Dudes, dudettes, shred dogs and betties– have you been watching #holybowly? Has the monstrosity of dopeness hooked you in, got your feeds locked and your boards pointed to Mammoth like makeshift altars? We’re down here watching it happen, and it’s blowing our minds. We finally got our satellite office dialed in (after a few days of figuring out the balance between wifi, tent spots, and hot springs), and we’re stoked to be bringing you the stories of the coolest mugs down here, the Canadians. See, Canadian boarders aren’t just good at being slopestyle prodigies and ripping sh*t in the streets and backcountry, they’re also pretty bad-ass when it comes to pumping through the sickest bowl of snow we’ve ever seen (thanks Krush!). And, they know a thing or two about making boarding work as a lifestyle. So my friends, without further ado, here’s part one of #CanadiansOfTheBowly:
Lucas Ouellette is a Whistler-by-way-of-Ontario boarder, a long-time member of the DWD squad of street-to-mountain shred rats and a Holy Bowly ripper who’s approach switches from laid back and easy to 10-set energetic at the flip of a switch. He’s been low-key in all black, but we’ve caught him crushing transfers from the corners of our eyes all week. We got a couple of laps with him today, and ended up with a bit of insight into custom builds like the Bowly– scroll down for the goods!
SBC: Hey man, nice to finally get a lap! Where do you want to ride?
Lucas: Wherever man, maybe hit some hips? I’ve got this tuck-knee I want to do with this board. So fun with the coffin.
SBC: Sounds good!
Lucas proceeds to casually pick his way through the course, lining up transfers and dropping into gaps with a style that shows a DIY skating influence. As we watch him ride it’s clear that he’s living out skateboard fantasies, and with technicality that shows he’s put in his share of hours developing his coping-blasting pipe dreams on wheels. The Holy Bowly format allows riders to interact with the park constrained only by the hours of ten till three, free to find lines that express their styles exactly, and Lucas is taking full advantage.
(On the chair)
SBC: So you came down with the rest of the Dinos?
Lucas: Actually I flew down, I was in Whistler just before this.
SBC: You live in Whistler?
Lucas: Yeah, I moved out from Ontario in 2005.
SBC: Oh yeah, right in the bright baggy pants wide stance times, techno pop and stuff?
Lucas: Haha yeah man! But I was always into punk since I was a kid so I wanted to look like the Ramones or Tim from Rancid, even then I was wearing tighter pants. E-Man used to give me shit, he’d be all “go back to Portland!” Just razzing me, you know, he’d been there a few years and I was new.
SBC: Gotta get razzed. That’s sweet though, the Ramones rule. How long have you been with Dinos?
Lucas: Since ’06, so the second year I guess. It’s such a fun crew.
SBC: Looks like it! And what else do you aside from boarding?
Lucas: Actually my job has a lot to do with boarding– I work as a project manager at Arena Snowparks. We do builds for stuff like the World Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler and the Showcase Showdown, some big events around the world too. World Cups and Olympics– we did the pipe in Vancouver, things like that.
SBC: Oh sweet, so you must have a pretty cool perspective on what went into building this.
Lucas: Yeah man, it’s pretty incredible what Krush and the boys were able to pull of with this. I don’t know what the snowmaking capabilities are here but it’s a tonne of snow, and shaping it would take so much detail. It’s so rad.
The Holy Bowly course consists of boobs, hips, bowls, spines, channels, islands and a mega cradle. It’s a meticulously crafted field of features that can be ridden in an endless amount of ways, and there’s something right in front of you no matter where you are. The snowpack isn’t particularly deep, and much of the course has been built up. There is a huge amount of snow at the Bowly, and all of it has been purposefully shaped.
SBC: So rad. But you guys are doing more conventional stuff?
Lucas: A lot of the time, yeah. Sometimes we’re doing more unorthodox stuff, like we just did the Zig Zag Banked Slalom at Baldface and a bunch of the stuff we’ve done in Norway is unique. We do it all.
SBC: Sweet. Were you involved in the pipe fiasco at Sochi?
Lucas: Haha, no. There are a lot of things that went into that, and some of it is just FIS and IOC stuff, like they couldn’t run the machines during certain hours because of the TV stuff. A lot of it was poor planning.
SBC: The Vancouver pipe wasn’t the easiest either eh? Is it true that they were trucking in snow from the valley?
Lucas: Yeah, they were bringing it in from Manning Park. We built the foundation on hay bales and scaffolds, and there was a Sikorsky helicopter bringing snow from other parts of the mountain.
SBC: A Sikorsky, those are big buckets of snow.
Lucas: Huge. But it’s the Olympics, the show must go on. Those events are strange, and building for them can be kind of weird. Some of the World Cups especially because it’s the best in the countries, not the best in the world, and some of the competitors are throwing double 10s and others are doing 5s.
SBC: So are you building to the lowest common denominator, or?
Lucas: Not really, it’s more about building something that’s accessible to everyone but lets the better riders shine. It’s competition still, so it’s about separating the strong riders from the weaker ones, but with how we build jumps now we can make shorter decks that are easy to clear but still easy to go super big on. People can go deep and spin 14s or knuckle on a 3 and still be pretty much fine. This course is really good for that, you can go huge if you want or just flow it.
SBC: And when you go too deep off one with a short landing you’re still ok.
Lucas: Haha yeah, those steep ones get you eh?
We take another lap. Above the Bowly course, Lucas skips the halfpipe and opts for rope ollies and a tail block on a mound of debris. All black and away from the crowd he finds little lines and features, boarding his own way and enjoying himself just fine.
(Back on the chair)
SBC: So do you think we’ll see more Bowly-style parks in the next handful of years?
Lucas: Honestly, it depends so much on the operators, the guys who are building the parks. You need to really know how to ride to build something like this, like understand where speed is and how to space things, what the transitions need to be like. And you have to know how to operate the machines really well. There’s also a style element to building parks, you make it your own you know?
SBC: Yeah, I guess so eh? Like when Tyler Nichol left Seymour the park changed, and his park up at Sima feels just like Seymour did when he built it.
Lucas: Exactly. But seeing this event influences park builders just like it does riders, so who knows? A lot of builders are already thinking outside of the normal box, and there’s gonna be lots of cool stuff happening with park builds in the next bit for sure. Whether or not it looks like this is up to the builders, and it’ll come down to how they want to express themselves.
Our conversation wraps up as we hit the course and split up to find water, homies, and new lines. My chat with Lucas will be one of many today, and each conversation will teach me something new about boarding, give me a new way to think about the lifestyle I love. The Holy Bowly has been coined “An International Gathering of Creativity and Flow,” and the catchphrase is anything but an exaggeration. There are Japanese, American, Swedish, and Canadian rippers, among other nationalities, and every shredder here has been through a love affair with snowboarding specific to his or herself. It’s an unbelievable scene, and a testament to what’s possible when our community comes together to share stories, laps, and perspectives on the experience of being a snowboarder.
If there’s any Canadian Bowly content you’ve been itching to check in on, let us know on Instagram or twitter with the hashtag #CanadiansOfTheBowly and we’ll do our best to get you what you need. Until then, we’ve gotta crash out. With two days left before the park opens to public, tomorrow’s gonna be a big one!