|Q&A with Peter Line|
Interview by ESPN's Phil Orlins and Chris Gunnarson
Note: Peter Line is a rider's rider. Pro snowboarders look to him to see what's coming down the pipes. He has re-written the style dictionary. The tricks he hasn't invented, he's improved. The 2000 Winter X Slopestyle bronze medalist and the 1999 Winter X Slopestyle champ also owns X Games Big Air medals from San Francisco and San Diego. Line is a key player in the development of Four Square clothing and Forum snowboards -a responsibility he takes very seriously. But Line gets to combine work with play. He has starred in some of the sickest snowboarding vids to date, and continues to push fellow riders to new levels of progression -- Bryan Thomas, Winter X Games lead researcher.
Has your attitude changed about competition?
I definitely want to look good out there for the kids watching me, that turn on their TVs to watch ESPN and see snowboarding that was filmed just the day before, so kids want to see what everyone's doing. So I don't want to bum them out by doing super bad. But I don't want to be all bragging out there like, "I'm the best there is." So I gotta downplay myself and say that I'm gonna fall.
Do you prefer the film days to the competition days?
Yeah, I get too nervous at contests, so filming is a little bit easier on me. A little easier on my gut the day before. The day before I usually can't eat because I'm too nervous. It's getting better though. Filming days are much better. It's just you and your friends out there. Filming big jumps, soft landings. No pressure.
Do people realize how difficult it is to get those clean rips?
People mostly do. There's definitely a following in professional snowboarding, so they really respect that. They always come up to me and question, "Are pros really that good?" And I answer truthfully, sometimes pros aren't that good. It's a lot of hype. Then there are other pros that are actually out there working hard and are really that good. Some really good snow boarders.
How tough is it to excel in both contests and films?
Well, nowadays, the contests are really quite similar to the filming. There's the big jump, and it's kind of what you do all the time. All [it takes] is do a big jump and do a hard trick. It's what you do for fun and what you do for the contest. Back in the days, it used to be pretty much halfpipe contests, it wasn't really a big jump contest. And I never did good back in those days. It took me a while anyway even in the big jump contest to be able to get my nerves together and actually perform a trick that I can do out in the back country.
Is it more physically demanding than what people might think?
You gotta have a lot of push on yourself to be able to do that trick. It's more than just landing it for the camera. It's like you gotta do it for yourself because you don't want to just go jump a jump all day and not even get the trick you wanted to land the whole day. It's like walking away and getting defeated. So, you gotta go up there and stick your stuff. Otherwise you're going to live your life the rest of the way like that. If you just keep on being a quitter, you're not going to get anything succeeded.
Where does your motivation come from to keep pushing yourself?
There is so much different motivation from every aspects from it. There's the aspect that you want to please the kids with their video part from year to year, so they don't think you're slacking or sucking and stuff. There's a motivation of improving the sport as much as you can. There's a motivation because it is so fun. Just riding out there and doing the tricks is what makes it fun. Like for a while, doing the same tricks off the jumps gets really boring, you get burned down that way. So I try some new tricks in order to keep it fun, that's motivation right there. To help out all of my sponsors who have helped me out over the years is the motivation to do well in contests. So there are a whole bunch of aspects to it. It's a fun sport, so I mean, I'm having fun doing it, but there are hard parts of it as well. But, there are hard parts about everything.
What was it like being in your first movie shoot?
My first ever video shoot. I think I was like 17 or something. Seventeen, Mount Hood, summer camp. I think I saved up all summer and winter to go to summer camp at Mount Hood to be in one of the camps down there. Just riding and my friend Kurt from Mack Dawg saw me down there and started filming me a little bit and I thought, "Yeah, I'm going to be in Mack Dawg's next movie!" because he says he's filming for Mack Dawg. I wait all year long till September for the video to come out and watch it and I'm like, "I'm not even in it." So my shots didn't even make it the first time I got filmed. But he did his own little tiny movie called, "Staying Alive," that never got really big production. But I got a small section in that, so it was kind of like my first video ever. And then the winter after that, he kept on filming me all winter long and I finally made the real Mack Dawg video. I'm not sure of the year.
You were motivated to make your first movie, does that carry over today?
Well it's fully like, I grew up snowboarding, watching all the videos, so that's kind of like my whole idea of what professional snowboarding is. You become a professional athlete in the sport so once you start filming, you can kind of like make that break. I was super amped. I remember watching all those videos and seeing guys ride and they're all super rad, and the next year their part is not really that good anymore. So I'm getting all bummed on them, so I want to try my hardest so kids don't think that about me."
What is the trust between you and Kurt like?
The relationship between the filmer and the rider is just like, I mean, I've filmed with other filmers and none of them really understand the way each rider rides. The filmers know exactly what kind of jumps every rider likes. They are out there super motivated to go build the jumps because they know the riders are pretty lazy themselves. So they're not going to want to go out there and build it themselves. In order to be a filmer, you gotta go out there and build a good jump for us too. I've just known Kurt for so long now that he just knows every kind of jump that I like. He's got Toy to work with him to know where to set up. It's all one project. You're all working together to get the best shot for yourself and for him filming the video.
Who are your influences growing up snowboarding?
When I first started snowboarding, my biggest influences were Craig Kelly, Mike Ranquit, a local guy, who is still a pretty big name, they're both from Washington, and Craig Kelly was the big top guy at the time. Further on, I got really stoked on Chris Roach's stuff. He started to change snowboarding. And that's why I started to admire towards him. Just going after that way of riding. Terry has always been an influence on me. Johan Olaffson has been an influence. When they ride, they have so much talent. You can just see it when they ride. And that's something, despite what some people might say about me, I don't think I have that talent. I mean, I might just work a little harder or something like that, but those guys are just born with it.
Is there an instance where you got to ride with someone like that?
"My other biggest influence was with Jaime Lynn. I remember my first trip to Europe, it was with Jaime Lynn and Mack Dawg. It was a pretty crazy trip for me it was the first time I went over to a big International contest. To see all the Europeans ride, and to go there with Jaime, one of my huge idols, just super fun. How could it not be. They are all cool guys."
Do you treat the people you work with like your idols treated you?
Yeah, pretty much all the snow boarders are, no matter where they are from, whether it's the middle of Switzerland, from some crazy speaking city to Norway or to South America, we're all pretty much the same type of person. We might speak a different language, but when they speak English, they speak the same slang. Dude, what's up? They do the same thing, watch the same videos, read the magazines, everybody is the same kind of people. Those guys are no exceptions.
How does all the high praise make you feel?
I'm stoked, I'm superstoked that people say that about me, because I feel that the way I ride is the way snowboarding should be. I kind of skate in- fluence kind of the way it became hardcore in the beginning. The way it kind of was exiled from skiing. The way of skiing we just excepted it, we thrived on being exiled. That's kind of where snowboarding got the heart and that's how I want to keep the style of snowboarding. So I'm stoked that people respect me on that level. Cause more kids in the future are go- ing to keep snowboarding going in the same direction, rather than some big ski type of stuff, wearing flourescent again, doing no grab flips stuff off of weird jumps like in the Olympics or something.
Is it praise that skiers are now doing same jumps as snowboarders?
I'm pretty stoked that all those skiers are doing all of the big jump tricks fakie and stuff. That's pretty cool. As long as they know that without snowboarding it really wouldn't have happened until farther down the road. But definitely, I think they should know that snowboarding gave them that. I think most of them do know that, because I've had a few of those guys come up to me in a bar and say, 'I watched your videos, I'm stoked on it.' Those guys are all cool. I'm pretty stoked on that kind of stuff.
What do you hope to do in the future with snowboarding?
Just kind of keep it going the same level, I mean, you can't really say it right now, I'm might go learn something tomorrow that would change the way I think about the future. So I can't really say. Just kind of keep the same influence I think.
What would you like to see from the sport of snowboarding in the future?
The way I want snowboarding to be seen. Right now there is no way of keeping it out of the mainstream. I'm not really trying to keep it out of the mainstream, I just want people to not have it change the way it hits the mainstream. I want them to know what snowboarding is, the mentality of all the riders out there, like most of them are just ski bums, working every night just to get that lift ticket so they can ride the next day. That's there life. That's there full lifestyle, so I want people to see that. Rather than they portray snowboarding as something that they see as some extreme sport where guys talk funny and wear funny clothes. Just cause that's not what they're used to. I want people to know what snowboarding is. It's more than just a sport, I guess.
Is it frustrating to see snow boarders portrayed differently?
If they're going to put snowboarding into a commercial, or something like that, obviously they are gearing towards the snowboarder crowd or the young crowd, everybody sees right through that stuff, If they're going to do it, have people involved in snowboarding, running it so they don't do it wrong. Otherwise, it's going to make their company look stupid in the first place.
Did you ever imagine that snowboarding would become what it has to you?
No, at no point did I think that I would be sitting here in front of ESPN talking about snowboarding. Maybe at a time, I thought skateboarding might take me there, but that quickly dwindled when no compliance came into the scene and I couldn't do that trick. So I slacked from there and snowboarding came on and I liked that sport, and ah, I just kept on having fun. I didn't really think about the future of snowboarding for me. It just never entered my mind till later on when I started getting the photos taken, getting filmed and stuff. Hmm, I'll just see where this goes.
Did you ever think about how the sport took off?
I think why snowboarding has taken off the way it is is that people are thinking a little bit more for themselves, everyone wants to be a little more individual and snowboarding is a little more individual from those mainstream sports, it has a harder core crowd. So people kind of like that image. They want to rebel a little bit. They feel they've been confined by parents or something. It's just like a sport that is a little bit different. And still has kind of respect.
Why and how did Forum and Four Square get started?
We started Four Square first, with Four Star Distribution, which was doing special blend at the time (another clothing company). Raul the owner came to me because I was having troubles with my previous sponsor. And he saw a future for me in the sport and his company. So he took me and this other big name rider at the time, Ingomar Bachman, and wanted to start a new company, like a different company from what he was already doing. It just kind of took off, I think it was in 1996. Anything with my name on it, I want to be completely perfect. I don't want somebody just designing it so-so and putting it in the market. And having kids go, "Peter's clothes suck." I designed the first pieces out that year. More and more I've been designing more and more pieces till now, I pretty much design the whole line. Forum came a year, a year and a half later. Same sort of deal. Just wanted to start another company. We're kind of in charge, rather than have somebody else telling us what to do or making money for somebody else. We gathered some riders together that we thought would be super influential. We had Mack Dawg come on as co-owner in the company as well. To have his video marketing side of the whole company, to help promote these younger riders coming up like Bjorn, J.P, etc. All these up and coming kids and promote them rather than picking up the big name guys, who might cost a bunch. We'll just develop these guys to make them the big time as well build up the company. And treat them the way they should be treated. This is a full snowboard company and we all have influences. If we get another product on the line, it has to run past all the riders and they have to say yes to all the graphics, say yes to other team riders coming on. Most of the stuff is made by the riders and the whole group combined. It's not just some head guys.
Do you find yourself acting as team leader when guys are acting childish?
Motivation for the rest of the riders, I don't think is a very big issue. I think that everybody feels that Forum is their company as much as it is mine. We really don't have to say much about getting these guys up to go riding. They know what will happen if their not going to ride, their not going to promote the company the way we brought them on to be.
Is it your hand picked group?
It was me and Mack Dawg's hand picked group. We both have insight into who the future riders will be. Just kind of bring them on, filming and riding. If they're not really cutting it, we let them know that we want the top riders on our team. But we haven't really had to do that yet. Everyone we seemed to pick have been number one guys. I'm stoked on them all. They're all riding super good.
Anything to your team-like approach in an individualistic sport?
It kind of goes along with the way snowboarding started. It started with skateboarding. Skateboarding has always been skater influenced companies whose got the best skateboarder on their team. Like Hawk, McGillis, etc. Then it came back with eighth street way, with all those other guys on that sick team. It just kind of proved successful in those markets and snowboarding started in the whole skateboarding market the same way. I just want to bring that over as much as possible. It just shows also how much the company is a snowboard company. It's the riders, based the market around, as well as riders making decisions on how the company is run.
Where did the names for the companies come?
"Four square, pretty much came out with the logo first, because we couldn't think of a name. Just four squares. People just started calling it four square or outer wear design by Peter Line. But Four Square came to stick a lot better. It wasn't registered so we took it. Forum, the first name we wanted was Meridian, but it was owned by a toy company, so we figured there might be big law suits in the future, so Forum was just like a choice. It was kind of like a forum thing with all of us joined together
How are the two companies doing at this point?
We're not going to try and whore out to all the stores forcing people to buy our stuff. It's got a pretty big pull out there with the kids, so shops will order what they need. But we're not going to sell to any ski shops. So we want to keep it in the hard core market as well.
How does stardom make you feel?
The fame is definitely a little weird to me. I would hate to be a movie star I think. To me, it mostly comes with the snowboard crowd. So if I go into a snowboard shop, I get recognized or if I go up on the hill, I'll get recognized. It's kind of a little weird to me. But like a movie star going around everywhere, I couldn't take that. It's not something I'm super into, but its all right I guess. It's just the whole part that when kids see you on the mountain they expect to see you riding super good. Or if I see a kid walking down the street and he notices me cause of every magazine, he acts like he knows me, but I don't know him, it's kind of weird, cause I don't know what to say to him. I guess that's the way it is. I'm cool with it.
Does it feel like a responsibility to you?
I definitely am not cruel to any kids out there or anything. I say hi, to them or give them my autograph if they ask for it. I try to be pretty cool. I don't think there are many kids out there that get to bummed on me when they ask for my autograph. I don't think I've ever been mean. I try not to be mean. I definitely try to be cool to kids because I know how when I was a kid, I'd see some pros out there and I would never have enough nerve to go up to them, but if I did, and they were cool, I would be pretty stoked on them. Or if they were mean, I would be pretty bummed on them.
What goes through your mind when you look out and see the crowd?
For contests, the big crowds are a lot easier than the smaller crowds, because they just become a big blur. It just becomes so unrealistic that you just get set back into some subconscious state that you just jump off the jump and its so subconscious in doing your trick that it just kind of happens. You're like, "whatever." If it's like a smaller thing, where you can kind of see your friends, it's a lot more nerve wracking. because you are more personal with them. It just seems that way.
Does it amaze you to see that many people there to see a snowboard jump?
Oh yeah, I think the most amazing contests in that regards is the air and style, in Austria where it's night time and 40,000 poeople are there watching and cheering, just there for snowboarding, and a couple of bands. And you are the only one jumping and 40,000 actually 80,000 eyes are watching you. That's where it gets amazing. It's like a full Super Bowl contest. That's where is it crazy I guess.
A good story about foreigners:
I guess the best story's come from Japan and mob scenes. This past winter, me and BJ were in Japan for some little demo thing up there. And everytime we would ride down from the chairlift, we would just see mobs and swarms of people running towards us with their pens and their camera out there , and we're like "all my god," We get half way down the hill, so we take this mad dash to the back room or wherever they let us stay. And just like , ahh, go away. Those are the times like where we kind of have to be a little bit rude to the people. But they are mobbing us. Please, there are times that we gotta get ready and run. Kind of like rock star stuff. It's not that way in the US. People over here see that a little bit easier.
What are the best and worst things about snowboarding today?
The best thing is what it has always been, riding a good powder day when it is sunny. The worst thing, seeing commercials where guys are riding a flourescent board with hard boots on, jumping on a trampoline and they through snow in the air and he's got his wave do back and his Oakley blades on of something like that. I think that is pretty bad, because it makes us look like super kooks.
You're more concerned with the image of the sport than your company?
I think that's my obligation as being a top professional in the sport is to not make it look stupid. It has given me a lot and I don't want to ruin it by just trying to make some money off it. I'll deny some sponsors that I don't think are representing the sport in their correct way they should be.
Is there any room on your team for me to be a snowboarder?
Oh yeah, Forum ninth right there. You can be the body guard.
What does it take to provoke you?
I'm a mellow guy, but it doesn't take very much. I think it's when people bring stupid. Stupid people. If someone pokes me in the gut or something a whole bunch of times when I say stop it that might provoke me. Some dog yapping might provoke me. I kick it.
Maybe that's one of my downfalls, I'm too nice sometimes.
Sometimes people misinterpret you:
I think I get provoked a lot if, like my second year at the X Games, people try to run things when obviously when people didn't really know too much about what was going on. That is really provoking. So that kind of set me off a bit, and got me into some trouble.
You being pissed off led you to deal with it instead of running from it.
Exactly. I'm not going to be just some guy that causes trouble but has no reason for causing it. I'm going to state why everything is going wrong and why I did get mad. I do want to fix things, because I'm not going to stop it. I gotta help out on that end too.
The media coverage is going to continue one way or the other I suppose.
Yep, there's no stopping it. It's like a big wave.
Is it ever hard to be Peter Line superstar?
For that question, I don't think I'm a super star. It's not fun to be Peter Line superstar. I'm just some normal boring guy some times. I might be good on a snowboard, but I still go home to dirty dishes and taxes and bills I gotta do and that's not fun. But I guess I have a much funner life all the other times, traveling around, not having to have a permanent schedule for work, where I have to get up at six o'clock and go pave the streets or go clean dishes or something. People think that's fun so I guess that's pretty fun.
|Line took third in Snowboarding Slopestyle Thursday at Mount Snow.|