Women’s snowboarding used to be about trying to fit in with the guys. Perhaps it was because there were so few girls riding, or perhaps it was because the male dominated industry just wasn’t ready to accept women in groups. All that estrogen can be tough for guys to handle. But now, women have begun to create a niche in the industry and girl posses, girl companies and girl videos are commonplace. Helping to lead the estrogen revolution is Leanne Pelosi.

Brooke: Where were you born?

Leanne: I was born in Wales, in the U.K.—I lived there for two years.

Have you ever thanked your parents for moving somewhere with snow?

I’m so thankful my parents moved to the west coast of Canada. My immediate family moved from the U.K. over to Calgary because my dad got a transfer. He’s an engineer, and Calgary is the oil capitol of Canada. In Wales there are no mountains, they just have plastic hills, and girls my age don’t do a lot of activities anyway. Growing up in Canada, my brother and I played every sport.

So you grew up in Calgary, and migrated to Whistler. Moving to Whistler is the U.S. version of moving to California—why did you end up heading west?

It’s the same as Americans going to Mammoth. It’s where the whole snowboard industry is in Canada, and Whistler is the party spot. A lot people move there just to party for a year after university. I moved there after university three seasons ago.

Do you have any desire to leave the clouds for somewhere it’s always sunny?

Well we see sun, rarely, but when there is sun here its amazing, because the snow conditions are so good. But I love the sun, and I love escaping Whistler to California and other warm places.

I know it’s impolite to ask a girl this, but how long ago were you born in Wales?

Twenty-five years ago.

How long have you been snowboarding?

It hasn’t been that long for me in snowboarding terms. But it’s kind of nice because I have a degree now for when I stop riding. There are so many young girls who are so sick and its like oh my god I’m over the hill. But I don’t lie about my age and half the girls lie about it. You think everyone’s so young but a lot of them are the same age as me.

Don’t get offended, but twenty-five is kind of old to win rookie of the year. Why did it take you so long to blow up?

Usually if people are going to be an athlete they leave high school and try and do that but I did things differently. I went to university and played soccer for the national soccer team—that was my focus. I got cut from the team and immediately started to pursue snowboarding. I moved to Whistler when I was twenty-two. I wasn’t that great of a snowboarder, but I got better—the last two seasons I’ve improved so much.

You got sponsored on the Internet?

Yeah, it’s my claim to fame—Snowboard.com—what, what! It’s kind of funny, my first season in Whistler my roommate and I would film each other. I had a little video up on my profile; Cory Grove and Bobby Meeks saw my video and they started messaging me asking if I wanted to ride for K2? At first I thought they were just fucking with me, but when Bobby got his team manager to send me two boards within a week I knew it was for real.

Cory Grove wanted me to ask if you prefer making out with snowboard boys or normal boys?

I don’t know, I tend to meet more snowboard guys ’cause I snowboard. When I played soccer I made out with soccer guys. Snowboard guys are cool if you can find the good ones.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, tell me about MGT Snowboard Camps.

I started my snowboard camp right out of university, about three years ago. My friend Joanna and I had just moved to Whistler, and we were not stoked on hostesing at Earle’s. We were on the chairlift one day and came up with the idea for the snowboard camp. We basically did that to make rent. We had three camps the first year, five the second andow we have summer camps as well. We wanted to make higher standard snowboard camps available for the younger girls.

Why did you decided to start an all-girl’s camp?

I wasn’t against doing a guys’ camp, but I just made it all-girls because I had a lot of girlfriends who were good at snowboarding. It’s less intimidating for girls to come to an all-girls camp. It puts them in a relaxed atmosphere with cool roll models. When I was growing up I was would always read snowboard magazines and try to find stuff on other girls—I totally idolized Tara (Dakides). It’s good for them to have the chance to ride with good girl snowboarders.

Overall, you seem to be pretty estrogen-friendly, participating in a lot of things with the words “all girl in them. Is this by choice or some sort of marketing gimmick?

It’s crazy, the girl’s scene is blowing up this year. I like hanging out with the boys when I come home—I have to get my guy time, but its fun hanging out with the girls too. I’ve never hung out with this many girls in my whole life. Now I’m traveling with girls, competing with girls, it’s crazy.

Would you rather ride with girls or guys?

I like riding with guys because I learn a lot of new things that I’ve never seen before, and they usually push me a lot to do things I never would have done. I get pushed in a different sense with both sexes, I might get a little more scared with the guys because they go crazier with their snowboarding. And I like riding with girls because when I see them do something sick it really motivates me, and we can gossip on the chairlift.

It’s rare to see a girl’s part in one of the major videos. What will it take for girls to start getting parts in “guy’s movies?

It would be nice to see. The thing is, I don’t know how many girls would think it would be that fun to go and film with the guys. Guys are doing so much gnarly shit, that I can’t picture that many girls wanting to do. Like gnarly triple kinks with spikes on the side. I don’t know if anyone considers that stuff that fun. I think it would be pretty difficult to film a pretty sick part with the guys. Annie Boulanger films a part every year for a guys movie. She managed to do it but she hates it because she’s the last person they call. I bet if you called every film crew they couldn’t care less if they have a girl’s part. The reason we did an all girls movie is because all the girls wanted to film, and we had to outlet. Together we’ll have more of an impact on the industry than having one girl in each video.

Lane Knaack told me he won’t watch girls hit street rails “because it’s scary. Is it hard for you to overcome the fear of hitting a heavy street rail?

Hitting street rails I used to get so scared at first—I was so nervous. But once you get used to street rails you don’t get nervous anymore. You know the consequences of stairs and you can ride out of it. Most girls haven’t really had a lot of experience on handrails. They’re only a few girls that I’ll ride hit rails with, when I watch Lexi (Waite) or Laura (Hadar) hit rails, I don’t get nervous. Watching guys hit handrails for the first time is scary too. It’s more like watching inexperienced riders hit rails is scary.

Do you think about how long you’ll be able to keep riding at the level you do?

Well, right now I am locked in for another three years with all my sponsors. I wonder sometimes if I’m gonna’ get seriously injured but I don’t want to think about that—it just gets me bummed out. I know that the life of a pro snowboarder five years on average. I think about working towards a “real career, it’s always in the back of my mind. I have no idea what I’m gonna’ do after snowboarding, but I think I have enough connections to at least get a job somewhere in the industry. I also have a bachelors of science in bio mechanics and half of a mechanical engineering degree.

Do you have any advice for girls who want to get in to snowboarding, or who are trying to get spons’d?

If you really want to pursue snowboarding as a career you have to work really hard. Meet people in the industry, get really good, and make sure you can put together a sponsor video. Try to get some photos, and get a portfolio going. Start competing because you get recognized for doing well in contests. Stay positive and focused—it takes a long time. I would definitely recommend it, it’s the best job ever.

End.

Check out the slideshow for more photos of Leanne’s trip to Iceland!snowboarding, or who are trying to get spons’d?

If you really want to pursue snowboarding as a career you have to work really hard. Meet people in the industry, get really good, and make sure you can put together a sponsor video. Try to get some photos, and get a portfolio going. Start competing because you get recognized for doing well in contests. Stay positive and focused—it takes a long time. I would definitely recommend it, it’s the best job ever.

End.

Check out the slideshow for more photos of Leanne’s trip to Iceland!