Livin’ La Vida Loca: What it Takes To Get Sponsored

“Yo, dude, how do I get hooked up?” We get enough how-do-I-get-sponsored letters to fill every trash can in this whole damn building, and probably the dumpster out back, too. So to save anyone else from wasting our earth’s limited resources, we asked the powers that be to answer the most frequently asked question here at TransWorld. If you follow their advice, maybe you could be the next big thing in snowboarding—which means people will ask you how it’s done instead of bothering us all the time, geesh!

Q. What does it take for the average ripper to get sponsored?

“In my opinion the average ripper shouldn’t be sponsored. A rider should really have something special in order to get somewhere in snowboarding. There are a million good snowboarders, so personality is key.”—Chris Owen, Mervin Manufacturing/Quicksilver Team Manager

“We all know tons of people who are such sick riders but will go unnamed because they chose to do nothing to get their name out there. Five or six years ago, anyone could get sponsored, today it’s a lot different because companies don’t have as much money. The most obvious way to get your name out there is by winning contests. Another way is to hook up with photographers that will take rad shots of you to send out to mags and potential sponsors. If you’re riding strong around good photographers, they sponsors will come to you! Also, try to get hooked up with a local shop for sponsorship. A lot of times shop owners have a lot of influence on snowboard companies when it comes to sponsorship. It’s also important to have a good resume, film footage, and good photos, to send to potential sponsors.”—Holly Anderson, Santa Cruz Team Manager

“The best way to go about getting sponsored is to let your riding speak for you—no one likes to hear how good you think you are. Contests don’t do much for me—I would rather see an insane video part rather than a contest result. But, contests do provide a good spot to showcase your skills in front of many industry people. Remember you have a better chance of having a successful snowboarding career if you can ride every part of the mountain and not just one area. It’s always good to have a tape with good footage on it. Hopefully the tape shows your snowboarding skills, you know, landing tricks—no one likes it when you ‘clip the landing.’ Photo’s that your mom took really don’t do anything except make you look silly.”

“The bottom line is if you are riding good the word spreads fast and a sponsor will seek you out. Even then, there is so much more to being a successful snowboarder then just being able to ride good. This I cannot tell you because I get paid millions for these revolutionary theories.”—Travis Wood, Sims Snowboards

“A good rule of thumb is that if you’re really that good, you’ll get noticed. Kids need to realize that you don’t go from no name to Travis Parker overnight, and the best way to get recognized is to go through the channels. Start by contacting the local rep of your favorite company, then the better you are the faster you change your contact person. Generally, as riders move up the status ladder they go from rep to grass roots promoter to team manager to international team manager.”—Blue Montgomery, K2 Team Manager

“Really just by getting out there and continuing to ride as much as possible. If you are good enough and you are doing the right things, you will be found. By the right things that means, having the right attitude, attending the right events, meeting the right people and waiting for your time. It basically comes down to earning peoples respect. It is not that huge of an industry and if you are earning respect, people will hear about it. Beyond that I would suggest entering at least some of the major competitions. It’s a good way for people to see you and for you to prove yourself … it’s also a good way for you to see first hand what all of the other riders are doing.”—Will Gilmore, Team Manager for Salomon

“Keep on ripping!”—Romey Thornton, M3/MLY Team Manager

“When I started snowboarding, I was one of a few young girls in my area and happen to compete and have some good results. All of the boys my age were sending in results and photos and all that to sponsors and my brother told me to do it, too. So not expecting anything, I put together some crappy school folder filled with Xerox copies of results and sent it to Sims. Low and behold, I received a letter in the mail a few weeks later congratulating me on my C team status. Needless to say I was thrilled. Those were the gravy train days. Things seem to be different now—tight budgets, and millions of young rippers. I guess the best way to get sponsored is to ride better then anyone in your area, do well in contests and at nationals, and basically try to meet local reps and show them your riding skills. Companies get a million tapes and photos of a millions kids that want free stuff so you have be seen and have recommendations that set you apart from the stack of free snowboard wanting shredders.”—Tricia Byrnes, pro rider

“Compete. Start out with small contests and work your way to the bigger ones and ask local shops for sponsorship to help with entry fees. Also have a good attitude—be friendly and enthusiastic about snowboarding. Overall, it comes down to offering companies something they can’t find in anyone else.”—Mike Basich, pro rider

“They key thing is to make sure you’re having fun. If you’re worrying about getting sponsored all the time you won’t have fun or ride well, and that’s not what snowboarding’s all about. If you want to get sponsored just ride a lot and enter contests. The best thing would be to film a video and send it out to companies, then be patient. Team managers don’t like being bothered all the time. If you’ve got something, they’ll see it, sometimes it just takes a while.”—Blaise Rosenthal, pro rider

Q. What do you look for in a rider?

“A person with amazing talents on and off the snow. Of course the rider must ride at a level that would make most people shit their pants or have that potential, but they also have to be a good person off the hill. I’m super lucky because I have an amazing team who I’m in awe of their skills, but they also take the time to talk to kids when they’re riding or answer e-mails off the hill and are just genuine people who love snowboarding. Nobody wants to work with jackasses and no amount of hype can cover up a personality flaw.”—Rebecca Herath, Team Manger for Morrow Snowboards

“Mostly a kid who has a good attitude and a strong work ethic.”—Chris Owen

“I consider all sorts of things when looking for a new rider. There are so many damn good snowboarders in the world right now though that it’s getting more difficult for up and coming kids to stand out. One thing that’s important to me is for them to offer something else besides their riding. Obviously snowboarding ability is the most important part, and without that, sponsorship dreams are done, but I get stoked when kids have a little magic, too. Charisma or other talents or something to set them apart from every other good kid in the world who can probably do the same trick and think they should be sponsored, too.”—Blue Montgomery

“We look for riders who are pushing the standards of snowboarding, who also have a genuine passion for our sport. Of course, we look for riders who represent themselves in a professional manner, as well as being personable with charming personalities.”—Holly Anderson

“Skills, style, marketability, good work ethic and future—it’s a lot.”—Romey Thornton

“First and foremost we look for riders who are really talented snowboarders. We’re also looking for riders who in someway want to break the mold, and who have the confidence and ability to do that. Pretty much like what Mike Michalchuk did—he was totally true to himself and in the end it really worked out for him and for us. Riders today should be outgo
ing and intelligent. They need to understand the business and their role in it.”—Will Gilmore

Q. What do you expect from your team?

“At the grass roots and Am level, I expect them to continually improve at snowboarding and have a hell of a lot of fun. At the pro level it’s much, much more complicated, but I still ask them to continually improve at snowboarding and have a hell of a lot of fun.”—Blue Montgomery

“I expect them to be a well rounded person who can make Morrow better, push and be supportive of their team mates, make extra efforts to go beyond what’s expected of them. My team is constantly surprising me by doing extras to push Morrow. Tyler Lepore just gave out his home phone number on our consumer catalog request line so kids could call him at home. I mean, whoa, that shit makes me amped. The team has so much ownership with Morrow, they will do things like that to make it better and succeed.”—Rebecca Herath

“Basically, I just want the team to act in a professional manner, support the rest of the team, and promote the product to the best of their abilities.” —Chris Owen

“Progress, work hard (get the job done), enjoy their career/life, and behave—for the most part.”—Romey Thornton

“Results. That means if they choose to enter contests, they are expected to do well. If they choose to shoot photos they are expected to get published. If they choose to film, they should get a part. If they choose to help with development, they need to contribute. That is not to say that we are unrealistic. We try to judge a rider based on their performance and results over an entire season and not just over the coarse of one contest or one shoot. If they get the results over time than it usually works out.

Beyond results, they are expected to be the leaders and to push themselves and their riding as much as possible. We also need for them to cooperate and work with us— to communicate with us on a consistent basis to help keep us up to date on what’s going on out there.”—Will Gilmore

“Our team’s main function is to bring personality and a human element to, well, a piece of laminated wood, so to speak. They’re a direct reflection of Santa Cruz, therefore, it’s really important for them to represent themselves in a positive manner. You know, not trashing hotel rooms (under our name), being cool with photographers, and interacting with kids on the hill when the opportunity presents itself. We also expect their riding style to progress, and for them to get a certain amount of coverage in mags and videos, which help them with. One of the radist things about the team we have right now is the amount of photos they have generated this last season, which is not only great for them, but for Santa Cruz as well.”

“Our team is also expected to help us with the development of all of our products, right down to how the elastic feels on our beanies. They’re our eyes and ears of the outside world in a lot of ways. If a certain binding strap isn’t quite right or if they have opinions about graphics, ads, our Web site, etc, we take them to heart and use it in development. Being a smaller company, our riders have tons of influence on the day to day workings of Santa Cruz.” —Holly Anderson