You wake up in the morning to find that it has snowed all night and is now sunny. You call all your friends to go riding and to try out the new tricks you have been thinking up for the past week. But wait, don’t forget to call the photographer, because when you land it, you have to have it documented and hopefully the shot will get into a magazine, which will stoke you and your sponsors. You work hard at learning all the hardest tricks in hopes of winning the next big contest on TV or maybe to get a nifty video part in this year’s hottest video. Why? Because that is what pro snowboarders do.

When given the chance to discuss all of the above with Kevin Sansalone, I was surprised to find out there was much more to this Italian kid than just looking cool for the cameras.

It seems like you were kind of falling off the whole scene for a while¿you were really blowing up, and then you just disappeared.

What happened was that I had no support for awhile. Santa Cruz wanted me to ride their boots, boards, clothes, and gloves for no raise, and they would do nothing to get me invited to any of the big events. So I quit. Sessions, my clothing sponsor, and Eddie Lee from 32 Boots, helped me out as much as they could. I went a whole year without a board sponsor, pretty much did everything on my own, did a bunch of contests, and Dano invited me on some Snowboarder trips.

I came home for the Westbeach Classic, and without being invited, I sat at the bottom of that jump waiting for people not to show up so I could compete. It was like flying standby at a contest. They contest promoters kept telling me “No. No. No, you can’t compete.” Then Kevin Young, Chris Brown, and a bunch of other people didn’t show, so finally they gave me a bib. I went in and did an old faithful trick I knew I could do. With no practice I made the finals, then won the contest.

Option signed me right on the spot. It was between me and Dionne Delesalle. He was playing it smart and doing it all super business, like waiting it out, feeling out his options. I didn’t have anything so I signed with them, not for the biggest contract, telling them to just support me and get me to the big contests and I would show them what I knew I could do. They put faith in me, and for that I will work my ass off for them.

Last year you won the Westbeach and the X-Games big-air events. That must have been pretty inspiring for you.

Yeah, it was rad that they let a Canadian kid win.

You think they just let you win?

I honestly think that Peter’s Line last jump was way better than mine. He did a switch 900, which was so sick, and I just did one I knew I could do.

Which was?

A switch 90 roll. But Pete’s trick was way more difficult than mine¿at least I think so.

You’re stoked working with a Canadian company, one that’s right there¿access to the factory and easy to work with?

I think it’s really special that I get to ride for a Canadian company that’s right in my neighborhood. They’re doing really well and they have a lot of faith in me. I want to show them that I’m ready to work hard, you know. I can go in there every day and work on board design or anything, it’s so great. Normally, every fall I’d go to school, but this year I didn’t. Instead, I went to work on a board they’re giving me as a pro model. I know they’re into investing time into me like I want to invest into them. It’s rad because they’re more like a family than a sponsor.

They just gave you a board right away?

Well, within like a few weeks they started getting me involved in designing a board. They hooked me up with the engineer, Johnny Q who became my best friend. He’s Italian, so instantly we connected, you know? I knew we were going to design a good board then. Laughing I’m really stoked on the board we came up with.

Now the big bucks will stt rolling in. What next?

Well, I’m not gonna say the big bucks, but I’m doing better now financially. My parents are really smart with things like real estate, so they’re always telling me to invest, invest, invest. Basically, I took money from contest winnings, and with good raises from Option, and a little help from my parents, I’m doing pretty well. I didn’t want to live worrying about how I was going to pay my mortgage. I listened to my parents, and they helped me do it.

It seems like you have a good work ethic. Do you work hard at everything you do?

Yes. I come from the big Italian family with a good work ethic. My dad worked hard and gave us everything so my brother and I could have a good life. It didn’t sink in for a long time, but now I’m learning to have a better work ethic. I’m starting to inherit my dad’s work mentality, which is so good for me now.

You have a brother? I didn’t know that.

My brother is rad. He’s a gnarly police officer. He is a full ERT Emergency Response Team. It’s like SWAT with full-on machine guns and night-vision goggles. He’s badass.

Your brother’s a cop? Does that ever freak you or your friends out?

Not me, but sometimes it kind of freaks my friends out. They would ask me stupid questions about it and stuff.

Does he care about what some of your friends might do?

What, like smoke? No, he doesn’t care about that. He only cares about me and what I’m doing. That’s why he became an ERT, because he doesn’t want to bust two kids smoking, he wants to bust the ship that just came into the port with a million tons of weed on it, you know what I mean? Full scuba suit, with machine guns, welding through the side of the boat kind of shit.

Dude, your brother is Steven Seagal. He sounds pretty intense. So what happened to you?

Laughter I don’t know. I guess I was just too into skating and snowboarding.

You used to go to college though?

Yeah, I was studying sports medicine.

Did you want to study that because of any injuries?

Oh yeah. I was with Dano, up at Mt. Seymore, and we were filming for one of the Whiskey movies or something. We were hitting this jump, going farther and farther, and there was this stick sticking out of the snow. I hit it on my back, breaking five ribs off of my spine. My number seven rib shattered and punctured my lung. We were out of bounds and it took over four hours for the helicopter to get to me.

Were you coughing blood?

No. I was totally holding it all in and my breathing was really slow. I knew I was gonna be okay. I just had to hold my shit together. I knew first aid and stuff, so I knew what to do and told my friends what to do while I lay there.

You couldn’t move?

No. I just didn’t move. I knew I could, but I was just lying there and my muscles started to cramp up. I got all my friends to massage all my arms and legs and shit to keep the blood flowing because when you get injured that bad all the blood rushes to your vital organs to protect them, so you have to keep it flowing in all of your limbs and stuff. They were totally counting my breathing to monitor it because my lung was all punctured. They did this for four hours until the rescue arrived. My friends did such an awesome job, they really held their shit together.

That kind of thing might make you look at life differently.

Yeah, totally. After that happened, that’s when all my snowboarding and everything started to come together. I got my Avalanche One training and wilderness first aid. It just made me respect my life a lot more.

It seems like more riders are getting smart and learning about the elements and the backcountry.

Yeah, totally. I am really into guiding and would eventually like to become one. I think that’s what I’m more about, getting out there and a little away from society and civilization¿being a little bit of a hermit. I mean I’m not at all bummed on the city or how big Whistler is getting, but in the long run, I just want to get away from it all and be more secluded from the mainstream.

Do you believe in God?

I believe in a higher power. I was a full-on harsh Catholic kid growing up. At one time in my life, I wanted to be a priest¿I was totally into it. I was an altar boy, going to church three times a week when I was like seven or eight years old.

Man, all I wanted to be when I was eight was an astronaut. Things are going good and your parents are stoked now, right?

Now that things are a lot better they’re super proud of me. I have a plan for my future, too. It’s cool with them as well, but for now, I want to concentrate on my snowboarding, work my ass off until I can retire from snowboarding and start my own business, have a farmhouse outside of Whistler, and have horses.

And chickens?

No, I don’t want any chickens. I ain’t tendin’ to no chickens.

Who did you look up to when you were just starting?

You, Sean Johnson, and Alex Warburton. He is just this big burly guy that I looked up to because he was so aggressive in his riding. I still look up to him. Recently I was blown away because he called me to see if I could get him on board with Option designing their binding system, I just about shit. I couldn’t believe he was asking me, it was amazing. It’s too bad that Option just doesn’t have the money to have someone like him on board right now, but I definitely wanted him on the boards and to help with design, so that was cool. Sean Kearns definitely helped me out, too. He got me on the whole Sessions thing and with Santa Cruz, and he never let me forget it; “This dream you’re livin’, I gave it to you and I can take it away, so get up there and hit that jump again.” Laughs.

Yeah, but that’s kind of cool, because he pushed you to work harder.

Oh yeah, he really hooked me up a lot. Traveling with those guys was a real eye opener for me. It was so gnarly sometimes. We were in New Zealand once, I was always the quiet kid who kept to myself. They were pissed off at me for something, like I didn’t help put the chains on the van, or because I didn’t want to get muddy or something like that. I went into a restaurant on the side of the road to use the bathroom. When I came out, all my bags were on the side of the road and they were gone. In some little f¿king town in the middle of nowhere¿I completely shit. They were gone for like twenty minutes. I was making arrangements for bus tickets and shit when they finally came back, laughing their asses off, telling me to get back in the van. It sucked.

What else inspires you as far as your snowboarding?

Well, guys like Devun Walsh and Peter Line really inspire me as far as tricks go, because they are so amazing, they just stomp everything. Guys like Brian Savard who ride big mountains and are so focused at it. They don’t hesitate, taking an hour to figure out their line, they know what they can do and just do it. They really inspire my riding. Riding Whistler you can start at the Peak of the mountain, drop some really steep lines and big cliffs, hit the park, do some spinning, and keep riding down to the pipe, see some French-Canadian kids ripping in the solid ice pipe¿I can see all this in one run, you know?

Laughing What do you think of those French-Canadian kids?

I love ‘em, dude. Seriously, I’ve been hanging out with them lately, ever since last year at summer camp. They are always riding and having fun. I just have so much respect for them because of that. It’s crazy how they will ride icy pipes, too. I won’t ride if it’s icy but I’ll cheer ‘em on until it gets soft. They just don’t give a f¿k. They love it. They ride better when it’s icy. They alwayaway from society and civilization¿being a little bit of a hermit. I mean I’m not at all bummed on the city or how big Whistler is getting, but in the long run, I just want to get away from it all and be more secluded from the mainstream.

Do you believe in God?

I believe in a higher power. I was a full-on harsh Catholic kid growing up. At one time in my life, I wanted to be a priest¿I was totally into it. I was an altar boy, going to church three times a week when I was like seven or eight years old.

Man, all I wanted to be when I was eight was an astronaut. Things are going good and your parents are stoked now, right?

Now that things are a lot better they’re super proud of me. I have a plan for my future, too. It’s cool with them as well, but for now, I want to concentrate on my snowboarding, work my ass off until I can retire from snowboarding and start my own business, have a farmhouse outside of Whistler, and have horses.

And chickens?

No, I don’t want any chickens. I ain’t tendin’ to no chickens.

Who did you look up to when you were just starting?

You, Sean Johnson, and Alex Warburton. He is just this big burly guy that I looked up to because he was so aggressive in his riding. I still look up to him. Recently I was blown away because he called me to see if I could get him on board with Option designing their binding system, I just about shit. I couldn’t believe he was asking me, it was amazing. It’s too bad that Option just doesn’t have the money to have someone like him on board right now, but I definitely wanted him on the boards and to help with design, so that was cool. Sean Kearns definitely helped me out, too. He got me on the whole Sessions thing and with Santa Cruz, and he never let me forget it; “This dream you’re livin’, I gave it to you and I can take it away, so get up there and hit that jump again.” Laughs.

Yeah, but that’s kind of cool, because he pushed you to work harder.

Oh yeah, he really hooked me up a lot. Traveling with those guys was a real eye opener for me. It was so gnarly sometimes. We were in New Zealand once, I was always the quiet kid who kept to myself. They were pissed off at me for something, like I didn’t help put the chains on the van, or because I didn’t want to get muddy or something like that. I went into a restaurant on the side of the road to use the bathroom. When I came out, all my bags were on the side of the road and they were gone. In some little f¿king town in the middle of nowhere¿I completely shit. They were gone for like twenty minutes. I was making arrangements for bus tickets and shit when they finally came back, laughing their asses off, telling me to get back in the van. It sucked.

What else inspires you as far as your snowboarding?

Well, guys like Devun Walsh and Peter Line really inspire me as far as tricks go, because they are so amazing, they just stomp everything. Guys like Brian Savard who ride big mountains and are so focused at it. They don’t hesitate, taking an hour to figure out their line, they know what they can do and just do it. They really inspire my riding. Riding Whistler you can start at the Peak of the mountain, drop some really steep lines and big cliffs, hit the park, do some spinning, and keep riding down to the pipe, see some French-Canadian kids ripping in the solid ice pipe¿I can see all this in one run, you know?

Laughing What do you think of those French-Canadian kids?

I love ‘em, dude. Seriously, I’ve been hanging out with them lately, ever since last year at summer camp. They are always riding and having fun. I just have so much respect for them because of that. It’s crazy how they will ride icy pipes, too. I won’t ride if it’s icy but I’ll cheer ‘em on until it gets soft. They just don’t give a f¿k. They love it. They ride better when it’s icy. They always call me up in French accent, “Dude! It snowed two inches. Come on, it’ll be sick!” But I’m always like, “Uh, I’m just gonna work on my dirt bike ’til it snows more laughing.”

When the season is done, what else will you do?

I’ll ride my dirt bike a lot, and I love to mountain bike. I just love jumping bikes. I also skate a lot and do some contests. Or, when I’m not riding, me and my friends just hang out and build shit.

You skate contests? Street or vert?

Just street and bowl contests in Vancouver. It’s mostly for fun.

You build shit. What does that mean?

Power-tool parties, man. B.Y.O.P. Bring your own power tools. Laughs We decide what the weekend project will be, you know, if we are going to build a bike rack, or install lights, or build a workbench. We just hang out, drink homemade wine or snakebites, and just build stuff. It’s fun.

You’re painting a scary picture. What would you say is one of your vices?

That I love my friends too much. I mean, I will always stick my neck out for my friends, no matter how many times it gets chopped off. Sometimes I say to myself that I’m not gonna do it again, but I do. My dad says it is just part of who I am and I shouldn’t change, besides, it will come back to me one day. Who knows when I might need my friends to be there for me.

Yeah, because what goes around comes around.

Exactly.

You know, years ago when I first met you I had a bunch of kids from one of the summer snowboard camps convinced that you were the little kid from the Chef Boyardee commercials.

Laughing Really? There are probably a bunch of them that still believe it.

lways call me up in French accent, “Dude! It snowed two inches. Come on, it’ll be sick!” But I’m always like, “Uh, I’m just gonna work on my dirt bike ’til it snows more laughing.”

When the season is done, what else will you do?

I’ll ride my dirt bike a lot, and I love to mountain bike. I just love jumping bikes. I also skate a lot and do some contests. Or, when I’m not riding, me and my friends just hang out and build shit.

You skate contests? Street or vert?

Just street and bowl contests in Vancouver. It’s mostly for fun.

You build shit. What does that mean?

Power-tool parties, man. B.Y.O.P. Bring your own power tools. Laughs We decide what the weekend project will be, you know, if we are going to build a bike rack, or install lights, or build a workbench. We just hang out, drink homemade wine or snakebites, and just build stuff. It’s fun.

You’re painting a scary picture. What would you say is one of your vices?

That I love my friends too much. I mean, I will always stick my neck out for my friends, no matter how many times it gets chopped off. Sometimes I say to myself that I’m not gonna do it again, but I do. My dad says it is just part of who I am and I shouldn’t change, besides, it will come back to me one day. Who knows when I might need my friends to be there for me.

Yeah, because what goes around comes around.

Exactly.

You know, years ago when I first met you I had a bunch of kids from one of the summer snowboard camps convinced that you were the little kid from the Chef Boyardee commercials.

Laughing Really? There are probably a bunch of them that still believe it.