Being a professional snowboarder takes a lot of time, effort and constant self improvement. To gain some insight into what is involved in the process, we interviewed our very own team pro, Chase Blackwell;
Hometown? Longmont, CO
Setup? Never Summer Evo 4.0 142, 22 1/2” stance, Union Contact Pro at 15/15 degrees
Sponsors? Never Summer, 686, Giro, Union, FamilyShred, Ignite Media Works, Pow
Years Competing? 5
Coach? Jim Smith
What, in your professional opinion, is a professional snowboarder?
A pro rider is a person who rides at an expert level. They have experience at competitions but they dont always have to win. Many pros will have a sponsorships however, some might not. In either case, a professional has dedicated their lives to snowboarding. Pro riders can also be someone who works within the snowboard community …You can usually recognize them by name!
What is an am/pro?
Typically a younger rider, committed to snowboarding and dedicated to constant improvement. Amature riders often compete, ride on a team and have a list of snowboarding related goals they want to accomplish.
What do you think is the best first step toward going pro?
Get on a team! Having friends to ride with is great too because you push each other to progress. Also, find some good ‘older’ riders to ride with …They will help you progress!
Do pro riders get paid?
Many pro riders have contracts with sponsorships and are paid on a monthly, sometimes yearly, basis. Pro riders also win money from competitions.
The million dollar question, how do you get sponsored?
Some snowboarders talk to local reps or send videos but I think the best way to get sponsored is to let the sponsor find you. Once they do, it’s a tight community and sponsors talk to other sponsors about their riders.
How/When Did you Get Your First Sponsorship?
When I was around 10 years old, a rep came up to me in the park, gave me his card and told me to give him a call. That was my first sponsor!
How important is nutrition and exercise?
Super important, to be a pro. You have to stay fit!
How often do you exercise during the season? What about the offseason?
I try to do some exercise everyday and take one day off a week.
What types of exercises do you recommend (aerobic, strength, balance, etc.)?
Well you don’t need to be buff! (Laughs) Focus on balance, flexibility and core strength. I like football training, playing football, pushup competitions and planks. I also try to stretch every morning and everyday on the hill.
Do you routinely follow a diet?
Strictly McDonalds and or Taco Bell. (Laughs) Seriously though, you have to eat healthy, balanced meals and I also drink muscle milk or whey protein and a lot of water. McDonalds or Taco Bell every once in a while i guess …I’m still a kid.
How often do you practice? For how long?
During the fall and winter, I usually ride about 5 days a week. On weekdays, I’ll ride for about 5 hours …Sometimes I’ll ride all day long on the weekends if I am not competing. In the summer I try to attend snowboard camps at Mammoth and High Cascade at Mt Hood. I also attend indoor training camps, mostly at Woodward but I’ve been to Progresh too.
How many competitions do you enter each year?
It’s hard to put an exact number on it.
Put any number on it?
(Laughs) At least 30, I guess …Between big and little. Probably more. Sometimes I have little competitions with my friends too.
How close do you live to a snow resort?
In the Winter, we’re only about 15-30 minutes away.
How often do you travel during snowboarding season?
We travel a few times a month but sometimes more. There are lots of contest at the beginning of the season and then again in March and late season.
What kind of financial commitment does it take to go pro?
Well, you have to budget for; passes, gas, airfare, hotels, food and equipment. Sponsors can help you hook up the equipment but it still adds up!
Is it hard to keep-up in school?
I am home schooled in the Winter. Sometimes you can fall behind but you have to push yourself to keep the grades up. Technology makes it easier to communicate.
What do you want to do for a career?
For now, I want to continue to progress as a pro snowboarder. I like to travel! After that, I definitely want a job within the community …Maybe work with a sponsor or startup a company of my own.
What other sports or hobbies do you enjoy? Do you get much time to practice those too?
Football, wakeboarding, wake skate, wake surf, dirt bike, skateboarding and surf. I get to skateboard Woodward in the Winter too.
Your five minutes of fame?
I was on TV for winning a contest.
Any final words of advice for going pro?
Try to get two of the same snowboards at the beginning of the season. One for competition and one as a backup. Also, if you’re going to be homeschooled, work with the schools, get them involved as much as possible with what you’re doing. And keep snowboarding … On weekends and then week days and then full-time. You’re livin’ the dream!