Every single day on his way home from school, Andy Marr would stop at Slaysh, a local snowboard and skate shop in the Glebe.
“I went in and just talked to them because I was interested and slowly got to know the owner and manager,” he says.
Four years later, Marr, 23, is an official ambassador to the store, which has sponsored him to do what he loves most: snowboard.
Unlike some students who have part-time jobs they hate, Marr is fortunate enough that his passion for snowboarding translates into a job he loves, which he says is really “much more than a job.”
This passion has been evolving into Marr’s lifestyle since he was seven years old, when he took his first snowboarding lesson at Blue Mountain in Collingwood.
“When I first started, my brother and his friends all did it, so I kind of got into it because of them,” he says. “We’d go every Wednesday night to the local ski hill. He’d go with his friends and I’d go with mine and we’d all ride together.”
Marr also spent time as a student at Camp Fortune’s ski school, and he now works there as an instructor.
As an avid boarder, Marr says he frequents Tremblant every Sunday and has a night pass at Edelweiss, where he goes once or twice a week.
“Because Ottawa is such a small town, all the kids go to a certain hill,” he says. “If I’m riding there, lots of them will recognize me and know that I ride for Slaysh.”
However, being sponsored isn’t just about “riding and doing good tricks,” according to Marr.
“It’s also [about] encouraging other kids to try stuff and teaching people,” he says, though representing the store at contests, trying out new gear, going to trade shows, helping out at events, and riding for snowboard videos are all part of the job.
Marr opts to post videos that showcase others in the community instead of just himself because he believes “it makes it a little more fun [to see] normal people riding around.”
Reflecting on the days before he got sponsored, Marr says the most important thing is having friends who will push you — that, and having fun.
“When I was in high school, I built a set up in my backyard,” he says. “Me and my friends used to sit in my house watching snowboard videos. We’d see a trick . . . pause the video, go outside and try that trick for a while and then we’d go back inside finish watching the video.”
This sense of community among those who ride is how Marr met his childhood hero. Back in 2009, Marr volunteered to help people with disabilities learn to ski and snowboard in New Zealand, and that’s when he met pro-snowboarder Travis Parker.
“It was really cool getting to ride with him because . . . you always see these guys doing the biggest tricks and doing all this crazy stuff and . . . then we went and rode with him and all we did was just ride around the mountain. We didn’t do any jumps, no rails, no tricks. It was just riding around . . . having fun,” Marr says.
His duties as a volunteer included wearing a bright orange vest to guide blind people down the hill, and helping a paraplegic man ride on a sit ski.
To motivate himself in school, Marr, who is a third-year integrated science student, says he tries to tie his program to his passion.
“Whether it’s trying to predict weather systems that come in so I can know whether it’s going to snow myself, or whether it’s something related to the ski industry, it just keeps me interested more than anything [and makes] me to want to go to class and learn things,” says Marr.
Marr is also the president of Carleton’s Ski and Snowboard Club, which organizes weekly trips to Tremblant.
“When I put on my board, everything else in the world just goes away. No problems, no stress — just me and the mountain,” he says.
In the future, Marr says he hopes to be able to snowboard for as long as he can and hopes to find a career path related to the industry. But for now, he’s just “enjoying the ride.”