The Jake Kuzyk Interview

Jake has become the peoples favourite, the rider's choice, the one we all wish we had a bit of his flow within our every day riding. Without being the poster boy of snowboard movies, maybe due to his understated, relaxed approach to every feature, he has catalogued countless parts with Videograss and now in recent years with Vans, all deservedly re-watchable. 

We caught up with Jake whilst he was over in Italy for the Vans Snowboarding Days, an event that invites us, the media, to spend a couple days shredding with the Vans Snow team whilst also getting to test out their new boots dropping this coming Fall. With this opportunity offered to us, we racked his brain on filiming for Vans' "Together Forever" project, his new signture boot and apparel line, filming a skate movie and much more.

Interview by Will Radula-Scott

© Will Radula-Scott Jake's partial to a fine wine whilst chillin' in Italy with the Vans crew.

Where you at right now? Hows it been?

I’m currently in Italy, in a place called Champoluc I believe. I’m here for the Vans Snow Days. They don’t tell me too much before coming they’re just like “yeah, we’re gonna do this thing you should come by”. It’s pretty chill they do it every year, this is my second time. They take really good care of everyone and you get good food, good drinks and get to hang out with great people.

Been this way before for shredding?

Yeah, I came to Austria last winter for a trip just before our European tour of Landline which was in Innsbruck, so me and some of the guys just came to film for 10 days in the Innsbruck area. It was fun, it was mainly street stuff. I would have liked to ride powder but there just wasn’t much snow at the time.

I’ve been to Italy once before but it was just for a premiere stop, for Videograss Retrospect, didn’t get to ride but had the best food there! Oh and we went over to Cinque Terre, it’s 5 towns on the water and you hike between them, pretty cool, tourist spot.

We just watched ‘Together Forever’ which was sick. Can you tell us more about that project?

It was kinda an extension coming off of Landline, we knew we were all gonna be touring together for the video premiere so we kinda figured we’d try film what we could in and around it. The tour ended in January and when you work together for so long you get comfortable and we had the best filmers, so I was more than happy to keep filming. It made sense to make something else.

You’ve filmed with Tanner Pendelton before?

Yeah, Tanner made my welcome to Vans video actually, which I think was his first video for Vans, 5 or 6 years ago now.

© Oli Gagnon Front lip with 'Jake' style in Austria.

Where did you shot Together Forever?

We went to Austria, Japan, I went to Finland, some of the dudes went to Russia. 

Any filming back home in Canada?

There is some footage from Ontario and some in Quebec and Montreal but it was pretty dry back home especially in Vancouver last winter, it snows there but it’s pretty rare. I have a bunch of spots there I like to go to when it does snow. The second year of Landline Vancouver had snow for a week and we filmed there. I get so hyped when there is snow in the city, it’s the best way to start off a winter.

Who did you film with?

Out of the team I was with Dan and Dillon quite a bit, Sam, Cole, Blake…

You got a tight crew?

Yeah for sure, well we’re all a similar age and we all got on Vans at a similar time. Especially those guys being a little younger and all got on at the same time. I’m still blown away at how it came together the way it did. When I got on I had hopes that stuff like this would happen. In my head I was like, oh imagine if they got this new team with all these young guys and then got a really dope filmer, and made all these great videos. Then all of a sudden fast forward and we’re doing it more than I could even imagine. It’s cool, i’m happy to be a part of something like that. Not everyone is lucky enough to get that in their career so I’m so stoked on that.


© Oli Gagnon Tappin' out...

Pretty special project being the last one with Dillon. Such a tragedy, but you guys were super close right?

Yeah, especially in the last couple of years. It was one of those things where we started hanging out a lot more in the summer too just because he lived in Montreal and we ended up having a lot of mutual friends through skateboarding. He was really interested in skateboard filming and we just had a lot of stuff in common. I’m glad, obviously in hindsight, how much I got to chill with him. Honestly, it’s weird talking about it now because it’s been long enough where it just feels like, I dunno, like it’s happened now and I don’t really know where to place it. I just could never have imagined this.

You have a signature boot and apparel for next winter. Can you tell us about that?

There are 3 pieces to the footwear, there’s the Hi-Standard snowboard boot, an old skool Style 36, which is a classic footwear piece and a Standard Boot which is a winter boot. Those 3 things, as far as colour scheme and design are real similar. We designed the snowboard boot first and then from there used those colours and worked around that on the other pieces. I really like how the Hi-Standard looks and have ridden it for some time. The boot is just so sick, I look down on it and it’s like i’m wearing a shoe. Also the colour blocking is like a traditional shoe so the colours look so good on it. There is also a lightweight jacket and some socks in the line. The Jacket, I just wanted to design something really simple and wearable every day that you could layer with. Vans apparel isn’t always snow focused exclusively but I definitely have little features on the jacket that I chose that will help more for snow. Where the pockets are placed, the simplicity, the fit, cinches etc that make it work really well in the snow and that’s all I wanted, something simple.

Jake4.JPG 1
© Will Radula-Scott Soaking up the Italian sun at Vans Snow Days
© Will Radula-Scott Jake's Hi-Standard with his own colourway of choice.

So where did that colour scheme come from?

I saw it on an Authentic I think, just online, like an older one and I just thought they looked good together. I just like two-tone stuff and that boot just holds it really well. I like how it stands out but still quite subtle. I find that people don’t do light coloured boots that often and it’s hard to find a good one. So I think it was interesting to try create that as everyone is wearing dark boots. 

How much input did you have on the colour way and the apparel?

Yeah a ton of input, we went through a bunch of rounds making changes constantly, they were so accommodating, to the point where I felt like I was bothering them all the time, haha, I’m a little bit crazy when it comes to that stuff, I love the little details.

Is the design side something you want to get into more?

For sure, that would be really cool. I can’t help that when I have products I think about how I could make them better or different. The fits and everything, I’m always like, how can I change it.

It’s awesome that you’ve found yourself in that situation that you can actually do that for real.

Yeah it’s unreal, and that a company can even offer that to a rider it’s so cool. It’s a lot more work for them and time to take in my opinion and working together back and forth. So it’s really special.

© Oli Gagnon Jake got out to Japan and got deep!

Also, can you tell us about the skate movie you’ve just finished making?

So, I’m actually trying to export it right now and because the wifi is so bad here i’m using Arthur’s phone to put a 3gb file onto Dropbox haha. So yeah it’s a Canadian skateboard project with Vans, Canadian skaters filmed in Canada. A bunch of them are my close friends. 


What do you think about Benny joining you on the Global Team? Feel a threat from the Euros? haha.

Haha, not at all, that’s dope! I mean Benny has been doing his thing forever and he’s one of those guys that’s not slowing down and wants to do more, he cares and he’s really good so it’s perfect. It does kinda suck how there is a big disconnect sometimes between the US and Europe but it’s sick that we now have Benny and Arthur on the Global team. I’m from Canada and we had that same split back in the day. It’s cool now but for a long time it wasn’t. If you were Canadian you would either film with Sandbox or the Quebec crews and you couldn’t film for anything else, but because of Videograss, Magazine movies and other productions that came about that border has been broken.

Can you tell us a bit about your pro model with K2 snowboards for next winter?

Yeah, I worked with an engineer and designed the shape and they hired an artist who I worked with, Russ Pope. It’s got a full size range and even comes in wides I think. So the shape is based off an older model, the Hit Machine that I use to ride but with a cambered profile similar to the Happy Hour. So a mix of both. It’s been fun testing it out.

© Will Radula-Scott Jake's new K2 board also enjoying the rays.

So while you’re in Europe, you gonna stick around and get some of that Austrian pow?

Oh yeah! So Blake, Tanner and Oli Gagnon are flying into Innsbruck tomorrow and myself and Arthur are gonna drive in his car from here. Then the plan is just to ride powder and Arthur has a good idea of where we’re gonna go I think. I love the way they film powder in Europe, it’s just head up a lift and there’s so much accessible terrain. Whereas in Canada you go out on snowmobiles and it’s a little less chill. Also I’d like to hit some street spots while I’m over here, got a couple places I wanna go to.

© Oli Gagnon