David Carrier Porcheron’s riding speaks across generations. The 37-year-old co-founder of YES. Snowboards has been prominent in snowboarding for over 20 years, and his list of accomplishments puts him square in the ranks of legends. There’s no question that his riding has influenced our sport – last fall he was immortalized in Snowboarder Magazine’s Greatest-of-all-Time list, and shots like his switch straight line ender in Mack Dawg’s Chulksmack still represent pinnacle moments in backcountry riding. Recently, rumours of DCP’s retirement circulated, and we knew we needed to catch up. We reached out just as Whistler’s snowpack was starting to swell, and over two days riding the Peak Chair we got the story straight. This interview happened between laps – it’s where DCP’s been, it’s where he’s going, and it’s deep with love for snowboarding.
We’re catching you at a transition point in your career – I’ve heard the word retirement floating around. But that’s not quite right is it?
Yeah, I don’t think retiring is quite it. Retiring’s a big word, because you’re retiring from what, you know? I love snowboarding, I’m gonna keep snowboarding. I’m an ambassador for the sport of snowboarding. For me now it’s more about getting to ride some good days on the hill, some snowy days, riding with my kids and my family, but also seeing other younger riders getting after it. I want to support a new generation through YES. Snowboards, not try to drag out my time in the spotlight. Though, it still feels good to go out there and be driven to hike up and send it off something, land and ride away. Filming has always pushed me to try bigger, faster stuff.
I wanna ask about what’s coming in the future, how you see your next years as a snowboarder, but before we get to that can we revisit some milestones of your career?
I really started to get in the snowboard scene when I started competing in halfpipe, back in ’94. I started with a lot of older friends, and we would go to the regional competitions. It was crazy, I was like 13 travelling around Quebec with older kids to snowboard. We got into all kinds of stuff. I remember JF [Pelchat] putting stickers all over the racers’ boards. We used to mess with contest directors and stuff like that, but then we’d win the events and they’d be stoked on us. We started going to some more contests, in Vermont, to the US Open, and then to the Westbeach Classic in Whistler. That opened up a lot – once we were travelling to compete at a higher level, the contests influenced Mont-Sainte-Anne to build a pipe. Before that we only really got to ride pipe at events, but once we had one at Sainte-Anne that’s all we did, ride pipe all the time. Riding pipe opened up some early filming opportunities, too – going to the Westbeach Classic in ’97 gave me my first chance to film in the Whistler backcountry. I was probably 16, I did a movie called Freedom with Jorli Ricker and Jaques Roiseux. But I was still focused on competitions for a few years after that.
And then in 2001, in Park City, Utah, I was at a qualifier for the 2002 Olympic team. I was already kind of on the fence because I really wanted to film more, and then I fell on my run. Because of that fall I wasn’t going to make the Olympic team. I was like, “You know what? That was awesome, but I’m done.” I called Shane Charlebois right away, like before the contest was over. He was filming for Kingpin, and he was on his way to build a jump with a couple of the dudes. It was Blaise Rosenthal and [Josh] Dirksen, I think, maybe Travis Parker. I was like alright I’ll meet you guys, and I got in a cab right from the contest to go ride with them. Met them, hiked, built a jump, and started filming full time for Kingpin, which led to Mack Dawg. I’ve also co-produced a few films for Yes, which involved some amazing sessions with amazing friends.
What were the contests like when you left competitive snowboarding? It was just at the end of the transition between DIY style and stringent organization?
Yeah. One of my last pipe contests was at the end of 2001, the Sims Invitational in Whistler. That event was really dope, it was spring vibes – DJ on site, jam session, best hit contest, highest air. Everyone was throwing down sick lines, and we were filming too. That was pretty fun, we were just dropping in together. At that moment it was very playful, the same vibe as Westbeach Classic – that’s how I remember my contest days. Now you see a lot of people with that same playful spirit, but also everybody’s got a coach, everybody’s training. Right now if you wanna ride a Superpipe in the fall you have to pay. It’s private sessions only.And so the access to pipe, the use of pipe, is so much less. Only a few resorts, like Cooper, have them. It’s very exclusive. But I have the utmost respect for the guys pushing it in the pipe. My favourites these days are Ben Ferguson and Danny Davis.
It’s exclusive for sure. It’s hard to imagine the average snowboarder being able to make a career of pipe riding today, it’s such an expensive run. But these days, even the general definition of ‘pro boarder’ is different than what you experienced. As a team manager with YES., do you have some insight into what it’s like for the young riders now?
First of all, the social media demands are huge. From filming, to editing, to posting, to promoting and building your brand and following, it’s a lot different than releasing a three minute video part every September. But, honestly the smaller brands don’t have the budget or resources to gather a team. At the end of the day we don’t sell a lot of product, so there’s not a whole lot of money being thrown around for people. It’s not only our brand, but a lot of the other small players. And so a lot of people are almost forced to ride for a little bit of budget, boards, and filmer/photographer support. When I was with Burton and travelling around it was different. But it’s difficult, and we’re not on the same level as Burton or Capita or someone like that. I wanna do the best I can to help and support our riders, but it’s always difficult to spread a thin budget around. That’s why I wanna find the right partners to release and finance our projects.
David is genuine to the core, and his snowboarding and life reflect that. HIs attitude is so warm that anyone within that glow feels it and wants toe be a part of it – Shane Charlebois
Do you think that the experience of your team riders, in today’s reality, is still a positive one? Is it rad to be a pro snowboarder today?
I think it’s pretty sweet. There are lots of younger guys living it – I mean going snowboarding every day, or getting a snowmobile and having that experience, or going to lodges and flying, or having the opportunity to ride with awesome shredders from Japan and Europe – that’s what’s cool about pro snowboarding, it’s not a money thing. The new generation is making connections with riders from around the world and making a community. I love to see that. And I see guys getting to the level where you don’t have to work another job while you’re snowboarding. That’s how I see pro status, even if you have to work half the year. All those crews making videos are so rad, there’s such an awesome “good-enough-to-be-pro” or “on-their-way-to-being-pro” scene. I wouldn’t really call it amateur. There’s a lot of that in Canada, people are down to put in work.
It’s an awesome scene for sure. Getting to your transition: I know you’ve got this tagline, that you’re characterizing it “Pow no matter how.” Can you tell me about it?
Really, at this point I really enjoy riding powder. I’ll go if it’s springy and slushy for sure, but other than that I’m looking for pow. Where I have to hike for it, do a full day splitboarding for just one run, snowmobile, take the heli, or just ride in the schoolyard with the kids. Any access, and using whatever boards – noboards maybe, or different shaped snowboards – to make whatever amount of pow as much fun as possible. As long as it’s powder, that’s the theme. The transition that we’re talking about, to being more of an ambassador, is about obligation. There’s a lot of obligation to get shots involved with riding pro, and I’m not opposed to having that because I love it, but I’m putting it more on my terms and doing what I love. I’ll always love using my riding to promote our brand YES., and other partners like Zeal and Globe. But I want to be more of an ambassador for snowboarding, someone who creates experiences for people and tries to get them in the mountains.
Do you mean guided trips into the mountains?
That’s part of it, yeah, and something I’ll be working towards. Whether through YES. or not, I think that would be good. People would rather go ride with someone who knows the mountains rather than thinking they’re gonna get lost. A few times in the past I’ve been hired to show people around, it’s great. I understand what people are looking for, and it’s a really direct way to share the experience. Not necessarily blowing up spots, that’s the only restraint. You don’t want to bring too many people to your favourite places – but you can show people awesome stuff that will push them and stoke them out, stuff they’ll probably enjoy more than some crazy remote or gnarly spot that you like best anyways.
Would that be private then? Not working through a lodge like Baldface?
I’d like to do the guide training anyways, and see if I could work a little through the season. Baldface would be a good place, or maybe even an operation closer to home. That’s part of the same idea – I’m sure it will change as I explore the opportunities of this next phase. As long as I get to stoke up people on the sport of snowboarding, and help inspire the people that love snowboarding to stay in it.
I love it. You also see that stoke being passed on with your kids – do you want to talk about riding with your son and daughter?
It’s really awesome riding with our kids or with our friends’ kids, when we go and ride with them, it’s kind of going back in time. Like when you just started snowboarding and every little side hit or detour in the woods is so new and amazing, and it grows into going wherever you want and you’re free. I really see that in my kids right now. They feel free through snowboarding, going where they want to be and doing it how they want. Leighli, my daughter, just did the Layback Weekend at Mount Baker, now she’s excited about competing. She’s seen a few of her friends get good results and I think she wants to feel that too.
We’re in January now. What will the rest of your season look like?
Right now I’m trying to ride as much as I can until I have to attend some trade shows. That starts next week in Vancouver, then I’m going to Denver. But I have a trip to Japan planned with YES., with a filmer. We’re filming one of our episodes there, and attending a trade show. Then I have a photoshoot at Mt. Baker, and after that we have a filmer for the months of March and April. We’re gonna film as much as we can around Whistler and maybe go to the interior, shoot content for YES. – it’s our 10-year anniversary, so we’re doing a few different short films. Different subjects, different rider involvements. It’ll feature different styles of riding and creative storylines.
Will it be fairly rider driven?
Yeah, we’ll suggest a few things and let our team take it from there. There are some things that work with some riders’ personalities, things they’re doing anyway, like Madison [Ellsworth] is camping out all winter in his trailer. I think it will be cool to have a scene with him staying out at Brandywine and then cruising to some other places. We’ll create one out of our Japan trip, Romain, JP and myself, it’s pretty rare in recent years that the three of us get to ride together. I ride with Romain more because he’s here, but JP’s been in Norway a lot with his kid and he’s been working on our new clothing line project, YES. on Life Positivity United. It’s not YES. Snowboards, but everything in between the activity of snowboarding, whether that’s chilling or skateboarding or going to the beach or the city. Website and online store dropping soon. We’ve also started to do surfboards for YES., which we’ll show at trade shows this year.
Speaking of surfboards, I hear you’re a big Point Break fan. That might be the greatest movie ever. Can we end on Point Break?
I love that movie so much. When I was a teenager all my friends dressed up as the Dead Presidents for Halloween, with the masks and stuff. I wrote “Thank You” on my ass and mooned every house when we left. When Megan and I started dating they were playing it at this bar after my first day surfing, and I was like “that’s a sign!”
As we rode, we wove in and out of crews. We ripped mid-mountain trees with Shin Campos and Nate Nash, and talked backcountry objectives with Py Boivin, Cam Unger and Joel Loverin. We caught Dave Henkel and Sober Steve, ripped top-to-bottoms with Josh Forestell, and whooped at Aaron Santos and Sam Weston from the chair. David fed off the energy of the other shreds, completely engaged in talk about the season so far or plans for future trips, stoked to explore new spots whenever someone had a run. The snow was good, a solid base with 15 or so fresh. David was right at home, riding with speed and flow through a transition that really marks no change. Whether he’s a team rider or a team manager, the subject of a photo or the guy directing the shoot, he continues to live snowboarding, and he’s happy to share with the people around him. Pow no matter how is just another way to say he’s going boarding for the love.
Words – David MacKinnon
Photos – Phil Tifo