Cover Photo: Jacob, Emile ,and filmer Cam Willis by Joe Cadieux
After two years shadowing Phil Casabon, Emile Bergeron earned his own invite to X Games Real Ski and took home a silver medal. Like Phil had for him, he took Jacob Belanger along for the ride. Along with Cam Willis, they have put together ‘That’s!’ a mini-movie documenting the journey, which includes all of Jacob’s shots alongside the medal-winning shots, and the offcuts they stacked along the way. It releases tomorrow right here on Newschoolers and the boys dropped in to answer a few questions to whet your appetites.
Emile, I know you’ve been hoping to get a Real Ski invite for a couple of years now, what was it like to finally get the call?
EMILE: It felt good! It has always been a goal of mine to compete in Real Ski and when I got the call, I was super hyped. For a couple of years I’ve been trying to play my cards so that one day I could compete, so getting invited was really rewarding.
Jacob, the streets are probably the hardest place to make a name for yourself in skiing, what drives you in that direction?
JACOB: First of all, I think being from Quebec drives me to the street the most. because of all the influential people in the history of urban skiing that are from here. I grew up watching ski parts from Jf Houle, Phil Casabon, The Plehouse Movies, etc. And then you can go on a car ride in the city with your parents, and see the spots you just saw in the movie. That definitely created a kind of desire to do it too. But in the end, I think I love it because of the process of filming a street spot, you find the spot whatever way, then you might need to go on a trip to do to the spot, you need to build it (sometimes for a very long time), then you ski it (that’s sometimes the worst part of the process haha) and then comes the reward when you get the shots, it gives a value to all the work you just put in.
Emile, was making a Real Ski edit what you expected? How did you choose your team?
EMILE: Yes it was about what I expected. Following Phil around for the previous year showed me what it was like to film a Real Ski. But It was definitely more stressful to be the one competing, I felt some stress that I did not really feel before. Paul, Cam, and Jacob all carried some of the stress and made the adventure flowy and nice, thanks to them.
Photo: Joe Cadieux
Emile, there has been a trend with Real Ski that there is always at least one secondary skier that helps get it done. For years you followed Phil and helped him. What does it mean to have a fellow skier, like Jacob, hitting the spots with you and just being there to vibe off?
EMILE: I don’t think I could have made it without Jacob. Having someone to share how a spot feels is really helpful. And in general, having friends around in those moments makes it way nicer. Jacob is also down for everything, I think he’d be wailing to drive his car to a spot 600 km away, some good energy, always fun to have that around.
Jacob, what was it like for you to get the opportunity to work with Emile on his Real Ski? And if Real Ski continues, is an invite a major goal for you?
JACOB: It was a crazy experience, it was my first time being part of a real intense 3 month street mission. To do that mission with 3 good friends was so nice and to have Emile trying to push his limits trick and spot wise definitely pushed me to go harder. If Real Ski comes back in the next years, it’s definitely the main goal in my street career to get an invite.
‘THAT’S!’ includes a lot of variety in spots. How did you choose what spots you going to hit?
EMILE: A lot of our inspiration comes from video parts I would say. Quebec has been a destination of choice for many years, and for many people, so there’s a lot of options. Sometimes we get lucky too. A couple of years ago I was on a camping trip with my girlfriend and we stopped to look for spots haha. We ended up finding a cool one and it’s actually in the movie.
JACOB: We found most of the spots in snowboard movies and a little bit driving around but not that much. Normally when we find a dope spot we try to go get a look at it before winter just to have an idea of the spot.
Jacob, were you involved in the decision making, or was Emile mostly choosing the spots?
JACOB: Emile found most of the spots, but we looked at the spots together and we also planned how we were going to hit them together, so I was involved in the process too, which was nice! Emile was the main focus but it was definitely a team thing.
When even setting the spot up looks terrifying. Photo: Cam Willis.
Were there any spots that you just had to walk away from? What was that like and why?
EMILE: Yea, we tried to jump over a big tube at some point and it was super complicated, for many reasons. Spot was looking nice, we put a lot of effort into it but it just was not working. Big jump, to flat landing, never the best. It was hard to walk away from this one because it would have probably been a nice clip but oh well.
JACOB: Yeah, I had to walk away from the big down ledge on the Dam that is Emile’s opener in his real ski. I wasn’t feeling the spot that day, I was really sore, So, I watched Emile have the gnarliest session ever, the landing was almost all water with some ice and snow. When Emile got his shot. I clipped my skis to go take a look at it and try to feel it out, but I ended up bailing. I wanted to go back later but the next fews days after that it got really warm and the little landing we had totally gone under water. So, I was never able to ski that spot.
Could you each share one of your favorite stories from the whole Real Ski Journey?
EMILE: At Christmas, my parents got me a little ringer thing that you put with your keys so you can make them ring with your cellphone to find them. And some days after that we were crashing at our homies place, Nic Magny, and I put the device under Jacob’s sleeping mat. Paul and I were both sleeping on the couch 2 meters away from Jacob. I was making it ring back to back and Jacob started unplugging the TV, the Nintendo 64, the DVD player, every wire pretty much. Funny stuff. There are a ton of stories like that tho, list goes on.
JACOB: Sure! One week before we did the green roof to wall, Cam and Emile came to my house to do some interviews. Cam tried to move a glass table that was in my basement but he dropped it and the glass exploded, it wasn’t that bad we just picked up the broken glass on the floor. A week later when we did the green roof to wall, I overshot the whole spot without any pain at all. But when I took my ski boots off after the sesh, the bottom of my foot started to really hurt. An hour later I realized that I had a piece of glass in my foot from the table Cam broke a week earlier. So, after that we spent like an hour on the couch, Paul and Emile trying to take the piece of glass out of my foot, it was painful but so funny and absurd.
How did you come up with the name THAT’S!
EMILE: We showed up at a spot one day to start shoveling and a snowboard crew was there already, using the feature we were coming for in a different way. So all day, we were moving snow around while the snowboarders were filming. Every time one of them would drop, we were trying to be quiet and to hide as much as possible from their shots. One of them, Johnny O’Connor, was deep into a battle for a really nice clip. Every time he would drop we were there watching, hoping to see the good one. And one time, he landed one of his tries and no one was celebrating really, except Jacob who started yelling crazy loud: THATTTTTTTT’SSSS, and when he realized that no one else was claiming he slowly toned it down and dropped a small-ass *it* at the end, trying to keep it undercover. That’s the story of That’s, we thought it was funny.
Thaaaatttt's.... it. Photo: Joe Cadieux.
What would you say was the most mentally challenging feature you guys hit?
EMILE: For me, I think it was the dam feature. Pretty much everything about that spot felt weird, take off, trick, speed, water in the landing. It was just hard to know how to approach this spot, I felt like I could not really predict what would happen, especially on the first try. Rolling the dice.
JACOB: For me, it was either the green roof to wall or the double drop line because I ate so much shit on that spot haha. But I think the green roof to wall was the most challenging. We couldn’t see a single inch of the landing from the top so we knew that we had the right speed when we were in the air. The other thing was that the winch was in the parking lot so when I was skiing, I couldn’t see Emile, who was winching me. When I was ready had to do these three big waves with the rope so he could know that I was ready. So, at that moment I had to be ready cause the winch could have started anytime.
When did you feel like you had started to complete your mission and you could see the finish line of creating the Real Ski and the movie?
EMILE: It took a while to reach that zone. We had 12 clips in our Real Ski and I think that as a crew we started to get that feeling around the 9th clip or something like that. This was a hard part mentally, right after getting a clip, we were starting to think about the next one.
JACOB: It definitely took a while, something like 2-3 weeks before the deadline. The moment that we put the clips together and it really looked like something was so relieving. At that point, we looked at the video over and over again and we were asking ourselves which clip could be replaced with a stronger one, at that moment I started to be an accomplishment.
Any words of wisdom for those out there creating ski movies/content?
EMILE: Get out there and have fun with your friends! Always sharing some special times doing stuff you like with good company.
JACOB: Find the motivation and the right crew, with that you can accomplish anything!