Interview: Johnny Collinson in Mica, British Columbia

Skiing with—gasp!—snowboarders Lucas Debari and Kaitlyn Farrington

WORDS: Clare Menzel

In a world where skiers and snowboarders are usually less collaborative than Biggie and Tupac, Johnny Collinson discovered that among the soft pillows of Mica, British Columbia, this status quo doesn't apply.

The trip was precursory to another in Greenland, where Collinson filmed with The North Face and Sherpas Cinema for a full-length TV spot that will premiere on NBC in the fall. Collinson took to Pillow Talk with snowboarders Lucas Debari and Kaitlyn Farrington to set the stoke level high and get some good shots in the bag before heading to Greenland. Nestled between the northern end of the Monashees and the southern end of the Canadian Rockies, this location lends itself to a combination of rugged terrain and a dense snowpack that creates the perfect conditions for huge pillows of snow to build up on boulders. Mica Heli dropped Collinson, Debari, and Farrington to set up camp right at the base of the mountain. From there, they sessioned trees and pillows on the cloudy days, and, when it was sunny, got in the heli to drop big lines on the surrounding peaks.

Johnny Collinson, friend of snowboarders.

Johnny Collinson, friend of snowboarders.

POWDER: How was skiing with snowboarders?
JOHNNY: It was super cool to be on the trip with snowboarders because the industry is so divided: you're always with skiers or you're always with snowboarders. Crossing the two sports—I thought that was pretty sweet. Even though skiing and snowboarding are as close as two sports can get, it always seems like a competition, skiers vs. snowboarders. There's always sort of animosity between us.

Did this change the experience for you?
Riding for The North Face, a company that supports both [skiers and snowboarders], is awesome. We can go on these joint trips where the barriers are broken down. My favorite part is the creativity that is shared. It was really fun to be able to hike up a big line and stand up there with a snowboarder… Skiers and snowboarders just seem to have different ways to look at a mountain or a line, so being there with them, I got to look at a line, then see what they would do on it. It just opened up a whole new creative flow.

Do you want to do more collaborative work like this in the future?
Definitely, I think both Lucas and I are pretty stoked on it so we're gonna continue.

Any funny behind-the-scenes moments?
To stay on the same topic of “skiers vs. snowboarders,” there was one instance where Lucas was patting down a cliff drop, and it's much easier to do well on skis because we can sidestep. A snowboarder has to take off their board, and try to slap the snow down firmly with it. So I asked Lucas if I could help him out, but his reply was that he didn’t need help from a skier. I was like, "OK fair enough, one of the world's best boarders probably has this shit figured out." So he goes in for a speed check, catches his edge on the lip that was too soft, and face flopped, hanging over the edge of the cliff. We were all just busting out laughing, helped him up, and then he asked me if I could “do that sidestep thing.” We thought it was pretty funny, and just went to show that we can all work together toward the greater good, help each other out.