Snowboarder Sébastien Toutant enjoying life as TikToker, break from competition

Sébastien Toutant loves expressing himself on his snowboard, finding new ways to perform tricks on slopestyle and big air courses around the world. But after the Beijing Olympics in February, he resolved to take at least a year off from competition to focus on filmmaking.

Toutant has since become a TikTok star, creating elaborate runs at skiing resorts in Quebec where he does things not permitted at a World Cup or other international competitions, like bouncing on his back off of an inflated exercise ball or punctuating his run with a backwards, no-look basketball shot.

Toutant said he enjoys the freedom of creating the course and the tricks for TikTok, unlike in competition where he has to use the same features as everyone else.

“Making those small videos on TikTok makes me think outside the box,” said Toutant, who added that if he returns to competition his experience making online content may give him an edge. “That way I feel like when I have the same feature as other riders I can get more creative going in and make sure that my runs are different.”

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Toutant began to build his TikTok following — he now has more than 85,500 followers — during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when, like most Canadians, he was stuck at home. To stay fit and busy, he began doing “parkour” around his condo and at his gym, creating obstacle courses with the materials at hand.

When he took a step back from competition, his first major project was to re-create his most complicated home obstacle course on an actual snowboarding hill. He approached his sponsor Red Bull about helping him build the course, and when the season ended at Ski La Reserve in Saint Donat, Que., he got to work setting up the course.

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After everything was prepared and Toutant had refined each of the 22 tricks in the nearly three-minute video, it only took eight runs for him to nail the one-take TikTok.

“When you do la two-and-a-half-minute snowboard run it’s really exhausting,” said Toutant. “If you messed up at the basketball shot or somewhere along the run it takes a lot of mental strength.

“Physically you need to remember to breathe and not burn yourself out because it was a really hectic run to pull that all together in one take.”

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Click to play video: 'Canadian Olympian returns home'
Canadian Olympian returns home

Toutant isn’t the only one to do the course either, as director Max Trudel has to follow him on skis, carrying a heavy steadicam to capture every trick from an optimal angle. Toutant said that these videos wouldn’t be possible with Trudel, Red Bull, or any of the other members of his team.

“A lot of people give credit to him and I’m super psyched to see that because sometimes the people on the camera, we don’t get to see them, we only get to showcase the rider,” said Toutant. “It’s rad to see that people are like, ‘dude, the guy behind the camera is just amazing.”

The 30-year-old Toutant, from L’Assomption, Que., won gold in big air at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, silver in slopestyle at the 2021 world championships, and has won five medals total in both disciplines at the X Games.

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He finished ninth in slopestyle and 26th in big air at the Beijing Olympics in February.

A return to competition is not out of the question for Toutant, he just has more he wants to accomplish on TikTok.

“I don’t want to say I’m quitting contests forever. I love competing,” said Toutant. “I just feel like there is something in the filming world that I never got to do.

“I feel like I need to accomplish that to feel like I’m moving forward with my riding.”

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