Ripping | Liam Gill

Method, Holy Bowly at Sunshine Village, Banff, AB. 
Words: Finn Westbury
Photos: Rob Lemay

The early teenage years are plagued by learning to control an ever-changing body. Liam spent a remarkably short time with “little kid style”—riding like an adult far before he was legally considered one. That clearly treated him well. With an Olympic appearance under his belt, and spearheading numerous community-focused initiatives, Liam balances maturity and talent with excitement and humour—a combination that will serve him well in the years to come.—Finn Westbury

I saw your TikTok the other day, and I was laughing my ass off. You’re popping off on there. How did that happen?

I don’t know. I remember when I first got the app, and I did one TikTok that blew up [laughs]. I was hooked. I just post whatever I think is funny at the moment. I’m not like on a grind. It’s just in my pocket. Just for fun. 

Making shit that your friends and 3 million other people will find funny. You grew up at COP, honing your riding through snowboarding clubs. You always excelled in contests. Then did an interesting lane change, shifting your focus from slopestyle to halfpipe. Where did that come from?

To be completely honest, slopestyle was the end goal. That’s what I wanted to do. I was told I could apply for both teams, so I did. I always competed in halfpipe, but I never spent time in one because the pipe was always closed or a national team rented it out. Or…

Shaun White rented it?

[Laughs] So, Canada Snowboard took me on both National Teams simultaneously, which they haven’t done before. My first trip was to Saas-Fee, and it was strictly for halfpipe. I remember how excited I was to ride the slope course because that’s all I was thinking about. I showed up, and I was getting the whole vibe of the halfpipe. I was learning super quick, because I never got the opportunity to actually spend time in the pipe before. Everything I learned up until then was in contest runs. I learned so much within the first few days. It was an eye-opening experience. Like, damn, this is fun. It’s new. It’s like I’m learning how to snowboard for the second time.

Challenge accepted. You lined up the transition into halfpipe at the right time. As many people know, you went to the Olympic Games in Beijing last year. What was that experience like?

To be clear, it was a huge dream come true—a surreal moment. I was super happy to be there, but [laughs] it was hectic. I had to take COVID tests every day, and my coach wasn’t there because he had COVID, and then I broke all my boards, so I had to ride some random one I’d never ridden before.

Damn. Hectic, indeed. Do you have aspirations to do another one?

That was what we were shooting for. Derek [Livingston] got hurt, and I took his spot. That was what got me in. 2026 was always the goal.

Speaking about the Olympics, they acted as a springboard for the community initiatives you’ve been spearheading. Care to share info on the clinics you’ve been hosting?

Right after the Olympics, I went up to the Northwest Territories. We stopped at Yellowknife, Fort Smith, and Fort Simpson. We really wanted to go to Simpson because that’s where my grandmother’s from. We introduced a bunch of kids to snowboarding. I remember spending the whole time running up and down the hill, holding hands. When I returned this year, I was snowboarding the entire time, because they all knew how to get around. It was sick—it was nonstop. I couldn’t keep up with them.

How did the recent Sunshine Village trip come about?

So, the opportunity came when I partnered with Sunshine this season. They offered me the chance to host an event of my choosing. So, hypothetically, I wondered how sick it would be to bring some of these kids down. It seemed like such a reach [laughs] then my mom made it happen.

What was it like for you to see that idea through?

I didn’t quite understand how much you seem to downplay yourself. I didn’t realize what was happening until midway through the trip. I’m like, damn, I’m actually doing something. I’m helping people. I didn’t understand that at first. Some of the kids have troubles, so for them to come to Sunshine at no cost and just have fun is pretty sweet. So thankful.

What you’re doing there is damn cool. Keep up the good work, Liam. Any shoutouts to end this thing?

Shout out to my mom [laughs] and all my sponsors.

Liam at home in the Rocky Mountains. Home court advantage! 
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