, yet still crush people at contests who ride more than 200 days?
There’s a reason why that happens, and that’s because of my mentality and my mind state. I have a very specific process that I go through. I have a trainer to help me with mixed martial arts, yoga, and visualizing me winning the contest. I’m pretty heavily invested in those contests, so I have to show up to win. You have to visualize and see it happening before it can.
I agree with that. But if I visualize for years that I’m going to win the Olympic 100 metre sprint and believe it, that doesn’t mean I’m going to win the Olympic 100 metre. You can’t deny that you have physical talents on a snowboard.
Well thank you, I would partially agree. There’s also a process that I use there: you can actually slow down your relative experience of time while experiencing anything by placing conscious thought points or moments of awareness. What that really means is… the only difference between a photograph and a motion picture is that a photo is one frame, whereas a motion picture is 24 frames played in succession.
"Like, I was out of town working, and she had a freak out after my second kid was born—who I’ve only met three of four times—and I came back and they had packed everything into a U-Haul. They stiff-armed me and drove away. It’s been a wild ride.”
Most people experience a trick as a picture: super quick, they barely remember it. The more moments of awareness you can have in the process of doing the trick, your perception of time will be much slower. For me, if I’m gonna try, say, a Frontside 270 Switch Frontboard to Pretzel Out, which requires directional rotation change, it might look different to me than anyone else. I’m going to have an awareness of breathing in and out and relaxing, how many breaths elapse while on the rail, and being totally conscious of breaking down the trick step-by-step intuitively to make sure I’ve got it mapped out correctly. When you look at that whole thought process, and the perceptive ability to be aware of multiple thought processes simultaneously, it allows me to do technical tricks people might not have seen before. Once I’ve broken it down with my process, I have assurance 100 per cent to know and believe that I can do it. Which really relates to something else I’m passionate about: mentorship in snowboarding. A more martial arts-related way to transfer the idea of knowledge, how one can choose to consciously take a path of progression and map out strategies to make sure they achieve their goals.
So how many times have you done acid?
Uhmm, I don’t know. I’ve done it so many times I literally can’t give you a solid answer on that. I’ve found that LSD or other conscious-extending drugs/medicines have such a different effect with certain doses. Last year I micro-dosed for a competition and it was all positive, I got 2nd place.
But, did you visualize winning? Or getting 2nd place?
Last year I think I won money at 10 out of 12 contests… I think I won money eight in a row. Things happen during the process, like you might go against your intuition due to fear or something else, and you might shift into a parallel reality where you get a lower placing. I still haven’t followed my process perfectly yet. I see that as a direct correlation to the personal growth I’m going through right now, so I have patience for next year that it all comes together and I’m sure it’ll lead me to the top of the podium.
I’m sure it’ll happen, too, but you’re leaving out a massive factor from this equation: it’s a competition, and it’s not always about you. There are other people that might be having a better day, or just land more shit.
I also have a process to get inside people's’ heads. I make eye contact with everyone when I meet them, and do yoga, and lots of other things to psyche them out. A lot of the stuff is pretty lame, but it’s what I need to do to win. I don’t get to snowboard nearly as much as the other guys, so I have to adapt and maybe do that extra bit.
Okay. Any shout-outs?
Nitro, Jablonski Marketing, Rockchild, yellowblue Eco Tech, Sandbox, Real Time business consulting, One Dollar One Movement (ODOM).