Words: Taylor Boyd
Photos: Darcy Bacha
Arthur Longo is French, but he's not that French. He's good at competing but not hyper-competitive. He rips in the pipe, but he's not a pipe jock. He's a man of contradictions but not contradictory. In fact, Arthur's quite direct. He's also rather laid back. Arthur learned early on how to balance his contest schedule with filming, but no matter how skilled at juggling he was, competitive obligations always affected his capacity to produce a video part to his full potential. Two seasons ago, a wrist-shattering fall catalyzed a shift for Arthur in a direction far from the noisy realm of judges and scores, deep into British Columbia's backcountry, where solitude was interrupted only by the sound of two-stroke engines and a crew bent building man-sized features. Arthur's had the ability to produce a part like his in LANDLINE.; he just finally got the capacity to prove it.
Let's go back two seasons, to early winter, 2015.
Yeah, so I was still in the contest rhythm. I was in the States, and then I went to the LAAX Open in January, and I got hurt there. That was maybe the best riding I did in the pipe, but I got hurt. It wasn't the craziest injury, but it was still a big setback with surgery and rehab and all that. It was only the wrist, but pretty shitty for a wrist injury. Broken wrist, but the cartilage was all messed up. There were so many fragments of bones there, and they fixed it as well as they could. It'll never be the same, but it's okay.
So two months after the crash I was able to ride, and I went straight to Eagle Pass to ride and film for STRONGER, the Union movie, with Guch [Bryan Iguchi], and Kazu [Kokubo], and we got it good. That was one of the best trips ever for me. In like six or seven days Guch and I pretty much filmed the part we had together in STRONGER. That was such an amazing trip. And after that I went to Haines, but it was two weeks of shitty weather. But I didn't care. I was like, "Whatever, it's shitty AK time." We waited for two weeks, but nothing happened. Then we had a Volcom trip in BC after that. That was insane.
And then you decided not to go back to contest realm?
I didn't ride pipe anymore until the summer, and even in the summer I rode maybe a few days in the pipe. So I kind of had to make the call to get back in the contest mode or just move on, and I just made the decision to stop competing.
So basically that wrist injury, though you probably didn't realize it at the time, kind of changed the course of things for you.
Yeah, I mean it's a lot of things. I thought I would stop contests way before that anyway, but I was still riding good, and as long as I was riding fine, I didn't see any reason to stop. But after being away from the pipe for six months, I was content to do something else. For sure the wrist injury did something, but it was also the timing. I didn't know if I was going to miss riding pipe and contests, but the way the winter went, I realized I was so happy this way.
You wouldn't have been able to put the same amount of emphasis on filming for the Vans movie if you were still competing.
No, and that's what I always did--trying to go somewhere and get shots for a movie and still compete--which was fine for so many years. But to actually be more involved, like as much as the other guys in the movie, that's a really good feeling.
And the majority of your last season was spent in British Columbia filming for LANDLINE..
Yeah, pretty much. I was at Mount Bachelor in December with Jake [Price], before he headed to BC. He was like, "Just get a sled and come up with me." By the beginning of January I was back in France, and Jake was already in Revelstoke, and he just kept telling me to get a sled and come over. It was funny 'cause he was in the backcountry every day, and with the time difference we never really talked properly on the phone. But he was just like, "Book a flight and buy a sled." He said, "There's this guy; he'll sell you one." So I was like, "Alright, I'm just going to follow Jake's directions." And I flew to Revelstoke. The night I got there, the guy sold me a sled, and the next morning we were filming already. That's how it started, in mid-January. Then I went back to Germany for not even one week before traveling back to BC and meeting up with Jake again in Revelstoke, where I stayed through April. We wanted to travel to Europe, but there was no snow. It was just so good in BC and so bad in Europe.
How would you describe Jake?
He's always hyped, and when he's talking about something, it's always the best. He's a really positive guy, always willing to go on adventures. He has ideas you think are crazy, and then you actually do them. He can makes things happen. He's a bit of a weirdo, but just the good amount. We tag along really well and developed a really good friendship. That was really cool. We spent all our time together. I had my sled on his truck, so we did all the drives together and stayed at the same places. I mean, we saw each other most waking moments for three months.
How about some of the other guys on the project, how would you describe them?
I already knew most of the guys, more or less, but after this winter I felt like I was really close with all of them--Blake Paul, Pat [Moore], Sam [Taxwood], and Jamie [Lynn], and Guch [Bryan Iguchi]. This winter was a chance to spend more time with Pat, to know him in his best moments and at other times that weren't perfect. It was really everything, the good and the bad--going through stuff together and really getting to know the guys way more. But that was really the first time I met Blake, and he became such a good friend. We ride the same kind of way; we like when things are fast, and we really try to have fun but leave room to have funny sessions together. It was way more than a two-week trip. It was months spent together--the fun and the shitty moments.
So after Revelstoke you ended up in some pretty remote zones. Do you like being in the middle of nowhere?
Yeah, that was pretty sick. So Jake went there a few times in years before. He was always telling me, "Yeah, we go camp for like five days, so get ready." I was like, "What do you mean?" Like I really didn't know what to expect. And it was actually pretty mellow, but we were pretty off the grid. We were in a cabin with no electricity or running water. We had to get water from a stream away from the house. We didn't have service as long as we were there, and because of that, it was so amazing. You feel so far from anyone, and discovering a mountain range for the first time, it was so insane. It felt like real adventures. There are no fake adventures, but these were totally away civilization. Not even near a close village. It's pretty special, pretty sick.
And of course snowmobiles aren't a thing in Europe, but most of your part was filmed via sled. How has that adjustment been for you?
Yeah, totally. It's easier and hard at the same time. Growing up, we always envied the riders that can snowmobile, back in Europe watching the movies, just like, "What?! They can shuttle these jumps? How fucking easy is that?" Actually when you do it, you realize it's not always easy. But for the Americans--Pat and the guys come over and they have to hike and they just hate it. I guess we get used to what we grew up with. And for me, it's still probably easier not to have to deal with a sled and vice versa for the Americans.
Pat and Blake have both said you look at snowboarding in a unique way--that your riding is pipe-influenced in terms of edge control and eye for transition. Do you think so?
Well, I always rode pipe but rode backcountry as well. I love trannies and features that maybe aren't too... straight.
Right. Like transfers or features that aren't necessarily a textbook stepdown scenario.
Yeah, and I felt bad 'cause sometimes I came up with ideas that Pat [Moore] didn't like that much. It was funny getting his perspective on things, and we tried to mix it up together. Sometimes I'd see a spot that's more... twisted than what some other people like to ride. I like transfers and gaps and small trannies, and all that. I guess that could come from the pipe and that type of riding.
You can see that in the Side Hits Euphoria video you and Olivier Gittler put out. That was quite a hit. Did you expect that?
I for sure expected people to be stoked on that sort of riding. I mean everyone loves that. But we never really document it. It actually took some tries to make it all flow really well. We wanted to show something relatable, and it's always been my favorite type of snowboarding. Like when I was riding a contest, there were always sidehits on the way to the park or the pipe or whatever, and for me, they were always the funnest thing to ride, so I was glad to share that. And we're going to do it again.
You've got a signature boot that just came out. That must feel pretty cool.
Yeah, it's a limited version of the V-66, so it's one of the models from Vans. I rode it all season. I mean the V-66 is a sick boot as-is. That's the one I always ride, but going through all the processes and creating my own version was so, so cool. I spent the whole season just wearing one pair. And they're still in great shape. That was actually one of my goals was to make a sustainable boot that could last for a long time. And I think we really achieved to that. I hope people like it as much as I do.
How did that process work?
Well, you know, they're designed in the US, so it was a lot of Skype and emails. At first, it's just looking for inspirations and throwing around ideas, but eventually you have to choose a direction. Then you see the first drawings, then the first sample, but maybe it's not exactly what you expected, so you tweak a few things and maybe change your mind on something. Then you go through another sample round, which is better, and so on. You're just trying not to go back and forth too many times. You try to know as soon as possible what exactly you want, and it's still going to come out a bit different. And actually we had some good surprises--stuff we didn't expect that actually turned better than we imagined.
Where did the inspiration come from?
The general inspiration is based on an old mountaineering boot. It's leather, really good leather. Since it's limited edition, we could use really high-end materials. And it has old school laces, which I've always liked. It looks pretty classic, and that's what I wanted. But it's a good modern boot.
What was it like shooting mostly on 16mm, as opposed to digital, like most movies today?
My first experiences with a film crew were with the Pirates, and they were still using the 16mm. They were one of the last to be shooting 16, and at the time we were like "Fuck, why do they do that?" You know, it wasn't the hype anymore or whatever. We were just thinking, "Can't you shoot digital like everyone else?"
But now that I've filmed a lot with digital, and we've seen all these 4K movies, I've realized film is special. It's not as common anymore, so I think it's a good way to make a movie a bit different. But it's for sure a different process. Sometimes you just have to accept another take. You don't see what you do, and sometimes it's for the better. Sometimes you have good surprises; sometimes you don't. It's exciting to work like this. Usually when you feel the trick was ugly, it was. I remember when I saw the first reel, I had a few shots I wasn't too stoked on, but then I stopped paying attention. I didn't want to be thinking too much about how something should look. I trusted Jake, so I just rode.