TO BE CONTINUUM — Robin Van Gyn Interview


latest video film, CONTINUUM, is special for many reasons. It features an all-women cast: Elena Hight, Michelle Parker, Spencer O'Brien, Lucy Sackbauer, Tatum Monod, and Robin Van Gyn. It has both skiers and snowboarders in it. And finally, the storyline is much bigger than just snowboarding. It is a tale of transformation, where discarded jackets find new purpose as a colorful haven. Arc’teryx has been making waves on the backcountry scene with new athletes and projects like this for years, within the last four years Arc’teryx have added 50 percent more female athletes to their global roster. We were able to chat with Robin Van Gyn about some stories behind the stitches and their adventures.  

p: Blatt

Let’s start with how you ended up riding for Arc’teryx. How was that transition? What’s it like being on the team? 
At one point in my career, I felt disconnected from the brands I worked with. I wanted to go on expeditions, do more split boarding, do more foot power descents, and do more spines. The brands I was riding for gave me great opportunities to grow, but they didn’t match my overall direction. What I was doing was too gnarly for the Roxy audience. I needed to make a shift. There was a year and a half when I had no solid sponsors. I had Yeti and Gordini behind me, but a brand like Arteryx was the ultimate goal. It was the brand I wanted to work with. I had been working on it for quite some time, and when it happened, it just felt right. And their women's team was getting sick. They got Spencer O’Brien at the same time. It's this small group of really good riders like Lucy Sackbauer, Michelle Parker, Elena Height, and Tatum Monod. Joining a team like that felt really special.  It was one of those moments where you’re looking around, and you're like we have to do something. 

Where did the idea come from for CONTINUUM? 
I had this tent idea for a while. I had worked with Suay Sew Shop a little in the past through Fabric, and I was so inspired by what they do with end-of-life materials. It’s next level. How can I bring this influence to a brand level, and how does this apply to outerwear? Then, the idea to turn a bunch of old jackets into a tent concept came about. And to me, the cool thing is that you have all these memories in the mountains that you look back on and always remember what you are wearing. It's the thing that keeps you safe in the elements. It’s sad to see those pieces of us hit the floor when we’re done with them. This was a way to give them another life. 

If these jackets could talk // p: Blatt

What are some memories or moments that stand out from filming last season? 
Honestly, one of the most memorable days was at the beginning. We had almost every cast member there. Spencer was in Japan, but we were in Tahoe, and it had been snowing so much. It’s harder to film when it's consistently dumping super heavy snow.  And then we had our first sunny day, and it just felt like the start of something special. The start can be the most exciting because you realize you’re doing it like you’re actually making a movie. Another memorable day was with Spencer and Tatum, where we hiked some pillows up in Whistler, and Spencer was just on fire. I remember being so excited for her because she was transitioning from contests to backcountry, and seeing it click in her one day was so sick. 

It’s cool to see skiers and snowboarders unite in the mountains. What’s it like filming with skiers? 
In the backcountry, we’re always out with skiers, and I’m so inspired by them. I am so inspired by the way Michelle can ride spines in Alaska, She’s so fast and not scared, or not seeming like scared, and I’m just like, damn, I want to snowboard like that. And they take inspiration from us, too. Tatum was watching me hit this wind lip, and she came in right behind me and did this insane massive backflip. There were a lot of cool skier-snowboarder moments. I take so much inspiration from them, whether speed or gracefulness. I just want to spend time in the mountains with people I like and have a good rapport. These women are people I trust and love spending time with, no matter their sport.

Shred gang in Tahoe // p: Blatt
I know that in this project, you did more than just snowboard. What was your involvement in producing this video? 
I was a field producer. We worked with Homestead Production House, which Blatt and Ryan Runkey run. They usually hire a producer, but it was easier for Michelle and me to do that work while we were filming. 

What is a field producer? 
Some producers work behind the scenes with contracts, accounting, and permitting. A field producer makes the day-to-day plans for the crew. For instance, if we go to Alaska, we organize the guide and the food. We're like, hey, everybody shows up at this time; we'll do a scouting flight. We organize the photographers and filmers and coordinate with the riders; it's like the decision maker. 

Alaska. As seen in Issue 3.4 // p: Tyler Ravelle

Producer, ideator, snowboarder. What’s the journey been like? 
You know, I'm 41. I started snowboarding when I was 16. So, for most of my life, I've been snowboarding and in snowboard culture. Looking back on it, there's been such an amazing evolution of where you start and then where you get to next and then where you get to next and setting these little goals for yourself. You just keep evolving.  One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that fighting change just doesn't do anybody any favors. Change is inevitable, and we can either evolve with it or struggle against it, but either way, it's happening. I've been really lucky in some way with my career. Maybe I am ahead of it at times and behind it at times, but I am always catching up and adapting my approach.  Adapting is so key.  Did I ever think I'd be like a filmmaker? Not really. Everything is changing, and I hate doing social media, but what do I like doing? I like to be creative and like going into the mountains to film. So, what other outlets can I use? And, like, that's kind of what I've always done. I just look at what's there and think, okay, how do I fit in now? And what do I think is cool? And trusting what your vision is, and just going for that without listening too much to the chatter. Whatever you feel like you need or want, follow that and trust the process. 

Trusting the process and looking cool doing it // p: Chad Chomlock