This article first appeared in print in the March 2019 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.

Proving ground

The most vertical in North America. B.C.’s most resort snowfall in 2018. Heli-ski capital of the world. Too many ‘top ten’ lists to even keep track of anymore. As the list of accolades continues to grow, so does Revelstoke’s international reputation for being a rugged Canadian town that’s steep and deep in snow culture. But it is enough to attract professional skiers and snowboarders from more established locales? This month we talk to three pros who call Revy home — Natalie Seagal, Yu Sasaki, and Johan Rosen — to find out what brought them here and what keeps them here.

Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine: Where are you from originally?

Natalie: Melbourne, Australia

Yu: Sapporo in Hokkaido, Japan.

Johan: Malung, Sweden

RMM: What’s your background and how long have you lived in Revelstoke?

Yu Sasaki. Photo: Keiji Tajima

Nat: Eight months! Time flies when you are having fun. I started competing in freeride skiing competitions in 2010. I competed on the Freeskiing World Tour and Freeride World Tour (and qualifiers) for seven years. In 2014 I co-produced by first film project and ski expedition to Iceland and Greenland, and since then I have been working on film and writing projects as both a producer and an athlete.

Johan: I’m from a town where we have seven ski resorts around, so I grew up as a park rider. There’s also a snowboard high school where you get to snowboard two or three days a week in the winters. So I went through that school and I was competing back in those days, but competition was never for me. It took me a while to find Revelstoke. It’s been seven winters now.

Yu: My parents like skiing and they took me skiing when I was kid. After I graduated from high school, I moved to Whistler with a working holiday visa. Then I really started to learn to ski. This is my second season in Revelstoke.

Where else have you lived?

Aussie freeskier Natalie Seagal shreds the
Revelstoke backcountry. Photo: Zoya Lynch

Nat: Melbourne, Salt Lake City, Jackson Hole, Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Verbier and Lofoten Islands

Yu: Whistler, Squamish

Johan: Oslo. London. Perisher. I have a Whistler pass and a lot of friends there, but I could never live there. It’s just too full on.

What brought you here?

Aussie Natalie Seagal. Photo: Zoya Lynch

Yu: I came to ski! I thought it was a small CP Rail train town, always cloudy and dark.

Johan: Looking at maps, I thought Kicking Horse would be the best for a proper B.C. pow winter but people told me Revelstoke. Then Absinthe Twelve dropped and I thought, if they filmed all this rad shit inbounds at the resort then we have to go there.

Nat: Since I graduated university in 2010 and started skiing full time I haven’t lived in one place for more than a few months. I wanted a home that was close to the mountains and had an energetic outdoor community.

Revy is known for heavy snowfall — was that a draw?

Johan: It goes both ways. Sometimes it limits you and makes it hard for filming — you can’t reach all the terrain, no visibility in the alpine. And you’re always breaking trail.

Swede snowboarder Johan Rosen attacks a pillow line. Photo: Daniel Stewart

Was there anything that surprised you about Revy once you settled in?

Nat: How awesome Revelstoke is in the summer. It’s the first time that I was almost sad to see it start snowing … almost. There is a lot of creative energy here that I didn’t know existed. It is exciting. I think that the community will be a factor in me staying here

Yu: Amazing natural surroundings and the kindness of the local community.

Johan: I was really surprised at how friendly people were and how they’d be showing you their secret stashes at the mountain. I come from park riding and there’s so much more attitude there. Here there is none of that. People are just stoked. I have more friends in Revelstoke than any other place in the world.

Johan Rosen. Photo: Daniel Stewart

What type of pro thrives most in our terrain?

Nat: The one that is having the most fun and making good decisions. There is so much different terrain in this region. It’s really a smorgasbord of pillows, pow, open faces, tree skiing, alpine zones and ski mountaineering.

Johan: Creative backcountry riders, creative in reading the terrain. Tricks in pillow lines, finding interesting trannies and little transfers, seeing features in places where most other riders don’t.

What are the most important things that Revy offers you as a pro?

Johan: Village Idiot pizza! Revy is the place everyone comes to film their parts. In our backyard or within two hours are some of the best lines in the world. At the start of the season, we’re burning resort laps to get back the feeling of snowboarding. In mid-winter, it’s the backcountry, the sled access terrain.

Yu: The RMR resort terrain makes you a better skier.

Nat: I have been taking advantage of the terrain and powder days at RMR as well as the access to backcountry skiing off the resort, close to town and the wilderness in Roger Pass.

Do you think we’ll see a growing pattern of pros moving here?

Yu: I think so.

Johan: It’s so expensive over in Whistler and Squamish now. I think Revy’s going to become more popular and more pros will move here.

Is it a challenge to get media coverage and make industry contacts here?

Nat: It’s definitely easier than Australia! Revelstoke is a little isolated geographically in comparison to other ski hubs, but I believe in making your own opportunities and I think there are a lot of examples of entrepreneurs, filmers, photographers, athletes, and small-business owners who are finding ways to thrive here.

Do you have other local work in the summer?

Yu: Yes, I have a food truck named Far East Bistro at Grizzly Plaza.

Nat: I work in casual jobs over the summer as well as ski-related contract work. I am looking to build up my own business in the future but it is going to take some time and lots of hard work to grow.

Is it harder to make ends meet in Revy than in other places?

Nat: I have lived and worked in Melbourne for a long time during the off-season. Yes, it is easier to find well-paying work in Melbourne and save for the winter but it’s at the sacrifice of living in a city away from the mountains.

Yu: Whistler was way harder.

Johan: A lot of my friends work two jobs. If I were to make good money in town, it’d be either the railroad, hospitality, mill, carpentry … but even in carpentry I’d make a lot less than in Sweden.

Do you plan to put down roots here or will you eventually move elsewhere for new challenges?

Yu: I’d like to put down roots here.

Johan: I’ve been thinking about Squamish for the summers but now we have a skatepark here. I couldn’t live in Revelstoke without a skatepark!

Nat: Yes, I am planning on applying for my permanent residency and I don’t currently have aspirations to move elsewhere — it is a great home base.

Bryce Borlick
Bryce Borlick is a world traveler, outdoor enthusiast, and urban refugee whom you’re most likely to find wandering the mountains in search of nothing in particular. With an unruly interest in sustainability and permaculture, he may be the only person in Revelstoke dreaming of one day doing burnouts in an electric F-250 towing a tiny house.