“It was a Lamar—it was the sickest board ever,” said no one, ever. Unless, perhaps, you’re Brady Larson and you’re speaking of the beginning of a decade-long love affair with snowboarding.
Larson’s love story begins the same as many of ours—a 9-year-old on Christmas morning, a budget snowboard from Sports Authority and beginner lessons at Brighton. And, like many of us, his love started to grow as he became a weekend warrior through middle school and high school. These days, at 19 years old, Larson has come a long way from that first Lamar board. He has dedicated himself to snowboarding, and people are starting to notice. He’s picked up sponsorships from Technine, Neff and Electric, as well as landing spots on all of their respective Am teams. Larson may be on the come-up in the world of professional snowboarders, but he still maintains that 9-year-old’s excitement on Christmas morning.
Larson never had serious aspirations of becoming a pro until things started falling into place for him. In 2009, his sophomore year of high school, he met Jeremy Seegmiller and Dylan Thompson and started riding with them. “Dylan and Jeremy kind of showed me the ropes,” he says of tagging along with them on urban rail missions. Thompson taught him all about setting up a spot, using a bungee and dealing with cops. Shortly after, Thompson and Seegmiller introduced him to Cole Taylor, a filmmaker for Technine. He started receiving flow from Technine and, eventually, was officially placed on their Am team. From there, Taylor talked to Cyle Cadem of Electric, and showed him some of Larson’s footage. Cadem was impressed and put Larson on their Am team. Before he had even graduated high school, Larson was already stacking sponsorships.
In 2010, Larson was riding in the Neff Beach Bash at Brighton’s end-of-the-season party, Natturday, when he was spotted by Neff’s owner, Shaun Neff. Larson happened to be riding Thompson’s board (who was already on the Neff team) that was stickered up in Neff decals. Shaun noticed the board and Larson’s talent and asked if he was riding for Neff. When he found out Larson wasn’t, Shaun asked him to send him a few edits and soon, Larson was on the Neff Am team. Between a little bit of luck, being in the right place at the right time and knowing a few of the right people, Larson has started to make a name for himself.
While getting sponsored sounds like a dream come true for almost any snowboarder, it’s not all heli rides and champagne showers—unless you’re Shaun White. “It’s a job,” Larson says. “I feel like people think being pro is raking in the money and riding resorts and partying.” Although it’s a much more fun job than you or I have, it’s a job nonetheless. Being an up-and-comer is even harder––you have to constantly be on your game, filming and putting together edits, or you’ll lose your spot to someone younger and hungrier than you. “Cole tells me all the time there’s a million kids out there trying to get into the situation I’m in,” Larson says. “He just lets me know that I need to step it up.” Larson realizes that what he has now won’t always be if he doesn’t work hard to keep his spots on these teams. “Every kid is really good these days,” he says, and all of those kids want his job.
Staying motivated is a big part of the game. Larson tries to stay on top of the competition by finding new spots no one has hit yet and being creative. Instead of going bigger and crazier, he focuses on dialing in more complicated tech tricks with style. “I’m not trying to die every time I pull the bungee back,” he says. There may not be any triple corks or Brisse-esque death gaps in his near future, but you can expect him to keep progressing and pursuing snowboarding as long as it’s still a good time. “When it stops being fun, that’s when I’ll stop,” he says.
“That’s what I kind of don’t like about the thought of going pro—it would be just [work] all the time, not being able to go up to the resort and have fun.” For now, though, it’s still enjoyable and exciting.
Being in between the Am teams and the pro teams pretty much means you have to bust your ass all the time, which is exactly what Larson does. Since none of his sponsors are cutting him checks yet (and most landlords don’t accept shred gear as rent money), you can usually catch him scanning tickets up at Snowbird full-time. Like many a pro before him, he’s working at a resort for his pass and shredding for his sponsors for gear. When Larson isn’t up at the ‘Bird checking passes, he’s usually cruising around the city, looking for new urban spots, flexing that creative muscle, finding things no one has hit yet. Lately, Larson has been out and about filming with the Lick the Cat crew and making edits to send to his sponsors. Hopefully, he’ll have enough footage to score a part in the Lick the Cat video at the end of the season. With any luck, all of this hard work he’s put in will pay off, so he’ll be able to flip the ‘Bird and fully claim pro-status.
Larson is wholeheartedly devoted to making it in the snowboarding industry, but he’s also a realist. He acknowledges that things don’t always go as planned, and life, unfortunately, is not a fairy tale. “It’s a shot-in-the-dark type of thing,” he says. If things don’t go as planned, he has other dreams as well, including possibly opening his own board shop. “I’m definitely going to go to school and get a degree if this doesn’t work out,” he says. That’s refreshing to hear when you live in Salt Lake and every kid who’s half decent at snowboarding thinks he’s going pro.
Just because he’s a realist doesn’t mean he’s not an optimist, too. Plus, he’s got a lot of people encouraging him to reach his goals. “Cole has become a mentor over the past few years,” he says. “He’s really been the one pushing behind me.” His friends motivate him as well. “Ben [Bilodeau] just has so much fun snowboarding––it’s really inspirational. I watch him and it just makes me want to go ride,” says Larson.
Snowboarding is one of the most cutthroat industries there is, and making a name for yourself in this world is no easy task, but Larson seems to be doing a pretty good job. Between Technine, Neff and Electric, he has a solid foot in the proverbial door of the industry, but he realizes how quickly that could change. The thought of that door slamming in his face keeps him on his A game. Expect a lot from this kid in the future—he’s likely to be one of the next big names in snowboarding.