The Burton Blog

Trading The Bib for The Backcountry: Mikey Ciccarelli

Psycho Mike (suitable nickname) was such a pleasure to have out in the backcountry. He’s new to the backcountry, yes, but he never sat back and waited for us to be like, “Yo, go ride that feature.” He was a part of the crew that pointed features out, asked our opinions, listened to our advice, voiced his concerns or questions, we worked together to help him, and the crew walk away successfully. In my opinion, he is an absolute textbook example of how someone should begin their backcountry filming journey.
– Mark Sollors
Mikey riding in the last contest of his career (Burton USO, 2019)

Growing up, competing in snowboard events was like second nature for Mikey Ciccarelli. Since his days as a 12-year-old grom, he's dawned the contest bib for every major event and consistently landed on the podium. After years in the bib, Mikey's decision to walk away and start fresh in the backcountry was not an easy one. Thanks to the sage guidance of Mark Sollors & Mikey Rencz, Mikey stepped away from the controlled contest environment and was ushered into the wild world of backcountry filming.

We checked in with Mikey to recap his season filming for the King Snow Movie and life away from the contest scene.


So your first backcountry video part (King Snow Movie) is about to drop. Have you seen your part yet?

Yeah, I've seen it. I'm really excited. I've been waiting for it to come out and I'm really looking forward to that moment. I've never had a part come out at a premiere or anything like that. King Snow is going to host the first premiere in Whistler. I'm hyped to share the stoke of watching snowboarding with all of my friends and carry that feeling into the winter. In general, I'm stoked to experience the whole "premiere thing" with the rest of the King Snow crew. The first time I watched it I actually teared up. I just couldn't believe it all came together.

How did it all come together?

It really was a full 180 (pun intended). Filming was always something I wanted to do and I finally had the opportunity at the start of last winter. For the most part, I've always felt proud of my career as a contest rider and King Snow gave me the opportunity to take the first step into filming. It was stressful, I was giving up Olympic dreams, traveling all over the world with my friends, and everything that comes with being on the Canadian National Team. But, I knew filming and riding in the backcountry would give me the same feelings I found while competing.


Burton and the rest of my sponsors helped bring it all together. They allowed me to make the call on what I wanted to do as a rider and I'm so grateful for that. I remember calling the Burton TM and kind of asking permission to film with Mark & Mikey for the season, he gave me the okay. After that phone call, I knew I had to fully commit. There was this surreal moment when I realized it was all coming together.

At the start of last winter, you were at the top of the leaderboard, why make the switch when you were so on your game?

Well, I was lined up for a full season of contest riding with the Canadian National team. But, the crew at King Snow gave me a call and said I had a spot to film a backcountry part for their movie. This was something I had always dreamed of doing: riding pow with my heroes and putting together a full part for a snowboard movie. After that, I knew what I had to do. So I called the Canadian Team coach (Elliot) and let him know.

How did that phone call go?

Basically, I told him I was resigning from the team and he said something like "I knew this was coming, but I really didn't think it would be so soon".

Alright, going to need a straight answer on this: What are you happy to leave behind with the contest scene?

Definitely hitting contest jumps in flat light. That said, those courses were always built so well. It was fun riding them in the sun.

Mikey Ciccarelli, Cab 9, "Perfect Jump", Whistler BC (P. Crispin)

How did you prepare for a season in the backcountry?

I'd go to the resort as much as possible, even if I was alone or if the snow was shit. I'd take laps off Whistler's Peak Chair and proceed to point it down the mountain. After I did it regular, I'd do it switch. I wanted to get a feel for riding fast in gnarly conditions and I thought this would be the best way to do it. I saw Mikkel riding switch in Natural Selection and it was flawless. My goal is to ride like that, he's such an amazing snowboarder.

Well, that's insane. How did you manage to bring your jump tricks into the backcountry?

I'd ride Whistler's park jumps on my pow board (Home Town Hero 160). If I knew we were hitting a big jump in a few days, I'd try the trick I wanted to get on their big jump.

That's equally as insane, Whistler's big jump is HUGE. What kind of rotations are we talking about here?

Cab 9, cab 10, and back double 10. It was so helpful for those jump sessions in the backcountry.

Together, Mark Sollors and Mikey Rencz have 40 years of backcountry experience and they took you under their wing last season. What was it like linking with those two?

Dude, I'm so grateful they took me on board. Every day I was open ears, listening to everything they had to say. It felt like I was a kid in school. They know everything about Whistler's Backcountry to a tee. They were so rad about answering my dumb questions and teaching me the ins and outs. I've looked up to them since I was 10 and Mark was literally coach when I was 13. It's kinda funny how things turned out because 10 years later he ended up being my "coach" again.

From keeping up on your sled, findings spots, and building jumps, did you feel like you were prepared to keep up?

The short answer is no. But, they were so helpful with all of those things. Even when I was competing, I always wanted to be ready in case I the call to go on a backcountry mission. So I had been trying to hone my skills for about four years. That said, they have so much experience so you can never be as prepared as them.

On our first trip to Blue River, I was in way over my head. We had to ride our sleds through some tough trails and I kept getting stuck. Mikey and Mark could ride through it no problem. I definitely felt the pressure that day. But, Mikey and Mark were so cool about it. They told me exactly what to do and how to make it through.

40 years of backcountry experience in one photos. (P. Colin Adair)

What was it like stepping to the features you have been watching in movies?

They are so much gnarlier than anyone watching the movies realizes. After the season, I went back and watched all of the British Columbia / Whistler heavy video parts. I have such a different perspective on the video parts after seeing the spots in real life. Looking back on Mikey's 13 part and Mark's In Color part, it's completely changed my perspective on their riding and those videos.

What session from last winter stands out the most?

The day I filmed my ender for sure. We went to the Forum Step Down, a spot I have been watching in videos since I was 10. I don't really want to say the trick, because I don't know when this is coming out... but I got my ender trick first try. There is so much history at that spot, so getting a trick on it really stands out.


One last question: What are your plans for next winter?

I'm going to keep riding and filming with with Mikey and Mark. Mikkel (Bang) is coming out to BC, so the four of us will mostly ride together. It's funny, if you told me last year that I'd be filming with this crew, I wouldn't have believed you, I wouldn't have believed any of it.