Outsiders: Les Anthony

Mattias Fredriksson

Les Anthony hard at "work" as a ski journalist.

[Editor's note: Freeskiing has always been a sport defined by its counterculture, limitless, free-of-rules nature. This interview series aims to celebrate that by featuring individuals in the freeskiing industry who are paving their own way, doing things with their own style. They are the Outsiders. Stay tuned next Friday for the third installment.]

Dr. Leslie Anthony is the most eccentric journalist in skiing. At 55, Anthony has published two books, "Snakebit: Confessions of a Herpetologist" and "White Planet: A Mad Dash through Modern Global Ski Culture." He's also earned a Ph.D in herpetology, founded the Canadian ski magazine SBC Skier and served a handful of editorial roles at Powder magazine. He's also one of the more vocal political activists on social media, berating Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's every move. The one thing he's not good at is slowing down.

I got into ski journalism kind of by accident. I've always been a writer, since I was a little kid. Then I became a skier, a little hot dogger, and once I started traveling to ski I started thinking more about what I was doing.

A friend of mine, who was a cartoonist, was working for a magazine group in Toronto that got a contract to do a ski magazine. They were golfers. They asked him, 'Do you know anyone that knows anything about skiing?' They called me into the office and essentially handed me the entire magazine on the spot. I had never edited a magazine. The next thing I knew I had this magazine, Ski Guide, full of my ski stories that I could send around and I was a ski writer.

I'm guilty by association with real snake people. My field is broad and encompasses reptiles and amphibians. I personally studied salamanders and the molecular genetics of them. I wrote a book called "Snakebit: Confessions of a Herpetologist" that's about snake people because I find them so fascinating. Almost as fascinating as skiers.

Our whole philosophy was skiing is fun and whatever you publish had to reflect that, the pure joy of the sport.
Les Anthony

I was a nature-mad kid. My parents tossed me out the door every morning. I took biology because it seemed like the path of least resistance.

I figured out graduate school was an awesome way to postpone getting a job. And it gave me a bunch of time to ski.

I did a post-doctoral teaching position at McGill University in Montreal. My first job after that was managing editor at Powder magazine. It was my first job that didn't pertain to a fellowship or scholarship.

Around 2000, when freeskiing was blowing up, it had been building into a storm for years. The first mention of the word "freeskiing" in Ski Canada magazine happened in 2001. This was the only ski magazine in Canada and they didn't even know about Mike Douglas and the New Canadian Air Force, Hugo Harrisson and all these guys out West. It was an epic fail, beyond words. The French editor of Ski Canada sat me down and said there's this publishing company that does snowboard, skate, windsurf, wake ... they want to get in and start this freeski magazine. At that point I guess I had some status and he said, "No one would ever start a ski magazine in Canada without you involved, so I want you to buy in."

SBC Skier was pretty quickly consumed by the disaffected youth of the country and then those guys somehow started distributing it in the States, too. It became a bit of a competition with Powder, Freeskier, Axis, Freeze and all the others.

Jake Bogoch and I ended up having an amazing collaboration at SBC Skier. It was a five-year party gag. We were able to do and say whatever the hell we wanted about anybody or anything in skiing.

Our whole philosophy was skiing is fun and whatever you publish about or posted about it had to reflect that, the pure joy of the sport.

Everyone chooses what they want to use Facebook for and I'm not one of those guys that is like, "Hey, look what I did today!" I started following a bunch of political stuff and I found out I'd learn way more through links than my usual perusing of the news world. I felt like putting some energy into educating people was a good form of political activism.

Mike Douglas is convinced that I'm under government surveillance. Every time Douglas gets in my car, he shuts the door and goes, "Hello, Stephen," referring to Stephen Harper, the prime minister [of Canada]. He's pretty sure we're wired.

I'm 55. I'm an old dude. I'm as old as dirt.

I had no career path. I had no designs to do this for money.

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