Rip Curl’s Jessy Brown talks backcountry, being a vegan snowboarder, and chasing the dream, in this athlete interview.
Fill us in with the basics.
My name is Jessy Brown, J-E-S-S-Y, brown like the colour. I’m 25 years old, born and raised on Bowen Island, B.C., and my home mountain is Whistler.
When did you first start snowboarding and what led you to the sport?
I started snowboarding when I was around 6 or 7, because we lived up on a mountain that got a lot of snow in B.C., so it came naturally. As I grew up, I fell out of it a little bit and started focusing my energy on skateboarding instead. At around age 13, I was working at my local ski hill as a liftie and that’s when my love for the culture and environment of snowboarding really started to grow. From then on, I knew that I wanted to find my niche in the industry and started working really hard to achieve that.
Is that what’s kept you hooked from then on?
I really stayed hooked on snowboarding because of how closely the lifestyle aligns with my passion and dedication. I love to snowboard, skateboard, and surf, and the number of people around the world who participate in those things is such a small, tight-knit, beautiful community. Being a part of that community is my driving fuel.
How did you become involved with Rip Curl and what has that experience been like?
I got involved with Rip Curl by being a local rider from B.C., riding backcountry, and meeting similar athletes from the area. I got tossed down by a couple of different companies for not being a rail rider and not being part of the park and slopestyle scene. But I just stayed true to what I believe in which is “the search” aspect of snowboarding. That’s exactly what Rip Curl believes in and what they’re doing, so it was a really great fit for me.
What would you say is your preferred terrain?
Preferred terrain is backcountry and freeride.
What’s the most incredible place you’ve ever ridden?
Ohhh, good question. I could say the French Alps were fucking awesome, and also New Zealand was a really sweet spot. But my favourite will always be home in B.C. for sure.
Who would you consider your biggest snowboarding inspiration?
I would say Müller has always been up there, definitely for style points. A big inspiration in the girls industry is Jess Kimura, big time. And one of my favourite riders to ride with is Marie-France Roy.
Do you listen to music when you ride?
Before I ride I like to get amped on music but when I ride, because it’s in the backcountry, it’s not really safe to be riding while listening to music. So usually I just use it to get up and pump up, then when I’m riding I just listen to the snow.
You’re vegan, right? Do you think that benefits your riding in terms of energy, or do you find it a struggle to incorporate?
It’s definitely a benefit. I feel like I’m kind of like a six-year-old; the energy is always there. It took a while to get into it, making sure you get all your nutrition needs and stuff like that, but now that I’m almost two years into it I feel really great and powerful about it. It kind of sets a little mark for others to be aware of what they’re eating, and what they’re putting into their bodies. Environmental reasons are the main reasons I got into it, along with the health benefits.
So what’s your go-to meal after a day of riding?
I am a fan of roasted cauliflower with anything. I love to make big salads and I make my own fake cheese-based things, I also love sauces. Becoming a vegan has really gotten me into cooking, I’ve been branching out and making my own favourite meals in ways that vegans can eat them.
You mentioned how you skate and surf, is that what you do to keep busy during the warmer months?
Yeah, across all seasons I try to keep myself busy with the things that I love. I started skateboarding even before I was snowboarding, that was kind of the birth of my creativity. As far as surfing goes, I’ve been getting into for the past four or five years and now I travel with it a little bit on the off season. That’s definitely how I like to stay busy when I’m not on my board.
What are your personal goals within the sport looking forward?
My personal goal is just to inspire others to chase their dreams and know that you can actually grab onto them. Once you have them, it’s important not to use it for an ego boost, but to inspire others to do something that they really want in the world too. If anything, that’s kind of the message I’m putting out there. You’re worth it as much as I am; there’s no difference between me and you. If you want to do it, then go do it; just chase it. I’m just evidence that it’s possible.
Any last words?
It’s big for me that people see their impact on what’s going on in the world around them. We’re kind of at a point in time in 2017 where we’ve all got our own marks and our own little corners and pockets of the world but I think it’s really important to recognize what others are doing as well. I’m using a sport to show my passion and energy and who I am within my industry. It would be beautiful if everyone was acknowledged in their own way.
Photos by Guy Fattal.