Cave Paintings

'Cave Paintings' is a piece I wrote for Snowboard Canada, about Marie-France Roy and her knack for following magic. The story features Nicolas Teichrob as a character, and we used a painting of his as supporting imagery. I mention it because I thought of 'Cave Paintings' today after watching 'Numinous,' a beautiful ski film (available here) that Nick co-produced, co-directed, and edited. The film gave me chills, really. So congratulations Nick, Kye, and the rest of Numinous, and without further ado:

Marie-France Roy said something interesting to me last summer– she told me snowboarding is not her gift.  She said it with confidence, comfortable with the idea, and said she hasn’t quite found what she’s really here to do.  She didn’t mean she’s done with snowboarding; all day we’d been talking about plans for future exploring, ways to extend the adventure of being a snowboarder.  I’ve got no doubt she’ll snowboard all her life.  She just meant she sees something more when she looks to the next phases. 

I’d asked what comes after The Little Things.  “I don’t think I have the strength to be someone like Tamo,” she told me, “and I don’t think that putting environmental problems in people’s face is the answer.  Honestly, I think the best way to give back is to have purpose, to find the complete and joyful state and follow it.  And to help other people do the same.”

When she finished her eco-focused two-year, Marie returned to working on her own life, to making the adjustments she advocated in the film.  She continued to improve her cob house in Ucluelet, where this conversation took place, further integrating herself with the land and the rhythm of the surf.  She filmed for Full Moon, let herself enjoy snowboarding with friends, and began the process of realigning her career for the future.  That meant new partnerships with Arbor and Patagonia, and a change in approach.  More foot power, more exploring, better connection to the places she’d ride.  More joy.

She told me about a trip that made her feel on the right track, a glacier camp in the Tordillo Range.  “It was Alex Yoder, Forest Shearer, Nick Teichrob, Nathaniel Murphy, and Jay Beyer.  We went out for 10 days­– it was so much fun, the best crew.  I only knew Nick going into it, but we all bonded so much.  I feel like we’re best friends now.  Jay’s the best cook, and he’d wake us up every morning to go look for pink light.  Yoder is a pearl; he’s like a brother.  He’s a young Dirksen, so soulful.”

“Did you have any storm days?  That’ll make you close real fast.”

“Yeah– they were crazy.  We were outside wrestling mid-way through the storm.  I had Nick in a headlock and I was yelling ‘Say my name!’  It turned into a huge snowball fight.  We all had to change after, we were soaked… we got kind of wild.  We boiled these gin-gin candies with Whisky– you light them on fire then drink them, it was dangerous…”

The riding sounded surreal.  Shred days started before dawn: “It was still -17°, my laces were frozen.  We’d be skinning when the sun started to hit, Jay was jizzing over the light.  The snow was epic and we’d be at the top of our lines waiting for sun to hit, then we’d drop one after another.  They were such surfy lines, not scary, just walls of ramps and pillows.  I’m going back for sure– that was just an introduction.”

We drank tea as we talked, enjoying the simplicity of mid-day conversation.  “We painted– Nick brought supplies.  He painted this full piece of the mountains in front of our camp.”  Marie was as animated telling me how they filled down time as she was describing the boarding, as appreciative of simple creative expressions as she was of dreamy pow.  Her gratitude and interest were free to wander.  “It was so cool, he’s not a serious painter or anything, but he captured the mood of the trip.  Just simple and awesome.”

Marie’s future will follow her joy.  “Snowboarding has opened so many doors,” she said, “it’s insane the opportunities I’ve had and the things I’ve learned, just by picking up this sport.  The energy that comes out of snowboarding is amazing.”  She continues to channel that energy, setting an example for positivity and purpose.  This winter she’s spoken on behalf of the planet, sharing environmentalist messages and her love for the places she’s experienced in schools, with video projects, and through her social media.  She’s working with her sponsors to create media that inspires, focused on spreading the feeling of discovering nature.  And she continues to explore, appreciating moments as they come and engaging her opportunities with an open mind.  ‘Snowboarding isn’t my gift’ is a funny thing to hear from one of the world’s best riders.  But from someone who’s tuning into new rhythms, who sees value in the kind of connection that comes from sitting with a friend and painting, it’s less surprising. 

That evening we surfed, Marie with calm purpose.  She let waves come to her and moved with focus through her rides.  I followed her lead, let surfing feel simple.  We laughed at each other’s bails and gave props for good waves, neither of us thinking too far past the next set.