By David MacKinnon
Canadian freeriding is as much a part of snowboarding’s resurgence as anything. Developments in gear, avalanche education, and information sharing platforms have made backcountry riding more accessible than ever, and the riders at the forefront of the big mountain scene are operating at an unprecedented level of sophistication. Joel Loverin and Seb Grondin have a deep understanding of the mountains, and in the past few years their drive to progress their riding has seen some truly gnarly descents. From Whistler and Revelstoke respectively, these Nitro teammates are reaching new heights season after season. This week’s TwoSix is a Monashees/Coast Mountains blend, with as much Columbia flavour as Cheakamus– pull up a stool, you don’t wanna miss this pour.
Been boarding? How’s it been?
J: Yeah, I’ve been riding a bit– it’s pretty good! I’m still working though, two more weeks to go.
S: It’s been wicked. There’s way more snow in Revy!
J: [laughing] It does look pretty good in Revy…
What’s the deal with the Revelstoke Whistler rivalry? Is there beef?
J: I’ve never had beef [laughs], but everyone loves where they’re from. People from Revy are like ‘oh, your snow’s heavy,’ people from Whistler are like ‘oh, your snow sucks, your snowpack is sketchy and we’ve got this coastal beautiful snowpack’– it’s the same shit though!
S: ‘You don’t get that waist deep stuff, man!’ [laughing] When I was in Quebec, I didn’t know much about big mountain riding, but I saw stuff from Golden so one winter I moved there. I was like ‘Oh my god, this is unreal!’ Then I moved to Revy when it opened– it’s home, and for sure I’ve gotta represent.
We’ll all just meet in the middle and ride Big White?
J: Champagne pow– it might have snowed 30 but you’re still riding on the bottom! Nah, I grew up riding Big White, that’s where it started for me– shoutout to Flynn, he’s dope!
You guys both ride for Nitro Canada. How’s that been? Do you get a chance to ride together very often?
S: It’s been awesome. Two years ago we did a trip together, we got the whole crew together at Panorama for the Easy Rider Banked Slalom.
J: It was the 30th annual Easy Rider Cup– it’s the third longest running even in North America after the US Open and the Baker Banked Slalom, it’s pretty crazy.
You guys are part of a thriving Canadian big mountain scene– it feels like riding lines is more popular now than it’s been since the early 2000s. What’s it like being part of that?
S: It’s sweet– there’s a rad crew of people, and you meet riders from all over the place. It’s been cool to get to ride with all sorts of people. I just love riding pow and shredding mountains!
J: You definitely meet like-minded people. Even when people come up from the states or whatever they’ll hit you up, be like ‘hey I’m into the same stuff as you’. Even if you don’t end up riding together it’s cool that people are reaching out. It seemed like big mountain riding was… not dying, but not a big thing for a bunch of years. Like you watch the TB movies from back in the day and they have the best big mountain riding, huge lines. Then for a long time you didn’t see much of that stuff.
S: It’s cool too that there are events for big mountain riders these days, like Soulines. That one in particular gets people who are super focused on big mountain riding in the same place; it brings a lot of people together.
What are you planning for this season?
J: I’ve got a few things I want to ride, some classics around Whistler I want to tick off the list. I’ve been talking with people like Cam Unger and Cedric Landry about this idea to do a book about our season, like feature everyone’s photography and tell the story of getting into bigger lines in the Coast Mountains. I want to involve all of our friends and just document things in a different way– I think it will be a big drive for us. But I’ve put together a list of things I want to ride this year, and I’ve got dates when they’re usually in condition. Hopefully it works out and it’s magical, like it usually is. Like last spring was pretty much the best lines of my life. We need to get you out for that, Seb!
S: Yeah man, I would love to come do some riding– I always say I’m gonna come visit the coast. This year I’d like to tour a bit more, the past few seasons I’ve been pretty focused on sledding. I’d like to do more splitboarding, get into some deeper places. I’m doing my CAA Operations Level 2 right now, basically learning to forecast avalanches from an operational standpoint. It will help me get a bit further into the guiding side of things. With the Level 2 you can get into work with mines or highways too. But yeah, I’m stoked to get out and board!
Shoutouts to Hot Karl, Ryan, Kaz, Wasted Youth, Nina, Cam Unger, Dave Henkel, Cedric Landry, Phil Johnston, Jackie, Nitro Canada, and all the other homies!