Photo: Crispin Cannon
Interview by Robjn Taylor
The Jody Wachniak Interview
From forth the horse-infested countryside of Manitoba, and from within the dizzying maelstrom of volleyball rejection and Jake Kuzyk’s mockery, a most expressive and opinionated man emerges. One who claims that he can do 30 chin-ups (he can’t) and then asks if Home Depot is a bank (it isn’t). One who does not care about outer space. And why should he? He is Jody Wachniak: The most entertaining snowboarder to watch in the entire world (depending on the world).
Up and down the various inclines of Whistler, B.C., he hops about in a spirited manner that is both violent and noodley. For others, attempts to imitate this style end in emotional pain and confusion. Is he double-jointed? Is he missing ribs? We’ll never know. Even when he flails, he makes Dave Chappelle want to know his name. Maybe you disagree. That’s fine. No one is harder on Jody’s snowboarding than he is. And to be fair, Dave Chappelle knows enough names already.
Oh, and Jody rants. And when he rants, you listen. You’ll be glad you did. So I asked him to imagine that there’s a terrible fire, and stuck in this fire are two things: snowboard parks and space exploration. I told him that he could only save one and the other would die in the fire. “I would save snowboard parks,” he said. “I don’t care about space. Pretty sure it’s important, but I don’t care about it.”
OK. WHAT IF IT WAS THE HELLS ANGELS OR PIXAR?
I would save Pixar, for sure.
QUAD CORKS OR TAMEDOGS OFF OF RAILS?
Quad Corks. At least they’re fun to watch.
CHELSEA OR YOUR PARENTS?
What! My girlfriend or my parents? I would pick my… I can’t let my mom burn in a fire! Wait… I pick Chelsea, ‘cause my dad would save my mom.
OH, WELL PLAYED.
That was good, right?
YEAH, THAT WAS A GOOD ANSWER. NOW, IMAGINE THAT YOU’RE GETTING ON A CHAIRLIFT BY YOURSELF. YOU’RE IN THE ZONE, THERE’S NO LINEUP OR ANYTHING, AND RIGHT BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN, FROM OUT OF NOWHERE, A RANDOM SINGLE SNAKES ON.
Oh, that’s a pet peeve, for sure. Everyone’s pet peeve. There’s no line and you couldn’t just take the next chair?
RIGHT. SO YOU SIT DOWN AND AS YOU START GOING UP, YOU LOOK OVER AND REALIZE, WOW, IT’S ACTUALLY DAVE CHAPPELLE.
WOULD YOU SAY ANYTHING? IT’S JUST YOU AND HIM.
Yeah, for sure! I’d probably look at him, then look away, and then wait to see if he recognized who I was—just in case he follows snowboarding [laughs]. Shit. He’s my favourite comedian, so I’d be pretty intimidated. I’d probably blow it and spend the whole time thinking about which one-liner of his I should say. Or I’d tell him that he should make a movie with Mike Myers—a new Wayne’s World and he could be the new Garth.
OK. SAME SCENARIO, BUT THIS TIME YOU LOOK OVER AND IT’S RIHANNA.
Oh my god. Well, I would… Oh, that would suck. She’s so hot. I’m assuming she’d look badass, or like an idiot, but with the best style ever. Like, Gucci everything and gold-trimmed gloves and stuff. I don’t know. I’d probably be shy. I’d text you, like, “Rihanna’s beside me. What do I do?”
WOULD YOU TRY TO TAKE A SELFIE WITH HER?
For sure. It’d be worth it. People would be so hyped. 100 likes.
SO, OTHER THAN POSTING SELFIES WITH RIHANNA, WHAT’S THE ONE THING PEOPLE SHOULD DO IF THEY WANT TO GET MORE LIKES ON THEIR INSTAGRAM PHOTOS?
Oh, that’s easy. Add a lot of sepia, as much contrast as possible, and then add sepia. Is it sepia? Am I saying it right?
YEAH. THAT OLD-TIMEY LOOK.
Actually, I don’t know ‘cause no one likes my photos. I feel like most people just like super scenic shit with the sun going down. But not just a sunset ‘cause those are boring. You need a sunset, plus your activity—whatever that is. People eat that up. Guaranteed 100 likes. It’s so good when you’re at 99 and that next person hits. So satisfying.
WHAT ABOUT 500 LIKES?
Then it’s not fun anymore.
Bluntslide, Quebec. Photo: Oli Croteau
YOU LEFT WHISTLER A FEW TIMES LAST SEASON. WHAT WERE YOU UP TO?
Yeah, it was a weird snow year on the West Coast, so everyone had to do a lot of travelling to make it happen. Lots of crews were really full, so I did what I could. I was in Montreal for a while, filming rails with Anto Chamberland, which was perfect ‘cause he has every tool and piece of equipment in the world, and he kind of took me under his wing out there. Earlier in the season, I went to 100 Mile House with the Duh Bolts crew. We brought this guy, Brent Jorgenson from Winnipeg, who fishes and stuff like that. He just kind of came up and drank beers and brought up the vibes. He’d build little jumps beside the rails and do switch methods and stuff. I really feel that people should do that kind of thing in the backcountry. Bring up your random friend who’ll fly off a cliff and land on his back, and it’ll be funny. And before that, I was with you and the Manboys in Japan. Great snow, great friends... Except everyone stole all my powder. Save me some damn turns! I deserve some respect, you know? I used to do Taekwondo.
THERE’S A LOT OF KICKING IN TAEKWONDO.
And that’s what I’m saying. But that trip was a beauty. Lots of good turns.
WHEREVER WE DROVE, YOU WERE BIG INTO BEING THE VAN DJ.
Yes, I was.
YOU WERE GOOD AT READING THE CROWD—THE VAN CROWD.
Yeah, that’s my thing. I’m always thinking about what the next song should be. If the vibes aren’t hypey or if everyone’s just eaten, then I know I can play the Beatles or Zeppelin or whatever else, and just let people digest. But then if I know things can start getting crazy, boom! I put on some sweet rap shit or house music. Some real heaters. There’s a time and a place for every song.
WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO BE AN ACTUAL REAL- LIFE DJ?
No, just hobby-styles. iPhone at a party—that kind of thing. I can get pretty serious about it sometimes, though. Like, if I’m killing it and then some random dude comes over and wants to play his songs, and I can tell early on that he’s a vibe killer and he’s going to ruin the party, then I’ll turn his volume down super slowly, put on a new song by me, and then slowly turn the volume back up. It’s called, “The Fade.” That’s my move.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE MANBOY?
Hmmm… Maybe Mark [Sollors]? Mark because he has, umm… He just helps us out more than the rest. He buys pizza and stuff, and he organizes. Well, you and Rusty [Ockenden] do lots, too, but [Chris] Rasman, [Matt] Belzile and I don’t do anything. Sorry, guys, but we don’t.
WHO IS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE MANBOY?
OK THEN. HE CAN HANDLE THAT, RIGHT?
Yeah, he’s going to be just fine. Actually, I’m probably my least favourite Manboy.
WHY DID YOU START SNOWBOARDING?
I went snowboarding for the first time in Grade 6 because there was this girl that I had a crush on and she snowboarded. I went to this hill we had near Winnipeg, called Spring Hill, and I didn’t rent boots ‘cause my mom was like, “You’ll be fine in shoes.”
Backside Tailslide, Quebec. Photo: Oli Croteau
WHAT? HOW WAS TURNING?
Well, I didn’t do much of that. I think I did two runs and then my feet were frozen and my ankles were destroyed. And then I didn’t snowboard again until the next year. I had tried out for the volleyball team and every single one of my friends made the team, except for me. They told me I could look after the jerseys and stuff, and I was like, “What!” I was crushed. So then I bought this skateboard from Canadian Tire and when I would push it around or whatever—what’s the cool word for that again?
Yeah. When I would skate around on it, Jake Kuzyk would make fun of me because it wasn’t a legit board and it was so silent. Like, it had these big gel wheels that were really quiet. It had a dumb name.
THE GHOST ATTACK? THE GREASY SNEAK?
The Silent Night? Yeah, something like that. It was so lame. So I was kind of getting into it, but then it became winter and I couldn’t skate outside anymore, so it made sense to just start snowboarding. Everyone else was really dropping in that year, too, so I was like, “OK, I’ll be a snowboarder.” And I’d already tried it out the year before because of that girl.
DID SHE KNOW YOU HAD A CRUSH ON HER?
Yeah. Oh yeah. We had a moment. I think there might have been a butt grab, or a handshake, or a hug, or whatever you do at that age. I don’t know.
WHY DO YOU SNOWBOARD NOW?
It’s too fun to stop. Going up the mountain and riding with a few of your friends is just the best. It’s fun as shit.
BUT WHY IS THAT? EVERYONE ALWAYS SAYS, “IT’S SO MUCH FUN WITH MY FRIENDS.” WE KNOW IT’S TRUE, BUT WHY IS THAT ALWAYS THE THING THAT PEOPLE SAY?
I don’t know. There’s no one telling you what to do up there. You can float around and do nothing in the trees, or you can go to the park and try to learn new tricks, or you can ride down a huge mountain, or you can be super keen and go hike up the peak before it’s even open. There’s just so many different things to do and every one of them is a good time. You know what? Watch something with Nicolas Müller talking. He’s got that super epic Morgan Freeman-style of explaining it. Whenever anyone else tries to sound all epic, you just want them to shut up. Nobody wants to hear Jody Wachniak talk about why he loves snowboarding. Or maybe they do.
IF NICOLAS MÜLLER IS THE MORGAN FREEMAN OF SNOWBOARDING, WHAT DOES THAT MAKE YOU?
I’m like the Screech.
Yeah, from Saved By the Bell.
YOU SHOULD DESCRIBE SCREECH FOR THOSE OUT THERE WHO ARE UNFAMILIAR.
Well, if you don’t know, he’s a super dorky guy from a show about high school. He’s awesome. Everyone likes him, but he’s just the hugest dweeb.
Frontside 540, Whistler, BC. Photo: Scott Serfas
SO YOU THINK EVERYONE LIKES YOU?
Yes. Well, I click with a lot of people, but I am definitely a dork.
WHAT TRICK WOULD YOU REJECT TRYING OFF OF A LARGE, FIRM, PARK JUMP, EVEN IF OFFERED 500 MILLION DOLLARS?
Well, I’d probably try any of the Doubles, but nothing beyond that ‘cause I could die. I’m not sure. Like, I understand the Doubles, so I could just try to hold on, but for Triples, I feel like you need to be gymnastic and have a trainer, and spend the offseason indoors, jumping on trampolines. So yeah, I wouldn’t try any variation of a Triple. No amount of money would be sweet to be dead or have a broken neck or something. Who would be funding this project?
A CRAZY-RICH GUY WHO THINKS IT’S FUNNY TO WATCH SNOWBOARDERS RISK THEIR LIVES.
That could be a TV show. Well, unless someone actually died.
IF YOU WERE THE RICH DUDE PULLING THE STRINGS, WHAT TRICK WOULD YOU DEMAND FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT?
I’d want to see someone try to leave the lip and do a Tamedog, pause, and then without rotating or anything, do a Wildcat.
AH, YES. SOMETHING STRAIGHT FORWARD, BUT TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE.
Well, yeah. That’s how I’d not lose my money.
YOU THINK ANYONE WILL READ THIS AND THINK, “MAN, THAT GUY WON’T TRY A TRIPLE FOR 500 MILLION DOLLARS, BUT I DO TRIPLES ON THE DAILY AND CAN EVEN DO QUADS!”
I don’t think anyone who can do a Quad will be reading this. There’s only two of them. Actually, only one. That British guy didn’t really land.
NO? YOU DON’T WANT TO GIVE HIM THAT ONE?
No. What? He shot out at a crazy angle, hands dragging in the snow. Did you see it? Did you think it was a land?
WELL… HE DIDN’T FALL.
[Laughs] Exactly. Should we watch it really quick?
OK, LET’S TAKE A LOOK.
Here it is. Billy Morgan, right? That’s him. He’s riding up, super steezy, and… You know what? If that was my camper at COC, I would be really excited for him. I’d be like, “Oh yeah, dude! You almost had it! Go back up there again and just land it, and we’ll call it a day!” Sorry, Billy. You didn’t get that one. Maybe next time.
I GUESS IT’S SETTLED. I’LL EMAIL HIM AND LET HIM KNOW. SO, WHAT’S THE ONE THING ABOUT YOU THAT YOU WANT PEOPLE TO TAKE AWAY FROM READING THIS INTERVIEW?
That whoever you look up to is always going to be a letdown, but keep working hard and it’ll all work out.
Gap to Noseslide, Backside 270 out, Quebec. Photo: Oli Croteau
NO, NOT A LIFE LESSON. I MEANT ABOUT YOU. WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER ABOUT JODY WACHNIAK?
Oh. That I’m a super aggressive weightlifter, but a really passive crack dealer. That was dumb. I guess I want people to remember that I started from the bottom and now I’m here. It might not be the top, but it’s not the bottom anymore.
THAT’S THE ONE. YOU FEEL LIKE SHOUTING OUT TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOUR NOT-BOTTOMNESS POSSIBLE?
Yes please. Thanks to my family—so blessed to grow up with such an amazing mom, dad, and sister. I hands down have the dopest friends. My crews: Gypsy Mob, D.O.P.E., The Manboys, 8 Mile Life. All the boarders that make up these crews are not only my favourite boarders,but my good friends that have backed me and helped me get to where I’m at, wherever that is. My girl, Chelsea. She’s a beauty and let’s me do my thing. My favourite boarders growing up who made me want to board: Devun Walsh, Danny Kass, MFM, Darrell Mathes, Simon Chamberlain, Scotty Wittlake, Travis Parker. My home town heroes: Chris Saniuk, Kevin Griffin, Andrew Geeves, and Tyler Beckel. All my sponsors: K2 (Taylor), Skullcandy (Adam), adidas (Evan), Electric (Cyle), Howl (Darrell), Elm (Brett), MyPakage (Dez), Duh Bolts (Brockle), Danger Straps (Craig), Ekumenik ( Jordan), and Markass. My landlord, Sean, for being rather lenient with the “first of the month,” and Mark for about a year’s worth of dinners and drinks. I’ll pay you back one day, maybe, probably not… Oh, and the friendly moose!
Cab 540, Whistler, BC. Photo: Scott Serfas