Interview by Ewan Wallace
A few years back I went on a group snowboarding trip to Andorra. When we got to Soldeu, there was much talk about an amazing young kid called Tyler who was ripping up the park. The word was that he was absolutely, unbelievably good. The words ‘frontside 1080’ were even mentioned in hushed tones, at a time when frontside 1080s were like hen’s teeth. He was then - as he is now - polite, friendly, funny, a little bit cocky and very likeable with it. We took a shine to him right away. We even tried to get shots of him to hook him up with a Contender in this very mag, but for one reason or another it never ended up happening until much later on.
Shortly afterwards Tyler ventured out of Andorra, and the next time I saw him was in Tignes the following summer, where he was throwing down perfect corked front 720s in the park. Sure enough he was fulfilling the early prophecies about his riding, winning comps and wowing people left, right and centre. But any notions I might have had about him just being just another park rat were firmly dispelled at the first Brits in Les Deux Alpes, when I took a couple of runs with him out in the backcountry. Seeing how he read the mountain and adapted so naturally to whatever terrain came his way it was clear that, in Tyler, Britain had a bona fide snowboarding phenomenon in the making.
It also soon became clear that Tyler has more than a bit of the showman about him. Take, for example, the Red Bull Rail Storm in Trafalgar Square last year. After hours of mind bendingly tech rail tricks that – if we’re being brutally honest - left most of the onlookers more bemused than entertained, it was Tyler who used up one of his runs to frontflip down the stairs and get the crowd all fired up. And it was Tyler who, at the second Les Deux Alpes Brits, decided to use his final halfpipe run to put on a display of shifties, tindys and suitcase airs - just for the laugh (though he did throw in a corked seven right at the end which landed him in second place overall). Then there’s his section in Lockdown’s recently released Showoffs movie, with 20 plus comedy frontflips. For Tyler at least, it’s clear that humour really does belong in snowboarding.
So, ladies and gents, enough from me. Let’s have a warm White Lines style welcome for the one, the only… Tyler Chorlton.
Hey Tyler, how’s things? Are you living in Andorra?
Yeah, I’m here at the moment. I’ve been working in the shop recently, we just knocked down a massive wall and opened out the place a lot more. Just moving stuff around in there and making the place a bit more welcoming, a bit more pro-shop-like I guess. But yeah, it’s looking very good.
How’s the shop going?
Yeah, cool. We’ve been open for 4 days now but it’s November so it’s still the summer vibe. We have all the summer locals come in and we’ll just have a little skate session - we have a 5 m long skate ledge in there as well. Skating that, drinking beers… Yeah, it’s nice.
Okay, so you’re born in the UK weren’t you, but you’ve always lived in Andorra? Is that right?
No, I was born in Brighton, moved away when I was 4, lived in France for like, three quarters of my life, then moved here about 6 years ago now.
So your first language is French then?
Nah, still English. I hate French! I really hate speaking French and everything. [Laughs]
But you’re totally fluent in French aren’t you?
Yeah. My education was in French.
But you speak Spanish as well don’t you?
Yeah, I’ve learned it since I was here. I’ve had to learn it a lot more for the shop as well. It’s all coming along.
So do you think of yourself as a British rider
Mmmm… Yeah. I’m trying to break into European riding at the moment but, yeah.
And how do you find it with all the European riders, do you find there’s a stigma about being British?
No, it’s getting better and better every year, you know? Like they start seeing that the English guys can actually ride a bit, so we’re starting to get accepted out there. Like Danny Wheeler had a hard time back in the day and Jamie Phillp. He almost gave up snowboarding because of that hard acceptance thing.
But you’re finding it a bit easier?
It’s definitely easier than what they’ve told me it was like. I’ve heard stories about other riders – people being mean to them, all picking on them because they’re British! But no, it’s getting better and better every year.
So how good do you think British riding can get? Is there anything that stops British riders being as good as Europeans?
Not really. It’s all about time on the board. Like, as I call it, ‘air miles’! [Laughs] Every extra second you spend in the air you get more used to being in the air, and I guess it’s the same on the board, the same riding around on the board, being in the air or doing rails and all that. The longer you do it the better you get at it.
So the Euros are just better because they get to spend more time on their boards?
Who said they were better? [Laughs] Nah, well yeah, they’ve got the mountains right there, and for us English it’s a bit harder cos we’ve got to either go to Scotland and try and do something with the snow there or fly out to the Alps. But as Scott [McMorris] and Ed [Leigh] showed last year with that trip they did before the Red Bull jam, you can get there and back in one day if you really wanted.
Yeah. So who do you rate out of all the UK riders?
Scott, Thorney [James Thorne]… Danny [Wheeler] is still pushing it.
[Laughs] A little bit! I’m getting a bit of work done here and there. Ed Gunn’s coming up a bit as well, he’s shredding. But it makes life easier if you live in America, perfect parks everyday.
Okay, so what about tricks. Like that crazy backside 9 double shifty you did at the Brits this year - you make stuff like that look really easy. Does it just come naturally to you or is it something you have to really practice?
I dunno, like in January I was just messing around in Morzine on the little kickers trying shifty variations, and I was riding with Mike Austin, and after a couple of sessions I got to doing 9s with shifties and stuff, but I didn’t have a grab in there yet. So we were just playing around like that and I was trying to do 5s, 720 shifty-shifty’s, and I accidentally got a 9 round cos I shiftied it a bit too hard. And then come the Brits I was like, ‘well let’s try and do that’.
So it wasn’t something you practiced loads, you just busted it out at the Brits?
Yeah. I learned it just literally on 2 m tables.
Ah, I’ve noticed you like the mini shred! You learn quite a few tricks on little kickers don’t you? Cos I remember years ago seeing you backflipping off a tiny mogul.
[Laughs] Yeah, I love the mini shred. The mini shred me is the fun part of snowboarding for me. Like jibbing round the piste, and if there’s a little kicker, or a little mogul, doing a frontflip or a backflip or a five or something.
Just seeing what you can do?
How far do you reckon you can take it – d’you reckon you could bust the 1440 out?
Ooh, dunno. We’ll have to see how that goes!
What sort of season did you have last year, your knee was injured wasn’t it?
Nah, the year before I had my ankle injury that I did in November, and that was fucked until about February, March. Last year I had the shop so I wasn’t out much, I had to concentrate on the shop a bit more, get that all going. So yeah, this year I’m… I’m ready to rock and roll, baby! [Laughs]
So what’s your plan? What are you going to take on?
Well, I’ve got this jib comp coming up in December with the boys, then maybe do a bit of filming with Tim [Warwood]. We’re thinking of doing a trip to Finland, to go and do some rails and hook up with Martin out there - Martin Robertson. He knows all the secret spots and stuff, so go and check it out. And then… probably go to Austria for 2 weeks at the end of this month. See I’ve got to do my driving license! [laughs] It takes ages in Andorra cos you’ve got to do so many practice written tests before you can actually take the real test, and that’s where you lose all your time. So I’m going to go down [to Andorra La Vella] this afternoon, get the 3 o’clock bus and go and do that. [Laughs]
You’ve got quite a few comps lined up then?
Yeah, comps are definitely on the agenda. I haven’t really planned to do anything, I mean I’m going to do the Xbox Big Day Out again, and I think the Burton European Open is looking pretty positive. Any other ones is just, as it pops up, you know? Just sort of, like, ‘hey do you want to go to this’ and I’ll be like, ‘yeah okay’. Just try to fit it in and just keep travelling. Like my main focus this year is filming, with a few comps on the side.
So you want to get a good video part?
Is that going to be the Lockdown movie, or are you going to try to get a European part like James Thorne got last year?
I don’t know. I’ve been talking with some European companies, but I’ll definitely have a section with Tim again. And I’ll probably have a bit more stuff to do with Hungerpain this year. We sponsored the movie last year.
Yeah, we sponsored The Playground with Loaded, so they’re pretty stoked with that, and I quite like the crew – they’re a good group of people and it’s just fun spending the season with those guys.
Have you got any plans to get into something like the Air & Style?
Yeah, maybe. Well for me the problem with the Air & Style is always that it creeps up way too early. It’s always in December, and my mind’s still concentrating on the shop you know? We’ve got to open the shop, then we’ve got all the stock to go through, and once all that’s done my mind switches back into snowboarding but by that time the Air & Style’s gone.
Right. Okay, what’s next… Well, we’ve got to ask you about the frontflips.
Yeah! Ed was keen to find out about that. What’s with the frontflips? Are you over them? Are you still loving them, or are you just fed up about everyone going on about them?!
Ah, you’ve gotta love the frontflip! [Laughs] I dunno, I’m going to do a few more variations with the frontflip I think. Maybe get some spinning in there. I’ve got them down switch as well which is quite fun, a bit more tech to do them switch, so I’m liking that. And then, yeah, just try and get some spins in there and just do them a bit more backcountry - like maybe off cliff drops or something. Big floaty frontflips.
So you reckon you could do some big ones?
Yeah. I’ve done them off 15 m tables.
Fuck that seems scary to me, you must have to slow that right down.
The secret is not to pop too much. [Laughs]
So you don’t do the nollie?
Well you do a nollie but you don’t give it that sudden pop, you do a slow, progressive ‘boiiing!’ off the nose, really just float off the nose.
Well, that sounds fun, I’ll look forward to seeing them. So, is there anything you dislike about the snowboard scene? Or anything that would make it better?
Ehm… [Long pause] More money in the scene would be good! [Laughs] The industry’s still got loads to grow. I like that there’s all these smaller brands that are coming up, that are actually progressing in snowboarding, you know? So it’s not just the Burtons, the K2s, the Rides, just all these big companies throwing out snowboards. There are all these little companies coming up and they’re actually doing really well and people are getting quite interested in them. I think that’s quite a good turn out for the industry.
So with your new sponsors Bataleon - how’s that going?
Yeah, it’s going really good. The boards are absolutely amazing. Have you tried one out yet?
No, not yet.
You should try one.
So that Triple Base thing really works?
Yeah, it’s good fun. Like it just makes snowboarding a lot more fun, you know, you get away with a little bit more. [Laughs]
You’re less likely to catch an edge?
Yeah, you can land a trick 180 short and butter it round, and you’ll be like ‘woaaah!’ It’s not like it’s film worthy but you’ve got away with it so you get a bit more of a rush from it.
Sounds good. So, one trick left. If you were only allowed to do one trick ever again, what trick would you pick?
Eh, frontflip! [Laughs]
Course you would!
Yeah, just because you can do them anywhere. Frontflips are great. You can do them of tiny things and you can do them of bigger things; good fun.
Where does snowboarding fit into your life these days? Are you still excited about it like when you’re starting out, or do you think of it a bit more like a job these days?
Especially since opening the shop, it’s been like, I’ve got shop work, then I’ve got my snowboarding work. But it’s still not as much of a pain in the ass to go snowboarding as it is to stand in the shop for 11 hours. But no, I still love it. I can’t wait, I’m itching, I haven’t been riding since July. And it hasn’t even snowed in Andorra yet! [Laughs] It’s really cold, minus 3 at the moment outside but there’s nothing on the mountain, it’s just been bluebird every day. I’ve been seeing Merlin [Balfour] quite a lot lately, we’ve been skateboarding quite a bit, and we’ve said that as soon as there’s the first inch of snow we’re going to go and do a couple of rails. We’re completely itching, you know? [Laughs]
So in Andorra there’s quite a few good riders that people know about, like Merlin and Jamie Phillp obviously, and yourself, but what’s the scene like? Are there a lot of good riders that we’ve yet to hear about?
Yeah, there’s a lot of Argentinian riders that are ripping - way better than me. But it’s a case of them getting into the scene, cos they’re just quite happy doing seasons, just having fun. But there’s some proper talent up here. It’s all quite a small scene, you know, you have your locals and stuff, and… it’s quite a nice family vibe going on up here.
How many years have you been snowboarding now?
[Pause] Maybe 8?
Did you start riding with Jamie Phillp and Merlin?
Not really. I started learning with a mate of mine who still lives here, a guy called Ollie. We started riding here when we were kids, 12, 13ish. Just sort of riding round the mountain when I was 14 or 15 I met Merlin, and I’d heard loads about Merlin since I was a kid, and we ended up going riding. He worked in the Quiksilver store 2 doors down from where our shop is now, and he used to just go up every lunchtime and I used to go up with him and hang around the shop most of the day, and just learned stuff off him. I learned front 3s off the toes [laughs]. That’s the one I learned off Merlin, yeah.
Yeah, I remember when I came to Andorra years ago, you were pretty small then! I remember seeing you do these front 5s off the kicker in the park, right off the toes.
You’re not really doing the British team anymore?
Well, I might do a few things with them this year because they’re doing a lot more TTR events. I don’t wanna do many pipe comps but if there’s slopestyle or something I might join them for that.
Yeah, I remember seeing you riding pipe years back and you were properly good at it, but you’re not really that into it are you?
I don’t get a buzz from riding pipe. I can go 12 feet out of the pipe and not get half the buzz I do from a 12 ft kicker or a 12 ft rail. I think I’ve got bored of pipe riding. I like it if it’s a slushy, dodgy pipe, and we’re trying to do lip tricks or little hand plants and stuff. I quite enjoy that, but just riding the perfect smooth pipe trying to go big… I dunno, I just get bored of it after a little bit.
So you were never motivated by trying to win stuff, like win the Brits pipe?
Not really. I mean, the year I came second at the Brits I was still hungover [laughs] and I went up and I don’t know if you saw but I was doing suitcases and tindys, and at the end I just thought fuck it, corked seven…
Yeah, I saw that.
And landed and it was like, ‘woah! Where did that come from?!’ And then I got second.
So you never really felt any rivalry with Dan and Dom then?
No. Dan and Dom are quite focused on the pipe.
Do you get to ride much with them these days? Who do you actually spend most time riding with?
I’ve been riding with Scott [McMorris] quite a bit the last few years. But yeah, I really miss riding with Dom cos me and Dom always have a really good laugh when we’re riding together, we just do stupid shit, and we really bounce off each other when we’re doing stupid things. I want to get Dom out here this season actually. He came out last year for a little trip, and that was probably one of the funnest weeks we had in Andorra. For myself anyway.
Any overall goals from snowboarding?
I wanna do well in snowboarding, I want to have an established name, but I don’t want to do the Olympics. I’d quite like to be part of the Ticket To Ride, as in the Arctic Challenge or something, but I’m not out there to win everything and be the best, I just want to have my fun, do my shit, and just live with it, you know?
Do you prefer to get good photos or good film sections? What gives you the most satisfaction?
I’m quite hooked on footage at the moment, I’m quite keen to get some good footage together to get a good part, but it’s been quite hard the last few years, like with injuries and the shop and that. This year’s basically my first year to get a proper section down.
So you’re going for it this year?
Yeah, this year’s like, hard core! [Laughs]
Okay. So with the boards, Bataleon, are you having much input into them?
Yeah, I’ve given them a few ideas for graphics and stuff, I’ve had a few ideas for a couple of board designs as well, but none of that will be until 2008. The 2007 range is pretty much made already, but we’ve got a few ideas on the table.
So we can’t rule out a Tyler Chorlton pro model just yet?
It won’t have my signature on it yet, but it will pretty much be my board. Stoked!
Okay, nice one. Well, I reckon that’s a wrap then. Cheers for that Tyler.
Tyler would like to thank his sponsors: Loaded snowboard shop, Bataleon, Oakley, Arcus, Easyleaf, Vans and Ignite.