2020 VANS HI-STANDARD | AVILA
It was cold. Like, -17 cold. But that didn’t stop people from showing up and sharing style on the esthetic setup. There...
By William Fraser
Laurent-Nicolas Paquin aka “LNP,” an innovator, an artist, a guy with tight pants, a guy who shit his pants, or, as referenced by a YouTube commenter, “Joe Sexton’s father?” LNP was an icon, breaking into the scene with his Mick Jagger pants, wide stance, long hair, and video parts set to metal music. He came, saw, conquered, broke his back, and, well, conquered again, in a more wholesome way, with a family, a nine-to-five, and a class full of recent high-school graduates. But I’ll get into that later. First, from the beginning…
Laurent-Nicolas Paquin, also known as LNP, was born January 29th, 1986, in Charny, Quebec, Canada. And, like many professionals of his era, he was not born on a snowboard. He was born on skis. From three to nine years old he was a skier. He didn’t touch a snowboard until a demo day at Stoneham, which hooked him. The following Christmas, at his family’s small cabin, LNP’s dad happily asked him to look behind the couch for a gift. A gift that couldn’t fit under the tree. And when little LNP climbed up on the couch and looked, he lost it, “I was like, ‘Oh my god!’ It was awesome,” he said. “[My dad] got me an Option. It was purple and white, I think it had a street on it, and the bindings were no brand, just aluminum base bindings with like plastic fucking highbacks with no angles.”
From the age of 10 onward, LNP was committed to snowboarding, which, in his words, is a “fucking hard sport. Before you do anything, you’ll eat shit.” So, little LNP started eating shit every weekend at Stoneham. Then, around 14 or 15, he started developing a crew, making friends with guys like Will Demers, Ben Bilocq, Frank April, and Louif Paradis, who were all just little teeagers at the time. “We basically grew into a big group of dudes in who rode Stoneham,” he said.
But they didn’t stay in Stoneham. Each summer LNP and members of the crew would go up to Whistler and ride public park. “I was the guy [on the glacier] wearing jeans and a fuckin’ stripped shirt with long hair.” And then they moved there in 2004, for two or three years because, according to LNP, “Someone told us we should get a sled and ride backcountry, which is something that I completely despise. I fucking hate it. I hate backcountry. I hate it. I hate going snowmobiling. It’s so scary. You think you’re going to die everytime. You gotta wake up at fucking 6 a.m.” In Whistler they met the Sugar Shack guys and in 2005/06 started filming Bandwagon, which, for all y’all who don’t know, is an iconic flick. A must watch.
At this point, LNP was 20, and according to his self-proclaimed “bad memory,” which is why half this information could be wrong, he was riding for Holden Outerwear, Dragon Goggles, and Rome. But after how great Bandwagon (2005/06) was, he was given the opportunity to get his tight pants into Rome’s Any Means (2006/07) video, and he took the ender. After this, LNP’s career was live. He went pro from Rome, filmed No Correct Way (2007/08), and then was brought on to the Videograss film crew by Justin Meyer with his memorable, “I shit my pants. I did, I shit my pants,” opener. Looking back and laughing, LNP assured me that “I did shit my pants. It was not staged. That morning we were looking for spots and I was drinking coffee and then I had like the fucking devil’s potato salad, and then it did it to me… I’m lucky I didn’t break my butt. The landing was ice, but I shit my pants, that’s for sure.”
LNP was living in Salt Lake City after shitting his pants, and was continuing to film for Videograss and Rome, landing parts in Bon Voyage (2009/10), Shoot the Moon (2010/11), The Shred Remains (2010/11), The Darkside (2011/12), Deja Vu (2012/13), and Encore (2015/16). Looking back, he said that he felt like a rock star, “that’s why I drink so much beer I think,” he said laughing. Those were some of his pique years. Not only was he filming sick video parts, he was part of a gang of guys like Scotty Wittlake, Gus Engle, Jonas Michilot, Jed Anderson, and his two style icons Robbie Sell and Nima Jalali, giving what he says “snowboarding needed because it was lame as fuck.” That is, tight pants and wild ass tees. Those years were crazy for snowboard fashion, even LNP looks back and laughs at himself now. “You know,” he ironically says, “if you get bell bottoms they go over your boot perfectly. It’s the secret…”
But after Shoot The Moon and Shred Remains, things started to slow down, in a pretty dramatic way. In the fall of 2011/12, LNP broke his back hitting jumps in Colorado. “The speed setup was fucked up,” he said. “I front 180’d the small one but landed perfectly in the landing so I was going very fast, and I fucked up and flew all the way past the landing of the second jump, sitting down on flat, compressing and fracturing my L1 vertebrae. I had to wear a brace for six weeks and I had to do physio for almost 2 months.”
After breaking his back, LNP said he returned to snowboarding stressed and scared, thinking a lot about falling and how he might not film a video part that year. It was hard for him, considering that’s what he did—film video parts. His part in The Darkside that year was short, and after filming that, he started with Deja Vu, but at this point, support from his sponsors was slowing down, and even though Deju Vu did very well, he kinda felt the end coming.
And, eventually it did. Not on bad terms or anything like that, just at around 28 or 29 he didn’t wanna be the guy fighting to get sponsors and hanging around in the industry, so he left. Or, in his words, “I didn’t quit, but I didn’t try not to quit. I just disappeared.”
Poof. He was gone. But not totally out of the industry. Around the time he was quitting he started a skate shop called Le Boutique Du Skate in Quebec, which is where he was living with his girlfriend. He dumped a lot of time into that shop for about two years, but after having a baby and the shop not doing so well, LNP and his girlfriend decided that that wasn’t the life they wanted. So, at the age of 32, LNP went back to school to be a heavy duty mechanic. The 32-year-old was now sitting in class with 18 year olds, feeling weird as hell. But he had to embrace it, and he did. LNP finished that two-year program and was offered another one after writing a test to work at Caterpillar. Now he is getting specialized training for the next two years to work on Caterpillar equipment. I guess the program puts him in the garage for three weeks and school for one week. “We learn about motors and hydraulics, and all that shit,” he says. “It’s pretty cool, man. It’s like 20 minutes from my house, I got dental care for the whole family, and it’s a big job.”
When asked to reflect on his time snowboarding, LNP says he does miss snowboarding. He misses snowboarding and having fun and drinking beer in a van, but he doesn’t miss the pressure, and having to drop everything to chase the snow. He likes having a family, “having kids definitely brings something out of you,” he says. “It definitely makes me very happy.” And, he must be pretty damn happy considering he and his partner now has three kids! LNP’s a bigtime dad, and a bigtime partner, who’s gonna be a bigtime mechanic, and he hasn’t shit his pants in a while.