Mikey LeBlanc has been a prime mover in snowboarding for over a decade. Through the years, his exploits have been chronicled in magazines and in movies alike. He has remained a rider’s rider all along, keeping the focus on the riding, rather than some outsized image or stylistic cliché. He is a well-rounded snowboarder and a well-rounded human. He was among that late-90’s vanguard who brought the tech-backcountry aerial movement into focus as well as being a rider who pushed the rail, jib, and street resurgence back into the foreground. Sh*t, the dude even rides pow on a toboggan with bindings mounted on it--in fact one of LeBlanc’s greatest contributions to snowboarding has been to make us all laugh. He’s a busy guy these days--I got him to answer a couple questions … read on.
So, Mikey LeBlanc…
What projects are you working on?
HOLDEN is my main project. We are 100% independent, we have 4 full-time employees to crank it all out. It is incredible the amount of things a few people can get done and done well when you are driven. I worked on a piece about progression in the new Matix book about it. It was a chance to explore a way to map the way progression happens. I am big on maps these days personally, a guide to the territory.
How much time did you spend on the snow last winter?
I'd say 50 days. It was all quality though. Great powder days, great road trips, great people and yes it was enough for me. In my 24 years of shredding so far, I have had years that I did 200 days, too. Being pro and getting it done is still a priority of mine because I want to really represent my sponsors as best I can, but as I get older its shifting into more of an ambassador role, I think. I still get crazy, but I really enjoy meeting kids and shops, etc., and getting to know what they’re all about. I think that is mainly what it’s about for me now. And making a company with Holden that represents that. And also making contributions seen and unseen to snowboarding that start small and build in a positive direction--away from the standards and into the new and explorative, that snowboarding can be, and is for so many of us whose lives it has totally transformed.
What do you like most about how snowboarding has evolved/changed since you began riding?
I like most that we are finally accepted. When I first started out, we had no mountains that allowed it. We were the punks and the misfits (which was fun and we had fun with it) but I like that people get on it and get out there in mass now. Its cool to see some 55 year old dude riding and getting out of his head--quitting working so much and having some fun with him or herself. I also like that kids never stop progressing. It has made me very aware that what I did 10 years ago as a pro made it possible and normal for an average kid to do today … We should be proud parents … our kids are doing what we never though we'd get to see.
What do you like least about how snowboarding has changed since you began?
I don't and have never liked the lack of creativity, because there is endless opportunity to do something that is original and great. I think on the business side of snowboarding, there are a few leaders and a bunch of people milking those leaders. I think this is a trend that is a problem we inherited from going into the mass market. But we need to look at skateboarding and keep it real like that, if we can--and snowboarder ran and owned. I was always over that "rider-owned" thing, but now I understand it better. I know everything is going huge and mass market, but we don't have to without creativity.
Where would you like to see the riding go as it progresses?
I am a purist of sorts, so I would like to see kids keep it in the basics as far as gear: a board, binds and boots. I would also like to see it stay progressive with out sacrificing the style. I would also like the pros to get back some ethics and if you get a video part, show some respect to those before you and step it up. Don't use the same song as someone else and don't do that same trick J.P. [Walker] did three years ago on the same rail, half as clean. Or what Peter [Line] did on a jump twelve years ago. Have some self-respect, get creative, do it your way.
What is it about snowboarding that has kept you committed for so long?
I am just part of it and it is part of me these days.