LESSONS | JESS KIMURA
Without a doubt, Jess Kimura has made a substantial impact on snowboarding. Since her breakout part in Think Thank’s Left Brain, Right...
Parents come in all shapes and sizes. Some are loud and attention-grabbing, while others are of few words. Some are long-winded, detail-oriented, and assertive, while others are very hands-off. The many emails involved in making this article series was a reminder of that. Those emails were also a good reminder that our parents, in their own unique way, are present throughout our entire lives. They see us at our best and at our worst. Therefore, they are probably the most important people to talk to when it comes to getting to know someone, even though they are often overlooked. This series flips that on its head. Adapted for the web – from issue 12.3 – this six-part interview explores the childhoods of Scott Stevens, Mikey Rencz, Jody Wachniak, Mark McMorris, Seb Picard, and Chris Rasman, from the perspective of their parents. To backup Don and Cindy McMorris from last week, we have Jude and Dave Rencz this week, explaining what it was like to raise former child star and nice guy extraordinaire, Mikey Rencz!
Jude & Dave Rencz interviewed by William Fraser
What was Mikey’s favourite food growing up?
Mikey always had Skittles. He confessed years ago that he would sell his lunch and use the money to buy Skittles. Now it’s funny because he barely eats sweets. On the healthy side, he loved broccoli cheddar soup.
Do you remember when Rencz first said he wanted to be a pro snowboarder?
When Mikey was 7 he said, “Mom when I grow up I want to be a pro snowboarder.” He had never snowboarded and I didn’t even know what being a pro snowboarder meant. At first, I rented the only equipment that was close to his size, which was a racing board. It was apparent that even on a board that was way too big for him, and in boots 2 sizes too big, he was hooked.
What would you say is the most embarrassing thing he’s done?
There was this one time that could have been a real embarrassment for both of us, if we had been escorted out. We were at a movie premiere for one of Mikey’s videos. It was being held at Wild Bills, a bar in Banff. Mikey was 10 or 11 and he couldn’t legally be in there, so they hid him in a snowboard bag and wheeled him in. Once in, he then crawled out and hid under a table so he could watch the movie.
What sort of sacrifices did you have to make so Mikey could pursue snowboarding?
I’ve had to think long and hard about this question because the word sacrifice kind of implies a hardship, and I don’t have any regrets. My life had been in Canmore, Alberta, for 21 years and in 1999 I packed up and moved the two of us to Whistler. It felt more like an adventure as I was at a stage in my life where the thought of change was exciting. I remember when we were looking for a place to live, Mikey’s eyes started watering, and he said, “I can’t believe you’re doing this for me.” Every time I questioned myself about moving to a place where I only knew one person, I would think about that day. Knowing that he appreciated the magnitude of what I had done made it all worthwhile.
“I can’t thank my mom enough for the support she had for me as far as snowboarding went. She saw early that snowboarding was a lifestyle and not just a hobby.”Mikey Rencz
Do you have a favourite video part?
My favourite film that Mikey was in was RPG’s “In Search of Mountain Jimm” (1997). He was 10 when they did the filming and it really tugged at the old heart strings seeing him on a big screen. I just rewatched it online and it brought back so many memories. I especially loved how they finished off his section with him driving a big old classic car waving goodbye. Of course someone else had ducked down to press on the accelerator while Mikey steered. The snowboarding was good to – haha.
Do you remember the first time Mikey made money from snowboarding? What did he spend it on?
When he was 16, the day after he got his driver’s license, he took the bus from Canmore to Edmonton with a friend, bought a second-hand truck from a snowboarding mentor of his, and drove it home. He paid for it with his Burton money.
Is there a talent or personality trait that you’d say, “Oh, he gets that from me?”
Other than his good looks and stubbornness, I don’t think Mikey picked up much from me. Him teaching me to snowboard when he was 10 was one of the many things I got from him.
There must be a time when Mikey called you asking for help. What is the funniest or most worrisome phone call you ever got?
When Mikey was about 20 he called me at 3 a.m. from jail in Victoria, B.C.. He had been arrested for public intoxication or something like that. I was concerned when I spoke with him and the police officer. However, it turned out well because he was released without being charged.
When did you realize Mikey wasn’t going to get a real job and that he was going to pursue snowboarding?
I had a pretty good idea when Mikey was in Grade 2 or 3. His class would go to the local ski hill for one afternoon a week. For some reason, the school, or the ski hill, wouldn’t allow the students to snowboard. Only ski. Mikey refused to ski (even though he knew how to ski). So, he sat in the library by himself on those days. That determination is what turned snowboarding into a full-time job. It worked for him and I eventually stopped trying to be a know-it-all dad and became a big fan.
What are you the most proud of your son for?
I am very proud of Mikey for all of his snowboarding accomplishments, for being a responsible member of society, and for being such a wonderful guy to be with. He had the courage to “live his dream” and run his life pretty much his own way without harming anyone else. His mother and I are very proud that he is our son.