She's a Leanimal
Leanne Pelosi is impossibly sweet and charismatic to the core. Though there is an ease to her demeanor, she answers questions thoughtfully, pausing at the right moment to let her words resonate. She's no rookie in this game, but she's far from being put out to pasture. Pelosi embodies what women's snowboarding looks like in its finest hour: She's talented, as progressive as she is stylish, and while she can be vocal about the direction of women's snowboarding, she lets her actions lead the way -- killing it on her snowboard, no matter what terrain she's riding.
After another winter filming with the Standard Films crew (for "TB20"), Pelosi is making a strong case to go down as one of the great female snowboarders of her generation. Refusing to be pigeonholed into any one style of snowboarding, she rides everything -- from closeout rails to giant backcountry leaps of faith.
As a founder of the all-women's snowboard movie company Runway Films and MGT, an all-female snowboard camp, Pelosi has been a voice for women's snowboarding for nearly a decade. With all of her accomplishments, she could throw in the towel now and still claim legend status, but the powerhouse from Canada isn't finished with snowboarding just yet.
ESPN.com: Your "TB20" video part is really impressive. You seem to be one of the leaders of the pack, when it comes to women who ride everything -- park, rails and backcountry. Is that something that's important to you?
Leanne Pelosi: I came from a park background and that led to me hitting rails early on in my career. I have kind of kept that going throughout the years, but I'm stoked to have a little bit of everything in my part.
Was it all filmed in Whistler? That's where you're from, isn't it?
I live in Vancouver. I went to Tahoe to film for a few days, and I went to Calgary for a rail trip, but most of [the footage] was from Whistler.
Will rails be something that you continue to focus on as you transition into the backcountry?
I don't know. I have a love/hate relationship with rails. I spent a few seasons not hitting them at all and then last year went on a few rail trips. My attention has definitely shifted into the backcountry though because that's where I see the most challenges for myself.
I hope that girls realize that they can create their own career. They don't need to be handed things on a silver platter. They can go film with their friends and follow their dreams.”
Is that the influence filming for Standard has had on you, or is it a product of your own decision?
I think filming with Standard has definitely given me the opportunity to get out into the backcountry, because that's really what they are all about, but I also think living in Whistler has a lot to do with it, too. Whistler's the mecca for backcountry riding.
You competed for six years in Winter X Slopestyle. Now that slope is in the Olympics, do you want to get back into competition so you can try to go?
I'm really happy for the slopestyle riders that are excited about the opportunity, and I have thought about it because it would be so much fun to go and represent my country. I would have to do a complete U-turn though because I left the contest scene a few years ago to focus on backcountry. My love and passion is riding powder in Whistler, so for me trying to go to the Olympics wouldn't really be worth it.
Do you think it's important for there to be women's segments in men's videos, or do you think with this new breed of female snowboarder, women's videos can start to survive on their own?
I co-produced Runway Films, so I think that all-female productions are great for women's snowboarding and the female audience. And it's important for the snowboard industry to support that. I also think it's important for film productions like Standard and Absinthe to support females as well because those movies have a much wider reach. I would like to see more girls being included with the big projects, but I think they both have their place. The Peep Show girls are awesome and it's great they went out and did their own thing.
How do you feel about Gretchen Bleiler being photographed in the nude for the ESPN Magazine Body Issue?
You know I think that issue was a lot different than a magazine like FHM, and I have a lot of respect for all of the athletes that were in that issue. I think ESPN portrayed them in a good light, and Gretchen looks so ripped it's amazing! I went online and looked at a bunch of photos and saw guys like Kelly Slater and other male athletes and no one cared; I think the girls get a lot more flak for things like that.
Femininity is beautiful, but women's snowboarding sometimes feels like it's based on looks as opposed to skills. Can we market beauty along with skill and have it still be legit?
I think a mix of both is fine, as long as a company is endorsing an athlete that has the talent to back it up. Torah [Bright] and Gretchen are super good-looking, and they use that to their advantage, but they have the riding skills to back it up. It gets frustrating for us female snowboarders to see companies sponsoring really hot girls that don't have the talent to be a sponsored athlete. I don't think snowboarding generally promotes females as sex objects, though. You rarely see ads of girls really dolled up and looking provocative. I think snowboarding has a good take on the promotion of women's snowboarding.
When you're finished riding professionally, what do you want your legacy to be?
I hope I encouraged more girls to get out and snowboard. I'm self-motivated and I hope girls can see that and apply it to their own snowboarding. I hope that girls realize that they can create their own career. They don't need to be handed things on a silver platter. They can go film with their friends and follow their dreams.