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...
Robin Van Gyn was packing her bags for the final stop of the Natural Selection Tour in Alaska when we called to hear about her recent win. Robin brought her freestyle freeriding experience to Baldface’s new Valhalla tenure to compete against Marie-France Roy, Leanne Pelosi and Spencer O’Brien at the winner-take-all leg of the tour. Her standout top to bottom run and collected clips earned her a new Polaris snowmobile and a ticket to the Natural Selection Tour finals at the Tordrillo Lodge in Alaska.
Photos by Chad Chomlack
Where does this win rank in your long list of snowboarding accomplishments?
It’s pretty high, to be honest. Every year I’m like, “Okay, what can I do next?” Getting invited to Natural Selection? That would be cool. Like no expectations, just show up, do your best. And to actually take a win is so enormous for me. And I’m over the moon to be able to be at every single stop on tour. It’s kind of crazy. It definitely feels a little bit awkward that the rest of the riders weren’t able to come to Canada to compete, but you’ve just got to take the opportunities as they come.
And you’re literally packing for the Alaska stop at the moment.
Yes, with Austen we call it Team Sweetin. Even though he’s not going to be there, I’ll be representing team Sweetin up in Alaska. He’s my coach.
Couple power moves. I guess he’ll take half of the winnings now, right? Maybe there’s a prenup in his future.
Yeah, he gets half of the snowmobile.
Well, make sure you get the front half. What did you have for breakfast that morning? That’s what the people want to know.
Oh, I think I had a breakfast burrito. I’m one of those people who will eat everything, good stuff, bad stuff. I drink beer. But I have been working on my mental game this year, so maybe that helped me a little bit.
Mental strength is key. How are you working on that?
I’ve been working with a friend of mine because typically, I’m really hard on myself, and I needed some tools. I knew that the tour, in general, wasn’t going to be easy. I’ve never really competed before, and I know that the top competitors, their mental game is on point. Just watching people like Jamie Andersen, who is just so calm and collected and looks like they’re having fun in their runs, I wanted that for myself. I wanted to show up in the best way possible. And I didn’t feel like I could do that without a little bit of work. So I was nervous, for sure. It’s a pretty daunting field to be a part of. It’s intimidating, you’re like, “Whoa, all these amazing snowboarders, and I’m here too?” I’ve been learning so much about strategy and how to prepare yourself, how to have fun and put your best foot forward. I’d say overall, this year has been a really awesome learning experience for me, and I’m excited to keep evolving and trying to do my best as long as I can.
That’s cool perspective from someone outside of the contest scene. At this stop, you were surrounded by women you’ve filmed with and have known for years. You’ve been a tail guide at Baldface, and you were the only one there to compete in a Natural Selection event before. Do you feel these experiences were an advantage?
I did feel really comfortable in that terrain. I think with guiding you have to figure things out as you go and you have to be really aware all the time of what’s around you and the dangers. And I do think that helped me a little bit, but I think the thing that helped the most was working together with the other women. Marie, Spencer, Leanne, we all supported each other really well. Making sure people felt like they had a cheerleader, helping each other choosing lines, and pointing out maybe this is a better landing than that one. It was very supportive, and that’s the one thing I love about women’s snowboarding, is we’re all in it together, uplifting each other. And I feel like the women will shine in this edit because we worked together to make the best possible outcome for all of us. We had a fucking blast doing it, kept it light, had a lot of fun. It was great. It was such a good time.
There’s a diverse group of women now going to Alaska for the final and you have some experience there. What are you looking forward to most?
Honestly, I’m going into the contest with no expectation. Alaska is very real, no matter how much experience you have. I love riding there because it’s such a mental and physical challenge. So I’m looking forward to scaring myself a little bit. And going up and shredding the Tordrillo’s, it’s been a bucket list place for me.
That’s awesome. So cool. Well, listen, good luck, get rowdy, and bring it home for Canada.