It may very well be Corbin Selfe who puts the Shuswap on the map in the world of slopestyle mountainbiking.
The 17-year-old Sicamous native has been riding bikes pretty much since he could talk. But it’s only been over the past few years that Selfe, in his own words, “started to get pretty good.” Seeing him in action, be it in the videos he’s posted on the website www.pinkbike.com, or riding on his personal training compound, it’s easy to see Selfe is rather modest about his ability with a bike. Non-believers need only check out Selfe’s 2011 Season Ender video. His trick at 1:29 is a lightning-quick, jaw-dropping display of skill and fearless grace.
“The way I see it, I can pretty much do anything – I just need the right spot and place to do it,” ” says Selfe matter-of-factly. “As far as tricks go, I’m pretty good at learning different stuff. I usually catch on quick. I just like to be really confident that I’ll be able to do it. Whatever the trick is, I know how it feels and I’ll know what to do if I crash or whatever.”
Selfe considers himself to be a semi-professional in the discipline of slopestyle mountain biking – a sport that involves a mix of tall jumps, big air and deft stunt work that is seemingly limited only by the rider’s imagination.
Selfe has attracted sponsors Chromag Bikes of Whistler and Skyride Cycle of Vernon, and is beginning to make his mark in professional competition, including a recent showing in Vail, Colorado at the 2012 Teva Mountain Games.
“That was at a pretty professional level; it’s pretty high class,” says Selfe, who, out of 53 riders, came in 17th place out of the 18 who qualified for finals. One of the youngest finalists, Selfe says he ended up 17th overall due to a crash in his final run. The win for Selfe came in the education gained and the experience, which gave him an opportunity to compete against some of the big names in the sport.
“I was riding with basically the best guys out there, like Sam Pilgrim and Casey Groves,” says Selfe. “I think I got decent exposure. I think it definitely opened some people’s eyes to see that I’ve got potential and skill.”
Corbin’s mother, Malerie, didn’t attend the Colorado competition, but she has watched her son compete at Silverstar, and in Fernie at the Wam Bam Dirt Jump Jam, where he’s placed well and even walked away with some prize cash. She describes these experiences as a mix of anxiety and adrenaline.
“But, when you’re there, you just think ‘give’r, you might as well because you’ve come so far,’” says Malerie. “And he does listen to his instincts very well. If he has any doubt whatsoever, he doesn’t do it and we appreciate that very much.”
When Corbin isn’t riding, he’s digging around and building new things in his Sicamous training compound – a large course of various dirt jumps built up over the past couple years, mostly on his own. While he tries to keep the site secret, it will likely be appearing in an upcoming video. Selfe explains that video plays a big part in getting your name out there. Until recently, Selfe has been doing his own filming, but he says he’s now working with some talented videographers on a new project.
“There’s competition and there’s film and they pretty much go hand-in-hand in getting out there and bettering yourself,” says Selfe.
A downside to the sport is the cost. Malerie’s eyes go skyward as she begins to explain how Corbin’s gone through at least a dozen bikes. And then there’s parts that need regular upkeep and/or replacing. But she’s quick to add her son works full-time in the summer and part-time in the winter at Sicamous’ Askew’s Foods.
“They’ve been quite supportive of all his events that he wants to attend, so we’re very thankful,” says Malerie. “And he’s paid a lot of money out on bike parts and so have we, but you know, you would do it for hockey as well.”
Malerie says she has watched her son’s cycling skills progress from little jumps in the backyard, to practice stunts on a trampoline, to breathtaking flips in competition. And while at times it’s been nerve-wracking, she and husband Wayne Selfe seem to have accepted and embraced the fact that their son’s passion for slopestyle is a force of nature that cannot be stopped.
“Since he’s been two years old and able to talk, he’s said he’s going to be a pro biker, and he’s not let go of that; he’s not wavered for one minute,” says Malerie. “And we’ve met some fantastic people and we’ve been in some awesome situations where we’ve looked at each other and said, ‘Oh my God! If nothing ever happens after this that was unbelievable what just happened.’”
Looking to the future, Corbin sees numerous positive spin-offs to becoming a household name in his sport, which is certainly a goal. But in the meantime, he’s loving what he’s doing and doing what he loves.
“All I’ve thought about since I started, is just riding – It’s the best feeling in the world,” says Corbin.
To see Corbin in action, visit http://www.pinkbike.com/video/222329/