If you follow the world of freestyle skiing, you may be a little thrown off by the title. Dave Crichton isn’t widely known as a “river surfer”; he’s better known as one of the most progressive freestyle skiers of the early 2000’s.
Dave was introduced to outdoor adventure at an early age. His family would go for regular ski weekends at Mount Pakenham in the Ottawa area when he was as young as 4 years old. His family also got him into surfing with regular vacations to the East Coast. Through surfing, Dave’s mother taught him and his siblings patience, as the three of them had to share the single used board his dad had bought.
“The first year our dad got us a used surfboard to share amongst the siblings, and after that everyone was just hooked. It was something we just kept doing since”
Despite the fun of surfing, skiing quickly took priority in Dave’s life. During his mid-teens, his newschool skills shot him to the top of the freestyle world. Although his original Pakenham ski instructor told his mom that “his legs aren’t strong enough, he can’t be a skier”, he won his first major competition in Slopestyle at the World Ski Invitation in Whistle BC in 2001 and never looked back. He would go on to place 1st in the 2003 X-Games Rail Jam and win the halfpipe competition in the 2004 US Freeskiing open.
Even though Dave has had such a decorated ski career, his long term focus remained on education, a long-term career and family. Today, family is the reason we are talking about river surfing and not ocean. When we asked Dave about his passion for surfing, and why he chose to base himself out of Ottawa, being such an avid surfer, his answer was family. It was the same answer he gave for not moving to the mountains during the peak of his ski career. Of course he prefers ocean waves over river waves.
“Some days on the river blow some days on the oceans or lakes out of the water, but ultimately, would I rather an ocean wave at my doorstep instead of a river wave, if I could just convince a couple people I know I’d move to Nova Scotia or BC!”
However, Dave’s roots are deeply planted in Ottawa and he does not see an overall benefit in leaving. He knows that if he lives far, he will use all his time off to come home visit his loved ones, taking away from precious and counted vacation time that he would rather use to discover new waves around the world. Dave is also wise enough to recognize the unique pleasures that come with river surfing
“In the ocean or lakes when you are waiting and waiting for the waves, you get a little frustrated sometimes, where as on the river you don’t ever experience that. You are there, the wave is going, so in some regards it’s more relaxing”
Dave definitely makes good use of the river. As soon as it is possible to surf in the Ottawa area, Dave is out with his board almost daily. He also plans a couple surf trips to new locations when possible. Does he ever feel too tired to surf after a hard day of work? Not at all! Even with a physical job and long days, Dave is excited to surf.
“I river surf because I am land locked, and I always drive home slower than on my way to the river…All I think of is “I’m going surfing, I’m going surfing”…and after surfing, you are completely content, exhausted and happy.”
Before, during and after his ski career, Dave always surfed — it has been a constant in his life. With so much attention on his ski career, he notes that “it always would be a nice reprieve from the pressure, and another way to do the same type of sport but free from any expectations.” Expectations and pressure are indeed something that can take away from the pleasure of a particular sport. It is, however, possible to fall back in love.
“After I finished university I moved out to Whistler BC for a season, because I had never had the opportunity to live at a resort for one whole season and it was awesome. I wouldn’t say I had become jaded on skiing, but I had just been so removed from it for years and had never made an effort to do it much around here (Ottawa) when I was back at school. Going out there that year was incredible because it was the 2nd snowiest year they had on record in Whistler and so I just completely fell back in love with skiing and detached from any of the perceived negatives, skiing is amazing.”
How long will a passion for surfing continue to motivate and satisfy Dave? No one knows. “It’s just like skiing, it’s something that’s self-motivating, it’s inherently fun and I’ve said before: the time I stop having fun is the time I stop doing it”. It doesn’t look like Dave will stop surfing anytime soon, though. He has plans for a surf trip to Costa Rica this summer and there are numerous waves he still wants to explore. For Dave, family and surf are two important parts of balance in his life. And he will tell you, without surfing and family, he might have a hard time finding his happy place. One thing is certain, his Sero Search helped him get there. What about you?
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