By Chris Fitzsimmons
Age | 28
Place | Whistler, BC
Sponsors | The North Face, Capita, Union, Vans, Dragon, The Circle
So, what's going on, my man?
Chilling at home, putting together a skateboard.
Sick. So, first things first, where did you grow up snowboarding?
I grew up snowboarding in Walkerton, Southern Ontario, mainly in the family barnyard, cow pastures, and then graduating to the local hill, which was Blue Mountain near Collingwood.
How long has the Poechman family farm been around for?
That's a good question. I think it's on it's third generation right now.
Didn't you used to host some rail jams there back in the day, some preseason ones?
[Laughs] Yeah, that was cool. I hurt my knee that summer, and I was home. I had surgery. I had this pretty sweet barn rail that I got custom welded, and I cemented it into the ground. I was like, "Man, I can't enjoy this thing." But, my dad has a big seed truck that he uses to haul seed. So, we contacted the local arena. They have enough ice shavings from the hockey arena that they could fill up our truck, and then we harvested snow from a few local arenas and invited whoever was around to come have a session one day. That was cool. I was surprised it came together.
Sounds like some classic Ontario stuff.
It came together, and it had a good turnout. It was fun.
You can also set up other stuff at the barn too, right?
Yeah, pretty much everything there has become rideable. I used to get in a lot of trouble for jumping off the roofs, but now my parents have accepted it, and they're like, "OK, well… be safe!"
It's rad your parents are down with snowboarding and supportive.
Yeah, there was a long period of questioning what the hell I was doing with my life, but eventually they were like, "OK. It's pretty legit." I think they're just mainly worried about my work ethic, they hope that I'm not just out there having fun, not doing much. But, if you have a good work ethic, they see that and my passion for it.
Do you want to touch on Peak Plane?
Sure. Yeah. Basically, it started five years ago when I was hurt, and I was re-evaluating my life and questioning where my place will be when I come back to snowboarding. I'd never taken a whole year off until then. I'd never really stopped to think about where I'm going, what my path is in snowboarding. So, I came up with this idea that I want to create a media platform that I liked, and that was more art-focused, feeding the side of snowboarding that was more artistic rather than sporty or competitive. I wasn't artistic at that point, so I thought I was going to have to find artists and outsource all of the content. But then, as this idea evolved, I started making art over the last few years, and then I realized that this maybe is just the platform for how I'll share my art. The long-term vision is definitely to incorporate more people. I don't want it to just be my art. I'd like to eventually branch out and do collaborations with people and brands and stuff.
Do you have any artists that inspired you to take your art to the next level?
Definitely. One of the biggest ones is probably Lucas Beaufort.
Didn't you make a gift for him and give it to him in Vancouver?
Yeah, I carved one of his signature creatures and gave it to him. It was pretty cool. He came to Whistler later on, and I got to show him our Stone Art Gallery and he was super pumped. He was like, "Let's collaborate." So, I carved a bunch more of his creatures, and shipped them to him in France. He's going to paint on them at some point, so keep an eye out for those. I think the reason he was such an inspiration was because he's the bridge for an artist to get into skate and snow culture. He was doing renditions on skate mags and snowboards photos and stuff.
Did getting into art change your style on a snowboard, did you find yourself being more creative?
Yeah, definitely. I think I've always tried to look at snowboarding differently, but now that I'm developing the artistic side of my brain, I'm stimulating that side even more. So, that transcends into snowboarding. I couldn't tell you specifically how or where, but I think if you were to look at my snowboarding over a period of time, you'd probably notice a change.
I guess, having an artistic side, you might also want to have yourself presented in a way that is aesthetically pleasing as well.
For sure. I think if you have a vision, that vision just becomes more clear. You have a better idea of what it is you want to create, and then you’ll have a guideline on how to get there. You'll look at a painting and be like, "Wow that's amazing." You can appreciate it, but until you know all the steps of how to make it happen, then it's just this, like, "Huh..." because you didn't see the process. But, when you understand the process, it makes more sense, it's easier to create it if you know where to start.
I see you're getting into film photography. Are you having fun with that? It's always a lot of fun shooting photos and not knowing what you're going to get back when the lab develops the photos.
A little bit. Yeah. It's one of the nice parts of the process with doing a painting or something. You're putting in the work, but you don't know what the result is exactly going to turn out like until it's finished. I like that. I found a film camera in a random cabinet in the farmhouse. It was my grandma's, who passed it down to my dad, and then it had probably sat for 10 years, no one was using it. I just found it and was like, "Hey, can I have this?" It's cool. I like it a lot.
Anyone you want to shout-out or thank, Ben?
That's the hardest question. But shout-out to the people doing their thing, you know?
Shout-out to them.