Hunting for Hump Day with Bjorn Leines

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Photo: Oli Gagnon

Meeting someone in person that you’ve grown up watching in videos or reading about in magazines can be a crippling mental experience — especially if it’s someone that you’ve held in high regards. It’s the first opportunity you’ll get to experience them firsthand, minus the ass-fooling effects of a media filter. Sadly, more often than naught, they will disappoint you with character defects that can include but are not limited to: delusions of grandeur, big baby syndrome, feelings of low self worth that require an overabundance of reassurance and praise and so on and so forth. Being fairly familiar with this type of letdown, I have to admit I wasn’t in any huge rush to meet Bjorn only to come to the realization that I had allowed some phony booger’s video parts intrude upon my morning pre-shred stoke routine for the past dozen or so years. But, sometimes you get lucky — and in this case, thankfully it was the home state dude.

How was the big hunting weekend?

It’s been kind of a new thing for me the past ten years – I didn’t really grow up doing it but it went pretty good and I got a couple of deer. I guess what I like about it, besides the actual hunt, is the organic meat and knowing it where it came from. It tastes so damn good all winter long.

Before you pull the trigger do you ever hesitate for a moment and consider the ruin your about to bring onto some poor deer family?

(laughs) Yeah, I have hesitated on shooting some does before but really does anyone else stop and think about where that hamburger or chicken sandwich came from that they just ate or how gross the process is? Hunting is just nature’s bounty so that’s what I like about it.

You’re a pretty clean eater then?

Well no, we’ll still stop at a Play Land for the kids when we’re driving across the country. I try to eat fairly well and stay active. I’m not some sort of crazy vegetarian vegan or anything like that.

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Man shit. Photo: Oli Gagnon

I reading through some snow mags and came across a fairly recent interview with Peter Line. He said that you were the first person he picked to be a part of the Forum 8 squad. He also said you were kind of a cocky kid back then – any truth to that?

Well I was stoked (he called me.) I had never met him, but I obviously knew who he was. So when Forum first started I was super-driven and almost overconfident, and that was mistaken for cockiness, I guess. Eventually, I came to realize how it was being misinterpreted and just kind of watched my step with everything I did and started to just let my riding speak for itself.

You seemingly had it made over there with a pro model and travel budget, so what prompted the move? Did you quit or were you kicked off?

Basically, I was just not happy with the way The Program was being run. When Burton bought them it just changed the whole formula, who we were working for and who was behind what we were doing. I wasn’t stoked on that so I started looking around the industry and saw that Rome was this young brand that had a lot of passion and were really true to snowboarding.  I did a little research about the guys behind it and just saw that those guys love and actually go snowboarding and are the kind of people I felt I could really trust. I didn’t feel like I had a future being just another number at Burton.

How come you don’t have a pro model with Rome?

That’s kind of gone back and forth over the past few years but mostly we felt it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to have a guy on his own gear instead of pushing and riding all the product. And the way that the brand was set up in the past it wasn’t all super pro driven, like we have this huge sick pro team and they’re the shit! It’s more about the SDS (Snowboard Design Syndicate) stuff — that’s really the foundation of the company. It’s getting all the different aspects of riding and input from everyone – the shop kids, the team riders, sales guys, in-house guys – and using that feedback and collectively applying it to making a better product.

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Tuck knee. Photo: Oli Gagnon

What possessed you and your brother Erik to start a glove company?

At an early age it didn’t seem possible to have long careers in snowboarding, judging from how company’s treated their athletes at the time. And it was still such a young sport. So when we started Celtek, the idea was to create an umbrella for our friends and family where we could produce products that we’re proud of and be able to sustain this lifestyle.

When it was first getting started did you feel any heat from the Grenade camp?

Yeah, I think we did feel some heat from Grenade because of the fact that they were one of first rider-owned and operated companies. And there’s also the parallels that Erik and I are brothers, the same as Danny and Matt. So, I don’t think they were too stoked right away. After a while things cooled off and when we see them now we throw out high fives. Really, we wish them nothing but the best — the same for any rider-owned, rider-driven company.

Who does most of the work around there? You guys ever get mad and threaten to fire each other?

Well, no – Erik definitely does the most work in the office. He decided a few years back to take on Celtek full time and head things up as the CEO and handle a lot of responsibilities. I made the choice to continue with my snowboard career and be the frontman for Celtek, making all those duties secondary to snowboarding. But it does make it tough for me when it comes to getting back at night or returning from a trip — you just kind of get on the computer and start punching away.

What do you think of the kids these days with their flannels, handrails and mustaches? A good handful of them are from Minnesota — the good ones anyway.

It’s funny how the trends kind of circle back and it’s rad to see people being a little more true to who they are with the flannels and the whole sort of rocker thing. I’m always stoked to see the Minnesota kids come up because it’s not easy back there. You can really see how motivated and appreciative they are when they get the chance — which they work hard for it you know? There’s a real Midwest work ethic to them.

Does it ever make you jealous seeing Joe Sexton hanging out with JP? Kind of like “hey I knew him first!”

(laughs) No, I’m stoked for Sexton. I’ve known him since he was like 15 or something it’s rad to see him make it to the mainstream.

I thought it was cool that when we were having the “Beers With Bjorn” event seeing him and Jonas (Michilot) being all kind of nervous and stoked out around you.

Yeah, those kids got skills too. I was just shredding with Joe over Christmas at Buck Hill for a couple of days and it was sick, man. I was just telling him to go out and get his fifteen rail tricks or whatever and then go out into the backcountry and start jumping off some cliffs and blow everybody’s mind because they won’t be expecting that. Who knows maybe he’ll pull it off — that would be sweet.

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Kid’s stuff. Photo: Oli Gagnon

How’s it feel shredding with younger dudes — are you stoked or are you at an age where you don’t have room for any more friends or acquaintances in your life?

Not at all – with Rome it was like starting all over again and having a new family. The last three years LNP, Marie France and some other guys have been coming up and making films. Seeing them come up and reach the top, it’s sick. I’m stoked to be there with them because they motivate me with my urban snowboarding and beyond. They help keep me hungry.
Do you call LNP — LNP or has he insisted you call him Laurent-whatever-whatever?

(laughs) We actually call him Larry. He got hurt a little while back, I don’t know if you had heard but he broke his back.
How did that happen?

He was hitting a jump out in Colorado, doing a cab five and basically just kind butt checked but ended up compressing his vertebrae. My brother did that same thing and he was out riding again about eight weeks later, so Larry will be back in no time.

Let’s talk a little bit about your family life – has you wife ever thrown anything at you out of anger? My mom threw a bible at me once.

(laughs) I don’t think so – she’s pretty collected most of the time. Except when the Packers lose.

Now that you’re a dad do you ever second-guess yourself before hitting something big?

You know, it actually adds to the motivation factor of it. If anything it helps me to assess the risk factors and try and minimize them. It’s kind of like I feel this is who I am and this is what I want to do. There is risk in it, but I’m providing for them just by doing it. It’s just the nature of the beast.

Do you believe in spanking or are you one of those parents that’s more apt to let their kids push them around and berate while out in public or at the grocery store?

Oh no, I spank – but only if I have to. We give them some time-outs and stuff too, but sometimes they just need a little corporal punishment. Way back when they used to spank in school, but at least the kids stayed in line.

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Next level snowmobiling. Photo: Oli Gagnon

Who’s helping you keep the lights on these days?

Rome, Volcom, Celtek, Smith eyewear and I-Path footwear. That’s just kind of a bro deal at this point but hopefully it’ll hook up beyond. And Power Balance. They make holographic medallions and bracelets that tune into your body’s frequency. It’s kind of like this new technology. They have a bunch of different athletes like Shaquille ‘O Neal -it’s huge in hockey right now.

If you could go back in time and punch any historical figure in the stomach, whom would you sock?

Well, Hitler for sure. And George Bush — man, I would punch him as hard as I could.

Who lights a fire under your ass — somebody that motivates you to keep going big?

Danny Way has always really inspired and stoked me out with just how much he’s always persevered through pain, how huge he goes and just how talented he is. I think about him a lot when it comes to that.

Is there anything that’s different in your career now than say ten years ago?

No matter how much I would’ve told myself having a family wouldn’t ever slow down my career, I realize now that it has in some aspects. But it’s a choice that I made and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  • Broken Fran Belt

    great interview. Thanks yobeat.

  • Jaosn

    I met Bjorn last year at Silverton, and I have to say he was one of the most laid back, cool guys I have ever met, and I was not really expecting that. He shot the shit with us in the backcountry and told us where some of the goods were. It was great to have that considering he was someone I always looked up to growing up. Glad to see he is still a big part of the business.

  • PK

    Cool guy, glad he’s still around and keeping himself relevant. Power balance medallions though? Seriously?

  • Pam

    Kickass article Jack.

  • Viktor Simco

    Hell of a hump day. Keep ’em comin Boyyyyyd!

  • Tackitt

    Legend!

  • buhrito

    you should see what my medallion says right now!

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