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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

It Just Snowballed

Geraldine Malone
Published Thursday February 4, 08:34 pm
David Thomson and his Yukigassen comrades seek glory and fun

In the past few weeks it’s more likely people have seen David Thomson in a red and white, Canadian flag onesie than in pants. The 28-year-old aspiring filmmaker is co-captain of Yukigassen Team Canada.

What is Yukigassen you ask, and why have you heard it all over the news? It’s professional snow-battling invented in Japan around 30 years ago. It comes from the words “Yuki” meaning snow and “Kassen” meaning battle. It’s a sport most of us had never heard before but now Team Canada, made up of nine Saskatchewan players, is heading to the world championship in Japan this month.

In the lead-up to their “World Snowbattlers” title attempt, the team has been making a web series about their adventures and, oh yeah, organized a Guinness world record-breaking snowball fight in Saskatoon.

As co-captain, Thomson has been running, jumping, and diving in front of the camera, but his dream actually is to stand behind it. Thomson was born and raised in Saskatoon and went to school at the University of Saskatchewan. A few years ago he moved out to Toronto and now claims both centres as home.

I sat down with Thomson to see how one ends up on the road to Yukigassen glory.

Although you’re called Team Canada, Saskatchewan seems to be a pretty important part of the message.

I think that to a certain extent your personality is formed by your physical environment. When you have big, giant buildings everywhere, like in Toronto, people are always in a hustle —  go, go, go, it’s business. But when you grow up under a big open sky it breeds an open attitude and open mind, and an [idea] that you can do anything. Big dreams grow under a big sky, my mom used to tell me.

Basically we’re all buds, right? We kind of just made a team as friends and became champions second. Friends first, champions second.

Let’s start with filmmaking, since the web series and a feature film is such a big part of the team’s plans. What’s the draw?

One day my goal is to write and direct feature films. I’m really inspired by the Coen Brothers and Martin Scorsese, just really inspired to tell gritty stories. Ideally, I really respect the filmography of Guy Ritchie because he basically showed the world a different side of England. When we all thought it was tea with the Queen and the Beatles, he introduced us to these new characters, these new neighbourhoods, which are really rough and hard. I would like to be that filmmaker for Canada and Saskatchewan. When people think Canada they think hokey accents and really polite. [But] being rough is a big part of Saskatchewan culture. You have to be tough just to start your car in the morning.

This Yukigassen thing is going off at this point and we’re making a feature film. So we’re showing Canada as, a bit more maybe, in the typical way that people think of it. But it’s still cool because if there is one thing Canada does well it’s comedy. We’ve put out a lot of amazing comedians. The film we’re making is in the realm of Fubar. We are carrying that torch.

You call Toronto your part-time home but most of your work — in and outside of Team Canada — seems to focus on this community. Why is that?

Going to Toronto opened my eyes up to how interesting a place Saskatoon is. I’m not here as a filmmaker to pass judgement on whether to say it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’m just here to show the [Saskatchewan] perspective. It’s unique to the rest of the world.

As Team Canada, each member seems to encapsulate a part of what I think of when I think ‘Saskatchewan’ — doctors, snowboarders, artists, dudebros. You’re all so different and unique, but there’s a common thread. How important is this team going to be moving forward?

This team will be together for years to come. We are going to be doing Yuki 2: The Sequel.

It feels great. I’m making this film about my bros from Saskatchewan. It’s developed out of her and the spirit of Saskatchewan is in every one of those 24 frames per second.

This interview has been edited for style and length.The 28th ShowaShinzan International Yukigassen World Championship runs Feb. 20 and 21. You can follow Team Canada and watch their web series from the Facebook Page Yukigassen: Road to Glory.

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