Robin Van Gyn has quickly become the new face of the new-age backcountry snowboarder. Early on, she knew that competing was not the route that she wanted to take in professional snowboarding, but rather, an entry-point to her main objective. And so Robin went a different route, and after a lot of hard work and a bit of patience, it finally paid off when, in 2021, in front of the entire snowboarding world, Robin took one of the biggest wins of her career in Alaska at the Natural Selection Tour in the Tordrillo range. Ironic, considering the opening sentence of this intro, yes, but it seemed to be her career coming full circle and Robin reaping the rewards for over a decade of film parts and excessive amounts of time and energy exerted off-piste. Now, Robin is at the forefront of backcountry riders who will not allow others to put them in a box. Be it foot-powered winter camping trips or daily sled rides from the trailhead, if it involved powder, airtime, line selection, bootlicks, skin tracks or sled laps, Robin is all in on not only progressing the art of backcountry riding, but introducing new riders to it. She’s one of the most passionate and skilled to ever do it, and we had the chance to catch up with Robin about a variety of topics. —T. Bird
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced last winter while filming for your Arcteryx project and what helped you overcome them?
With anything or any snowboard film, planning how it’s going to go is always the easiest part. What’s harder is being in the flow of the weather and at the mercy of schedules. The picnic was planned but the way it turned out was different and there are some challenges in that, but also some great shifts when you can just let go and let things be the way they are and adapt instead of forcing it. It was a challenging season, but we worked together to make the best possible outcome and I am proud of our team and how we did that together.
When stepping into larger, more exposed terrain, is it harder dealing with the mental stress or the physical stress of those environments?
I wouldn’t say harder, but just a different approach. Things slow down when the consequences and the terrain gets bigger. I actually quite enjoy this part where is a bit more of a puzzle to put a line together and do it successfully from assessment to hiking to riding out. There is so much to learn in it and I very much love the pace and process of it.
Give us three absolute essentials that you make sure to bring when on a winter camping trip?
Journal, extra boot liners, hot water bottle for the feet at night.
Tell us a little bit about the Arcteryx Academies going down this winter and which ones you will be attending?
I will be at the Arcteryx Backcountry Academy in Whistler in February. The academies are amazing for people who want to try new things or get better at others with the right support. Also it’s just an awesome way to hang with like-minded people and get the crew together to celebrate life in the mountains. Personally, I love hanging with the team and also meeting new people, it’s a really fun time always.
Give us a little insight about your desire to introduce backcountry riding to a broader audience.
To me, it’s a new way of looking at “sports.” It’s a bit more connected to the outdoors than a playing field. The venue is unpredictable and natural and that is exciting and new every time. What’s important is that we get more people out in the cunch—summer or winter. The more people who appreciate our green and white spaces, they more they are inclined to appreciate and protect them. It’s incredible what a little nature time can do. I think we would all be better off globally if everyone had a better and stronger connection to our home. There is so much we can do with it and it seems like the possibilities are endless, so why not get more people on board?
Lastly, you’re back on the Natural Selection Tour this winter. What are you most looking forward to heading into Revy?
Yeah, pretty wild. Just looking forward to the challenge. There are so many really talented riders and it’s really an honor to be a part of that crew. It’s just so much fun to ride in the contest and to see where snowboarding is headed. It’s amazing to be a part of the progression in backcountry snowboarding in a contest arena. I am excited to see where it can go.