Leanne Pelosi is one of the most dominant women in snowboarding. Not just “women’s snowboarding,” but snowboarding over all. Her attitude, charm and work ethic make her a rider who anyone, male or female, can look up to. That’s why any time I get the chance to chat with Leanne, I come away from it inspired, and why a casual conversation about video parts turned into this Hump Day. Leanne’s career has progressed the same way as many a legend – from contests, to backcountry, to running film productions and more, and even though she’s about 80 in snowboard years, she’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Sick part in Still Hard. How did you get involved with that project?
Ah thanks… I ended up going on a rail trip to AK when the conditions were shitty in Whistler and I stayed with Danyale Patterson’s family in Anchorage… from there we were buds and I ended up giving her some footage that I wasn’t using this year. Danyale is a talented lady, so stoked to be a part of her movies.
Last week you told me that it’s almost worthless to have a video part in a DVD video these days. What did you mean by that?
I don’t think its ‘worthless’ because I do think there’s something nostalgic about being a part of a crew, but I do think as far as the number of ‘views’ the online video part potential has, it makes sense to do it… because first of all you don’t have to get $15k to be included in a movie where you have no control over what happens to your footage. You can make due with your own budget, have full control of your footage and then also put it on Facebook, where there’s a lot of people who will watch it, who aren’t necessarily into the snow industry.. but they’re stoked to see a short clip because they’ve got 2 minutes of time while they’re browsing facebook.
You talk about how many views you get. Do you really think that its important that random grandmas that will never actually snowboard see your part? Wouldn’t you rather 15k people who sought out the video? Maybe I’m leading that question a little bit too much… but it’s an interesting thing, everyone’s obsession with views.
My thought is that if you can target your audience and know who is watching it then obviously as a rider we are going to want true snowboarders to watch our video parts. If it’s not a snowboarder, then hopefully whoever its is can be inspired to get into our sport one day. Maybe for some brands the bigger number of views, the better it is, no matter who’s watching. For example, a big brand that sells to several sports.. Whether it’s a basketball player, golf, tennis or hockey and they see their snowboard movie… it’s brand awareness that creates credibility. I think there’s some gramps and grannies slashing it up… sure they’re stoked if they saw some good ol’ boarding.. especially something they can relate to! like pow pow.
What are you working on this year?
I’m personally going to probably work with Hana and Robin filming in the backcountry… but on a side note I’ve kept my best footage from this season and I’m doing a 2 year video part… which will be released next year with a few other edits. I’ll be online this winter as I do some trips with the girls, and also I’ll be doing some street trips with people like Dangy (Danyalle Patterson,) which won’t be a part of the PS series.
You must have a ton of footage to do all that. How do you keep up that pace?
I don’t have a ton of footage, but I have the start of a video part that I’ll be proud of. I hurt my knee this winter in China, attempting to try to go to the Olympics for slopestyle so I ended up taking about 6 weeks to recover from that. Then I ended up with having a good season, considering. So I kept my favourite shots towards this upcoming winter, and I gave the rest to Dangy. I also filmed with Airblaster at Baker for a few days with Temple which was also awesome. I’m over the race of every season rushing around to film a part… I’m really stoked that I get a chance to think quality over quantity.
A two-year part makes sense with so much stuff coming out. When did you decide to do it that way, and why?
After the success of ‘Intervals’ I wanted to actually produce a 2-year women’s film.. but after talking to a bunch of the ladies, there was just way too much going on with everyone… so I spoke to my sponsors who were super cool with that direction for myself.
I just think that it’s way better to produce something that people will remember, and so from the start, before I even hurt my knee that was the plan. I was getting in this rut every year of thinking I have to land my basic tricks and get something… before moving on to the next trick… so I think this way with a solid amount of footage under my belt I can really just focus on working on some progressive tricks.
Tell me about trying to make the Olympics. Why did you decide to go for it?
It was more of an opportunity that I saw that could be a fun adventure… I didn’t put everything into it, and things just didn’t work out. After I hurt my knee I was invited by the Canadian team to go to Sochi. Then that was cancelled, and by the time the last World Cup came around, my knee wasn’t feeling 100%, so I didn’t end up going to that… which means that now there’s only 2 possible contests to go to to make it. My motivation level has dwindled since then… I thought that if I could just go to these contests and get a good result without affecting the film season and it worked out, then bonus. But it didn’t, so I’m back to chasing my film dream… where my real passion for snowboarding is.
Do you think Hana Beaman will make it?
Yeah I think Hana is doing all the right steps to make it. She has the tricks, but she just needs to get her consistency up. It’s tough to compete against girls who are hitting 100’s of jumps a week, vs us hitting like 4. So Hana’s going to focus on riding park this fall I’m sure. USA has Jamie, who is pretty much guaranteed to do really well on a good day for her… and then it’s open after that. Hana has a top 24 result too, so I think that helps her chances.
Elephant in the room. You’re “getting up there” in snowboard years. How do you stay in it and motivated to keep pushing yourself?
haha! Yeah I’m one of the grandmas of snowboarding now! If you take care of your body you can extend your career a few years…I’ve been going to a Naturopath, taking natural supplements, doing yoga and I got a trainer. These things are mandatory for me now because snowboarding is such a high impact sport. That, along with choosing the right terrain to huck yourself off is super important. I am proud to say that I have been pretty healthy the last 10 years of my snowboarding.
I used to drink the night before a contest, puke before I dropped in and do it all over again. Everyone used to! Times have changed… And… as far as pushing the envelope, you never stop pushing yourself. I don’t know how its possible to not want to better yourself. That’s what keeps me coming back every day.. I just love it.
Do you think you would have had such a long career without good ol’ Canadian healthcare, or are you still sitting in line for knee surgery right now?
ha ha ha… luckily if you’re an athlete or someone who needs it, you get bumped up in the Canadian system. So I only had to wait like 2.5 months for my surgery! And it was FREE! I’m so glad I’m not American for that reason. No offense America, I love America for so many reasons, but they need to get some real health care going for everyone.
So, when are you gonna ditch K2 for Dinos?
I love K2 boards. They’ve supported me since day 1, I’ve been very involved in that brand and am extremely thankful to the opportunities over the years they’ve given me. I fit in well with the K2 family. But I’m stoked that Jeff and Sean are doing so well!
You made the switch from Bonfire to Airblaster. How has riding for the “funnest” company been?
ha! ya… It’s been amazing. Cale, Jesse, Melissa are all amazing humans. We just had the best time ever shooting our F14 catalog in Portland. I’m always laughing with that crew, so I think they’re on a good thing for sure. I am so hyped to be promoting a small brand that doesn’t have huge pockets, but they have one of the biggest hearts for snowboarding ever… They make due with what they have to always showcase how much fun they’re having. The way Airblaster promotes snowboarding is exactly the reason why each and every one of us started. So many people come up to me and tell me how stoked they are that I’m representing a small brand like Airblaster.
It seems like the big companies are struggling the most “in this economy.” As a rider, have you felt the strain at all?
As a rider, for sure I have felt the strain. My personal paychecks have been cut in half, but I’ve made some life adjustments like — Move out of my house and rent it out so that I can save and make do with what I have and still live the life I want to live. I bought a camper, so when I’m not staying at Jeff’s parents’ place in Whistler I can live in the camper when I travel. I think I’ve become a master at making my dollar stretch a lot
Has Yobeat felt the wrath of the economy??
Yes and no. Some brands aren’t able to advertise, but for the most part we’re a far more affordable option, so I think it’s helped keep us strong. That said, there’s not that much to be made in the first place. But it’s really interesting to hear from you – a true testament to the fact that the people who care will always find a way to make it happen.
Yeah, I mean, we’re all doing it for the love of the sport. If I wanted to be rich, I would have stayed in engineering and become an engineer in Calgary. Snowboarding will always be a part of my life, no matter what happens… whether I’m making money at it or not. I feel like it’s given me an amazing opportunity of having a huge worldwide family.. so I’m thankful for that.
What do you think is the solution to snowboarding’s economic crisis? Is there one?
Yeah there’s a ton of things that snowboarding and people can do to support the industry. So many things… resorts need to keep their prices reasonable. Thank you Mt. Baker! People need to buy their gear at snowboard shops… We need to support all facets of the sport for it to continue to grow, like sponsoring kids, keeping the contests going, putting on random events, companies not strangling retailers to make mandatory order increases, etc.
I think Travis Rice is the best example of an athlete that gives back to the sport on a big scale. He helps the photographers sell their photos with Asymbol. The Supernatural events, and his films and so on and so on. He’s just so valuable to our industry. Would love to see more like him, he’s super inspirational to me.
And you know what would be sick? Jeff was telling me about a city program in Norway where there’s a community rail park groomed by the city that’s free for all, so that encourages snowboarders to go outside and shred. Wouldn’t that be amazing if the cities in North America that get snow in the winter did something like that?!
That would be awesome. Thanks Leanne, I think this is a good place to end it with some shout outs and thanks.
Shout outs go to K2, Airblaster, Dakine, Dragon, Protec, Whistler Blackcomb, Jeff Keenan, Hana Beaman, Trout, & Robin Van Gyn and to you, YoBeat. Thanks for having me on here!