Mischa Chandler has always liked to go fast and that need for speed helped draw him to Squamish and Quest University.
The sponsored longboarder decided on the school because of the hilly nature of the Sea to Sky Corridor and he's now hoping to step up his game at the Britannia Classic this weekend (May 25 to 27).
“Quest is rad, it's a wicked place,” he said. “I'm able to do my final two years of research on the reasoning behind why people do extreme sports and I can study things that I'm fascinated by. I can also take a month off to go skateboarding thanks to the block program. It's a really flexible education that has allowed me to research what I love to do.”
Chandler admitted that the geography nearby Quest was “the No. 1 factor” in deciding to go to the school. The hills and curves are in stark contrast to his native Toronto, where he fell in love with the sport.
“I skated a lot when I was younger and in ninth or tenth grade I got a longboard to get to and from school,” he said. “Then randomly some guy stopped me on the street and told me to check out this online internet forum about longboarding. From there I started getting more into it and realized I really liked it.”
He ran a retail skateboarding shop with a friend in Toronto before coming to Quest and Chandler quickly found himself ensconced in the longboarding community.
“It was a really supportive community of mature guys with a diversity of ages,” he said. “When you don't have a lot of male role models around it was a very positive environment for a teenager to be in. There were a lot of guys I looked up to back home in that community and I had such a blast on road trips.”
Chandler won a freeride competition in Ontario and was then signed to his first pro deal at age 18. He's now under contract to both ABEC 11 and Rayne Longboards. He said the hills locally are nothing like they have in Toronto.
“Rich people love to build things on really steep stuff so they have rad-ass views and it makes the roads really curvy, which is fantastic for longboarding,” he said.
He said Squamish itself has some nice roads, noting that he can ride from Quest to the Greyhound station on his longboard in approximately six minutes. Chandler will compete and volunteer at the Britannia Classic this year and hopes to improve on what he called a “not so great” showing last year.
In addition to Britannia, Chandler expects to attend longboarding events in Whistler, Vernon, Summerland and Mount Washington. He'll spend the summer in North Vancouver training and hoping to cash in some of those places.
With one year remaining at Quest, Chandler said he hopes he can be involved in the longboarding industry for the rest of his life.
“Ten years ago there were no pro riders able to make a living longboarding,” he said. “Now there are guys who do it for a living and the industry is big enough to support them. People do it into their 30s and 40s and then get a job in the industry. I'm looking to start up a shop in Vancouver and I hope to be in the industry for a long time.”
Chandler said longboarding is a great sport for kids but offered them some advice.
“A lot of young kids show up and get anxious about sponsorships but it's not really necessary,” he said. “Just get a skateboard and find a friend you like to skate with and go out and have fun.”
He recommends all youngsters have a helmet, gloves and knee pads if they want to try the sport out.
The fifth annual Britannia Classic is presented by Hawgs Wheels and spectators are invited to check out the action from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with parking on Goat Ridge in Britannia Beach.
Race organizers advise spectators to drive slow and added that no alcohol is permitted on the race grounds. For more information on the race, visit www.britanniaclassic.com. Mischa Chandler on is board