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The Mark Sollors Interview

09:31 6th August 2012 by Uli Köhler @ulikoehler
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Photo: Sami Tuoriniemi

Check out our full interview with Mark Sollors that was originally published in issue 129. You’ll get the lowdown on this all-terrain slayer with the hair that makes angels sing, pimped out with some of his banging video parts from the last years. Boom!

OUT OF THE BLUE

Mark Sollors Unveils Himself

[Text: Uli Köhler]

An unknown to most in the snowboard world, in 2010 Burton rider Mark Sollors appeared with a bang. His video part showed an unusually talented rider in an extreme variety of different terrain. He repeated this performance with his excellent appearance in Standing Sideways. Since nobody quite knew where he came from or what he had been up to until then, we met him at the Innsbruck movie tour stop and followed this up with a phone call in his current home Whistler, Canada.

In 2011, Mark Sollors won Transworld’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ award for his outstanding part in the Transworld movie In Color. He was 24 at the time. Most people were asking themselves what the hell he had been up to before bagging that award. And apart from a vague memory of his small appearance in the Nomis/Stepchild flick Child Support we were marvelling about that, too.

ASSORTED FOOTAGE 2007

Then Burton dropped their latest movie Standing Sideways, and there was Mark Sollors again, complete with fluffy hair, versatile riding, and impeccable style. Not much later our photo editor started showing us photos from Mark’s season, and they confirmed that he had grown into a well-rounded rider with a huge arsenal of tricks in both backcountry and on handrails.

“I grew up a quiet kid, and I still kind of am, I’d like to think”

Now, at the age of 24 most riders have long given up their dream of breaking through in the snowboard world. Not so Mark Sollors. He worked hard towards his goals, but never bragged much about his riding. “I grew up a quiet kid, and I still kind of am, I’d like to think,” Mark tells us on the phone in January, minutes after we woke him up on his first day of filming in 2012. “I never did a lot of talking, I never went out of my way to bug people for sponsorship or any of that stuff. So it kinda took a while.”

Mark grew up in Kelowna, British Columbia. “It is in the western part of Canada. It’s a fun place, stuffed right in between the coastal mountains like Whistler and all those mountain places, and on the east side of Kelowna we have Revelstoke and the Kootenay Mountains and the Monashees.” Quite the environment to progress as a snowboarder, indeed: “It was never hard for me to ride Whistler, to ride Revelstoke, and get to ride mountains that most people don’t get to see at a young age. I was pretty fortunate.”

He started riding when he was eight years old, following his older two brothers and his sister: “And before I knew it I had my own board, I had a season pass, and I made a bunch of awesome friends I’m still good friends with.” How did he get his first sponsor, the Island Boardshop in Kelowna? Mark laughs: “I think everyone starts this way. They start with their local shop, and they grow from that into a company. I’ve known them by just hanging around the shop, I would just sit there and loiter with my friends all day and watch snowboard videos, not really buying things.”

NOT BAD! 2007

The Kelownian had taken the route to becoming a snowboard pro.

Then, one day, they started filming for an Island Snow Shop video, featuring a bunch of riders that were already on the team. Disregarding his lack of sponsorship, Mark hung out with them on the hill. “And before I knew it they filmed a bunch of stuff and I got last part in their shop video! They were like ‘We guess we have to put you on the team now, because you got the last part in the video!” Suddenly, the quiet Kelownian had taken the route to becoming a professional snowboarder. Soon after, he got hooked up by Burton. “It took me a long time to get in with Burton at a higher level, but a lot of other people did the talking for me,” Mark remembers. “They were like ‘Here’s this kid snowboarding’, or ‘Here’s this video of the guy that we know’, and slowly people at Burton started listening, invited me on trips, I got to snowboard in front of them, and they invited me on more trips. They tried to give me opportunities, and they wanted me to travel. And from there it was a big jump-start.”

At 17, he made the move to Whistler. He met Kevin Sansalone, who did the Sandbox movies. Burton paid for his appearance in the next three Sandbox productions up until 2007: “And then I was riding for a company called Nomis at the time, and they partnered up with Stepchild, and their movie was called Child Support.” He bagged the aforementioned short part – “and got to meet a lot of people through them. I got to film with Sean Johnson, who – at least in western Canada – is one of the legendary people to grow up with and look up to.”

However, even though he thought Child Support was his breakthrough, and Burton paid a lot more attention, he did not film with any major crew the following year, and even the next year only shot a little with the Utah-based production crew Variety Pack. He did, however, compete at a couple of events. “Whatever was in front of me I wanted to do, and I wanted to work harder. When there was no snow to film, and a contest nearby, I would just go out and do it, because that’s what I loved to do.”

IN COLOR 2010

“Doing what you love and having fun, whatever it is.”

Finally, though, he got noticed and got the invite into the Transworld production In Color, which – as mentioned – earned him the Rookie award, at the ripe age of 24. “Yeah, when I won Rookie I was 24, and I think I’m probably the oldest rookie to win. I don’t know, it’s just kinda cool, but I was given this opportunity at an older age, when I had been around for a long time. It just took me a little bit longer to get to that stage, so I’m happy about it, and that they still considered me for that honour.” And why wouldn’t they? His part was a banging mix of backcountry action and urban tricks, a degree of versatility only a few can muster. Mark explains his all-round approach to the shred: “I love snowboarding. I just want to be on a snowboard. I mean if there is snow in the city we snowboard in the city. If there’s snow in the mountains we go snowboard in the mountains. It kinda follows that same trend: Doing what you love and having fun, whatever it is. And also working hard. Whatever is in front of me, I want to work harder.”

No wonder that he mentioned elsewhere that you don’t have to be the best snowboarder, you just need to have the best work ethic. Does he think this holds true for him? “I like to think so. Because I work pretty hard at what I do.” It is only 7:15am in Whistler, but Mark is already wide awake. “There are a lot of people who are really good, really good at snowboarding, but a lot of it just comes naturally, so they stay within that natural comfort zone. I think if you have a good work ethic you try to push your comfort zone, you try something you don’t necessarily know if you’re able to do, but you give it a try and work at it. So even if things come naturally, you just keep working on them. You learn, you grow, and before you know it, you’re there.”

Looking at his latest video part in Burton’s Standing Sideways, it doesn’t look like his riding was just some hit and miss game. Again, his part is a well-balanced mix of diverse terrain, tech and gnar. Standing Sideways was really cool. I actually travelled a lot more than I usually did. I got to hit handrails in Oslo, Norway, and Minnesota, we went back to riding here in Whistler, also up north, and we went to Tahoe… it was amazing to film with a whole lot of different people in a whole lot of different areas around the world.”

STANDING SIDEWAYS 2011

A tight crew of friends

“It’s kind of funny that I’m certainly looking up to riders I get to ride with every day. When I go up and do something with Jussi Oksanen and Mikey Rencz, I know that they are riders I look up to since I was a kid, and now I get to spend time with them, watch them snowboarding, and really learn how they ride. And I look up to them even more than I did before.” They can still teach him stuff? Mark laughs. “Oh yeah, every day I go out with them. They’re so experienced, it’s pretty entertaining to watch.”

Would he do more contests these days? “I am so hooked on filming that every weekend we find out where the good snow is and go there. So it’s kind of hard to get prepared for contests when we’re trying to be on the grind and film the whole time.” And then, after some thought, he adds: “It’s crazy nowadays, too. There are not that many riders that do both contests and filming, just because the level of riding in contests is so insane now. You have to stay on top of your game so hard, you have to get ready weeks before a contest when we’re usually in the backcountry doing whatever we can to film.”

When he is not out filming with Burton, he likes to shred with a tight crew of friends. His favourite is his roommate Rusty Ockenden: “I used to shred with Rusty in Ockenden back where we grew up… so it’s kind of taking me back to that now when I rip with Rusty.” Living in Whistler, there’s no shortage of riders when the days are not perfect for filming. “When there’s bad weather we’re together right aways with Robjn Taylor, Rusty Ockenden Matt Belzile, those guys.”

“I wanted to see my friends outside the snowboarding world.”

In summer he now lives in Vancouver. “I think it just came at that time, that I wanted to see a lot of my friends outside the snowboarding world. I just wanted to get into the city… My brothers live there, and I just wanted to be in that kind of environment when I’m not snowboarding.” Sounds like he is trying out new stuff? “I wouldn’t say that I’m always into changing to new things, but I think that’s just what I’ve adapted to. I’m so used to travelling now, it almost gets to this time when I’m in a place for a certain amount of time and I’m like ‘Ok, what’s next? Where am I going?’ I’m so used to travelling right away, getting on a plane, that it’s hard to sit still.”

REAL SNOW BACKCOUNTRY 2012

He has, however, a way of calming down: playing golf. “Yeah! [laughs] Golf is like my next favourite thing! We have a few courses around Vancouver. And I like to make the trip up the Sea-to-Sky-quarter up to Whistler. There are few really, really nice golf courses there.” Is he good at it? “I’m not the greatest, but I enjoy it.” [laughs again]

Speaking of making a trip – what was his impression of Europe, which he went to for an Oslo rail shoot last winter? “I think Oslo was one of my favourite trips. We had Ludde from Sweden come out, and Ethan Deiss from Wisconsin. It was a really diverse crew, and none of us had really been to Norway, so it was all kind of new to us. Ludde was like our little guide, who spoke the language and showed us around. We had a lot of fun on that trip.”

The fluffy hair

And the rest of Europe? Didn’t he attend the full Standing Sideways tour across the continent? “I mean we did, like, seven countries in, like eight days. It was more of a shock, because we didn’t spend much time in one place. But every place we went had its own, I don’t know how to describe it, had its own appeal, its own vibe, its own culture.” He would like to come back in summer: “I would like to spend time in Europe again, and I couldn’t pick a place. Barcelona was a lot of fun, Innsbruck was a lot of fun… it was just a great trip!”

When we were wrapping up the interview we noticed we haven’t spoken about the fluffy hair yet. “Oh my God!”, Mark laughs. Has he been asked about that before? “‘What did you do with your hair?’ ‘Why is it so fluffy and looking perfect?’ Well, that’s just the way it is when I wake up. I didn’t really know they were using that for my [Standing Sideways] intro. I washed my hair, like the day before. Usually, it’s kind of like whatever, and I wash it maybe once a week. And then everyone said ‘Oh my God, your hair looks so awesome!’, and I was so embarrassed.”

We think everything about his part was outstanding, not just the hair, and we enjoyed it very much. We then realise we have kept Mark far too long from going out sledding with the Burton team, and wish him all the best for this season and many more memorable parts to come.

Mark Sollors rides for Burton, Monster Energy, Electric, Gravis, Showcase Boardshop, and Home Watches.

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