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Travelogue: Spencer O'Brien

Aug 30, 2010

Author: Sara Tollestrup

Spencer O’Brien is one of the busiest snowboarders in the country. She travels at least six months of the year and is familiar with every airport from Tokyo to Zurich. With a Dew Cup Overall title to her name and a couple of X Games medals too, she is one of Canada’s top pros (male or female). She is also a professional board bag packer—nobody can fill a160-centimeter long bag more effectively than her.

From the best coffee shop on Kauai to a Mount Hood three-legged race gone wrong, Spencer O’Brien gives us the low down on where she’s been lately and what she’s been up to.

Name the last four places you’ve been and what you were doing there.

1. Hanalei, Hawaii -vacation, 3 days of surfing unsuccessfully

2. Mt. Hood, Oregon - Burton ad shoot, High Cascade Snowboard Camp Signature Session with Leanne (Pelosi), Elena (Hight) and The Frends crew

3. Saas Fee, Switzerland - Burton ad shoot

4. Queenstown and Wanaka, New Zealand - Red Bull Performance Camp, Burton New Zealand Open, Burton Catalog Shoot


So you’re telling me you tried to surf in Hawaii, and you’re bad at it?
Apparently standing sideways for a living doesn’t translate to surfing. In three days I think I stood up once. Then it got really flat. My friends were obsessed with finding surf, so they were driving all over the island.

Spencer O'Brien Travelogue

What did you do when you weren’t surfing?
I drank Coconut Dream coffee from Java Kai on Hanalei Bay.

Spencer O'Brien Travelogue

How was Hood?
The air bag was super fun. I had never done it before, so I had one of the campers teaching me to do back flips. She was like “you got it, go for it, it’s super easy,” and I was like “wait, you’re not supposed to be teaching me.” Elena, Leanne, and I also put on some pretty funny after camp activities. In the three-legged race two teams collided and ate shit. Then in the egg toss a girl intercepted another team’s shitty egg toss with her head.

Spencer O'Brien Travelogue

Spencer O'Brien Travelogue

What was the highlight of Saas Fee?
Hanging out with the girls. Yuki (Furihata), Rana (Okada), Linn Haug, Sina Candrian and Nat (Zurek) and I were all there, which was cool because we don’t see each other all that often. And eating!

Spencer O'Brien Travelogue

Since you’re a bit of a “foodie,” talk about the food in Switzerland.
We stayed at a nice hotel, so we ate there every day. Breakfast was croissants with Nutella, the most delicious yogurt and lots of coffee. Lunch was meat, butter and cheese on a baguette and more coffee. Freddy (Kalbermatten) lives there, so he took us to a really good dinner. I had an apple strudel. I also found out that I don’t like Rosti. It’s hash browns, and they eat it for dinner. Swiss people seem to really like it, and they have whole menu pages dedicated to it. I don’t understand the fascination with Rosti, but Europe always inspires me from a food point of view because you can’t even get that quality of food in North America.

Spencer O'Brien Travelogue

What’s the sketchiest thing that happened on your travels?
That was in Saas Fee too. I was kind of lost on the mountain because there were a bunch of switch backs with no ropes, so I saw this racer girl and figured she looked like she was training or something so she’d know where to go, but no. She didn’t know what was up. She didn’t have her centre of gravity figured out at all. Suddenly she fell on her face down a giant embankment and ran into all of these ski racers. I felt bad, but it was pretty funny. That’s why you don’t have a race board.

Tell us about the Red Bull Performance Camp?
It’s the first official year of this camp on snow. Red Bull has done it before with their surf team, and it worked really well having the whole team together. We’re riding at Snow Park here in New Zealand for four days. There’s an air bag, and an identical jump, so you can try your trick out on the bag and then take it to the jump.  We have some coaches here, Ricky Bower from the U.S. National Team and the Swiss team coach too. There are also a couple of trainers working out with us. It’s pretty funny seeing some of the guys who have never worked out doing it because they are super hard workouts. The craziest thing is that I’m the only girl and there are around 25 dudes! Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the Merino wool/Possum fur gloves that Red Bull hooked me up with, they are awesome.

Spencer O'Brien Travelogue

Spencer O'Brien Travelogue

Of all the places you’ve been recently, which is your favourite place to ride?
I had the most fun at High Cascade. The vibe up there is just so good with all of the campers. On the other hand, NZ has the best terrain, that’s why I fly out here every year for a month. Some people hate it, but I like the people and I like being in New Zealand in general, so it’s not a hard place for me to travel to.

What’s up next after the Burton shoot?
I have one week down here just to ride for myself, and then I’ll be back in Vancouver for the whole fall.

What do your falls consist of?
As little travel as possible. I like to be at home for a while before I leave for six months. I like chilling at home, shopping too much, cooking and working out. This year I’m going to do the Grouse Grind (a hike up Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver) and do the workouts set up for me by Per, Red Bull’s U.S. trainer.



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