Photo by Tyler Ravelle
“This project is an opportunity to share a side of my story that hasn’t been told in a way which truly reflects who I am and where I come from. My heritage and Alert Bay are parts of my life that continue to grow in importance to me as I get older. I didn’t always connect with my culture or fully appreciate what it means to be first nations. I now know that my journey can and has had an impact on my people and it’s my responsibility to continue to inspire and to shine a light for them.
It’s also an opportunity for me as an athlete to showcase another side of my snowboarding. I have always been passionate about the mountains and backcountry and as I begin to transition out of competition I see this as a chance to show what I am capable of outside of a slope-style course.
I love Cassie’s vision for this piece and am honoured that she wants to tell my story. I think together we can create something beautiful that will empower people to go after their dreams while never forgetting where they come from.”
Professional Snowboarder Spencer O'Brien is a 2 time World Champion, six-time X Games medalist and 2 time Olympian for Team Canada.
O’Brien learned to snowboard at the age of 11 on the hills of Vancouver Island, BC and turned pro just five years later. After a few years of filming for all female productions such as Misscheif and Runway, Spencer put her focus soley into competing. Over the last decade she has become one of the most decorated and progressive Slopestyle snowboarders.
In 2013, O’Brien was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis just two months before the Sochi Winter Olympics, a genetic condition that plagued her for over a year leading up to her diagnosis. While dealing with chronic pain and overcoming obstacles to identify the right course of treatment, O’Brien was able to persevere and fight her way to the podium at X Games Aspen and to make finals at the Olympics in 2014. Her journey with the disease has led her to become an advocate for the millions of people who suffer from rheumatic diseases. She currently works closely with Arthritis Research Canada and the Cassie & Friend’s Society.
The 32-year-old is part Haida and Kwakwakw’wakw on her mother’s side and grew up with a deep connection to the ocean and the mountains. She shares this passion through her work with POW (Protect Our Winters) where she helps to educate people on the effects of climate change. Her advocacy continues through her work with indigenous organizations such as Nike N7 and Indigenous Sport Life Academy as well as the Women’s Sport’s Foundation.
In 2018, Spencer attended her 2nd Olympics as part of Team Canada. The event went on despite dangerous winds and protests from the athletes. O’Brien was the only athlete to speak up, writing a piece advocating for athlete rights on the Player’s Tribune. Her passion for women’s equality in sport led her to host and produce two female driven projects in 2016 and 2017 titled “Views from the 7th” and “Views From the Village”.
O’Brien has retired from competition but has shifted her focusing to further her knowledge in the mountains and bringing her Slopestyle prowess to the backcountry.
Photo By Tyler Ravelle