In the Mix 14.5

Pro Desires
I have a problem: I live in a small town in Wisconsin and the ski resort isn’t that great. I really miss riding out in Colorado where the terrain is wonderful. Out here you’re really limited in places to board. I want to become sponsored, but don’t know how to go about it. I was wondering if somebody could give me some tips.
Bob McCarty
Dresser, Washington

We are constantly bombarded with letters like this from kids who want to become sponsored. Being a pro may seem like the ideal job (getting paid to snowboard year round, travel all over the world, and get free gear), but in reality it’s tougher than it seems. It takes a lot of practice and determination to be a pro snowboarder. Once pro, you are continually on the go, living out of a suitcase, and trying not to be replaced by a younger rider. And don’t forget the damage a pro’s done to his or her body from hucking themselves all those years-that will last a lifetime! If you’re still interested in being pro, however, this one’s for you … the best available advice on how to get sponsored, straight from the source.

How did you get sponsored, and what advice do you have for someone who wants to become sponsored?

Tina Basich
Age: 31
Sponsors: Sims, Smith, Airwalk, 241 Clothing, Hurley, Nixon, and jester.com.

“My first sponsor was the local skate shop Go Skate in Sacramento. I started competing in local contests and had a couple of first-place finishes-and back in 1986 if you were getting first place, you had a chance to get sponsored.”My advice to kids who want to get sponsored is to become noticed. Ride your local parks and show your stuff. Enter some local contests-there are always reps and pros at the contests. So many times I’ve heard someone talking about some local ripper kid who was going huge in the pipe.”

Jussi Oksanen
Age: 21
Sponsors: Burton and Smith.

“I went to the national contests in Finland, and got first in one contest with the worst board. I didn’t have any money, so I called up the Finnish Lamar distributor, explained my situation, and he hooked me up. While I was riding for the distributor, he was talking to Lamar headquarters in California, letting them know what was up with my riding. In 1997, I went to the Finnish Junior Worlds. Lamar’s Team Manager Steve Astephen came out from the States to watch me ride. I got second and he was stoked, so he put me on the Lamar team. “Don’t stress about sponsorship that much. It will happen if you ride a lot and practice. People will notice if you are good and sponsor you.”

Dave Lee
Age: 27
Sponsors: Supernatural, Oakley, Planet Earth, Etnies, and Thirty-two.

“I was at Mount Hood one day when Mack Dawg was filming Upping The Ante and my friends and I got invited to go off the jump they’d built. After the footage made it into his movie, people wanted to give me free stuff.”I think the best thing to do to get sponsored is go where things happen. Get involved with different snowboarding events, contests, check out summer camps, and ride as much as possible. If you get to a point where your riding is speaking for itself, then you’ll get sponsored.”

Kevin Sansalone
Age: 25
Sponsors: Option, NFA, Dragon, Thirty-two, Etnies, GMC, and RDS.

“I got sponsored by a local pro, Sean Kearns, who rode for Santa Cruz Snowboards. I was an up-and-coming little grom riding in North Vancouver at Mt. Seymour every day. When Sean came to town and rode with us, we’d show him around and take him to all the jumps we did. And then he hooked me up, made some phone calls, and got me sponsored by Santa Cruz and Sessions.”My advice is to ride hard every single day, and surround yourself with other good guys to ride with-it’s very important that your friends are as motivated as you are. And don’t talk too much; let your riding speak for itself. Also, try to weasel into some bigger contests, and win.”