Many riders are wondering how to get sponsored. But what they really should be asking is what it takes to be sponsored. It’s a big question, but I think I can say something about it.
I’ve had all kinds of partnerships: from a half prize sponsor to big corporations and everything in between.
“There’s no such thing as a free board.”
My first sponsor was a shop called Jackal in my hometown. I got clothes and boards for a small fee, but that was the first step towards real sponsorships. At that time my dad taught me I have to work for my sponsors: there’s no such thing as a free board. It’s still the same, the scale it just bigger.
Next year I was hooked to distributor’s team. Jari (the distributor) was really excited about my success in junior competitions and he had motivation to push me forward. So he talked with my dad and said he could take me to the team and help me ahead if I’m ready to work for it myself. Of course I was.
I did well at international junior competitions so I got two deals from factories that would help to make few trips abroad. Now I understand that it wasn’t just a proof that they saw a potential in me: they were testing me. They wanted to see how I would use those deals. Luckily I spent it well. I decided to put all the money in international competitions, and as I got good results my partnerships started to get better little by little.
After I won at the X Games I got a management behind me. The size of the sponsors went so high I needed managers’ skills. There were so many things I didn’t understand, such as law stuff. I’m glad that me and my managers have understood each others from the day one, so they have always been offering me for the right companies. Again, to have a common understanding is what it’s all about.
“Why I even started snowboarding in the first place?”
To get to be a professional you have to understand few things: How you move forward? What you want to do with your riding? How are you going to renew? And these are just few examples.
It is very different to be a great rider than a great professional. What is different is that a pro does all his responsibilities with the same passion as he does the riding itself. He understands that partnership means co-operation, and if you want a long career you have to be able to look forward.
As I changed the course of my career from competing to freeriding some of my sponsors didn’t follow me. At first it was a shock. The sponsor that had always been loyal to me said take it or leave it. I left, and I knew that I had to work twice as hard to prove everyone I could be a freerider. It’s no wonder some didn’t believe me. I had made my career with competitions, but this time I just had to remind me of more important things.
Why I even started snowboarding in the first place? Was it for my sponsors or for myself? And that is an important issue for everyone who seeks the spot in the light to think.
In the beginning I got sponsors because they believed in me and saw my passion. It’s the same thought that’s kept me motivated. So I know the answer, and there’s no doubt about it: I have to be honest to myself to keep that passion–because that’s what it’s all about.
“Do what they really love.”
I can’t underline enough how important it is to work hard and to be active. To talk with your sponsors and tell your ideas activates both sides more than just hoping that riding would be enough. Because it will never be.
For example, if you end up having possibility for a partnership outside of snowboarding world you need to be able to step out from the box and listen why they are interested in you. If you’re able to do that, I promise there are great things to come for your snowboarding too.
In the end, like in life general, in partnerships it’s also best to be who you really are. Just represent the things you believe in and do it from your whole heart. I believe that you just can’t go wrong with that.
I didn’t choose to be a freerider just because of the powder. I also want to inspire people to do what they really love. And to do what you love and love what you do, that can take you far.