We spoke to the former communications manager for Bonfire and Salmon Snowboards Rian Rhoe just before her move to Europe and Vans
Interview by Sam Haddad,
I quit my high school basketball team as my coach was a jerk and I started snowboarding as an outlet, as a freedom of expression. The way that you express yourself on your snowboard is really important.
Being a single 18 year-old girl in the mountains was definitely a learning experience. I grew up in Portland and went to Mt Hood every weekend, then when I graduated from high school I moved up there by myself for the season. I didn’t know anybody and I was really naive, I just thought everyone was so nice. I definitely had some false friends and it was my first time having to really stand up for myself with a crew of dudes, as it was very male environment and I’d had a lot of girlfriends as a teenager. But it was a great experience I’m so glad I did it. I rode some of the best days of my life.
For girls to think something is possible they need to see examples, they need role models and inspiration, at least I did. I remember thinking skateboarding was so cool but I didn’t know a single girl who actually did it. I knew one girl who carried a skateboard around but she didn’t ride it.
But then I remember seeing Shannon Dunn and Tina Basich in the pages of Snowboarder magazine and Transworld and that let me know it was possible to do that. I’m so grateful for those women who were pioneers and now I think it’s really cool that there are so many more examples, there’s Jenny Jones winning X Games, Desiree Melcanon riding rails and doing her Peep Show thing and Annie Boulanger in the back country.
Am I happy slopestyle is going to be in the Olympics? Oh man I’m going to get in trouble for this… For those athletes that compete in slopestyle and want that opportunity I’m thrilled as what they do is incredible, but it also makes things so serious and it takes snowboarding out of the hands of snowboarders a little bit with the regulation bodies, and I wonder what it will do for the progression of sport. Will it do really good things or just focus the world on snowboarding from a competitive mind-frame?
If kids are doing something because they are passionate about it and the parents see that and want to support it as long, as they’re not leading the charge, it’s awesome. But you know there’s this kid who looked about six hiking the half pipe the other day and he’d just fallen and he was bummed and his big brother was just like, “Go do it again." And I was like, “Oh my god he just needs a juice box."
When I started at Bonfire and Salomon we had one friend on myspace, and his name was Tom, but there’s always been a lot of enthusiasm about social media. At my previous job I managed a women’s ski and snowboard shop in Portland, it was run by a wonderful old couple but they really felt like it was a waste of time. I would usually get in trouble for being on the computer doing the shop’s friend page, they’d say, “What she’s doing? Shouldn’t she be straightening up the store."
I haven’t been surprised that snowboarding brands have embraced social media, as snowboarding is something people are so passionate about. There are people who live and breathe snowboarding, ride 100 days a year and are obsessed with latest video edit but also there are those kids who ride one or two days a year but want to talk about it 100 days a year. I find it weirder when it comes to say a chewing-gum company.
It’s cool to have a million facebook fans but if nobody ever looks at your page or wants to comment on your posts it’s kinda pointless. Engagement is under-reported but crucial, I’d rather have ten thousand fans who are really interested in what’s going on.
Snowboard magazines and web sites are still extremely important though, as they offer an outside credibility. [As a brand] you can tell everyone how awesome you are if you want but at end of day I’d so much rather have someone else say that we’re awesome haha.
You’re in a pretty good place when your boss sends you a text in the morning which says, “It dumped at Hood last night, board meeting at the mountain." It’s one and a half hours to Mount Hood and we’re really good at taking pow days off.
I’ve always been someone who collected inspiration, like photos, quotes or whatever. I was always keeping journals when I was younger and tumblr is a way to do that without creating a lot of baggage to carry around.
If every girl who fell in love with snowboarding took one friend and taught her how to snowboard then we would be in a really different situation. In the US girls’ participation numbers in snowboarding went down a little but the ski part went up. They’re getting out on the snow which is awesome, but you know…
Check Rian’s blog at 18thandhoyt.tumblr.com