PSYCH HACK | MIKE CICCARELLI
By William Fraser, MC Mikey Ciccarelli was a contest guru and former Team Canada athlete who recently became a backcountry master. In...
Keenan Filmer had a hell of a season last year, putting down hammers and stepping to lines and natural features. Keenan’s riding is big, smooth, and energetic, and he makes tricks his own. No grabs, pokes, and ballsy trick selection give this edit merit, but it’s Keenan’s style that really makes it shine. The dude just looks good on a snowboard. We caught up with Keenan to get the lowdown on his season, and get a glimpse into the filming of a must-watch part. Check the edit then read on to get it straight from the man himself.
By David MacKinnon, photos by Justin Kious
You filmed with Ryan Paterson all year and he recently said you’re one of the best snowboarders ever, but I’ve heard that you suck. What’s up with that?
Ha! That’s real nice of Ryan– I look up to his boarding a lot, he’s such a powerful little man. It was sweet getting to ride from him and he’s been out there for a while so I learned a lot from him. As for sucking, it says it on my gloves so it can’t be a lie. I mean, it’s printed.
I feel like getting a Salmon Arms pro model can be a gift and a curse.
Oh 100% man! Those days when you wake up feeling not the best, and you look down at your thumb and it reminds you that you suck… you’re like ‘Oh, nice.’ But at the same time you look at your other thumb and that’s pretty cool. It’s bittersweet!
Last year you and Ryan were repeat customers in one of your filmer Dave Craig’s zones. What’s it like spending so much time in one zone, day one versus end of the season?
We definitely spent most of our time close to Dave’s house. It was my first season meeting him really, which was awesome, and he knows his area so well. I’d never been boarding around there so at the start of the year it felt like a lot of riding by stuff and thinking ‘Oh that’s kind of cool,’ but already having a plan and just riding by kind of thing. But every day you drive by you have another look at it, and you start scheming ideas. Then by the end of the year a lot of them had come to life.
And with your sledding you’re at that point where the world is just opening up. What’s that process been like, and what are you looking for now when you’re out there?
Getting into it was a battle, for sure. Your first two seasons are almost a write-off, just learning how to ride the thing. I’m super grateful for Geoff Brown, being patient and taking me out for the first three years. As for what I’m looking for now, just start going a bit further, start looking for more obstacles. Spending more time out there you start to realize what’s possible, and opening your eyes to other things. I used to always just be looking for landings for jumps, all season. Now I’m trying to get more into the freeriding style, go faster. More lines stuff.
I was actually surprised how many of your shots are lines. If there are two camps in freeriding, with one looking to navigate down the gnarliest thing possible and the other looking for flow and speed and freestyle features, where would you put yourself?
Definitely flow freestyle. I like adventure boarding but I’m not looking to bring a harness and rope, I don’t care about that. I’d rather just find some fun, flowy lines with a natty popper at the end. That’s what I want to start riding more of.
Do you look at that kind of riding and think of tricks you could bring to it?
It’s hard! This was my first time filming backcountry for a whole season, first time really riding lines. You watch video parts online and you’re like ‘Oh that guy just did a Back 3 off that? I would have done a 7, I would have done blah-blah-blah!’ But then you get up there and it’s a different ball game, like you just want to survive. And then with down-facing lips and everything, you just want to be really confident on your tricks– you don’t want to tomahawk 200 feet. It’s harder than it looks on video for sure. But I’ve got some tricks in my head that I’ve been trying and I would love to put down, but for goals basically it’s start riding more lines and ride them faster.
That Switch Back 3 was super dope. Can you tell me about that trick?
The butter one? I was super hyped on that actually. I just saw this little roller and patted down a take-off a little bit, but it was one of those super classic days where it was beautiful when we got there but as soon as we get up the weather turns to shit. So yeah, I patted down the lip and then was like ‘Hopefully it’s sunny tomorrow.’ It was, and then the next day I just went up there and it came super easy and quick. You really start to appreciate efficiency, features that you don’t have to spend eight hours on. I just went up there and barely took my board off, patted it down one foot-strapped in then hiked up and got it done. Jumps are sweet, I mean you get bigger tricks, but it’s way more satisfying when you barely have to do anything. But yeah, thanks! I was super stoked on how that one turned out!
What other clips stand out to you?
My two favourite tricks for sure are the Back 5 on the step-down, that was another scenario where it only took like 30 minutes to pat it down, and the Front 9 where Ryan and I had to go back four times. The first day was a six-hour plus build, clouded over. The next day I went first, landing slid. Next time I went first and I got a trick, but the landing slid. Then finally we went back and we both got our ender tricks– it was totally worth it. I’m pretty sure that was the day I did the Switch Back 3 thing too, so yeah that was a really good day!
There’s a tonne of snow in Whistler right now. How’s your season going?
Well I was working a bunch, and then the holidays hit and I got the ol’ Covid so I had to chill for a while. So I’m kind of just getting into it. But the last few days on the resort have been mental, and then today I went out with the roommate Fabes [Colin Hendry] and that was insane. There’s so much snow.
Let’s get a quick sidebar on Fabes. What’s it like being roomies with a powder billionaire?
He knows his stuff! It’s pretty sweet, I mean it was frustrating when I first started sledding because he’s been doing it forever and he and his crew are so dialled, obviously they don’t want some rookie kid coming out and ruining all their trenches. It was a few years before he really even let me ride with him, but he’s starting to let me tag along now. That whole crew– if you’ve seen their videos you know, in all weathers they’ve got it dialled.
Hell yeah. Wrap it up with shout-outs?
Obviously the crew, Ryan, DCX, Justin [Kious], those guys were great to spend a season with– thanks for putting up with my shit. Obviously King Snow for putting some of my shots in the movie. That’s a dream come true and they definitely didn’t have to do that, that was pretty rad of them. And then yeah, just all the sponnies – The Circle, Timebomb, all of them – and the homies.