The latest Outside The Box interviewee needs no introduction. He's arguably the most consistently stylish and creative skier... ever. So without further ado and in his own words, I give you the Keynote Skier, the B-Dog, Phil Casabon.
Your tricks always look unique, what's the process you go through when you find a spot? How do you envisage what you're going to do?
I approach spots with whatever knowledge I have of the history of the area, as far as how it has been hit and what has been done. I try my best to figure out ways to approach it differently or upgrading the previous tricks within my field of ideas. When it comes to spots that have never been done before, depending on speed and equipment, I use my imagination, go with the feel of the moment or a vision I once had and focus on 1 or 2 things I want to accomplish within the endless amount of possibilities.
A lot of what you do needs 100% commitment on the first try, how do you psych yourself up to try something?
Visualization is key and repetition comes after. I say to myself this is what I have to do and normally tell my friends so my words might help things manifest. Then I do my best to stick with it. Certain stuff is fully improvised (I think) and just happens. But I've lost sleep over certain tricks to make sure I had the rightful mindset going into it.
Keynote Skier dropped a couple of weeks ago now, how's the response been?
Really good. The amount of views went beyond my expectations and most people seemed hyped about the film, big thanks to them.
What's been the difference filming for your own movie as opposed to the B&E edits/films?
Not any big difference, instead of 2 people there's only 1, which can simplify the task but also adds challenges. We normally separate the editing 50/50 for the B&E stuff and for our own projects we each fully did our own. Conceptually speaking, either or is similar, our direction and field of interest is very alike for the most part so it's easy going. Both are great fun, but having done a solo project, I'd say two headz are better than one.
You broke your thumb pretty badly in Estonia, did you ski for the rest of the trip? How do you put an injury like that out of your mind?
I started skiing again maybe a week later, the morning after the operation. It didn't bug my mind really, more the process of getting an operation scheduled abroad was the shitty part.
Most riders film 2-4 minute parts over a whole winter, how hard was it to get a whole movie's worth of shots?
It took full dedication and a pre-conceived vision of what I was trying to accomplish. I could have made it shorter and only showcased my best shots, but what I was aiming for was quantity and obviously tried to go for quality as much as I could. But mainly the idea was just show people that that what I'd done there and how I have fun on skis whether it's a banger or not without holding on to too many shots. It also helped having the mindset that one man's favorite shot might be your next person's least favourite.
Henrik's new film is mostly backcountry focused, I know there are a bunch of BC shots in Keynote skier but is that something you are looking to move more in to?
Big ups to Henrik for Road to Zion, but yea, of course, as much as I can. When opportunity manifests, I will take it. This year, I missed out on a trip because of my thumb and got a very minor knee injury at the end of the season which made me slow down the rhythm. But I'm looking into getting more into it for sure.
Aside from the location, what's different about shooting in the backcountry vs in the streets?
It takes much greater knowledge to be out on the mountain. The consequences of a lack of knowledge are never good, so you must have a lot of respect for the backcountry terrain. You must have respect for the streets as well but not on the same level. I mean in terms of the features you hit and being knowledgeable about them (the features) and careful of the surroundings when hitting them. The part I love about the streets is the easy accessibility, just cruise around in a car and look for spots, jump out, build and hit. BC can take more preparation, equipment and understanding for obvious reasons but the effect of getting a shot is that much more fulfilling. I grew up in more or so of an urban area so maybe that is why BC is more work for me.
Skiing a lot of street spots takes a big toll on the body, do you do any kind of 'training' off the snow?
Stretching, bouncing around on a trampoline, skateboarding, biking and balance exercises is what I do.
You're really into chess, how did you start playing and what makes it so appealing to you?
Most cliché answer but true, because of the Wu, mainly RZA. It's just a very fun game to me and you are fully responsible of the outcome of the result. It's also a great tool to look ahead and strategize.
I am quite involved in the process since I don't want to represent something that doesn't represent me. So I give my words and desires and they try to respect them and come out with a product that represents both me and the brand as much as they can.
You also stay with your sponsors long term, 10 years with Armada and 14 years with Orage, what makes them so special?
They started supporting me at a very early age and ever since they gave me opportunity after opportunity, so I am grateful to them. It's loyalty and respect that keeps the bonds connected and mutual growth is the result.
The first B&E inventational went off last year, how did the idea of doing an event come about? And how did you design the course/format?
It came from a thirst for a new age in contest skiing inspired by skateboarding and snowboarding. Raf Reggazoni, Eric Iberg, Henrik and I brainstormed what would be cool and Eric showed us an awesome snowboarding event that took place in Japan a few years ago and we then customized something that we thought would be real fun to ski in!
Is it happening again this winter? What's going to change this year?
Oh yea, it's happening! We are moving up the mountain a bit and creating a much better course. It is going to be earlier in the season so we can have more snow to work with as well, March 12th-14th is when it will take place.
Photo: Armada Skis
What's your opinion on the traditional '3 rail + 3 jump' slopestyle comps?
Conservative and outdated are the words that come to my mind. But in order for an organization like FIS and AFP to have credibility, and unfortunately govern a part of our aspect of skiing, you need something consistent for them to set standards so there can be a 'ranking' within this field. Instead of focusing on a new style of courses and formats, they emphasize the whole outcome on size of jumps and on the athlete having to overcome laws of physics by future spinning their asses off to a new dimension. Sure enough, a lot of people are killing it and progressing skiing in the right direction, inventing new grabs, butters and new axes but you rarely see these people on top. Don't get me wrong here, everybody in contests kills it more then ever these days, it's the organization, judging criteria, courses and formats that need to change, open thee mind, and not only focus on bigger, faster and stronger.
What does skiing mean to you?
Photo: Armada Skis
What are your plans for the coming winter? Another movie?
Henrik and I are collaborating for a B&E movie produced by Eric Iberg and filmed by Brady Perron that will take place over the course of two years. Also, we will put two B&E Shows out as well as a mini movie featuring Tanner Hall in order to go on tour and promote the two year project. Hopefully link'up with B-Paul, B-Mile, Bellemare and Charlie Owens, to name a few, on different occasions to make original pieces and/or for cameos in our next movie!
Thanks for your time man, any shout outs?
My Family, friends, fans and sponsors for the love and support!
If you're stoked on Phil, today is the last day to vote for him to be SOTY over at Freeskier. All photos are courtesy of Orage unless otherwise stated.