We recently had the pleasure of catching up with one of the nicest guys in snowboarding, Biggie park supervisor and Yuki Team Rider Thomas Whittaker. Thomas has just put out a remix edit from his trip Down Under for Alpine Streets and it is TIGHT.
For those playing at home tell us a bit about yourself...
Hi, I am Thomas Whittaker, I’m 24 years old. I grew up in the South Surrey/ White Rock area British Columbia, I’m kind of on the cusp but if you say Surrey, people think you’re a gangster so, I say White Rock. I grew up here, riding Seymour and a little bit of Whistler. I’ve been out at Big White for the last 7 winters. I work in the terrain park and have been helping with supervising and managing the park for the past 4 or 5 years. I basically help build the jumps and rails haha.
How did you get into snowboarding, did you start out in ski school or did you get straight on the board?
I actually found a picture the other day as me as a kid when I was 5 or 6. My parents got me this birthday cake with a snowboarder on it and I think just that snowballed into a couple of other things. The kids near me used to take their trucks off their skateboards and ride them down the hill like snowboards so I started doing that one winter. Then I begged my parents for years and years to get a snowboard. When I was ten Mum and Dad took me to mt Seymour and it all started there. Thanks, for the cake Mum!
So, you started off riding Seymour mainly, how far is that from your house?
Yeah mainly Mt Seymour, it’s about an hour sometimes an hour and a half depending on the traffic. It can be a nightmare here sometimes. It's nuts. I rode a lot of Cypress when I was younger because our school would do day trips there once every two weeks. I think For the general public its probably the best out of the three but Seymour’s terrain is the best. It’s like a giant skatepark. There are so many side hits at Seymour and everyone is ridiculous at riding. Then Grouse has just a super good park!
Was it your first trip to Oz for Alpine streets?
Yeah first time out of North America, so that was pretty crazy. To just like fly across and not really know anyone. I had some buddies out at Hotham Nate, Joel, and Jakob who work up in the park there.
How did you end up coming out to OZ?
I was invited by Mitch but I originally wasn’t going to come because I started seeing this girl who had moved out to Vancouver and I felt really guilty. She’s from Manitoba, a couple of provinces away. I was like I can't have you move here and then just bail all of a sudden. She was like no you’ve got to do it, it’s a really cool opportunity. So, I just bought my ticket and then Mitch really set up the rest of things, which was really amazing, I never thought that would happen. It still blows my mind.
How was it riding in AUS? What were your expectations before coming down?
From working at Big White everyone always ah rips on AUS seasons so hard after they ride here. I had such a good time there... I must have got really lucky. It was sunny for the first 6 days at Hotham and then we went to Thredbo and it was sunny. It had snowed like half a meter or something. Then we went to Buller which was rainy and gross but it was fun because it was slushy laps. Then we went to Falls at the end and it was the best sunny days ever. I really liked it but, I think I lucked out.
Classic Mt Buller eh….
That’s what everyone was saying but I really liked. I think I had some of my best days there in the rain. The place was so fun and everyone was so friendly down there, which was really cool.
Did anything blow you away, down here. Like seeing kangaroos in the snow or…
Haha I remember driving to the mountains, the amount of roadkill down there blew my mind. It was the first thing I told people when I got home. What was it like, I said I’ve never seen so many dead animals everywhere. They were like what do you mean? Haha I was like, things just die there and they just paint an X on them and leave them on the side of the road. Like trophies… Ha it's pretty gnarly.
The first one (kangaroo) I saw out in the wild was like one of the biggest ones Mitch had ever seen. It was like 6ft something and looked like it had been eating protein bars all summer long and bulked for the winter. I don’t even know, it was crazy ha.
You got to ride with all the Yuki Team down here did you know any of them beforehand?
Super weird coincidence I went down to Oregon for two weeks in the spring right after the season ended at Big White. I ran into Crystal down there. I think she was the first person we met. Just going up the chair lift. My buddy had seen her do something on the jumps and saw her in the lift line and was like dude that chick rips, let's get on the chair with her. So, we got on the chair with Crystal. I think my buddy was trying to tee something up, not knowing Crystal had a boyfriend. So, I met crystal the first day there and we rode with her for the few days at the Its Tits event. And then didn’t see her till I came back out there. I found out she got put on the Yuki Team about a month after we met. Pretty crazy. Shout out to Braeden haha.
Some say you’re the nicest guy in snowboarding. Thoughts?
I don’t know about that I think I’m just trying to do Canadians justice you know? That’s really nice though… I don’t know.. I think I just have really good parents and I think that helps a lot. Plus you don’t get anywhere being shitty. Life advice “don’t be shitty, it doesn’t work out!”
I hear your Mum is super supportive of your snowboarding?
Yeh... Maybe a little too supportive haha. When I was going to come over, my Mum sent out a message and she was meant to send it to her friends and accidentally DM’d like 150 people saying Tom is going to Australia everyone pray for him to be safe. She actually sent it to Mitch and when I got out there Mitch was like what’s up with your Mum. Shout out to Mum.
When I was younger they would take me up to Seymour and just read books in the day lodge while I snowboarded all day and then take me home. That was pretty crazy, I would have just told me to bus it or just walk.
Since being back in Canada. Is there anything about Oz that you miss?
We were getting up at like 5 to drive to 6 hours to Thredbo and Mitch wanted to grab a coffee. So, we stopped at this coffee shop and I don’t really drink coffee often, clearly by my taste in coffee. So I ordered an iced coffee which over here it's just a brewed coffee on ice. The lady looked at me like I was a psychopath at 5am ordering an iced coffee. It ended up being like 6 scoops of ice cream an espresso shot and some almond milk. When she asked if I wanted ice cream I literally thought it was iced cream like cold cream but I'd rather have almond milk but that’s fine. I was dying from all the lactose, I spent the next 6 hours nearly throwing up. So, no I don’t miss the iced coffee. But you guys have some really good baked goods. And the produce is so fresh!
Did you miss anything about home while you were out here?
Just like sappy things, girlfriend, fam, friends, etc It was rad out there, I’d def come back!
What was your pick down here, resort wise?
Hotham Park was super cool, I’m biased because my friends work there. Their terrain there is crazy if it had fresh snow, it was bulletproof when we were there. Thredbo’s terrain was really cool. We found a hidden zone one day and it had snowed a good amount and were hiking this zone, it was really cool. Falls the village itself was really cool. They have these crazy mini groomers that carry your luggage. They looked like they were straight out of star wars or something. Everywhere had something really cool about them.
You got some nice clips while you were out here, were there any memorable spots?
The Nissan wallride was the best and the worst thing ever. I nearly died a few times. I have a theory but I don’t think Mitch likes my theory but every time Mitch showed up I'dd get nervous and eat shit for hours. I ended up sending him away one day because I needed to land this trick, he showed up and I fell like two stories from this wall and I was like I need you to leave haha. Nissan was a battle I hiked it for like 3 hours straight. The guys were really supportive which was really cool. Tommi and crystal hung out and took photos and filmed for fours while I face planted just to get the one clip. My snowboard was so done by the time I left. When I left falls I left it for the cleaning ladies because I didn’t know what to do with it. Sorry cleaning ladies!
Since Alpine Streets, you’ve started riding for Arbor which is sick! How did that come about?
I'm getting flowed boards from them. I started riding for One Board Shop in Kelowna and my buddy Matt rides for them both and hooked me up with the rep Dustin (from Arbor) and I’m super stoked to be riding for them.
Ready for more wallrides...
I went through 5 boards last winter so…that’s pretty sweet.
The 19/20 season got wrapped up early because of COVID?
Yeah, it shut down really suddenly, my boss said there was speculation that we were going to close any day now and then that same afternoon we closed. They just shut everything down. We weren’t really prepared for that.
Have you been going on any hikes or anything since it all shut down?
I wanted to… but Seymour has barricades on the road to get up there, so pretty much everything is closed. It makes it a bit hard.
Whats winter 20/21 looking like if goes ahead?
My girlfriend and I are thinking about heading to sun peaks or whistler for the winter. Sunpeaks would be really cool because Kamloops gets a lot of snow so it would be nice to film more street and after being in Australia it’s something I’d like to do more of, but, I’m also pretty set on Whistler. A little closer to home and I’d like to ride somewhere new. I haven’t been out there since I was a kid. The amount of snow they get, so quickly, it’s insane!
Any last words?
Thank you for doing this first off, it has been really cool. I’m sorry your video was frozen the whole time, I got to see snippets of you blinking haha. A big thank you to Mitch and the Yuki Crew. Thank you to Nolan and everyone at One Boardshop. Thank you to Dustin from Arbor, all my friends at Biggie and Mum and Dad.
Hopefully, if things mellow out I’ll be coming down for a few spring laps!