Recently, we were able to sit down and have a conversation with Sandy Boville just before he took off for the iF3 International Freeski Film Festival where Level 1 was showing their film, Less.
We talked about who is Sandy Boville, where he came from, where heâ€™s going, and his new addiction. We talked about how heâ€™s proud that he continued to university after high school. We talked about how he wants to make sure he teaches what he knows to young kids. We talked about how heâ€™s gotten everything he has by busting his ass, not by knowing someone. We talked about how he spends 60 hours a week in the off-season. But mostly, we talked about skiing and how he does it because he loves it, not for the money.
Described as â€œone of the least arrogant pros youâ€™ll ever meet,â€ it became clear early in the conversation that we wonâ€™t really be discussing much about his status within the industry. When asked if he was a pseudo celebrity in his community, he clammed up and almost got really uncomfortable in his own skin:
â€œUuhhhhhh, itâ€™s hard to talk [sigh], Iâ€™m, [pause] like, [exhale, grumble, pause] I have a hard time doing that because Iâ€™mâ€¦ I consider myself modest to an extent. I donâ€™t like to brag too much. Iâ€™m still always trying to progress and I still look up to people as skiers and individuals in general. Itâ€™s hard to kind of put yourself in that shoe, you know?â€
Translated: He walks the walk with his skis, and doesnâ€™t have to talk the talk about it. Heâ€™ll leave that for others. Heâ€™ll pick you up if youâ€™re down. And in a non-panned response, he sounded like a seasoned vet as he spun the rest of his response into an honest to goodness, perfect answer:
â€œI donâ€™t know, I just like kind of inspiring kids and Iâ€™ve made it pretty far from my little home resort in the middle of nowhere Canada pretty much and I want to show kids that they can, if they can, really try, and really want that in life, they can do that one day. We WANT little kids to look up to this.â€
â€œIn the meantime itâ€™s brought me a lot of opportunities and a lot of traveling. Itâ€™s pretty cool to see where I started and how Iâ€™m going now.â€
This down to earth approach to things is probably why his hometown resort, Mount St Louis Moonstone, gave him an event. The last two years theyâ€™ve closed out their season with the Sandy Boville Invitational. Boville, staple in the parks there for the last 10 years, was approached after a snowboard competition by the resort: â€œWe have everything built. Would you like to run a ski event?â€
He helps pick 50 riders to come out for three 2-hour jam sessions. Riders then vote who should be top picks. The top three, in no order, win cash prizes and special awards and swag from event sponsors.
â€œA good hang out at the end of the season, good for younger riders and get them hitting bigger features, and hang out with riders that they would normally look up to.â€
Boville filmed with Toy Soldier Productions two seasons ago, Level 1 Productions last season, and is getting ready for the upcoming season again with Level 1.
â€œSo thatâ€™s pretty much my main focus, is Level 1. Itâ€™s kind of been my dream as a kid to grow up and start filming with them. I mean, this was their 15th film this year? Theyâ€™ve been around for quite some time. I donâ€™t even think Iâ€™ve been watching ski films for 15 years. I always looked up to being in one of these pro ski films when I grew up and finally being there youâ€™re like, â€˜whoa this is pretty unreal. How did I even get here? I didnâ€™t think I was that good?â€™â€
Image by Joshua Nowicki
Thatâ€™s a great question. How did Boville get here?
Boville is from Barrie, Ontario, an hour north of Toronto. Itâ€™s not a big town, but itâ€™s not a small town at roughly 150,000 people. At 23 years of age, heâ€™s been skiing in that community for 20 years. Growing up, he had a resort within five minutes and several more within 45 minutes of home.
Speaking praises for the home resort, he gave props to having great tools available like an air bag for testing out new tricks and three parks ranging in various difficulty â€“ Items that make for great progression.
Growing up at the local resorts, he would participate in weekly series contests; Sometimes he would place well, sometimes he would win. As he got older it was time to supplement his ski habit with a job, so he began coaching 7-12 year olds in the freestyle skiing program.
In his early teens he entered a few Ontario Provincial contests and at one event he placed second in the half pipe and suddenly he was getting noticed a little more. The following summer, at age 14 or 15, he wanted to get better so his mother helped him get signed up at a ramp camp to learn more tricks. It was at these camps that the Ontario Provincial Park and Pipe Team saw him; the following season he was skiing for them. It was during these events that he really started to come into himself, did really well, and was able to get his first sponsor in grade 12.
â€œThat was just from doing contests, I didnâ€™t have any connections, my mom wasnâ€™t in on the ski industry, I did this all on my own.â€ A sentiment repeated throughout the conversation.
After grade 12, there was really nowhere else to go for him on the Ontario Team.
â€œI was ready to move onto something different, or bigger. There was no national team at that point for slopestyle skiing, so I moved to Whistler for a year and just kind of ski bummed and I worked at the Solomn store and thatâ€™s who I was sponsored by at that time. I spent a year there and did a few contests here and there. Thatâ€™s when I started filming a lot. Thatâ€™s when my route in skiing really changed because there was no opportunity for me to be part of a team, to really provide that guidance, and I kind of took my own route and took my skiing into my own hands, started filming, and thatâ€™s when that passion started.â€
Boville always accelerated at rails as jumping wasnâ€™t that big for him at home. He did rails a lot, and he got good. While spending some time in Colorado, three days after meeting Shay Lee, Boville gets a call from him: â€œHey weâ€™re going to go up to Montana. Weâ€™re going to go for a week and shoot some urban with Toy Soldier, do you wanna come?â€
â€œI got nothing else to do, why not.â€
That trip was what started his urban skiing love, where he met the crew from Toy Soldier, and where everything really started moving forward for him. At the end of that season and after the production of Toy Soldierâ€™s Act Natural, Toy Soldier decided to take a break, which lead to the disbursement of the crew, which ultimately ended any Toy Soldier Productions filming.
While regrouping on the off season attempting to figure out the next steps, Boville was nominated for, and ultimately won the 2013 POWDER Award for Breakthrough Performer based on his performance in Act Natural.
Fellow Toy Soldier skier Shay Lee had become Bovilleâ€™s partner in crime with all things skiing and filming, as did Toy Soldier cinematographer Jonny Durst. After Toy Soldier, the three of them worked well together on some smaller edits and just skied around. Level 1 annually holds their Superunknown contest where you submit 2.5 minute edit of yourself with your best tricks, and Level 1 picks a winner to be featured. Durst put together edits for each Boville and Lee and they submitted.
Level 1 changed it up. That year they invited 10 riders out for a private shoot in Sun Valley. Boville and Lee were each invited as part of that top ten. Durst was then hired on as part of the Level 1 team, and Boville and Lee became featured skiers.
â€œThe 3 of us went together and Johnny filmed the whole thing and thatâ€™s how he got into level 1 and then he was hired on. After that private shoot it just sort of worked out for us. So we pretty much took our crew and put it in Level 1!â€
Level 1 would provide a little direction on what they wanted, but for the most part the three of them would just go film and it would jive because they all worked so well together. Durst knows Boville likes to ski really fast and can keep up. Others might not be able to.
The last few years, home base has been Ontario; working hard on his craft, working hard in the classroom, and working hard on the job site. In his â€˜free timeâ€™ he enjoys playing rubgy, soccer, lots of water sports, and somehow still has time to maintain a long term relationship.
Rubbing against the grain compared to his peers, he goes to the gym regularly. He eats as healthy as he can.
â€œThey really hate on it. Itâ€™s all about being tough and smashing beers, and doing it every day. I donâ€™t know. Itâ€™s not. I know my body and I know itâ€™s getting to a point where I gotta keep working out if I want to stay strong.â€
He still tramps often and teaches himself new tricks. However, a lot of new stuff is just understanding basic tricks that youâ€™re confident with, combining them, and creating one big trick.
When asked if he ever finds himself in a no-win situation midair, mid jump, while testing a new trick:
â€œOh for sure all the time. Not all the time. Hah, here and there.â€ [nervous giggle] â€œAir awareness, figure out where you are. Know how to fall, because youâ€™ve essentially been there, you know whatâ€™s coming, and you stick it best you can.â€
Image courtesy Sandy Boville
He also works his tail off on construction sites all summer. This last summer he averaged around 56-60 hours a week. If youâ€™re doing the math thatâ€™s five 12-hour days a week for an entire summer. He traveled for work a lot and they covered per diem for food and travel. He socks away as much as he can so he can afford to travel and live the life of a skier all winter.
Though currently not attending school, he did proactively enroll two years after high school and studied business marketing. He is taking another break after a few years of classes. He is actively using the tools he learned in the classroom to help with the business end of being a professional skier.
â€œIâ€™m pretty proud of myself of going back to school after taking two years off and still being able to ski throughout it. Didnâ€™t have to give up on my dream, which is nice.â€
At 23 years of age, Boville is a veteran. Heâ€™s at an age and a position where he has to think of the future and how much longer can he physically keep doing this. In 10 years he sees himself still in the ski industry, but in the form of a marketing professional, maybe helping to reinvent the sport as it constantly evolves.
â€œCanâ€™t use and abuse your body your whole life, gotta use your head at some point. â€œ
â€œObviously I want to do it for a few more years, but itâ€™s not something I want to do when Iâ€™m 30. I know there are some athletes that are still doing it at 30 but their bodies are really beat up. I want my body to function until Iâ€™m 80, 90, whatever.â€
Currently he plans to take one year at a time and keep filming with Level 1, hopefully put out something better with each season as they come. He plans on heading to Colorado for the early season to get the season started.
He also really wants to take some time to focus on some backcountry this year. The last few seasons heâ€™s focused on urban. Backcountry is something heâ€™s always wanted to do more of. With plans to take an avalanche course in Colorado this year, backcountry poses completely different risks and rewards than what urban does.
â€œTotally different animal. If weather is bad you canâ€™t get in. If youâ€™re gonna go backcountry, you pretty much need to go at it hard. You canâ€™t just go hit a few jumps. Itâ€™s just harder to get out. If you donâ€™t have a sled, youâ€™re hiking for everything, which is pretty draining.â€
â€œIn the immediate future I want to ski more powder. Yeah, definitely havenâ€™t done enough of that. When I moved to Whistler that was sort of the reason I moved out there. We had HUGE dump days and that was the best time I had out there; chest to waist deep powder, just sending it off cliffs and at that point you donâ€™t really care. Urban came natural, but Iâ€™d really like to get out and push myself and ski some deeper snow and more backcountry. For sure.â€
Additional goals for the season is to travel outside of North America to ski, visit other cultures and learn about them.
â€œMaybe go to Japan.â€
Last fall he traveled to El Salvador. To surf. He had won the surf trip as a prize through a ski contest. He had never surfed before. As soon as last season was done, he went to Costa Rica to surf. And now heâ€™s got a pretty big trip booked to Nicaragua this month to surf.
â€œThat trip I won fueled a new addiction. Itâ€™s so much like skiing – as far as the environment of people goes – but you get to hang out in board shorts, which is way better.â€
Image courtesy Sandy Boville
Boville is currently representing Revision Skis. As a new brand, Revision Skis was looking for new riders to help them prototype and design their new line of twin tip skis. Boville was looking for new sponsorships. A mutual friend suggested he reach out to the Revision team: Providing valuable feedback in what became the Talisman park ski/all mountain ski and the Subtraction powder ski, Boville and Revision became a great team.
â€œIt was a good fit because they didnâ€™t tell me what I had to do with the skis; they said I could do what I wanted to do and was totally game for it and have supported me ever since. Iâ€™m excited for this upcoming year. I have a really good relationship with Revision right now. Iâ€™m pretty amped on it.â€
Sandy Boville is grounded. He knows that even during down periods, you deal with the situation at hand, make a plan, and deal with it â€“ even if youâ€™re not in your country, your wallet, cash, and passport are all stolen while on site filming, and three business days before youâ€™re supposed to get on a flight.
â€œIt was tough, but I try to keep my head up. Iâ€™m a pretty positive person. If you let something like that get you down, you know, thereâ€™s nothing you can do about it anyways. Just deal with it and move on.â€
Sandy Boville is focused. He knows where he came from and he knows what he wants to do. So heâ€™s going to do it, now.
â€œI can make money later. Iâ€™d rather have more fun when Iâ€™m younger and able to use my body for all it is instead of wasting until Iâ€™m retired and THEN doing all the things I wanted to do.â€
Revision Skis is proud to have Sandy Boville riding our skis and making key contributions to product development.