Midwest-Bred Colin Wilson is a tall drink of water with a mellow demeanor, and a ton of board control. Though plagued with injuries, his positive attitude and Trollhaugen upbringing have enabled him to make his way through the snowboard world as a Burton Knowbuddy and now a Lobster global am. With a slot in the VG am movie due to drop this fall, Colin will continue to turn heads with his controlled tall-guy style and hefty bag of tricks.
How tall are you?
I think I’m about 6’2”.
Do you ever wish you were shorter? I feel like snowboarding is one of the few things where being short is an advantage.
No, I think it’s kind of cool being a little bit different. I don’t think people realize how much harder it is to snowboard when you’re tall. It’s a lot more to control, but I think that’s what’s kind of fun about it is the challenge for sure.
You’re filming for the VG am movie this year. What can you tell me about that project?
It was pretty spontaneous this year. I really had no plans and I got asked to do it which was really cool. I definitely didn’t expect it, but it was definitely a huge opportunity that I was really stoked to get. Just trying to make the best of it. I broke my back earlier this season at the second spot. After six weeks I was back filming with those guys and that was probably the best feeling I could have had. Back on my board, back with the boys.
Who else is filming for the VG movie?
The am movie is Riley Nickerson, Jesse Gouviea, Brady Lem, Jordan Morse, Jordan Small, and I feel like I’m forgetting one but I think that’s about it. It’s a pretty small crew.
Are they doing a pro movie too?
They’re doing a pro movie and they’re also doing an Adidas movie, so the Adidas guys are doing that one, Derrek Lever, Mark Wilson, Tommy Gesme and Wiz and all those other dudes that are really good. They’re doing their own thing with Colton Feldman. What’s cool about the am movie is it’s not really it’s own thing. All of us riders, whether you’re in the pro movie or the Adidas movie, whatever you wanna call it, we all get to film together. I’ll go out and film with Jake or Joe and the Minnesota boys and it’s all going into different projects but we’re all hitting the same spots. It’s really cool.
Sounds like we’re in for a good Fall of movie drops.
Oh yeah. Riley Nickerson. That’s all I’m gonna say, but he’s got some stuff for people to see.
This was at Elm Creek. That day we went out and hit a few spots and it was really nice out so wanted to keep snowboarding. We had this idea to go to elm creek and went snowboarding. It was really cool, there was a bunch of kids watching. We all started snowboarding and I feel like it created this energy like it was a band performing. We were just doing trains on everything and people were getting really stoked on it, it was fun.
How did you break your back?
I broke my back on a street rail. I over-pressed a little bit and gutted a kink rail really hard. Pretty much broke my back from the contortion. I had a spinal fracture, I fractured 3 vertebrae in my lower back, broke a few ribs and bruised everything on my inside on the left side. What took the longest to heal was mostly just my organs and my muscles on my side. My back actually felt pretty good after about three weeks.
Was that your worst injury?
Back in 2012, at Superpark 17 at Mt Bachelor, it was day 2, second run. I was bombing down to a step down and there was a photographer standing on top of it. I was bombing, no stopping and he jumps in front of me to stop me. I tried to stop, and I almost came to a stop but didn’t and slid off the edge of the step down. I don’t know how far I dropped, but way too far to walk away from and completely destroyed my knee. It was like a list of everything in your knee, like a bomb went off. I was out for a whole season and half of the next one. In the meantime, the Knowbuddy program was starting, and Zack Nigro had hit me up right after I had surgery and I told him, I just had surgery, I’m not going to be able to snowboard this whole season. And he’s like, nah dude, we know, we got your back. They sent me a snowboard and gear, clothes and everything. He was like take your time, don’t worry about it. I spent the following two season trying to mend my knee back into shape and learn how to snowboard again. Ended up having a second surgery to clean up my knee. It took me a little while to get back. It was a big mental thing for sure. It taught me a lot. I got into carpentry at lot more during the off time. When I got back into snowboarding I took it more seriously in the way to taking care of my body and being healthy, but i didn’t take it more seriously like it had to be a job or anything like that. I still have a very mellow mentality about snowboarding. The best way to do it is to not take it seriously, that’s when you do your best. That was a pretty gnarly injury.
You’re from Wisconsin, right?
Yeah I actually grew up in Wisconsin, right by Trollhaugen. I went to the same school as Ethan Deiss, him and I have known each other since we were about 3. We used to wrestle together. We grew up snowboarding together and going to summer school and stuff like that together. Getting in a lot of trouble when we were little. I grew up there until I right after I graduated from High School. Eventually made my way to the Twin Cities and went to school part time and filmed with my friends, the Impaler guys. It was actually Working for the City at the time with Stark and Brett Spurr, Chris Duncan and Sam Duncan, that was pretty cool. I live here now and I love it. I’m close to all the hills for the most part. I’m further away from Trollhaugen then I would like but I still make it there plenty of times a week.
What’s the difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin?
Wisconsin, at least where Trollhaugen is, is a a little more redneck I feel like. It’s a little more rough around the edges than kids who came from the city. You get a different mix of cultures and kids who were raised different. It has its good and bad but it all kinda works out. Everybody’s homies with everybody. There’s not a bunch of crews and everyone’s not real cliqued up trying to be cooler than everybody else. We all kind feed off of each other.
What was it like growing up riding Trollhaugen. Is that why you’re so good?
(laughs) I don’t think I’m good. Trollhaugen is my home. I don’t live in Wisconsin any more, my family doesn’t live there anymore, so when I go to Trollhaugen that’s the closest thing I feel to home for sure. I have a lot of history there. I started snowboarding when I was 8, I skied there when I was little. When I got into snowboarding it all changed and I quit playing winter sports and all that. My parents would drop me off every day after school and I would snowboard till it closed.
What was Ethan like as a little kid? Has Burton changed him?
No, Ethan definitely my best friend. He’s like a brother to me. I think Burton changed his approach to snowboarding. They’re more of a simulated type brand as far as they way they market their riders and their expectations and things like that. I think maybe that has taken a little bit of a toll on Ethan, but he has insane amounts of talent. I don’t think we’ve seen Ethan’s best video part yet. I’m pretty excited for what he has to come, he’s filming with Absinthe and he’s always got something up his sleeve.
While we’re on Burton… you were a Knowbuddy, are you excited to be somebody now?
There were so many people that were so bummed on the Knowboddy thing, but I tried to be as optimistic as I could with Burton and the whole Knowbuddy thing. With Ethan being on Burton, I kinda had an idea and a taste of how Burton works with things. I didn’t necessarily have this goal to be on Burton for the rest of my life and I didn’t have that expectation. I knew it was kind of a stepping stone. It definitely built a foundation for me in snowboarding and helped me with meeting people. I met Bridges and spent a week with the Snowboarder guys when we did an editorial and it was definitely one of the best trips of my life. I got nothing but good things from the whole opportunity. It led me to getting on Lobster and led me to where I am now, which I’m stoked on.
How did you end up getting on Lobster?
A couple people that I didn’t know had hit me up. I didn’t really know if they were serious or not because the guy that hit me up was French and I couldn’t really understand and of his words. I kinda thought it was joke at first and the Haldor hit me up. He spoke really briefly and said he was down to put me on Lobster if I was down. I talked to Diggles and everything kinda came together from there. It was pretty mellow. They don’t really have any expectations of me other than to have fun and film a video part.
So Eiki and Haldor don’t make you do crazy shit?
No, they don’t at all. I actually got the chance to hang with Haldor while he was here in Minnesota. We didn’t really get to film together, which I wish we could have, but we were both doing our own projects so we were pretty busy. He came over one night though and we went out in Minneapolis. He was just the raddest dude. That’s when it really clicked with my with Lobster, I got this immediate satisfaction. I was just so stoked to be a part of it. All Haldor wants to do is have fun, so I’m excited for what’s to come.
“I had just landed on my face off of a wall ride. I imagined what it looked like if someone was on the rope and they saw it happen and I just started laughing, so that’s why I’m laughing in the picture.”
You work construction as well. What sort of stuff do you do?
I’m an independent contractor, so I work with other contractors and do my own jobs as well. I do new construction and I also do finish carpentry, finishing houses and remodeling old houses. Kinda do a little bit of everything.
Do you do that in the summer?
Yeah and I do it on and off during the snowboard season. When I get time gaps or if the snow is really bad or it’s really cold and there’s just not a lot of snow. I’ll just work that week or in-between trips. For the most part I try to limit it to working spring through fall and taking the winter off.
Do you ever think about moving West?
Yes and no. I always have this itch to wanna move west every time I travel there, but I always get sucked into staying here in Minnesota. I think it’s the fact that it’s a really good place to be stationed as far as work and the community here and the connections and the resources here. As long as I have the ability to travel to those places more often than not I think that replaces the idea of having to live there. I definitely want to move somewhere else in my lifetime to try other things. As I get older I feel like I’m going to get out of street snowboarding a little more, as my body won’t be able to handle as much, and there’s definitely other parts of snowboarding that I want to explore as far as backcountry and stuff like that I really want to get into.
Is there anything specific that you want to do in the future?
I’ve always really liked snowboard parts that have everything in them. Like Keagan and Kazu, they always have street stuff and backcountry stuff and they always have really well rounded parts like they can do anything. That’s always what I’ve followed as far people that try to blaze a new trial and try new things and not just do the same tricks that everyone else does.
What about Mike Cassanova?
He’s insane… at snowboarding. He’s both, but he’s just one of the raddest dudes. I’ve known him since I was a young dude and I’ve always idolized him as far as his style and his approach to snowboarding and as far as just being humbled and always having fun. Like don’t worry about sponsors and what people tell you to do all the time, just go out and have fun. Put some good music in your ears. It’s not always about doing the biggest and gnarliest tricks, it’s about being able to do them controlled and with good style and I’ve always liked the fact that he’s a really proper snowboarder, so I’ve always idolized him in that way.
What are you most hyped on in snowboarding right now?
Honestly, I don’t follow snowboarding very closely as far as watching tons of videos and keeping up with that stuff. I’m stoked on what I’m doing right now and the projects that I’ve been working with. All I wanna do is see my friends’ video parts, that’s all I really care about.
“That just his last weekend that was the first day I experienced this season of full on spring boarding. That was a really good day at Trollhaugen. We grilled out, it was a textbook bluebird day, grilling in the parking lot, drinking beers with everyone, we didn’t film much because we were having too much fun snowboarding, but we managed to get a couple photos.”
What’s the secret to a good fish fry?
Shore lunch, eggs and panko. You need some wall eye, you batter it all with the shore lunch and then just drop it in the deep fryer or pan fry it. It’s the best. But first you gotta get good fish. I like to fry fish that I catch. get a bunch of Walleye or crappie from Northern Minnesota or our cabin and just fry em up. It’s pretty cool.
How often do you fish?
In the summer I fish every weekend. Not a lot of people know, I feel like when they come to Minnesota. Some people, not gonna say any names, but some people come and are like this place seems so boring. In the winter when they’re filming and it’s cold, but they don’t understand what its like here in the summer. There’s lakes everywhere, there’s amazing views and trails and rivers. I have a cabins that I go to, so it’s definitely a great place to be.
Everywhere is better in the summer. As a snowboarder I feel bad saying that but summer rules.
That’s why it’s hard for me to leave. I like being here in the winter. It’s close to an airport, there’s spots everywhere, there’s resorts everywhere, there’s friends everywhere and people who wanna film. It’s a lot easier to get things done and make things happen, but as soon as you run out of snow as far as filming it’s not the most productive place to be.
Did it snow in Minnesota this year?
It did, just a week ago we lost all our snow. We were filming in Duluth last weekend, and they’re losing all their snow now it’s starting to get warm up there. Minnesota is always tricky. We might end up getting a foot of snow in the next two weeks, but with the weather being the way it is now probably not.
What’s next for you? Got any trips planned?
Right now I’m trying to plan a trip to Bear with Jake OE and some guys to possibly do some stuff with Snowboarder mag, but I really just wanna go where there’s snow and keep riding my snowboard. I wanna head to Tahoe to keep filming there, they just got a bunch of snow, and then spend some time in Bear, then make my way to Mammoth for Holy Bowly and Superpark. That’ll be my next month and we’ll see where I end up from there.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to the snowboarding public?
I don’t really wanna tell anybody what to do or anything, but I just feel like snowboarding is getting a little carried away with trending and being the coolest thing and being these isolated, solo artists. I feel like it should be more of a team effort. People need to try and help each other out and work together to climb the ladder instead of everyone trying to one up each other and be the coolest person and be part of the coolest crew. Be a little more humble.
Snowboarding as a team sport.
It is 100%. If you think about it you can’t go to a spot and film a trick and get it edited into a movie by yourself. You have to have a filmer, you to have people to help you shovel, you have to have people to run a winch or pull a bungee. Not to mention the support that you have from your friends when you’re at a spot or when you’re snowboarding in general. Going snowboarding by yourself can be fun sometimes, but that’s what I love the most about Minnesota. The Minnesota and Wisconsin snowboard communities, you can go snowboarding and you don’t have to call anyone. You know there’s gonna be somebody there that you know or you’re down to shred with. It’s pretty cool.
Sponsors, shout outs?
Definitely big thanks to Haldor and Eiki and Diggles and all the dudes at Lobster and Switchback. David and all the snowboarders at Trollhaugen. The whole midwest crew and all my friends from around the US and across the globe, I want to thank all of them for all the support they’ve given me and making snowboarding what it is. Shout outs to my family and all of my friends, Trollhaugen, Lobster, Switchback, Videograss, the Impaler, Zach Nigro, Alex Andrews and all the dudes at Burton.