Over the years there have been several snowboard magazines and now with everyone including Powder Propaganda latching onto blogging to speak their mind, it is getting difficult to wade through the garbage and read relevant and interesting articles.
But over the past few years, Snowboard magazine has made some serious strides in the right direction. The stories are well written and keep even the kids with low attention spans turning pages. And with over 40,000 journalists losing their jobs in the last four to five years, the new look and feel Snowboard could not have come at a better time.
It seems that Chris Owen, the new Editor-in-Chief has been busy and we are glad to see it. We had a chance to catch up with Chris and talk to him about everything from the magazine industry, the olympics and babies.
Powder: Where are you from and where are you now?
Chris: I’m from Portland, OR. and I currently live in Boulder, CO.
Powder: When did you become the editor of Snowboard?
Chris: My official start day was the mens halfpipe final at the Vancouver, B.C. Olympics, so February 2010.
Powder: You were a pro snowboarder before becoming editor of Snowboard magazine right? Who did you ride for and how did you get into pro riding?
Chris: I got some boards from Lib-Tech and then started riding for Morrow Snowboards way back. As far as how pro that really was, I’m not really sure? I still had to work and was making less than I would if I was serving coffee, but in the 90s that was how it was for a bunch of people. As far as how I got into that, it just kind of came naturally. My friends at the time were all snowboarding and we would all compete and try to win money to get to the next contest. Then we found out that people would pay your expenses if you were good enough and on and on from there.
Powder: What is it like to be in the industry in a different way than before?
Chris: I don’t really know life any other way. I’ve been in the industry since I was old enough to have a job. I’ve been doing all sorts of different things, many of them involving editorial, so it isn’t much of a change for me. I have been traveling a lot less which has been really good for me.
Powder: How did being a pro snowboarder get you to the editor of a major magazine?
Chris: I was pro when anyone with more than two tricks could be pro, it was a long long time ago. I’ve done a ton of other stuff since. I’ve had marketing and Team manager jobs, I was a photographer and magazine editor, and this is just the next step for me.
Powder: What are your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals and objectives for the magazine?
Chris: My goal is to produce the best product that I can. That changes with each and every email that I get from our readers. I want to be able to produce a website and magazine that snowboarders want to read and riders, companies and photographers aspire to be in.
Powder: What is your daily routine like?
Chris: Wake up, hold my son, make coffee, eat breakfast (maybe), check my email, deal with anything that has come up overnight, then head to the office. Of course the work that I’m doing each day depends on where we are in the season. Some weeks I’ll be shooting, others I’ve got to go to trade shows. Once summer rolls around I am fully in production mode. We will work all night trying to put magazines together on time for delivery to the printer. These days will be spent shooting in the studio and editing peoples work at my computer.
Powder: You just had your baby, right? How has that changed your routine and perspective?
Chris: In a way it has been almost easier, I used to travel a lot when I was a photographer. I took a pretty big move to when I decided to come to Denver for the magazine. I was gone like 320 days a year and now I am getting more of a normal life. Instead of traveling as much I just have people travel and cover a story for me, it is easier to run a magazine with having more contributors.
Powder: How big is the staff at Snowboard?
Chris: Four people full time and a bunch of writers and photographers that are paid by the amount of work they do for us.
Powder: In your opinion who is the best industry photographer?
Chris: That’s a hard call. Blotto is the hardest working guy, Jeff Curtes cranks out a ton of great stuff and has been doing so longer than anyone else. Cole Barash is really good, Scott Serfas and Andy Wright. There are also a ton of up and coming guys from Canada, the states and Europe. Too hard to list really.
Powder: Best industry rider?
Chris: Another hard one. How about a list? I’d have to go, Travis Rice, only because he is one of the few guys who will put out a video part the way he does and can still make the pipe finals at the US Open. D. Walsh, because he has been consistent through the last 15 or so years. Peter Line changed the sport way back. Josh Dirksen is great, Mikkel Bang, Jon Jackson, Nicolas Mueller, Mark Landvik and Terje, I could keep going with this, but I’d rather not. Everyone has their favorites.
Powder: With the economy seeming like a roller coaster and journalists being laid off by the thousands, how has Snowboard handled the turbulence?
Chris: Snowboarding was turbulent before the economic crisis. We are a seasonal sport that relies on the weather, so we were dealing with the uncertainties for years before everyone else. It’s also a very small industry when you look at the big picture.
Powder: What are some of the biggest challenges the Snowboard magazine faces right now?
Chris: The internet; people are being asked to advertise in more places than ever before and can’t allocate more money than they’ve been spending in the past. That’s why I try to make a magazine that is as different as possible to what I would put on our website. I want readers to see the pictures in a different way than they would if it were on a screen. I want them to be able to read a more in depth article than they would if they were online.
Powder: How fierce is the competition in the snowboard magazine industry?
Chris: It’s pretty fierce. We are all going after the same stories and advertising dollars. I don’t want to run an article that is similar to something in Transworld or Snowboarder, I want our stuff to be original. On the same note I had drinks with th editors of T.W.S. and Snowboarder two days ago. We are all friends, but are competing for some of the same things.
Powder: Being able to see the industry from a different perspective than the riders, what are some problems or challenges that face snowboarding?
Chris: The Olympics is a bit of an issue. On one hand riders really see an opportunity to compete for their country and make a bigger name for themselves. If you really look at it though, it is just a way for another big organization that has very little to do with snowboarding, make a bunch of money from our sport. Guaranteed some Swiss skier has been making more than Shaun White off of the Winter Olympic Halfpipe event. It would be nice if we could get organized on our own to grow the sport rather than follow what others have been doing. It’s kind of how snowboarding got started. The do it yourself attitude may be disappearing a bit.
Powder: Along those same lines, what are your thoughts on Supernatural and Real Snow?
Chris: I think they are great, to have a leader like Travis putting Supernatural together is a good thing. I mean sure it’s a contest but they are really trying to capture the atmosphere of snowboarding, which I think is awesome. Both of them are good for the sport.
Powder: I always ask pro riders this question but, how do you feel about triple-corks and the possibility of quad-flips? More specifically, what is too much, and will these tricks plateau while the style aspect plays catch-up?
Chris: I think these tricks are fine. Just like anything else, some riders do them better than others. I don’t think that triples translate very well in todays contest scene, but they are necessary to win. I would just rather see these tricks being done on jumps that are big enough to do them some justice. I’d still rather see a method or FS 3.
Powder: Where do you see the snowboard industry going? Trick wise and publicity wise?
Chris: I hope it comes back to being more about style. You can teach tricks, but you can’t teach style.
Powder: What are your thoughts on Shaun White’s leap from snowboarding to being in movies and on packs of gum?
Chris: Whatever works for him.