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Chris Rasman: Interview

Feb 14, 2013

Author: J. Fox

*From our Fall 2012 Issue

Chris Rasman: Stuntman

stunt/stənt/: n. An action displaying spectacular skill and daring

Synonym: trick

The difference between a trick and a stunt is defined by one thing: the consequences involved. Example: juggling is a trick. Now, juggling chainsaws? That’s a stunt. 

Chris Rasman is on the stunt program. And while some tight-stanced, snowboarding come-ups are juggling fun and creativity, Chris is doing things the hard way; standing out in the backcountry, maxing out landings, and performing “actions displaying spectacular skill and daring”—chainsaw shit. Going massive and riding powerful isn’t a conscious effort. It’s second nature. It’s all he knows.

Born and raised on Canada’s West Coast, he never had the East Coast influence or jib-leisure mindset, where short, shallow pitched runs encouraged slowly slide-slipping your way down the hill hitting every huck rut, stump bonk and roller. He grew up charging the real mountains and real snow of Vancouver’s North Shore with only two options: keep up with the family or get left behind. 

Rasman is the first coming of a second generation of sponsored snowboarders. Chris’ father, Rudy, shared lifts and laps with legends Craig Kelly and Damian Sanders. Rudy was crowned king for riding the world’s most treacherous and unforgiving terrain of our mountains. That’s right. In 1986, Rudy Rasman was snowboarding’s World Mogul Champion. 

His father’s frothing for the surf and passion for snowboarding was DNA-delivered. Now 23 years old, Chris has the strength, determination and the backcountry knowledge of a seasoned vet. He takes snowboarding and progression seriously, but never loses sight of why he does it. The crystal ball shows Chris as Canada’s next big video part pro, and that’s hard to argue with the Travis Rice-esque likeness seen in his riding. But who knows? Maybe that’s not for him. Maybe he’s planning to follow in the old man’s footsteps and get really, really good at riding moguls....

 

So when you go snowboarding with your dad these days, does he make you ride moguls?

All the time. Oh my God, are you kidding? [Laughs] We asked him to ride in our Intersection video contest, and you should have seen how excited he got, saying, “See, if I ride the 153 I’ll be getting a quicker rebound out of the moguls, but with the 157 I can definitely power through my mistakes… I’m just gonna ride the 153.” Still, to this day, if we ride together, we’ll rip trees and hit runs really fast. And if I let him get ahead, guaranteed he’ll duck out into some mogul run and I’ll have to follow him.

No way!? You can’t keep him out of those suckers, huh?

It drives me nuts. But because I’ve always done that, I can actually—for a snowboarder—I can rip moguls pretty fast.

Did he ever teach you, like… mogul technique? 

The worst was when I starting to snowboard, and it was he, my godfather and my Uncle Garry, my dad’s fraternal twin brother; the two of them skied, so they obviously liked moguls. I’d have to follow them and they’d be ripping through waist-high bumps on Cypress, and I’d have to figure it out. I got better at riding those before any park shit. I have them to thank for being a fast, powerful rider, just keeping up with them. And riding that terrain at night? You gotta use your Jedi powers. You gotta be on it.  

You didn’t have anyone to ride park with? Didn’t you ever watch videos?

I just rode because I thought it was fun. And I rode because I was obsessed with surfing since a really young age. I watched surf videos; my dad wasn’t following snowboarding anymore, but we always had surf videos. I tried to snowboard like a surfer or snowboard like my dad. It wasn’t until Grade 9 or 10 I had a couple buddies who snowboarded, and we started going to Whistler on weekends to ride park. That’s when I started “following” snowboarding: buying magazines and watching the movies.

When did you realize that growing up chasing your family through steep moguls and trees had turned you into a fast, powerful rider—and probably different from most kids who grow up heading straight to the park?

I was almost mad when I first moved to Whistler. I was riding with Wiley (Tesseo) and Beau (Bishop), and even (Matt) Beardmore, who was older than me. All these guys grew up riding park and had so many more tricks then me. It was a couple years after that these guys were telling me it’s probably why I was a faster freerider than most.

Chris rasman, quiksilver, grouse mountain

You got some important riding fundamentals down early on because you grew up riding that terrain.

That’s the thing: I love my edges sharp, and I like railing into turns. I’d say it was only a few years ago I realized it was something that had benefited me and it was not something that was holding me back because tricks are just gymnastics. But rough backcountry landings and shitty in-runs aren’t easy—you don’t know until you do it.

So when you’re not ripping through waist-high moguls, what terrain is best for you?

I love rolling gladed tree runs. With pillows and little cliffs everywhere, where you can stare at the gaps between the trees, get on your tail and point it. I love that. That’s where you can get the most speed and adrenalin going, and it starts to feel like surfing.

You got your start filming with Alterna Action Films, and those dudes were notorious for being the first crew in the parking lot and that last ones to leave on sunny backcountry days. Did that “Get ‘er done” strictly business mentality play an important role in the way you look at filming now? 

The first year I was filming for Alterna, they had some heavy-hitting riders on their crew like Benji [Ritchie], Gaetan [Chanut], [Matt] Beardmore. I was shitting my pants; there was no way I was going to be late in the mornings. Right away, filming with those guys imprinted a bit of a work ethic within me. Seeing how much you can get done in one day.... You can go up there and have a lot of fun, not have it be stressful and still be so productive hitting a couple features in a day. So, yeah, getting into a routine and watching how a season goes with them filming in Whistler definitely rubbed off on me. 

So you’re still working at a “normal” job through the summers?

I am, yeah. It’s slowly getting to the point where snowboarding can be a full-time job for me—that’s the goal. I love snowboarding, and I’d love to do it full-time. I could probably get by without working, but I want things so I can put it back into my snowboarding. I need a new truck, eventually a new snowmobile. It’s all for the greater good.

When people give you the nicknames like “Travis-Ras” and draw parallels between yourself and Travis Rice, how does that make you feel?

I could take it a couple of ways. But obviously, it’s a compliment for anyone to be called out on that. But because there are a lot of similarities; we have the same sponsors, we both have a bit of an aggro style, and we both ride the same terrain. It’s a compliment, but it’s like ‘No, we’re different.’

You want to have your own identity.

Yeah. I’ve had people within Quiksilver be like, “Oh yeah, you’re the Canadian Rice.” I’ve had so many people say it. I look up to him and it’s rad. He’s done so many things I want to work towards, but I’m a completely different person with a different personality and riding style.

I don’t think anyone thinks of you as the same person. But you’re both powerful riders who feast on big, heavy, natural terrain.

Exactly. He’s definitely someone I’ve looked up to. Along with a handful of snowboarders—Terje, Jamie Lynn, Peter Line, and new guys like [Jake] Blauvelt, [Nicolas] Müller, and Gigi [Rüf]. 

Do you find when you’re put in the situation where you’re at the feature filming, the cameras are on, it’s time to perform, that you get serious and have to put on the work hat and decide “this is the trick I want to do”?

I’ve gotten better at that. When I was a rookie I wouldn’t decide on what I was doing until I was standing on top of the jump or the pat-down was ready, like, “Oh shit, what am I doing?” But now I’ll see the feature and the work hat goes on and I’ll start visualizing what trick is going to work best for the way the landing is angled or the way the in-run is. And yeah, I definitely get serious. But what I do love about filming is that you’re always joking around, you’re always with your homies, and when it comes down to it you’re fuckin’ snowboarding, and it’s so fun. How can you not have a smile on your face? But yeah, there’s a sense of seriousness and work ethic there when it’s happening.

Rasman's part starts 6:30

In the off-season, do you mentally go through a list of things you want to accomplish when the season comes around? 

I’ve known snowboarders who, in the off-season, will carry around a piece of paper and write down tricks they wanna get, and start crossing them off and would not try that trick again once it was done. They got a Front 3 on a feature—that’s it, no more Front 3s for the year. I don’t do that. But in a sense, I’m already putting together a list of goals in my head of tricks I want to get and features I want to hit and ideas I have. Yeah, even when I’m walking around at work I can’t help but think about that all the time. As the winter gets closer it starts to turn into an insanity and less of a dream, like, “Holy fuck, I miss this. When am I going to get to do these things?!”

It’s fair to say you’re a driven and focused person. What is it you want to accomplish in snowboarding? How do you want to leave your mark?

The simple goal is to be snowboarding full-time and make my living like that. But I’m not stopping there saying, “Yeah, I just want to get paid.” I love snowboarding, and I’d love to leave my flag on the snowboarding timeline. I’d love to have a group of fans remembering me in the same way I remember Jamie Lynn—even if it was just for one thing; even if there are people in the industry saying, “Holy, do you remember Rasman’s Front 3s?” or “Do you remember how big that guy would go?” or “Remember his Double Backside Rodeo?” Stuff like that. I definitely wanna be remembered.

What about video parts; are you ever happy with what you’ve put out?

You’re never fully happy with what you have. I do want to have a video part that blows peoples’ minds and that I’m at least 95 per cent content with. That’s a huge goal.

That seems to be a common thread between snowboarders because the seasons are so short and you’re under pressure to produce a part every year.

You’re constantly fighting for that. And I don’t want to be leaving a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. The second I start digressing or am not able to produce at the level I should be, that’s when I want to back down and just snowboard for myself and with my friends. I don’t want to linger just to be around. I want to constantly be impressing people. I want to constantly be proud of myself. I don’t want to take up space.  

You like scaring yourself a bit, don’t you?

 [Laughs] Yeah, I think I do a little bit... not to the point where I’m a adrenalin junkie or anything like that, but I like to scare myself a bit. I hate horror movies, though.

Shout outs?

Thank you SBC for this interview, the past coverage and love you have given me. Huge thanks to my family. Thanks to all my sponsors who continue to believe in me and support what I do. Shout out and thanks to Dario at Quik, Gerhard Gross, Matt Beardmore, Carlo Wein, John Scarth, Stevon Hunter, Jon Frye, Patrick Henry, Jordie LePage, Gnarcore, Dave Rouleau, Colin D. Watt and anyone else who had helped me along the way. And a huge thanks to all my friends for making this life of mine so damn fun. You know who you are.

 

Chris is sponsored by Quiksilver, Lib Tech, Whistler Blackcomb, Dakine, DC, Flux Bindings, Remind Insoles, Saxx Underwear


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