More than any other sport, snowboarding is dipping into a younger and younger talent pool each year. Without having any restrictions on college or recruiting like football and basketball, snowboarders are able to find sponsors extremely early on and compete at the highest level of competition before they even legally become adults. Quebec's Sebastien Toutant, or Seb Toots, is the perfect example.
As early as 12 years old, Seb was already talking to sponsors. Since then, he's grown into one of the leading young boarders in the sport, specializing in slopestyle. Now 19 years old, Seb has ripped off a series of firsts in the past year, taking home his first Dew Tour Cup and a victory at the U.S. Open of snowboarding. Seb took some time with Complex to discuss his progression, his signature O'Neill outerwear line, and some of his favorite off-the-mountain hobbies.
Interview by Tony Markovich (@T_Marko)
It was actually my team manager [and coach] from O’Neill, Max Henault. I was 12 and there was a guy from my home resort that knew him. Max was teaching kids and looking for people to represent O’Neill. We started riding together, and he brought me on the team and he started calling me that. It’s easier to say in English.
So O’Neill has been with you from the beginning?
Yeah, they were one of my first sponsors. First big sponsor, at least. I definitely like to work with these guys. Now I’m 19, so at the start, I didn’t know anybody, but I’m used to everything now. When we work on projects like my jacket or for videos, everything is easy to do with them. They take care of me.
How involved are you with the process of making your signature jacket with O'Neill?
Different companies have pro models and they just have the name on the jacket. I help with mine. I’m not a designer, but I put all my ideas together and I just work it through. They they send me pictures of what they create and work with me. I can tell them if I want them to change it, and they’ll go back and make changes. It’s pretty cool. I work on the look and the fit and everything I like, and they listen and do it.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I don’t snowboard with music. I can’t hear my board, so it doesn’t really work. I love music, though. It really gets me motivated. Anything with a good beat works for me.
What are you afraid of?
Everybody thinks I’m not afraid of heights, because I’m a snowboarder. I’m not really afraid, but when I’m heading up the stairs on a scaffolding, I kind of get that weird feeling about being above everybody. I’m just like, “Oh, shit.” After a couple times, it’s fine. I did some bungee jumping and I love it, but right before it’s still scary.
How did you overcome that?
It never really stopped me. At the same time that I was nervous, I wanted to see what would happen.
What is the last thing you Googled?
A car. I was in Europe with my team manager. We were just looking at nice cars. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Audis.
How big are you into cars?
I love them. Right now I have a Golf GTI. I’m waiting to buy a house before I buy something better. I want a car that’s good on snow. It would suck to have a Ferrari and have to leave it out in the winter.
If you could pick any car in the world, what would you want?
I really like the Audi R8, I think it’s really nice-looking. But at the same time, you lose so much money as soon as you buy.
What is the strangest airport experience you’ve ever had?
Explain this game that kept you so focused.
It’s called Tiny Wings. You have a little bird and you have to catch suns to go faster. When you push on the iPad, the bird goes up and down a bunch of hills because it can’t fly. Each level is a day, so the faster you go the more time you get. It’s really hard to explain. [Watch the trailer here.]
I see you play a lot of ping pong and golf. How did you get into those?
Ping pong is fun for me. It’s just a simple game and you only need one other person. It’s really fun when you find another really good person. Everything I do I try to challenge myself. It’s the same with golf. I love the game because it’s so hard to be good. My videographer is really good at, and he got me into it about two years ago. You can do 100 bad shots, and one shot makes your day. [My score] is probably +15 or +20. Every year I’m getting better.
Moving on to snowboarding, you won the U.S. Open of snowboarding. Where does that first-place finish compare to other tournaments you’ve won?
It was good. I’ve been doing that since I was really young, so it was good to finally win. It was close to Montreal, too. It was the 30th anniversary of the event, so the set up was nice and it was cool to see everybody. There is so much history, and so many good riders have won before.
You beat out second place by 11 points with a score of 92. Where do you rank that run?
Every contest my goal is to make the final and then go for it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I failed my first two runs on the first jump on the Cab 12, because the jump wasn’t that big and my landing was pretty flat. It definitely wasn’t my highlight run, but each course is different, so it’s hard to compare. I can do better, but the course only had two big jumps and rail features.
In a video after the event, you spoke about that being one of your favorite trophies. Why is that?
I thought it was pretty rad to have the name plate on the trophy. It means so much to me, because I won the 30th anniversary. It is a piece of history to have all those legends on it. I’m hoping in the future that my name can be on it. In the past couple years I’ve been in second or third place.
Of the names on the trophy, which stand out to you?
Travis Rice. He wasn’t doing it for the money, he just loved the sport. He’s just a great person. And then there’s Terje Haakonsen, who is a great snowboarder.
How do you think this season has gone overall?
I’m really stoked. This season went really well. Last year my goal was to do well at X Games, but I had some trouble. This year it was to be good at Dew Tour, and I ended up winning the whole thing. I felt like I progressed and definitely had a better season than last year.
X Games gold is your ultimate goal. Now that you’ve been through it, what do you think it will take to achieve that?
I just take it year by year, try to learn new tricks and be better on my board. The Olympics are coming up too, so I’m going to be trying to make the qualifiers for that.
How does the Olympic stage compare to the X Games?
X Games its really big for sure, but Olympics is worldwide with all sports. All the people that don’t know about snowboarding watch the Olympics and find out about us that way. It’s a good way to show why you’re snowboarding and why this sport is so great. It’s a lifetime experience when it happens every four years.