FREESKIER is proud to announce that Phil Casabon is the 2018 Male Skier of the Year (SOTY), as voted by his peers.
To determine the winners, we contacted over 200 of the most talented and knowledgeable professional skiers out there and had them rank the athletes they felt had the best 2018 ski season. “Best season” is a term open to interpretation, but we ask the athletes to think about a few things, including, but not limited to, film segments, web series and edits, contest results, magazine exposure and overall impact in regards to spreading skiing stoke and growth.
Each nomination (1-3) corresponds with a point value: A #1 pick earns 10 points, a #2 pick earns five points and so on. Thereby, if a particular skier shows up consistently in the #3 or #4 slot, they’d still have a shot at faring well in the final tally. There were no restrictions on nominations; skiers were able to throw any and all names in the ring.
Casabon took the top spot on the men’s side for 2018, earning him SOTY honors for the first time. Casabon, or B-Dog as much of the ski world knows him, released his film En Particulier to tremendous praise in fall 2018. The Quebec-native worked with friend and filmmaker Brady Perron on the 20-minute-plus movie. “Working with Phil is always an honor. He somehow maintains a truly special style at a tip-top skill level. He balances his progression with heavy integrity and sincere grittiness,” Perron says. “Phil’s awareness, experience and devotion are reflected in his video projects, which are highly anticipated by peers and fans alike each year. He is goofy but has discipline, kind of on some cartoon, cold weather, martial artist tip.”
We caught up with Casabon over the phone from his hometown in Quebec, where he takes us through his personal outlook on skiing.
Phil, where are you right now?
I’m Shawinigan in Quebec, my hometown, just in the middle of a storm, but luckily indoors right now. It’s raging super, duper hard. It’s going to be awesome, we’ve been getting quite a lot of snow, so probably going to utilize that.
Congratulations on your Skier of the Year win, it’s much deserved.
It’s amazing man, we’re celebrating over here, we’re very happy. It’s great news.
Let’s talk about En Particulier… it’s an amazing film and has received tremendous praise since its release. What do you have to say about the success it’s had?
It’s the result of a condensed, intense experience with one of my best friends. The outcome is really heart spoken and really raw, and I think that we touched people with the realness of it all, and also the genuine approach to it. Brady Perron, who filmed, directed and edited the film, is a big reason why En Particulier took the turn that it did, and our relationship is also a big factor in why this piece came out the way that it did. I’m so grateful, he built that and I helped assembled it, it was a month and a half of condensed filming to make this twenty minute movie. There’s great memories there.
You’ve worked with Brady pretty consistently on your filming. Can you talk about that relationship?
We met early on at a competition in Vermont, the VT Open at Stratton, and lost sight of each other for a while after that. Obviously, we were aware of what the other was doing as we were fans of each other’s skiing. Later on at Mount Hood we met again and kicked it, after, when Brady made the switch from a professional skiing career to filmmaking, our relationship became even tighter, because we were around and he became the filmmaker for Be Inspired. That’s when we got to know each other and feel each other out and become brothers ultimately. It’s definitely the collective mind that we have and our similar interests and highly passionate personalities that combine together and match really well.
Do you think growing up in Quebec influenced your style? Would you ski differently had you grown up somewhere else?
Absolutely, a lot of the stuff filmed in En Particulier and the video piece we’re shooting for X Games Real Ski this year, basically it’s all in my hometown. It’s snows here, it’s a town built off of hydro electricity money. There was a lot of action over here in the early 1900s and now it’s pretty calm. Some places are abandoned and I search a lot for spots out here to ski where there are hills and I can just ski around without having to go to a ski resort and ask for a lift ticket. That influenced my style for sure, the surroundings of my home town.
Speaking of skiing outside of the resort, in urban areas, what feeling does skiing in the streets give you, as opposed to a regular terrain park at a resort?
It’s much more work, it’s harder and there’s a bigger reward. It also allows for a higher vibrancy of the moment, because you’re out in the elements with just your friends, rather than being at a resort where everything is given to you, out in the streets you have to make something out of things that aren’t built for that purpose, so it creates a great spirit and has shaped me as a skier.
Do you think that you have a different “eye?” A different way of looking at things that allows you to be so creative on these street features?
It’s hard to say where I stand with that because I’m inside myself all of the time, so I can’t tell you if I’m creative and do have a different eye. But, I have been bred to see these things and ski, ski, ski… So now all I’m seeing is skiing and my mind’s synapses will connect how to ski through an architectural feature that I’m looking at. It’s not me trying to look at it and be like ‘Oh, I can ski on this,’ it’s just going to naturally happen because that’s what I do and it fulfills me right now, very much so. I try to not mimic, but then again I am mimicking something, somewhere that I’ve see before, from inspiration that I see on the daily and as a result of my outlook and sharp eye for street skiing that I have.
Do you look to other skiers for inspiration and influence, or does that come strictly from inside of you?
Oh so many, man. Definitely in skiing there’s an abundance of styles and people that influence me. The list is so long that I wouldn’t give it justice if I start naming names. I have many skiers that influence me right now. Those skiers that influence me, I have a certain portion of their style in me, that’s embedded in me because I love watching them ski. Therefore, a lot of my peers are the reason that I ski, because I love their style, and a lot of their styles I’ve integrated into me.
What do you have to say to the young skiers who idolize you and hope to emulate your style in their skiing?
It’s good to study these people that we highly respect. Eventually, everybody becomes more and more conscious about who and what they are. So the younger you are, the harder it is to see yourself in that chaos: “I could be whoever, but I don’t know who I am.” And at a certain point you just have these pings that tell you, ‘yeah, I like watching this guy and that guy,’ and that will help you build your skills and at some point you’re going to be yourself, and make something out of what you’ve studied from these people. I’ve studied so much, I’ve studied Mickael [Deschenaux], Tanner [Hall], Eric Pollard, Candide [Thovex], Dave Crichton, I studied those dudes so much, and you would never say that I have Dave Crichton’s style, but at the time I was trying his tricks and his shit and I would recommend that to all skiers. That’s why the new generations are getting so much better, they have access to a huge library of footage to look up to and get influence from. Eventually they can put all of the pieces of the puzzle together.
Do you have a goal for your skiing?
It’s more so just my life. It’s something that I’ve grown up around and cherished forever. Now I have the access to doing it, being in it, having it be the thing that sustains me and helps me sustains my friends a little bit through this art, and I’m so grateful, therefore I don’t necessarily want to put a stamp on skiing, it’s just something that I do. This was a goal, to be Skier of the Year at some point, at 15 years old I wrote everything down and I’m slowly scratching things off the bucket list and it feels amazing. I guess I’m really living out the goals that I set way back in the day. I’m still setting some now. But it’s naturally unfolding, as I’m letting openness do it’s thing and it’s natural. I want to see where it takes me.
How do you balance life outside of skiing?
I definitely try to be as diverse in my approach to being a human in general… growing things, building things, sustaining myself as best as possible and just having standards that are low. I realize and am more and more grateful for the little that I do have. I’m just trying to slowly knock some stuff out of my life to simplify things, so, I’m starting to love different passions just as much as I love skiing, and ultimately they all build each other up, if you’re too stuck up on one thing it can lose its essence and value at some point because you’re overdoing it. I just try to give myself some breaks and explore myself in different areas, get out of my comfort zone of the classic things I did last year and changing it up and experience what fits the best and eventually just be able to do me full time and be comfortable with my choices and move.
Any parting words?
Big thanks for throwing on this contest and I’m happy that I could take that title, it represents a lot.