Phil Belanger played such a pivotal role in the very start of Freeskiing when he and the “Canadian Air Force” started redefining what it meant to have skis on your feet. Inventing a style, and tricks that would be handed down through the descending folds of time.
Phil played an essential role in D-Structure, a Quebecian based company, that has sponsored many of the household names of the past and of today. Phil didn’t stop there, at a crucial time, he created a Film company known as Pléhouse Films. For those that don’t know these movies, you need to look it up, seriously look it up, NOW. They were some straight banger flicks that always had me dishing out the 30 bucks every year. “Skimatic" being one of my all time favorite movies.
When I think of Phil, I think of blunts and blue Dynastar skis, and it puts me into a feeling of Nostalgia that I love. I feel honored to ask him a couple questions and hear what he has to say. These guys are not skiing "professionally", per se, anymore so they are taking their time for ya’ll to learn the roots of Freeskiing. With that being said, please, take your time and read this all the way through! Appreciate it, and share it with your friends. Everyone should hear the voices of the legends from the sport we love.
AD: I remember, at such a young age, watching all you guys from Quebec year after year constantly inventing new tricks and can only imagine the stuff prior to what was recorded. How did this band of brothers come together in the first place and push each other in their skiing?
PB: Larose and I have been ski racing together from 6-14 year's old after that we were bored of the whole race program so we went into freestyle skiing where we met Dion. (The Three Phils) We did moguls for 2-3 year and once again we where kind of bored of the whole rules and attitude of the freestyle scene, so we decided to try all the grind and rotations that we were doing on rollerblades and bring it into skiing. It actually worked and we start to push more and more to that direction to finally make it a sport I guess ....
AD: You’ve done many things for, and in the Freeskiing Scene. What do you feel that you're most proud of throughout your career?
PB: I guess that what I am the most proud of is the season that I realized that I was actually kind of good in the pipe and wanted to take it more seriously. I was in mammoth back then and hiking the pipe everyday to learn new tricks for X-games and other competitions. That was the first year that I actually wanted to get better and put the effort I need to do it. It actually worked and I was at the top of my game going to X-games ... I blew my knee at that X-games and didn't win, but at least I tried everything to actually win and now I realize that I am who I am because of that season and the choice I made then ...
- The second thing I am the most proud of is D-structure. I worked really hard and sacrificed a lot of things to make sure that the skiers of Québec and Canada can have a freeskiing shop that represent them and our sport .
-The third is the Olympics. I am glad that I had the chance to have a voice in where our sport goes as far as contests.
AD: You created Plehouse films. "Exact Science" was the first movie you guys made, and I remember receiving that one, before the rest of the movies that season, shaking with excitement to watch it. It was not a let down, the creativity in titling and personality you guys captured in each skier was bad ass man. You guys followed it up with a few more great flicks, which one do you believe was your favorite and why?
I really like Exact Science and Red tape.The Iceland segment in Red tape is one of my favorite segment . At first when Thomas (Rinfret) and Larose created that segment I thought that it was not core enough. But those guy saw further, and created a unique vibe and such a peace of art.
AD: As quickly as Plehouse films came it was gone, Correct me if I’m mistaken, but maybe four videos altogether? What happened with the company that made you guys end it?
PB: It got a bit harder with the sponsors and Thomas Rinfret, that was the leader of the company, wanted to touch other aspects of the film business. So, he actually went to film school and now is a producer for film documentaries. I wanted to put more time into D-structure, and Larose wanted to get more involve into wood art .
AD: Speaking of the D-Structure store, can you tell us a little about the beginnings of the company, and the role you play in it? How’s it doing these day?
PB: D-structure start in 2000 In Mtl . I got involved in 2003 with opening a shop in Québec city. In 2007 I took the full control of the shop and made it my everyday job. Since 2007 we have been growing every year. The shop now is located in Québec city and is filled with every single freeskiing brand possible. Slopestyle in Breck and D-structure are two of the only real freeskiing shops in the world. We don't sell snowboards or Race Skis
The shop is doing real good, and we are involved in every aspect of our sport with the Slope style tour we have, Step up Tour, and the film crew ( Le chronique du Québec) Step up
AD: What do you think about skiing these days? Is it on the right path or is it difficult to recognize for you?
PB: Skiing is Skiing as far as you do it because your choice to do it, you are on the right path ;)
AD: So, Phil Larose, Phil Dion, and yourself were infamously known as “The Three Phils”. I could imagine this could take away from your feeling of individuality as a skier, in a way. Did you ever get tired of being referred to as “The Three Phils” or was it something you enjoyed?
PB: We were known as the 3 phil's but we have always been different with our skiing. I never got tired of being referred to as 1 of the 3 Phil's. It was actually great to have your friends around to the help you with hard times or party ;)
AD: Was there something in particular that made you take a step back from Freeskiing Professionally? Was it a hard move or was it simply the right time?
PB: I am still a freeskier and will always be. I will never retire ;) I might not have a pay check from a ski company anymore, but I am still involved in every aspect of the sport.
AD: Do you still get out on skis from time to time? Ski through the park at all?
PB: Yes at least 3-4 times a week. I started a freeskiing school program 10 year ago and I am still coaching kids once a week. my son is now 5 so we go shred every week-end together.
AD: Can you leave us off with a couple wise words for the kids?
PB: Passion + Hard work = Success. Life is as simple as that ;)
Phil Belanger in "Poorboyz Productions", "Ready, Fire, Aim"