Own the Podium | Snowboard Canada: Unlocking a People-First Culture to be World’s Best

Snowboard Canada

In the ever-evolving world of sport culture, Snowboard Canada has committed to a people-first model

To Dustin Heise’s way of thinking, the scale of ambition is roughly equivalent to, say, watching Max Parrot successfully land a Double Backside Rodeo 1440. Or Mikey Ciccarelli nail a Cab Triple 1620.

Crazy good. Audacious good. Top-of-the-global-charts good.

“We have really rallied around the idea that we don’t want to be anything short of the world-leading snowboard organization,’’ declares Snowboard Canada’s chief executive officer.

 “What’s the point if we’re going to do anything short of that?

“So, the Board rallies around that idea, the ecosystem rallies around that, and we define that, so everyone understands what we mean.”

In the ever-evolving world of sport culture, Snowboard Canada has committed to a people-first model to emulate. That organizational-wide belief – not faint hope or convenient lip-service, but actual belief – has, in Heise’s opinion, helped in moving the process along.

Mercedes Nicoll now acts as an athlete council rep, a liaison between coaches, administrators and the athletes. Ten years ago, she never would’ve so much as considered taking the post.


“Just bad blood,’’ Nicoll, a four-time Olympian in half-pipe, explains. “It was really challenging and it’s still challenging for a lot of the alumni who have hurt feelings over how they were treated. It’s still not perfect, things like this take time, but it has come miles in the last 10 years.

“(Former Executive Director) Patrick Jarvis started the change. Then when (CEO) Dustin Heise came in, he was eager to listen and learn, not only to the athletes but to AthletesCAN. He reached out to them in the beginning so that we can all work collaboratively. It’s been a seven-year process and we’re to the point where I think we’re gaining traction of collaboration and working well. “Snowboard isn’t really like other sports in that there is camaraderie even though you’re competing against each other. I think we can really be proud of that.”

Mercedes Nicoll