Colorado and snowboarding go hand in hand, whether it be ours in the United States or the one down south in Chile. Even thought snow has finally started to hit the northern hemisphere, our winter is still lingering in the southern hemisphere and Flow Snowboarding‘s Chilean rider Tomas Santa Maria is fine by that. Santa Maria currently lives in Santiago, Chile and lately has been making the transfer from resort and park rider, to ducking the ropes and exploring the Chilean El Colorado Fare backcountry. Flow Snowboarding takes you down to South America, so we can catch up with Santa Maria.
Where is home for you?
I´m from Santiago, Chile.
What do you consider to be your home mountain?
I consider myself a local from El Colorado. I was team rider of the resort for a few years, but now I´m mostly riding the huge backcountry that Chile has to offer. It´s crazy how much terrain there is to explore out there!
What is your current snowboard set up? Boots, Board, Bindings? Do you switch it up for park and powder?
I´m currently riding my freeride setup the most, and I change to park setup whenever I go to do laps on El Colorado. I have also made a few splitboards of my own.
Do you listen to music when you snowboard?
Only when riding by myself…a good beat always get me pumped! But I never listen to music in the backcountry, I like to hear the sounds of the mountain.
Did you start skiing first or has it always been snowboarding?
I started skiing when I was like two. (Thanks Dad!) I wanted to hit any transition I found but there were no twin tip skis at that time in Chile. Also I was skating and longboarding at that time and moving sideways was always more natural for me, so the transition felt awesome.
Where was the first place you went snowboarding? How old were you?
First time I strapped into a board I was twelve in La Parva Ski Resort. I was just trying to ride for free on my brother´s board while trying not to fall and stay off the ground. I remember a lot of scorpion like falls that day. I came back crawling… hahaha.
Who were your influences and inspiration snowboarding?
As a kid I looked up some of the first generation of snowboarders in Chile. As I grew up, I got influence from the different guys that came to Chile to ride and from the people that I met in my travels.
Who are your current sponsors?
I´m riding for Flow Snowboarding, Columbia Sportswear, Spy Optics and Andes Explora, my eco-tourism company.
How was the winter in South America this year?
This winter started with one crazy big storm, we thought we were gonna get covered all season, but after that the winter came in slowly and we are closing with a few good storms in the past weeks. But this season has been great to me, there has always been a place where to find pow if you decide to go for it. I´ve been hiking and splitboarding a lot, travelling and exploring Chile´s large and unexplored backcountry.
If an American was planning a snowboarding trip to South America, what resorts are a must they check out?
The ski resorts with the best lifts, best parks and easiest access to good backcountry are El Colorado and Valle Nevado, about 1 hour from Santiago. If you get lucky with good snow Nevados de Chillan is the place to be… but you got to be lucky. I haven´t traveled much on the Argentinian side yet, but Chapelco it´s a pretty cool resort too, with great backcountry.
Where was your favorite place to snowboard this season?
Best days this season where riding epic light powder on El Colorado´s backcountry, not gonna tell you exactly where (he said with a coy smile), but not far from the ski resort, haha… I also had a blast splitboarding Nevados de Chillan backcountry where you can ride some really good lines to a big river of hot water. The whole river is a hotspring!
What are some of your favorite apres ski activities?
Drinking a beer and eating some chips with my buddies at Farellones top´s the list after a good day of snowboarding.
Are you planning on coming up to anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere as your local mountains start to thaw out to summer? Where?
Yes! I want to travel again this year, but all depends on how much time I can take off from work. I might go again to AK with some buddies, I want to go to Flow´s Tailgate Alaska and then stay in the region. And I´m also starting to plan a Eurotrip with a bunch of Austrian and Canadian friends I haven´t seen in a while, let´s hope it works out. If not now, next year for sure.
Where is your favorite place to travel, not related to snowboarding?
Chile is such an amazing country to explore, no matter what season. I´ve been travelling a lot through my country and every time I discover new places I want to go. Patagonia is wild, so much fun in there, and the lake and volcano region is all time. But my one favorite place in Chile is Pucón. I have been going there every year since I was a kid and there is terrain for so many outdoor sports… rock climbing, rafting, kayaking, hiking, mountain bike, horseback riding, and trail running. Not top mention you have snowboarding on winter there too.
What do you do during the summer months, in the off season? Do you chase the snow or take a break?
I used to travel north every summer, chasing winter. Now I´m enjoying what’s closer to me, more and more taking shorter trips to the northern hemisphere if I can. I’ve been dedicating a lot of time into Andes Explora, my eco-tourism company. We explore Chile and create routes, doing a lot of mountaineering and kayaking. I’m also doing a lot of rock climbing off winter season… so much potential around here.
What kind of activities and hobbies do you have other than snowboarding?
I like every human powered sport that puts me into amazing places. I’ve been doing a lot of sea kayaking, rock climbing and trekking. Always trying to stay as many days as possible camping. Just love to be in contact with the elements and be back to the basics.
Any words or thoughts you would like to say to the Flow Snowboarding customers and support?
I would like to thanks Flow for being a game changer in snowboarding, always trying to think out-of-the-box. Bringing speed entry systems in bindings and boots, they really change my riding. Also a lot of thanks to people in Windsurfing Chile, Flow distributors in Chile, a team that has been supporting me since the beginning.
Have any of you ventured down to South America for the winter/summer (…you know what I mean, when winter isn’t here… haha). Where have you gone? Flow Snowboarding would love to see you photos. Connect with us at Flow Snowboarding via Social Media and use the hashtag #FlowSnowboarding. Don’t forget to send Tomas Santa Maria a few “Holas” via social as well.