After a major injury in 2020, Ryan Paterson is back. His season edit shows tenacity, an eye for natural features, and the ability to put down big tricks in the backcountry. While Ryan did land some clips in the King Snow Movie, he filmed this part largely on his own terms and without a rostered spot on a major project. To accompany his footage, we caught up with Ryan to talk about his approach, recovery, and motivation to film at a pro level despite the challenges of securing a seat at the table in today's snowboard landscape. Dive in, and enjoy this blast of backcountry boarding from one Whistler's hungriest and most talented young rippers.
By David MacKinnon, photos by Justin Kious
What's a day in the life for RyPow? Who's the crew?
Last year we were spending a lot of time up north, so it starts with a really early wake up here in Squamish and a whole bunch of coffee on the way to meet the King of the North, Dave Craig. Then talk a bunch of shit with the boys in the parking lot, usually Keenan [Filmer] and Justin [Kious], and then go for a struggle!
What does the process of getting a clip look like?
It depends so much on the day. It can be the easiest thing, or it can be a multi-day affair where nothing is happening and the frustration is pretty high. It's so hit or miss– there were so many days last year when we went out with an objective in mind and got completely shut down, and some days we had no plan and got really lucky. This one jump we tried to hit probably four times, and the first two times Keenan got first hit and it slid both times. Then we got milked out on it, and then finally the fourth day we had a good session on it. But it was obsessive at that point– we didn't want to go anywhere else, we just wanted to finish what we started. That's at the 'more battle' side of the spectrum. But it ended up being super worth it, we both got good shots. It was close to the end of the season, too, and a great way to finish it off. That's when I got my front 10.
Tell me about the back 1.
That was actually a good example of a day when things unfolded naturally and came fairly easily. We had some stuff we wanted to go shoot in the morning, and it was really nice and sunny when we parked, but by the time we were on top of our lines it just totally milked over. That had been happening to us over and over again, so it was pretty frustrating. But Dave motivated us just to go do some fun laps in the trees. Sure enough, after that the sun came back and lit up this area with a few lines we've driven past in previous years, but never ridden. Right away I saw that little rib into a cliff over a gully, this perfect natural feature with a really nice steep landing. It looked perfect, kind of a downhill take-off so I figured back one would make the most sense. First T I was sooo close, I just drifted a bit more than I wanted to and landed in a steeper section past the fan of the gully and just tomahawked, like rode away but scorped super bad. It was close to the end of the day but I knew I could get it quick, so I adjusted and then boom I was on my feet riding away.
This year was a comeback year for you. What's your mind game like coming back from getting smashed up in 2020?
That was pretty gnarly for sure. It seemed like some good things were going to be happening that year in terms of opportunities to progress, and that got shut down in mid-January when I smoked a tree. I got pretty brutalized, broke my jaw in three places, my elbow and wrist, my teeth were all mangled. Luckily I was with the right people– shout out to Rasman and Ben Webb and Spenny who came and made the assist to get me out of there. It was a new experience, I've never had a season-ending injury or an injury of that severity ever in my life, so it was new. Still, I feel like I got pretty lucky, and walked away relatively unscathed after everything healed. But yeah, coming into last year was tough. I really wanted to get back on my feet, pick up where I left off and prove that I could still hang. But the first month of trying to shoot was really challenging, my head was in a weird place and I couldn't really stay on my feet. It took a minute, but once I finally got my first clip I was like, 'OK, there it is. First one's in the bag,' and then the rest started coming easier and easier. By the end of the year I was just so psyched, I didn't want it to end. I'm kind of still in that state of wanting to pick right back up. I'm feeling like myself again.
That's so awesome– it's good to have you back. OK, take this anyway you want to take it, but you're out there riding your snowmobile around and hucking yourself off jumps, and it's tough to do that. It's tough to pay for that. And beyond trying to find budget, these days it's also hard to find opportunities to crew up and see how good at snowboarding you can get. I know you're not the kind of guy to bitch about it, but off the cuff what are your thoughts on that?
I've come to the conclusion that maybe I just need to fund myself, at least primarily, if I want to do this. That's why I got into carpentry and got my ticket, I can balance it out and I'm happy to do that. But for sure, trying to go out and chuck yourself and get clips when you don't really know where it's going or if it's going anywhere... how do I want to say this? I think you put it really well, having that opportunity to see how good you can be. That's really challenging when you're self-funding and you don't necessarily have a solid outlet or something to work towards. It's different when you have support in the form of people who expect you to push yourself, and a bit of competitiveness to keep you hungry. I definitely feel like I've had some great seasons and opportunities in the past, like I'm so grateful to Geoff [Brown] and Out of Service, but I still feel like I haven't unleashed my full potential. Just having that opportunity to see how far I can push it is something I still hope will happen one day. But I love to do it, and I love to go out with my friends, and I'm gonna do it one way or another. I'm just happy to be out there.
My man. Okay, who gets a shoutout?
Big shoutout to Dave Craig, and Keenan for sure. We had a pretty fun season together, it was sick to watch Keenan really tap into his ability. He's one of the best snowboarders I know for sure. And of course Justin Kious who was out shooting photos most days, we dragged him around sometimes against his will. And Jill of course for putting up with the winter program, and all the homies I get to snowboard with.