Ever wonder what kind of humans spend their day behind the keyboard oozing about snowboarding? Well, it’s about time you meet them. Internet met them at least. Why might you ask? Because usually if you’re good enough to capture snowboard culture in words or imagery you’re probably a pretty rad rider yourself and at minium an interesting human being. So this series is all about pointing the spotlight back on the wordsmiths and photographers of our industry.
Ben Osborne, or more commonly known at SBC as “Ben Airborne” is one heavy hitter on the keyboard. He’s written multiple features, been around the world with snowboard in tow, and literally breathes boarding. Ben’s a go-to for us when it comes to writing, and it’s about time you meet the guy. Say hello to Ben Osborne!
Q+A WITH BEN OSBORNE
The background of Ben?
BO: I grew up in Burlington, Vermont right down the street from the Burton factory, so snowboarding was a part of my life from a very young age. My parents were the type that instilled in us that going to college was the right thing to do, and for as long as I can remember that was the perfect excuse to head out west to some larger mountains, which is how I ended up at the University of British Columbia. After 5 years of school (and a quick stint of living in Costa Rica), I graduated and haven’t left the Sea to Sky corridor. I’m currently living in Squamish.
Ben Boards, tell us about your relationship with snowboarding, please?
BO: In Vermont, winter sports are ingrained in the culture—you’re either sliding on snow in the winter or playing hockey. My dad was on the U.S. Ski Team for cross country skiing but his best efforts couldn’t get me to buy into that, and with Burton right down the street I was pretty locked in on snowboarding. I was lucky he decided to try boarding so he let me get into it, and each year he would lease us boards from a shop called the Alpine Shop just outside Burlington. I’ll never forget the feeling of going in on a cold fall day and getting fitted for boots and a board, I thought it was the coolest sh!t ever. Step on bindings and O-sin or Rossignol boards was the recipe, Burton was unfortunately out of our price range.
I’ve been riding for 20 years now and it’s insane how much better it gets every year. If I had to choose one thing that defines my riding it’s always looking for the places off the beaten path to ride. I’m less concerned about conditions and more interested in new experiences through snowboarding. I’ve learned over the years that because of my experience in the sport, I can use it as a vehicle for some wild experiences. I know that will keep things fresh and keep me interested for a long, long time.
What was the first thing you wrote that wasn’t a school assignment?
BO: When I was living in Costa Rica I was surfing everyday and kind of taking a break from thinking too hard about much, and it gave me the opportunity to think about what I wanted to do. I started reaching out to random outdoor media outlets and writing for free, and the first thing I got to write was on a friend’s site called ‘The Offshore’. I forget the name of the piece, but it was all about how living in a different country gave me a new perspective and how valuable that was. It was elementary but probably echoed a similar sentiment to what I still feel today!
When did you first merge snowboarding + words?
BO: I’ve mostly shied away from writing about my own riding, so my first real opportunity just a few years back on a trip I planned with some buddies to Russia. We rode in the southwestern part of the country near Mt Elbrus (the tallest mountain in Europe) and experienced awful conditions, then jumped ship and took a train over to Sochi where we scored. It was a truly eye-opening experience. We didn’t plan much and all of our inspiration was basically through our computer screens and iPhones looking at Google Earth, so I wrote a piece called “Russia By Smartphone” on the trials and tribulations of scouting a trip via the internet. It went as well as you might expect, haha.
In the last Snowboard Canada issue, you wrote the feature on Jake Burton Carpenter, can’t imagine that an easy one to write, how did you approach it?
BO: When Jake passed away, I was immediately thinking I needed to write something about it. I didn’t know whether it was for myself or anyone else, but I had already written a few paragraphs when I got the call to write something for SBC. I was coincidentally heading home to Burlington for my brother’s 30th birthday, so the timing was crazy. Jake had such an unbelievable effect on my life, and I barely knew the guy, so that kind of says all you need to know about him. When you look at his back story, and how many people he directly and indirectly affected, it’s hard, to sum up, how impressive of a person he was—but I tried to use my personal experience to convey just what kind of effect he had on people. Definitely scary putting that one out there though!
Any words in the upcoming issue we can look forward to reading?
BO: Yeah! I’ve got a piece on our trip to Skeena Cat Skiing & Boarding, and a piece on Nicolas Wolken from Korua Shapes.
What’s your personal approach to balancing work + boarding?
BO: A good day of boarding is what makes me efficient in all the other aspects of my life. I’m the kind of person who needs exercise to be happy, and being happy makes everything else flow naturally—I realized that at a young age. I’m lucky because my work is flexible so I kind of get to prioritize boarding, and then I can get everything else done. Sometimes I have to sacrifice some days on the board, but more often than not I’m lucky enough to get plenty of days in.
Trip? Winter 2018-2019, two weeks in Russia.
Resort? Bolton Valley, Richmond, Vermont.
Snowboard? Korua Shapes Tranny Finder.
Pocket Snack? Sour Skittles.
Track on repeat? Don’t Stop Me Now, Queen.
Word of the day? Bathymetry.
Words to live by? It’s always worth checking.