Heroes Get Remembered, The Red Ledge Never Dies
There are few locations in the culture of snowboarding, that possess such notoriety and have had such a continued impact through video parts and magazine spreads. And there are fewer still that have stood the test of time and whose legend continues to grow. When it comes to hallowed snowboarding spots, the Red Ledge is an icon.
The Red Ledge was painted gray last week and so it seemed like a fitting time to commemorate this legendary spot. The heritage of the Red Ledge is about as storied as it gets in snowboarding. Over nearly the past two decades, this spot has been a barometer of the current level of street snowboarding, starting in 2002 when the ledge was first hit by Etienne Gilbert (BS 50-50 180 out) and Mat Laroche (BS 50-50). The following winter, Guillaume Brochu and Phil Paré went back with their filmer and SNOWBOARDER Senior Photographer, Oli Gagnon, and upped the ante on Red Ledge with a frontlip and boardslide, respectively. From then on, this Quebec City spot, with a slight slant at the top, a menacing kink at the bottom, and 40-stair size, has hosted crew after crew who arrive in freezing cold temperatures to try to put down new tricks on the fabled red surface.
"To me, the ledge pretty much represents the evolution of technicality on street rails," says Guillaume Brochu, the first to go sideways and emerge unscathed. "From the first time Phil and I did it—we were sessioning it together on a -30 day. After an hour trying, we were both at a point where we were giving up, saying, "It is impossible. The kink is just too gnarly at the end." And the we ended up doing it and thought, "Okay, for sure the gnalierst trick has been done." And for me, it was unbelievable to see Louif come in with a frontside boardslide. The evolution of the ledge, when we did it and everything that followed, has completely blown my mind. Every year I have thought, 'Okay, this is it. Okay, frontboard. Louif did it, we're done here. Nobody is going to think of doing 270 on it.' And then the year after somebody did it. I think it truly has shown the evolution of street snowboarding."
Since that fateful day in 2003 when Guillaume and Phil essentially opened up the possibilities of the Red Ledge, Louif Paradis, Phil Jacques, Jed Anderson, Jake Kuzyk, Jeremy Cloutier, Nic Sauve, Laurent-Nicolas Paquin, Mammouth Durette, Will Lavigne, Max Baillargeon, Chris Dufficy, Jon Kooley, Joe Sexton, Keegan Valaika, Austin Smith, Kael Hill and more have added to its legacy. "Every year in September we would watch all the movies and we couldn't wait to see who did what on the Red Ledge," says Frank April of when he was coming up riding in Quebec City. "It was a good tool to see [over the past year] how good the rider was by how big he went on that. 'Okay, this guy just went back three on it, that's crazy.'"
Go to 1:51 to see Keagan Valaika’s mental switch 270 frontboard to fakie.
Louif Paradis echoes the spot’s iconic status. “People have flown into Quebec city just to try and get a clip on it for their video part. That tells you how iconic the spot is and how respectable getting a trick that's never been done on it,” he says. “There aren't a ton of street spots in the world that are as recognizable and as well known as this one. And it's funny, every time someone new comes to Quebec and I'm showing them around, Red Ledge always comes up. People wanna know where it is and if we can go look at it, just to see it.”
Louif Paradis in VG’s Bon Voyage.
The list of riders who have notched tricks on the Red Ledge is nothing short of impressive, and continues to grow, as the tricks that have been done have only seemed to continually raise the bar and so, there are still tricks to be landed. And while the ledge may blend a little more into the Eastern Canada winter skies, it no doubt will continue to pop in video parts to come.
For a solid history lesson, click over to issue 8 of Slash Snowboard Magazine that was written by Oli Gagnon and go to page 58.