On the bench with Cale Zima
Cale's full part from Capita's Defenders of Awesome.
Interview: Josh Ruggles
Since 2008, Cale Zima has been everywhere. From being one of Capita’s “Defenders of Awesome,” to logging an annual part with Absinthe Films, he is well ahead of the curve.
Over the past four years Cale has blown our minds by constantly forcing us to change the way we think of snowboarding. He’s also taken the kind of crashes that make most cringe. One of the most notable crashes being the stair drop to flat ledge that nearly split him in half.
While he’s had many close calls, he typically walks away from crashes virtually unscathed. This winter ended a little differently as he’s been benched since January with a blown knee.
And while his friends skated the freshly constructed mini-ramp in the backyard of his Salt Lake City home, he took some time off of his rigorous couch schedule to let us in on his recovery and his future in snowboarding.
What happened with your knee?
We were hitting a street gap in Michigan and I overshot it. When I landed I felt it pop and I knew something was wrong. So when I got back to Salt Lake I went to get it checked and they told me I tore my ACL.
Is this your first injury that caused downtime?
Yeah, I mean it has taken me out for a while. The only other one that took me out was when I separated my shoulder like four years ago at Super Park. That was at the end of the season, so this has been the biggest one for me.
Were there any issues with your sponsors after you got injured?
Not at all actually. I was stressing a little about it but all my team managers are more than managers, they’re my friends. I was nervous to tell them because it means I won’t really have a video part and that’s what they rely on. But they were really supportive and just wanted me to get better and do the healing process right.
What has been one of the hardest parts of the injury?
I think blowing out your knee has more of a mental side to it. I mean, I have a lot riding on being healthy and people always say ‘oh your life is over.’ In reality it sounds worse than it actually was. The first three weeks were the worst, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Once you get past crutches it’s pretty mellow. It actually didn’t even really hurt before the surgery.
So it didn’t hurt, but you needed surgery?
Yeah, they said I had torn my ACL and that without it you have a super high chance of ruining the rest of your knee, like your meniscus and MCL. I felt like I could do things, but if I did I would have probably totally ruined it. So I was basically partying a lot before the surgery, which was nice; I got it all out before and now I can focus on the getting better.
How long until your back to normal and able to ride?
At the end of August I will be good to do whatever I want. It will have been like seven months, which sounds like a pretty big chunk of time when you think of it that way, but I want to make sure I am doing everything proper. I feel like I have a lot riding on getting healthy.
Will the injury change the way you ride in the future?
Yeah I guess I’ll be more cautious, but I’m not really worried about the same knee. The way the doctor explained it to me; it will be stronger than before by the time I am done recovering. So I am not worried about that, but it kind of opened my eyes that it can happen.
What are your plans for next season?
I’m not really sure what I’m going to do next season. I always have a place with Absinthe, so that’s a possibility. If they make another Capita movie I will definitely be in that.
How do you decide what videos you will be involved with?
The decision is ultimately up to me but a great deal of it involves my sponsors; they have to sponsor someone into a video, so they are paying a great deal of money to get their riders in a lot of different videos. So whatever they ask me to do I’m going to do. And I don’t have a problem with that at all. I have yet to meet a snowboarder that I didn’t like filming with. All my sponsors like the fact that I do Absinthe, cause most of the people in those videos don’t ride the way I do. So it’s either have a standout part in Absinthe, or I could have a blend in part with films like Video Grass.
You had a pretty standout part with Keegan Valaika in Absinthe’s “Ready,” How did that come about?
That was crazy. I was 19 when I first met Keegan. We had been introduced to Matty Ryan and Bozung who sort of took us under their wing and really helped us out. We were filming for Bozwreck 2 and went on a trip to Toronto to meet up with Mike LeBlanc and one of the Absinthe filmers. We all rode together and had no idea we were going to be in the video. I just remember a week before the premiere Shane from Absinthe called and told me I should probably make sure to go. That was pretty rad.
Did those connections help boosted your career?
Cale: Yeah, it helped out a ton, just with exposure and everything. There are so many kids out there that are so good at snowboarding and no one even knows about them. Being good at snowboarding obviously helps, but a lot of it is who you know and who will back you. So I feel super lucky to have gotten to where I am. I just met the right dudes and they helped me out so much when they didn’t even have to. It just makes me want to pay it forward and tell people about kids that are killin’ it.
Who do you think is killin' it right now?
Sam Taxwood is right now. I’ve known him for so long. He’s still so young but he’s an amazing snowboarder. Also, all of the dudes that Sam rides with are killin’ it, like Ben Bilodeau.
What are your plans after your healthy?
I’m stoked to ride the mini-ramp. We spent a bunch of money and time on it so hopefully no one makes us take it down.