Images: Francis Boucher

There’s no doubt that Phil Casabon is an exceptional skier, but he has always trodden his own path. Always stylish and creative, be that his back-to-back Real Ski Golds or his edgeless pro model at Armada, B Dog has never been afraid to try new things. After more than 16 years with Armada, the Canadian embarks on, arguably, his most creative endeavor yet.

Phil is making a cartoon, based on the B Dog character that has been depicted on his pro-model ski since 2019. He's currently filming a different --possibly more 'traditional'-- project and staying at Mike Hornbecks place while they ski the streets of Michigan.

Watch the trailer for The Lost Crystal and then read what Phil has to say about the concept, production and future of this project.


Tell us, what got you started down the animation road?

This project first took shape because of an injury preventing me from skiing for a full year. I still wanted to focus energy on skiing, regardless of not being able to physically do it. To fill that creative void, I used the character of B-Dog to create a fictive story focused on him. It was a tricky task. Originally, I just wanted to only make a short visual, but it kept growing and growing into a longer format.

Where I’m at right now is; I’m aiming for three ten-minute episodes. So far, the only thing that’s been completed is the trailer. It sort of serves the purpose of a pilot —see how people react to it and if anybody is willing to help in some shape or form. If the interest is there, then I’ll move forward. It’s a high investment in time and capital, so I’m just trying to make sure that it’s time well invested, as well as money. I’m trying to spread the word, see the reaction, and hopefully move forward with it, then have a complete story within these next two years.


Did you do it all by yourself, or did you have help from designers and animators?

This is a task that I can not do by myself. I started out very naïve about the workload behind making a cartoon.

Now I know what goes into it and it’d be very difficult to do it all by myself. I reached out to some people, that had the expertise and I really liked their style. I hired an illustrator, who did the visual development, then I got an animator to make the characters move. Unfortunately, the 2D animator changed work fields and has been out of the project since April 2021. That’s another reason why I’m trying get it out there, so I can find another animator.

My role in this was to write the script, produce and do the editing.

BDog, the star of the show


I know you’ve only done the trailer, but around how long are you aiming each episode to be?

I’m aiming for around 8-11 minutes apiece. 3 episodes. Just below half an hour for the full piece.


Without giving too much away, how much skiing is in it and how accurate/detailed are the tricks?

Well, it’s a very difficult thing. As I said, I was naïve, I was expecting the animator to make the characters do the tricks that I do like it was nothing. It turns out that it’s not that easy to make a 2D character do those motions and it comes at a very high price. So, as far as the tricks go, it’s not going to be crazy accurate.

I invented a new style of competition format based on a duel—the samurai showdown. Except for one or two tricks, to show off the characters, there’s not going to be many “skiing tricks”.

The character has to evolve, throughout the story, therefore he learns how to wield the skis with his hands, rather than just his feet. A full episode is dedicated to the character learning how to wield his skis with his hands, as a samurai would a sword. The blend of the style of fighting, at the end, incorporates skiing on snow, jumping, pushing the skis off to his hands, and trying to slash your opponent.


How long’s this idea been in your head?

Two years now. As you can see, with only a minute trailer, things move pretty slowly.


How long from it being in your head, to thinking you were going to make it and then starting to actually make it?

January 2020 was when I first had this idea. I sort of was rushing to put it out, in December 2020, which I realized was unrealistic. It got pushed back and pushed back, now this is where I’m at and I’m still trying to lock a script where everything is solid and I’m really confident about various aspects.


Obviously, Armada’s name and skis are in the trailer, how much input did they have?

None. I took that on my hands and Armada’s paying me a salary, a year, with a video budget. The reason why they’re presenting it is that I used some of that budget to make the flick and also get them stoked, hopefully, to give me some more budget for it and also perhaps build upon what I’m building. Armada has a very illustrated style of skis, where Henrik has his character, Tanner has his character, and so on. I’d love it to be showcased in cartoons for promotional purposes, to appeal to children, a bit more, and give a bit of longevity to the characters. So, not me, as a physical skier, having longevity, in terms of this character, I have a new life.


That was actually my next question; will Henrik and Tanner’s characters feature in this or future releases?

It’s in my head, I actually know a bit of the plot of how I would meet Henrik, but I’ve locked myself into these three episodes and they’re far from finished. I didn’t really entertain the idea more, but it’s always in the back of my mind, how I could bring that all together and I think that would be a good look.

JP Auclair's "J-Paw" Character


When will we see the first episode?

Hopefully Fall 2022 or Spring 2023.


Is something creative like this; writing scripts or designing, something that you would like to do after your ski career?

Yeah. I think writing scripts and skiing will merge together here. With Mike Hornbeck, we’re starting to write the screenplay of what we’ll put down on the screen. I think it’ll take a bigger and bigger part of my life because the visual medium and creating movies is my favorite form of art, other than the physical aspect of skiing—if considered as art. Merging both and trying to create intricate, detailed pieces is a very attractive medium to me.

If you’re excited to see this and want to help get The Lost Crystal completed, you can contribute here: