Canadian rider Sebastien Toutant, better known as Seb Toots, is taking the world of snowboarding by storm. After earning silver in big air and gold in slopestyle during his first Winter X Games in 2011, in the spring of 2011 he became the third person in history to land a triple cork (behind Torstein Horgmo and Mark McMorris).
Also earning bronze in big air at WX Aspen 2012, Toots is cementing his reputation as one of the leading young snowboarders on the scene, and can look forward to competing in the slopestyle at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
We had the opportunity to have a chat with this expert daredevil about the challenges that lie ahead, the jacket line he developed with O'Neill, and his advice for boarders hoping to follow in his footsteps.
From strength to strength
It's been a wild couple of years for Montreal native Sebastien Toutant. Since coming onto the scene at age 13 in 2006, he has gone from strength to strength. Now, at age 20, his track record is formidable – with more to come. “I want to do things that have never been done on a snowboard before,” he says. “Mainly, I just want to be a better snowboarder every day that I ride.” Toots is particularly looking forward to competing in the 2014 Olympics, he says, “That is definitely a new challenge for me.”
While Toots has enjoyed and been successful in various contest categories, slopestyle continues to be his favourite. “I like slopestyle best, because you never know what the course is going to look like, and it's really challenging to do a banger run from the top to the end.”
Creative forays with O'Neill
O'Neill was one of Toots' first sponsors – in fact, it was O'Neill team manager and coach Max Henault who gave him the nickname by which he is now known in the snowboarding world. Recently, Toots has been able to branch out into product design by developing a jacket line with O'Neill. A challenge entirely different from his normal career, the outcome of which, however, complements his performance quite well. “It's nice to wear something you put your own ideas into, and to have your own name on it,” he says. “My Pro model jacket has become my favourite soft gear item.”
Having a good jacket is important for boarders; it's essential to be protected from the cold while still having enough freedom to move while pulling tricks. This means a jacket has to be lightweight and not too tight a fit. And in the snowboard scene, looks do matter; boarders like to go out there in visually striking attire.
Toot enjoys being actively involved in the design process. “Every year, I'm actively involved with the design of the new addition to the jacket line,” He says. “I give as many ideas as possible to the designer, so that they can come up with something I'm excited to wear when I ride. My new Seb Toots logo is featured on the jacket sleeve, and I think that looks really cool.”
Confidence is key
One thing is certain: Toots is rarely plagued by boredom. Travelling all over the world, meeting boarders everywhere and riding in a wide range of set-ups and snow conditions means no challenge is the same.
“My coolest snow experience was at least year's O'Neill Evolution”, Toots recalls. “There was a crazy big storm. It was probably one of the best powder days I ever had at a contest.” The heavy snow in the Alpine resort of Davos that day was a sight to behold.
Confidence is key when entering into a new experience, Toots emphasises: “The best way to be strong mentally is to ride as much as you can, so that you're really confident about all kinds of challenges you can face.”
Downtime with friends
But having a day off every once in a while is important, too. When Toots isn't pulling tricks in the world's leading snowparks, he likes to be home with family and friends. “It's also nice to just go somewhere hot to relax and think about something other than snowboarding for a change.”
Toots also likes to wrap up a hard day's work in style. He enjoys dining at nice slopeside restaurants or just chilling out with friends.
Hooked on the snowboarding scene
The snowboarding community is a close-knit little world – vibrant, young, quirky and forward-thinking, it can almost be considered a subculture in its own right.
The snowboarding scene is at the centre of Toots' life, and he is interested to observe the changes that are taking place. As in the skiing world, freestyle has experienced a real boom, but at the same time, the number of snowboarders is decreasing.
However, Toots remains optimistic about the future of the sport: “I think skiing and snowboarding are pretty similar to begin with. Most likely, the balance will keep changing. But I think we'll always be able to get new kids hooked on snowboarding.”
Full steam ahead
A bold, all-in approach: that sums up Toots in a nutshell, regardless of what particular challenge lies ahead. “I don't know what the future will bring, or what I'll want to do after my professional snowboarding career. I'll keep riding, that's for sure – and I'll find something else that I like.”
Final words of advice to aspiring professional riders? “Follow your passion, and the rest will come with time.”
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