By David MacKinnon | Photos by Chad Chomlack
Stale Sandbech and Spencer Whiting, aka Spenny, are standout contributors to snowboarding. Stale brings heat to the most progressive venues in the sport, and under the GimbalGod alias Spenny shares the stoke with the tightest follow cam shots in the game. Aside from insanely stylish, boundary pushing riding, their Instagram clips and StaleLIFE edits capture the feeling of shredding with homies in a way that sets them square among the most relevant personalities in our community. We caught up with the boys during Oakley Week, in between snake run laps on Blackcomb, and talked everything from long-form projects to big mountain follows. Read on for the goods.
What’s good with Oakley Week?
Spenny: Oakley puts on a demo in Whistler every year, and they invite the crew and team to get together. We pretty much just hype people up, film content for the brand, and have a good time getting the goggles out there.
Stale: It’s different– most of the time when I’m riding with the team we’re competing. I don’t get to come to Whistler that often either, so every time I’m here I feel like I’m seeing old friends. I haven’t seen Sage Kotsenberg in a while, or Charles Reid, or Sean Pettit, or Rusty Ockenden. It’s a bit more of a mellow week in the sense of chucking, but we’re cruising and having fun, testing new lenses, meeting people, and enjoying life. It’s a pretty enjoyable week! Yesterday we had sled laps in the park, then Charles took us up in his airplane. I even got to fly the plane, he gave me the controls. That’s just one day of Oakley Week!
What do you think about the snake run?
Stale: It’s sick to go as a mob. We’ve been mobbing. 10-20 people, it can be sketchy if you’re in the middle of the pack but it’s going good so far.
Spenny: The snake run’s super fun– just having the public cruise through with us is great. It’s something we can all ride together, it’s not super technical or anything but it flows really nice. It’s pretty Gimbal Godalicious.
Gimbal Godalicious, I love it. What do you look for in a GimbalGod clip?
Spenny: If we’re filming gnarly tricks that’s one thing, but I think in general people are more hyped on stuff they can relate to. Like, if they can watch us do something and then be like ‘Oh, what? I can go ride that, I can do that.’ That, and anything that has a lot going on looks the most enjoyable. You get that speed feeling. Even the park here is great– as long as it flows. We want to capture the fun aspect. Someone commented once, “if you want to explain to someone what snowboarding is, send them this video.” I screenshotted that, because that’s exactly what we’re going for.
Follow cams have been central to a lot of the best-received projects of the last few years. Soft, Glue, even The Fourth Phase… is there room for a full follow project? Have you guys considered holding clips for a long-form release?
Stale: We actually have a project coming out in a few weeks called Lines, just me and Spenny. That’s actually why I hired him in the first place, and then we started doing StaleLIFE, then everything kind of got in the way. But we’re hoping to finish it on this trip, maybe even tomorrow after the heli day.
Spenny: There are clips we filmed 22 months ago, including probably the best clips from Fonna. Stuff that no one’s seen. And it’s a bit of a different twist on your average video part. There’s also a six-minute piece we did called Heli Hogs dropping on Monday. That was our first foray into proper backcountry follows, in New Zealand. I think there’s only been one line leaked, in StaleLIFE when I got caught in a sluff. Some of the stuff in Heli Hogs is pretty cool, nothing is absolutely ridiculous gnarly, it’s more relatable. There is some more advanced stuff with Stale and Will Jackways.
What’s the approach to getting into big mountain follows? Is there a way to do it safely?
Stale: We’re just getting into it– Heli Hogs has both of our first real big mountain line, we did it together. It was so gnarly. We were looking at the picture of the face trying to figure out our landmarks like ‘mmmmm…’
Spenny: I fully got smoked out for like two seconds and didn’t know where I was going… but we’re alive.
Stale: It was only doable because the conditions were stable and we had a guide helping us through the planning and decision-making. We have to be careful, and we know we can’t pick the gnarliest lines. If our guides hadn’t been confident we wouldn’t have done it. I guess my point is don’t go film follow cam lines in the backcountry unless you really freaking know what you’re doing. Actually don’t do it at all so we can be the only ones doing it.
Spenny: It’s like when you start filming park jumps you’re not just gonna go hit an 80-foot jump right away. The first jump I ever filmed on was probably 30 feet, 35 feet. We’ve built our way up to where now there’s not too much of a limit on jumps, but the backcountry is a different story. We still want to be doing this in 10 years, so we’ve got to raise the bar slowly.
Are we gonna see a Gimbal God full part?
Spenny: Maybe in like 10 years we’ll add up all my clips [laughs].
Stale: He’s a good boarder– he did a back 10 in Saas Fee. But I think the gnarliest is filming all day and then dropping into a pretty sketchy, big halfpipe at Mammoth and doing a McTwist. He’s got good back ones, and switch back one off rails, but I’m not as impressed by those because he does them all the time [laughs].
Spenny: Really I just do six tricks.
Stale: [laughs] We’ll get your part in the next two years at the latest, if we don’t get it this spring.
Shoutouts to Oakley, Whistler Blackcomb, powder, Steph Stipac for the banana bread, sunny days and deep turns!