Photo: Crispin Cannon
Interview: Eric Greene
When you think about snowboarding, you usually don’t think about cars
and traffic being hazardous. To cut right to the point, Will Lavigne got
hit by a car while snowboarding last winter. He didn’t get clipped or
bumped into by a car. He got fucking smoked, head on, and flew 10 feet
in the air before landing in a crumpled pile across the cold yellow centre
line. I could easily make a bunch of jokes about how you learn when
you’re a little kid to look both ways before crossing the street and you
should never play in traffic, but I’m sure Will’s friends have already beat
those jokes to death. Poor little guy never saw it coming until it was
I sympathize with the driver, too, whoever he was. He was probably
en route to his shitty factory job in some shitty building in cold
ass Chicoutimi, Quebec, sipping a cup of sour Tim Horton’s coffee and
listening to all the doom and gloom going on around the world on the
CBC morning broadcast. Maybe he was lost in thought about how banal
his existence and underpaid his job was, and how nothing was going
right in his life and he should be doing something more meaningful, like
banging pretty women half his age on a rum-soaked Caribbean island
because he didn’t have shit going on in Chicoutimi aside from selling
cardboard boxes over the phone. But at least he had his car—his 2008
Buick LaCrosse that was 80 per cent paid off and the sweetest ride in his
factory parking lot. Yes, the car seemed to make everything else in life
worth it, and then BAM! Will Lavigne is doing cartwheels over the hood
of the Buick before splattering himself on the road like a porcupine—a
punk snowboarder who glided out into the street from a flat parking lot.
Whatta fucking morning.
50-50 Gap to 50-50, Quebec. Photo: Crispin Cannon
Will, tell us the details of your accident from your own perspective.
It was my first session of the season in early December. I was coming
back from a trip to Korea with the Vans crew. The Déjà vu crew had been
up in Chicoutimi for two weeks already when I met up with them. The entire
film crew was up there: Oli Gagnon, Andy Wright, Harry Hagan and
Hayden Rensch, plus the riders. The crew was so big that we had to split
up into two. Chris [Grenier] and Ben [Bilocq] were with me, and Andy
came for photos and Harry came for filming. We got to the spot and
took some time to decide what we wanted to do and who was gonna go
first and stuff like that. Chris had a different setup right next to mine,
but I was going first and felt like I had to be fast so everyone else could
hit their features after me. I had to pop over a fence onto a ledge with a
big drop on the side, and gap onto another ledge, which was giving me
a LOT of speed when I rode out of the whole thing. The street was six
or seven meters further from the bottom of the ledge. I needed a lot of
speed, so we used the winch. Harry and Andy were still setting up and I
was speed checking, and tried the feature a few times. After a few tries,
I ended up riding the whole thing, but wanted to see if some tricks could
be done on it, so I kept going. I said, “OK, I’m ready.” Chris pulled me towards
the ledge with the winch, I got on, popped onto the second ledge,
and made it perfect. At that moment, I felt a really good feeling because
it went so well and then in the corner of my eye I saw something coming
towards me. It was too late. I had ridden out into the street and got hit
by something. I wasn’t totally sure it was a car because I didn’t fully see
it. Then I was lying on the ground. I should mention that the street I got
hit on was a really, really quiet street, where we hadn’t seen any other
cars drive by. The only car that drove by that morning was perfectly
timed with the speed I had coming out of the ledge. It actually couldn’t
have been more perfectly timed.
How do you think it looked for other guys in your crew?
I’m pretty sure everyone saw everything. Ben was filming from the top,
Chris was pulling me, and Andy and Harry were shooting from their
How do you think the person driving the car saw it?
Everything happened so fast, so I’m not sure if he saw me at all before
he hit me with his car. I gained so much speed from the ledge and came
into the street out of nowhere. I wonder what the driver was doing in
that area at that time. The only thing I can remember is that he got out
of the car and said a few things to me that I couldn’t understand. Chris
was there talking to me in English, so the guy probably thought I was
English. Then I asked him how fast he was going and he said something
vague. I never saw his face. I kinda wish I could’ve heard his version.
What were your first thoughts when the car hit you?
I remember being in the air and thinking of an old skate clip I saw once,
where a skater got hit by a car super bad while bombing a hill. I saw
that clip in my head when I was in the air and told myself, “I fucked up.” I
wasn’t fully sure that I got hit by something. It felt so unreal.
Lipslide, Quebec. Photo: Crispin Cannon
So there was no one designated to spotting traffic who you can blame
I don’t want to say it was anyone’s fault. Normally, everyone looks before
someone goes. I was excited and had a little stress since it was my first
session of the year, so I felt like I had to rush and let the other guys do
their thing. I’m usually pretty on it and try to be safe with everything.
The street was so quiet that I think we all forgot about watching for cars.
You never ended up meeting the guy who was driving the car and hear
it from his side?
I have no idea who was driving. My body dented the entire front of his
car and I was thrown 10 feet up in the air. He was probably freaked out.
Was it a situation where you could have sued the driver and made an
insurance claim, or could he have sued you?
Since everything happened in the street and I wasn’t driving a car, it’s
like I was a pedestrian and I had priority. Everything related to the accident
was covered by the insurance association you pay your license
to—the Quebec road insurance thing. There was no suing scenario. The
insurance paid for my physio and everything, but that’s it. And since I
was under contract and didn’t lose any body parts, I couldn’t claim any
What was the prognosis when you ended up in the hospital?
They first checked if I had internal bleeding anywhere and then X-rayed
my entire body. I couldn’t walk or move my legs without having a lot of
pain. They gave me a bunch of morphine, which made me want to throw
up, and I got all light-headed. In the end, no bones were broken and I
didn’t have any bleeding inside. After about eight hours, they told me I
could leave. I tried to stand up and could barely stand on my feet, so I
stayed in the hospital overnight. The next day, they put me in a wheelchair
and I left. Oli drove me home to Quebec City. I went to physio the
next day and they told me I had a bunch of torn ligaments and muscles
and bruises. The inside ligament in my knee was torn, a bunch of different
things in my hip and pelvis, too, and my abs were fucked. The bone
right above my penis was bruised and my organs were swollen. It felt like
I had to pee all the time, but then nothing would come out.
How much recovery time were you looking at?
I spent three months recovering and I was kinda OK after that. I stayed
sore for a long while after—probably until the summer. Now I think I’m
So you weren’t in the hospital long enough to have guests come visit
Everyone I was with in Chicoutimi came for a short moment, but I wasn’t
there for very long.
Hard Way Half Cab Gap to 50-50, Quebec. Photo: Oli Croteau
How did you keep busy during the recovery?
For some reason it didn’t feel like it took too long. I
was doing stuff all the time. Every day I had a bunch
of exercises to do. In the beginning they were really
simple, like contracting muscles and trying to walk for
10 minutes a few times a day. After a while I started to
walk and went to the swimming pool to do stuff with
my hip. I bought a stationary bike and used it a bunch.
A lot of time was spent in rehab and I saw friends all the
time. During Christmas and New Year’s we were doing
dinners at my place a bunch and having family parties. I
was doing stuff I normally wouldn’t do because I never
had the time.
Did your attitude stay positive or were you bummed
I stayed OK, I think. My girlfriend was around all the
time and helping me a lot. I was seeing friends all the
time, too. The hardest was to know the whole crew was
going to Japan and I couldn’t go. I almost went just
to hang. They spent a full month there and I would’ve
loved to be part of it and explore the country. Being
hurt is for sure a huge mental challenge—going from
being active to not being able to walk. A few times in
my life I’ve had to go through a recovery scenario. I’m
better at it now than I use to be.
Did you smoke weed and play a lot of video games?
I used to smoke weed all the time, but now it makes
me super anxious. I just can’t do it. A few years ago I
probably would have smoked a lot if I was injured. I’m
not much of a video gamer either. I was mainly doing
computer stuff and seeing people.
You’ve got a girlfriend?
And you weren’t annoying for her to deal with?
She helped me a lot. In the beginning I couldn’t drive
or really even move. She cooked and did everything
around the house. She made it a lot easier for me.
Were you too injured to have sex or pleasure yourself?
In the beginning, yes. Getting hard was painful. After
a while, I could have sex, but I had to stay on my back.
Again, she had to do everything.
What did your mom think about you playing in the
Well, there was no traffic. It was just one single car. My
mom was bummed, but couldn’t do much. I didn’t tell
my family right away because I didn’t know how bad
my injuries were. I sent them an email four days after. I
didn’t want to deal with them telling me what I should
and should not have done.
Do you feel like you have a new lease on life?
I don’t know. I’m just thankful it wasn’t worse and am
happy that I made it through OK.
Are you now back to full health?
I’m fine now. I’m looking forward to riding some new
spots and going on trips.
Did you learn a lesson?
I’m not really sure. It was a mix of bad timing and a
morning when we weren’t completely organized. I’m
not sure what the lesson should be. We’re normally
careful with that kinda stuff, but maybe I’ll be even
more careful now.