Broken - Will Lavigne

Broken will cannon

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

too late.

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.

Broken will cannon2

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.

Broken will cannon1

Lipslide, Quebec. Photo: Crispin Cannon

So there was no one designated to spotting traffic who you can blame

for it?

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.

Willlavigne broken

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

and depressed?

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?

I do.

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.

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