Member of the Canadian National Slopestyle team and currently sitting in 15th position in the World Snowboard Tour Slopestyle Rankings Max Eberhardt has paved his way from the terrain park of Laurentian Ski Hill in North Bay, Ontario (hometown shoutout) to the international level of Slopestyle. Click here to see the full Canadian team and profiles.
But what is Slopestyle? Simply put Slopestyle lets riders descend onto a course negotiating obstacles such as rails and kickers (jumps that vary in size). With judges scorning on height (jump), execution, difficulty (of trick) and overall performance, the score being out of 100.
On the Winter Olympic programme however it will be only going into its second games at PyeongChang 2018. Sochi 2014 was the first to host the event, however not without some controversy over the course layout. Shaun White one of the best known snowboarders in the world pulled out from the Slopestyle competition after stating the course was a safety concern. So we shall see what the course holds come 2018…however the inclusion to the Olympic programme is great. It’s an exciting event to watch, it is understandable and both Women & Men have their respective competitions. Fitting into the 2020 Olympic Agenda.
Watch an overview of the Sochi 2014 Mens Slopestyle final here.
1) At what age did you begin snowboarding? Who was your role model?
I started snowboarding when I was 6 after my parents bought me a snowboard for Christmas. I looked up to the older generation of riders at our local hill, as well as my close friends who I grew up riding with. We were always having a grande ole time which made for a really positive/fun atmosphere to ride and get progress.
2) Where would you say is your favourite destination to practice?
My favourite place to ride is Mammoth Lakes, CA. In Mammoth you get the perks of warm & sunny California weather, but also heavy amounts of snow. From my experience it’s either sunny and mild, or dumping snow. The terrain park chairlift is also ridiculous fast – the time it takes to take a run and get back to the top of the park is only 5 minutes. This is ideal for a freestyle snowboarder, since repetition is important to build consistency.
3) Why Slopestyle?
I grew up riding jumps and rails, and didn’t have access to a halfpipe – so that was out of the question. Slopestyle is basically a direct translation from riding a terrain park.
I started entering local slopestyle contests and doing well in them, so eventually my parents started taking me to contests at other ski resorts, within a reasonable driving distance (Blue Mountain, Mount St. Louis, Mont Tremblant).
Fast-forward the cycle and somehow I’ve ended up at an international level.
4) Favourite competition location? Why?
Probably Mammoth (for all the reasons listed above), even though storms never fail to roll in right in time for the event. But snowboarding takes me to a lot of really cool places, so it’s hard to choose just one. Contests in Europe are always a good time. It’s cool to be immersed in unique cultures, to see different landscapes and architecture, and taste different food.
5) Do you think there are any misconceptions about slopestyle or snowboarding in general? If so what are they?
The only misconception I can think of is that snowboarders are a bunch of partiers. Although that isn’t necessarily untrue, to keep up as a slopestyle snowboarder requires that you be strong physically, sharp and clear mentally, and spend a lot of time snowboarding. We don’t have time to spend recovering from hangovers, we’d much rather be shredding. When we party we really party, but not as often as you might think.
6) When did the realisation occur that you could make this a full time pursuit? Inclusion in the Olympic program?
I realized that snowboarding could be a full time pursuit when I was about 16, but it was never completely clear to me that it would be. I’ve continued to snowboard year after year because it’s something that I really love to do, and so far each year keeps playing out with positive outcomes.
I’m currently on the Canadian National Team so the possibility of going to the Olympics is there, but I’m just taking things one year at a time. It would be amazing to have that experience, but there are 7 of us on the team and only 4 can go, and it’s a stacked team, so I’m not holding my breath too hard. If it happens, it happens.
7) Are sponsors easy to come by in the extreme sport world? How do you interact with your sponsors?
In snowboarding, sponsors are becoming harder and harder to come by. Companies aren’t able to support riders like they once could. In the past 5 years I’ve seen it go from everyone and their grandma receiving free product, to some of the best riders in the world having to buy snowboards and struggling to find sponsorships.
Different brands have different images, which call for certain style of riders to accommodate the image, but I think in general nowadays companies want to see riders that are great snowboarders, who maintain a good image, and have a strong presence on social media and within the snowboard community.
8) Edits and videography seems to be a popular separate past time for snowboarders and extreme sports persons alike, why do you think that is? Social media content, promotion?
Magazines and DVDs used to be one of the best ways to build a name for yourself, but social media has open the doors for anyone to gain exposure through posting photos and videos. I think that more and more extreme sports athletes are into videography nowadays because it’s easier and more affordable than ever. Social media users seem not to care as much about video quality, but more so the quality of the content (they want to see some cool sh*t). With that being said, anyone with a smartphone has a camera, so anyone with a smartphone has the potential to post some cool sh*t.
It’s easy to find a few people who are down to take turns filming each other for a day, with results in a stockpile of footage that can be used towards an edit, uploaded onto Instagram, etc. Everyone involved benefits from this, and it’s free (as opposed to hiring a filmer/editor).
Follow Max on Insta if you want to see some cool sh*t, @maxebz
Thank you Max!