GROUNDBREAKERS: The Family that Boards Together.
Ollie and Kai Lussier have been snowboarding since they could stand.
When Marie-France Noël and Daryl Lussier had their first child, they agreed not to let parenthood slow them down. Noël and Lussier met just over 10 years ago through their mutual love of snowboarding, and have been spending winters together on the slopes ever since. Starting a family just meant letting the little ones in on the fun.
The young family lives in Luskville, Quebec and spends most of their free time between the terrain parks in Mont Tremblant and Edelweiss in Wakefield.
“There was no way we would hang up our snowboards after having kids,” Noël says. And they’ve kept that promise to themselves with Ollie Lussier (7) and Kai Lussier (3).
Building a family with a shared love of adventure meant starting early. The couple’s first child was testing out his snowboarding legs as soon as he could stand. “Ollie was about 10 months old when we put him on a snowboard,” she says.
They spend that first season on mostly flat ground, and let Ollie get a feel for the board with a riglet system. Basically, this is a snowboard with a rope attached so parents or instructors can guide kids along. Eventually Noël traded this system for a harness/backpack tool from MDXONE.
Being out on the hills with baby Ollie meant time for Noël and Lussier to do what they love. “While one of us was minding the little guy, the other one would go and do a few runs, and then we would swap,” she says.
Though Kai was slower to start, he’s now ripping up slopes with the best of them. “Now he is definitely more the daredevil one,” Noël says. “He wants to hit the jumps, he wants to hit the boxes and the rails, to do what all the big kids are doing.”
Noël started posting videos of her two little shredders on a dedicated Instagram (@kai_and_ollie_shred) after footage of the boys in action got positive responses on her personal account.
“When I started it, I was astonished at the amount of attention that little kids on a snowboard would get,” she says. “They’re still a bit of a novelty. I think it may be because for years and years there was this preconceived assumption that little kids should be put on skis before a snowboard. But we’re finding that it’s not true at all if you have the right tools and you talk to the right people.”
Noël has become one of those people herself. Every season she gets a handful of dms asking for advice, and she’s happy to oblige.
Aside from the bonding they get to do a family, Noël and Lussier have seen so many benefits from introducing their kids to sports at a young age.
“For my oldest, snowboarding has been very good for his self esteem. Some days he struggles at school and he gets quite discouraged but he knows snowboarding is the one thing he’s successful at, and he’s worked hard at it, so he knows that if you put effort into something you can be successful,” says Noël. “They learn a whole lot from sport, from falling and getting back up again.”
Ollie belongs to competitive snowboarding club The Akademy in the Ottawa/Gatineau area. Because of him and others like him, The Akademy has even created competitive categories for ages 8 and under. There isn’t a category for Kai yet, but he’s ready to take on the competition when the time comes.
As the snow melts, the family adventures continue as they trade the slopes for land and sea with wakeboards and skateboards.
Marie-France Noël wants to give a shout out and thank you to The Akademy and Top of the World board shop for their continued support of Ollie and Kai.