This Is Me: Kathrin ‘Kelli’ Kellenberger

The associate producer at Absinthe Films tells us all about her own pro career, life on the tour bus and managing a gang of crazy snowboarders…

Interview by Anna Langer, photo by Tina Anger

Aged 14, I told my parents I would only join them for vacation if they let me try snowboarding. We went to the Engadin (Switzerland) and I fell in love with the place and snowboarding likewise. And I shortly moved there to go to a sport school where we could go riding every afternoon.

Besides going to school, we also got the chance to compete in our sports, so snowboarding for me. LAAX  started to organise boardercross events that time, where all kinds of snowboarders participated, hard and soft boots. I did well at the first events so kept on riding boardercross, followed the ISF tour, went to many X Games and other events until 2006. At the same time I studied geography and worked as team manager for Palmer snowboards and Smith Optics in Switzerland. After finishing my studies (and tearing my ACL for the second time), I felt it was time to get a “real” job. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to keep working in the boardsports industry or use my studies. And so I started working part-time as a cartographer as well as part-time for Absinthe Films. Patrick “Brusti” Armbruster was looking for an assistant and it was a good chance for me to take that job and to stay connected to snowboarding through Absinthe Films.

Absinthe Films is a small company. I mostly work with Brusti and we work really well together. Going on tour is like a trip with friends. Most of the crew stays the same every year and only a few new faces join in. There isn’t much room in the bus, so you get to know each other quite well quite fast.

It’s not hard to be the only girl though. It’s just hard not wanting to party…

On every tour I freak out a few times and tell them to clean, be quiet, move their asses… But we’re having a good time together and they respect me. This year was the 4th time we did the European tour in a bus and it was the easiest one for me so far. All our bus crew and riders were helpful and I didn’t have to do anything on my own. As far as the tour goes: I’m rather the only girl than being surrounded by groupies who join the bus along the way…. but of course it would be awesome to have Annie or some other cool girls coming along!!

I don’t think working in boardsports as a woman is much different than working in any other business. It was the same situation in the company I worked as a cartographer – I didn’t feel discriminated at all, but it’s just a fact that mostly there are no women in the board of directors and women earn less. For even work and effort there should be even pay and respect. I feel most of the time girls are more reliable to work with – but it’s still the guys who get more respect.

I think the girls who had a part in last years Absinthe movies (Annie Boulanger and MFR) were a really good fit. A girls part is for sure a plus for the movie! But I think it should be a part that guys are astonished about as well. Otherwise it looks like mixing skating and snowboarding. Even though the skating might be sick, compared to snowboard jumps everything looks just a little and less exciting than it is. It’s easier if girls have their own crew and filmer. Mixing genders and send them out to the backcountry can work, but they will probably often want to ride different terrain and hit different jumps.

Meanwhile I’m more into surfing than snowboarding. I loved the Nike girls movie (not the music etc… but the surfing!) and so did many others. It had a great response. It’s much easier to relate to other girls than to guys. All girls movies are a good inspiration for sure!

I don’t mind if I’m riding with girls or guys… It’s cool to ride with anyone I like. I have many girlfriends who are really good snowboarders and it’s fun to ride with them. But for surfing I don’t have too many “girl surf buddies”! There are always way less girls than guys in the water in the Basque Country where I live and everywhere else I go. I wonder why?? I like to surf with everyone as long as we enjoy the same kind of waves and conditions.

I remember how much I loved snowboarding and what a highlight the X Games were to me every year. I thought I’m the luckiest person when cruising down the slopes in Aspen – meanwhile I wish my career had been the one of a professional surfer…  I’d love to surf really good!! But well… I guess at the age I’m now, my one wish is for a happy family!

Go out and do sports. It makes you look better than any shopping tour…!! If you stick to your ideals and always act the same way, people will respect you for who you are.


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