Star snowboarder Seb Toutant takes quarantine boredom to new heights with #sebtootschallenge

Seb Toutant says he has recovered well from breaking some of his ribs after crashing during an X Games slopestyle qualifying run this past January. Tom Monterosso/Red Bull Content Pool

Bouncing a pingpong ball into a roll of toilet paper without looking. Doing pushups on a stack of Red Bull cans. Sebastien Toutant can do these things, and he wants to know: Can you?

Since he started self-quarantining in his home outside Montreal three weeks ago, the 2018 Olympic gold medalist in Big Air snowboarding has been posting videos on Instagram with the hashtag #sebtootschallenge. He has received hundreds of thousands of views and responses from around the world, including from Hilary Knight, a fellow Winter Olympian and American hockey star.

The 27-year-old Canadian has always loved making videos and doing parkour and trick-shot challenges. He likes to end workouts with them, like landing a standing backflip on an unstable surface. He saw the self-quarantine brought on by the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to entertain people on a wider scale.

"I know people might not be as competitive as me, but they're really, really bored," he told ESPN on Tuesday via FaceTime. "If I can make people smile and stay active at home, why not?"

Sometimes he knows exactly what he wants to do. Other times he positions various items in his house on the floor -- foam rollers, toilet paper, golf balls, chairs, jump rope, tables -- and moves them around until he creates a course. He tries it out, then keeps adding to it until he's satisfied. This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. Then comes the filming, where he needs an average of 30 takes to get the video right. (The pingpong video took him only 10 takes, but he puts that down to luck.) It's hard work, but that's the way Toutant likes it.

"The goal is to stay occupied at home," he said. "If you get it too soon, you're bored again. Sometimes I'm sweating my ass off during the setup."

The reaction has been electric. Toutant says his DMs are full of response videos from people, young and old, and he has gained about 1,000 followers every day over the past few weeks. He hopes people will use his videos as inspiration but modify their challenges according to their skill level, like using more solid objects as the base for doing pushups instead of cans of Red Bull. Seeing other athletes take it on proved that his challenges were genuinely good. (He has never met Knight, but he was impressed by her response.)

Toutant, who is self-quarantining with a close friend, misses his family and friends, but is trying to savor the time at home.

"It's pretty rare that I get to stay home for that long, so it's kind of refreshing," he says. "I think my body is happy that I'm chilling for a bit."

The two-time X Games gold medalist, who cut short a trip to Europe because of the coronavirus pandemic, has battled a handful of injuries over the past few years. After a back injury almost kept him from competing in the 2018 Olympics (he wasn't at 100 percent when he won the gold medal), he "broke some ribs" during a slopestyle qualifying run at the X Games this past January.

He, like other Winter Olympians, is gearing up for the 2022 Games in Beijing. Toutant says postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was a good decision but "couldn't imagine being a summer athlete" because of the amount of work and sacrifice they have to put in to keep training for another year. Winter Olympians are also affected because of event cancellations that affect their rankings and, ultimately, the number of Olympic spots teams earn.

In the meantime, Toutant has been working out every day with his personal trainer on FaceTime, going for bike rides, trying his hand at cooking, and watching "Bad Blood," a show about the Montreal mafia, on Netflix. He plans to keep making challenge videos once a week, and he has ordered new materials from Amazon to play with.

"I was running out of options a little bit," he says. "But now I have more tools."

Who knows what he'll come up with next.