Posted by: Feet Banks
As a kid growing up in North Vancouver in the late 1980s and early 90s Kevin Sansalone used to ride the train up to Whistler to ride the big mountains and deep snow. By the time he moved up here full time in 1998 he was already a household name in snowboarding. To make sure everyone knew it he won the first ever X-Games Snowboard Big Air in 1999.
Even as a child Kevin Sansalone was hard on his boards (right). Luckily, now he makes his own (left).
Since then Kev has been consistently fueling the stoke of Canadian snowboarding. For years his Sandbox videos were the best place for young Canadian talent to get noticed - if you could ride and would work hard, Kev would give you a chance.
Kev doesn’t make snowboard videos anymore but based-in-Whistler Sandbox still makes some of the best helmets on the market and since winter of 2008 Kev has been building and riding his own Whitegold Snowboards. Even after 25+ years Kevin Sansalone seems just as happy riding as those teenage days of catching the early morning train and running across the highway to upload at Whistler Creekside. We caught up with him last week to talk about what’s new for Sandbox and what he still loves about Whistler after all these years.
Favourite thing about autumn in Whistler: ”This is a sweet time of year. It’s amazing to bike into the Village and it’s crisp and cold, you bust out the insulated jacket and toque and gloves. Everything is fresh and there’s a lot of new people in town. It’s not busy and everything feels so familiar. It’s not quite as exciting as putting the [snowboard] boots on but it’s close. I still love it.”
Favourite coffee joint: “I make a lot at home. My mom goes to a lot of garage sales and she got me a junker little espresso machine, it works though. If I’m out in town I like the Mount Currie Coffee shop.”
Kevin Sansalone, Indy. Whistler Backcountry. DAVE CRAIG PHOTO
Best board shop: “All of them. I have to say that but it’s true, each one has great staff and they have all been supporting Sandbox since the beginning.”
Favourite place for a nice dinner: “I love going to El Furniture Warehouse, those are my boys. I’m biased ‘cause I’m one of the owners but it’s amazing how everyone seems to be enjoying it—families like it because the kids can be noisy, shred dogs love the vibe… everyone seems to be into it.”
What’s new with Sandbox this year: “We have eyewear coming out. Goggles and Sunglasses. The whole idea was to get goggles that would fit perfectly with the helmet. We have a couple styles – one big spherical one that are all the rage right now and one old-school flat lens style. We’ve got some cool lenses and simple colours and we figured let’s try it out.”
Do you miss making snowboard videos? “I miss the premieres. This time of year is always a lot of fun when you have a new movie out. You can just push play and have fun. I miss the movie tours and seeing everyone— so fun. I also miss being able to promote young Canadian shredders. There aren’t as many options for kids to get noticed now.”
Left and Right: CAMERON HUNTER PHOTO. Centre: Whistler Peak, one of Kev's favourite scenics. MIKE CRANE PHOTO
Favourite pow run: “Peak to Creek zone is classic. The Garbanzo lift line is amazing too. Everyone is on the chair hooting and hollering. It’s just a straight shot of epic laps. The early season leg burn is nice too.”
Best scenic spot to take out-of-towners: That ridge off the back of Whistler Peak, above the Cakehole area. It always gets hammered with wind so it gets those big snow ghosts and everything is covered in frost and rime. It looks amazing and the sunsets are sick.
Go-to zone for early season: “There are great hit runs on both Whistler and Blackcomb - you just have to be safe about them. Also the terrain park, I always like to high-five the park crew. They do such an amazing job. The blue park is a lot of guys’ favourite line now.”
Getting stoked about: “Splitboarding. I built a Whitegold splitboard so I’m gonna try it this season, get my hippie on and slow things down. Sledding is always amazing and I’ve got two Cheetah Racks on my sled so I can bring up a splitboard and a regular board. As you get older you look for new feelings and stokes. It’s gonna be a sweet winter.”
Check out Sandbox and Whitegold Snowboards to for a look at Kev's latest gear and ideas and be sure to watch this "Living Legends" video for more of Kev's story and start getting stoked for riding this winter!
Seeing the future? Or just enjoying the view? CAMERON HUNTER PHOTO.