Tell us about you! Why and how did you get into your sport?
My name is Sam and I'm a retired Slopestyle Snowboarder. I was born in Calgary, Alberta to two OG snowboarders. I was pretty much born strapped into a snowboard, given my parents' involvement in the industry. Snowboarding was all I cared about so I started competing early on, ended up at the National Sport School, and the rest was history. After my knee exploded in 2016 I moved to Whistler and remained super involved in the industry albeit in a lower impact manner. If only Stoko was around back then!
What's a fun fact about you?
I've broken 19 bones!
What are your goals and aspirations?
If you're a retired athlete, you understand the struggle of answering this question. For the first 18 years of my life I had the answer DIALLED. I think over the past 5 years of retirement I've worked it down to just having fun, being healthy, and trying to experience as much as possible. I think the best lesson you can learn from competitive sport is to pursue the things you're passionate about, and roll with the punches. I have no clue what I'll be doing 5 years from now (or even 6 months for that matter), but I'm sure I'll be having a good time.
What has been your biggest challenge throughout your career?
I think the easiest answer would be my extensive (brutal) list of injuries I've collected, definitely including my career ending knee injury- but something I've always been super passionate about is the connection between mental health and action sports, specifically as a result of injury. Spending your formative years with your entire life based on one goal means an injury can completely shatter your entire sense of self. I think being able to speak openly about that is invaluable in overcoming it- but growing up as an athlete definitely means you are faced with physical and mental obstacles far beyond your years, and definitely makes you grow up pretty fast. I also had a spinal cord injury a couple of years ago that sucked a lot as well.
Injury is a part of life and sport - how did you deal with yours?
Which one?? Everything before my knee injury was basically a "Get the cast off (or not), go to physio, get on snow as quickly as possible before you fall behind". When I blew my knee, before I even finished tomahawking down the landing I knew my competitive career was probably over. I spent six weeks in bed after surgery basically crying the entire time. My recovery was around two years before I could properly walk down stairs or jog- which definitely meant a lot of mental ups and downs. Once I came to terms with what had happened, and worked on the mental aspect of things, it made the physical recovery a lot easier. Honestly still dealing with this one- given the absurd amount of metal holding my knee together, but the K1s have made me feel more stable than I thought I ever would again. As for the spinal cord- yoga and positive thinking.
What gets you the most excited about Stoko?
Being told at 18 that you'll never snowboard, run, or do sports again basically sucks. I worked around that and got back to all my activities, but I've had to wear a massive knee brace to do literally anything for the past 5 years. It's something I really never got used to, and I don't think I ever would have. Seeing my friends with injuries just as devastating as mine (shoutout Robbie Andison) say that the Stoko K1 fully replaced their knee braces, was honestly kind of unbelievable at first. After trying them for 1 day I was fully converted. Apart from the ways they benefit my existing injury, I also would rather be shot into outer space than go through a knee injury again, and I honestly think that my K1s will fully prevent that. It's also so amazing to see sport technology become this advanced, and will hopefully mean that knee injuries will become obsolete with young athletes wearing Stoko preventatively.
Do you have any pre-competition rituals?
Hard in da paint by Waka Flocka full blast on repeat. Every contest since I was 14. FLOCKA.
Favourite snack before/after a sweat session?
Smoothies!! When I was younger I was also really down with a cold coke in a glass bottle if I had a good day on the hill. Life is about balance.
I feel like this is where I should plug some international competitions, but honestly it's between winning mens rail jams when I was a preteen, when I got dead last at the Burton Canadian Open when I was 10, landing a run at Jr Worlds with a 2 week old broken back, or the time I did my finals run at nationals while fully bawling my eyes out to the point where I could barely see or breathe the entire run. Those are the ones I'll always remember.
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