Two Minutes With Charles Beckinsale
Becoming a professional snowboarder may be far from the average career goal breaking out of the coastal town of Forster in New South Wales. Not the case however, for Mr. Charles Beckinsale. The man has travelled the globe in search of the best snow and most challenging terrains, obtaining countless magazine covers and plenty more along the way. Heavily involved in the sport he lives and breathes, Charles also designs terrain parks for the snowboarders of Perisher and helps with several other big projects for his sponsor families.
We caught up with CB to chat about the design process behind these all important terrain parks, what separates Whistler from the rest of the world and what it’s like to go on tour with the DC family.
Charles, thanks for catching up mate! For those who don’t know, give us a brief rundown on who you are and what you are about.
I’m a snowboarder. I’ve been snowboarding for 17 years, professionally for about 14 years. I spend my Aussie Winter’s in Perisher and the Northern Winter based out of Whistler, Canada. I also love taking any opportunities to snowboard in new places along the way.
When did you figure you could actually make a living from the sport you love? Were you a little blown away when all of a sudden snowboarding was your profession?
I never thought snowboarding could be my life. It’s something I pinch myself about regularly, even to this day. Sometimes I look around at what I’m doing, or take note of where I am, like Japan or out in the back country in Canada surrounded by snowboarders I look up to about to hit a jump with them, and feel like it’s so surreal. I have always worked to supplement my snowboarding, so once it was all done I had something to fall back on. I’ve always been able to balance both so for me snowboarding has never felt like a job.
You grew up in Forster, NSW. How did you first get into the sport itself? Did you also surf when you growing up?
Yeah, Forster was home for a good few years. My Mum had spent a lot of time living and skiing in the European Alps as a young woman, so when I was about 13 she packed us up in Forster and drove south to Perisher for the season. After a couple of years doing the Aussie season we headed to Canada, and I’ve been doing back to back Winter’s ever since. She taught skiing and my sister and I hiked up the hill and taught ourselves to snowboard. I surfed quite a bit growing up too. One of the best things about growing up in Forster was having all those epic beaches at your doorstep. Snowboarding came first once I found it though haha.
As well as being a top boarder, you also design terrain parks. When did you first get involved in this side of things? We saw you are down at Perisher at the moment?
Yep, I’ve been involved in terrain parks for about 15 years. I started out volunteering with the Park Crew at Thredbo and eventually found myself managing the program at age 18. I really threw myself into park building and design when I got injured snowboarding and was unable to ride for a bit, so I put all my energy into learning how to build park. I’m the Terrain Park Manager at Perisher now, so I’ll be here in Perisher all season long before heading back to Canada.
Can you tell us about this process and how you first get started on these projects?
If we are designing and building a park for one of the 7 park areas at Perisher we start by assessing who it is we are aiming to build for. Either it’s for beginner park riders, or intermediate riders looking to step it up, or for our advanced and professional riders. By having that clear in our mind we run through our rail fleet and choose ideal features, then draw up a plan including the jumps and other snow features, all has got to flow well together. From here it’s into the build phase. The snow cats roll out for the night and do the building then the day crew come in when the sun comes up and get polishing off the park so its 100% for the riders. It really is an around the clock team effort getting everything up and running. Designing the concept and bringing it to life is really satisfying.
What are some important aspects you look for when designing?
Creating flow and progression is probably the most important thing when you are designing a park. You also have to get your transitions right because if they are off, the feature will suck.
You said you have spent a fair amount of time over in Canada, which I guess is a must when you are heavily involved in the sport. What are the best things about being over that side of the globe that Australia simply can’t offer?
The season is 7 months long. You have so much time on snow. The backcountry is insane. You are not limited to resort riding. The list is endless.
What is the best thing about working with DC and other sponsor families?
Being a part of the DC Family is pretty awesome. I have a really great team of sponsors and they all support me in their own way. DC has been instrumental to what I have been doing for over 10 years. They help me forge my path and travel to amazing places just to go snowboarding. I think the friendships are one of the best things to come out of being a part of a team like DC.
How do you influence the products that these companies are providing?
I think feedback is probably the most important influence a rider can have with these companies. It’s invaluable to have someone on snow everyday riding with their products and passing back how it goes, what doesn’t work etc.
What’s the best part about going on tour? Tell us a funny story from the DC L’Invasion earlier this year and a bit of info on the event itself?
The best part of being on tour is usually the company. The boys I get to travel with are my best mates so it’s always the best time, there are no outside distractions it’s just snowboarding and a good time. The DC L’Invasion was a hell time. I flew from Vancouver to Geneva, Switzerland and made my way up to Meribel, a snow resort in France and met the rest of the Global DC Team up there. I managed to score an invite through Torstein Horgmo to join the rest of the team, and maybe build a couple of park features for us all to shoot on in between the good times and snowboarding. We spent the whole week riding and eating and drinking. I’ve never seen anything as epic as the Apres at Le Folie Douce, an on hill outdoor bar I guess you would call it. Nude crowd surfing doesn’t get you kicked out, there is a slippery dip to the bathrooms its a real playground, plus you get to ride out for kilometers buzzed. It doesn’t get much better!
How do you spend your time in warmer climates?
I’m not the biggest fan of the heat. The last time I was in a warmer climate was probably Spring last year on the Gold Coast. I try to surf a bit, but can’t do too much of that due to an old shoulder injury. By the time we wrap things up in Canada and the last shoots have happened, it’s time to be back in Australia in preparation for the Southern hemisphere Winter. Some people probably think that’s pretty brutal, but I love it!
What do you see as your career highlights to date?
I’m pretty stoked to still be riding for DC and Dragon, who have supported me from day one. I look back at everything they’ve enabled me to do and am so thankful. Riding with the guys I’ve always looked up to has been a massive highlight and also my covers on the Aussie print magazines. So much work goes into getting a cover worthy shot that when I look at those I feel like it’s all worth it.
You’ve obviously travelled all over the globe in search of the best mountains. Where has been your favourite place and why?
I can’t go past Whistler, Canada. It has everything. The town is epic, the mountain is second to none and you can’t beat the Whistler backcountry. It’s a place snowboarding dreams are made of. Plus if the snow is not on, the parks are on point.
What advice can you give young crew looking to follow in your footsteps?
Work as hard as you can and don’t let anything get in the way of your plans! I think you really have to make sure you are doing what you are doing because you love it, not love the idea of it. Passion will take you a long way!
What’s the best way to unwind after a day on the mountain?
I love food. Usually after a big day it’s all about the meal that comes after. If I’m at home in Australia, a trip to the Wild Brumby Distillery for a meal and some schnapps is the best after a big day riding. In Whistler a good stretch and hot tub is the best way to finish the day.
What’s next to come in the world of Charles Beckinsale?
I’m kinda winging it at the moment. I’ll head back to Canada in October or November, I’m hoping it’s a better snow year compared to the last up there, it was pretty dry. I’ll be snowboarding as much as I can as always. I’m pretty excited about what the next few years will take me, I think the dirty thirty’s are going to treat me well.