We are all subject to the tidal forces of life. The constant ebb and flow of our vigor for the daily pursuit changes in intensity over the years, but that’s the one thing we can always count on: change. Shayne Pospisil is not exempt. Raised on the waves of New Jersey and the slopes of Vermont, he is proof that longevity in snowboarding doesn’t always come from bending those forces to your will, but rather to respect them; to go with the flow. Now Shayne holds a tenured position on the Bataleon Snowboards team, where the influence he draws from surfing is able to shine stronger than ever.
These days, Shayne feels how life is pulling him back to his home in New Jersey. He has been through the growing pains of the snowboard industry, and thus, he knows what he wants out of it. Shayne is an old soul, something reflected in his skillful execution of a pow turn, just as he would cut a line through a wave. I recently sat down with the Jersey boy to disuss that ebb and flow of life, and how he certainly seems to be in the midst of the latter.
Photography by Cyril Müller for Bataleon
How are things? Everything going well?
Yeah everything is great. Been back East over the summer. Pretty much going back and forth between New Jersey and Vermont. My family lives here in Jersey, just five minutes from the beach. So I’ve been trying spend a lot of time down here surfing and working for my dad doing some construction. Been heading up to Vermont a bunch; my girlfriend has a house in Stowe. So we’re up there in the summer, working on that a little bit, hanging out with the Blauvelt’s. It’s nice to get up there and out of the crazy Jersey scene in the summer, it’s a little hectic here sometimes.
Do you think you’re going to spend most of your time on the East Coast this winter?
A good portion of the time I’m going to spend here. My girlfriend and I just bought a house here in Jersey, right by my parents. The goal is to try to finish the house up at some point this winter, then hope that Stowe gets some snow so I can ride up there, do some hiking and filming.
How old are you?
I am 31.
When did you start snowboarding?
I skied until I was like 10, then I switched over. My family all skied until they were older, then they switched, and as my brothers got older they switched too.
I would be in Hawaii right now getting tubed and traveling with all my little surf buddies.
How old were you when you first got sponsored?
I was pretty young. I competed in surfing before snowboarding, so at 12 or 13 I was doing a ton of surf contests here on the East Coast. I had Billabong, Oakley; Osiris was one of my sponsors too. Around 15 is when I started competing in snowboarding. Once I started doing that, it kinda clicked that I wanted to pursue that more than surfing. I think I always had a thing about surfing huge waves. I would win all of the contests at my home break, but as soon as I went out West I would get my ass whooped by all the Cali and Hawaiian kids. I competed in surfing until I was 16 or 17, then I switched over to snowboarding.
Do you ever think about what would have happened if you went into surfing?
Yeah, I think about it a lot. There are not a ton of pro surfers kicking around New Jersey, so it’s pretty hard to be a pro from there. We get swells that come in for half a day.
So it’s pretty inconsistent?
Yeah, California kids are surfing every day of their lives. I just thought it would be an easier route to snowboard. Even though I love surfing, being in the water, warm weather, I just fell in love with snowboarding. It’s funny now, because sometimes I wish I was a surfer. I would be in Hawaii right now getting tubed and traveling with all my little surf buddies. My body feels better when I surf. Snowboarding these days, if it’s not powder… I’m spoiled. I’ve ridden all over the world, I pretty much want to ride powder now. I don’t think it’s as easy chasing a swell as it is finding powder these days.
What kind of influence has surfing had on your snowboarding?
It has had a pretty crazy influence. We grew up riding halfpipes; icy halfpipes. Just doing McTwists, crazy tricks, and really not surfing the mountain like I do today in powder. It’s completely different. But the board control of surfing, learning how to flow on waves, totally brings a different element to snowboarding. It allows you to bring that flow to the mountains, just like surfing.
Do you think that approach is becoming less common? One could say that the surf or skate influence may not be as prominent anymore, with it being more about flips, spins, and going as big as you can go.
I think it has changed a little bit. I wasn’t going to the gym or gymnastics when I was little. I was just surfing and skating everyday. Nowadays, if you’re trying to make the Olympics and you’re young, you have to be going to crazy camps, learning all of these trampoline tricks, indoor training. It seems like the tricks are at such a high level, it’s way different than when we rode. You could win a contest with a McTwist and back to back sevens.
Will that come back?
Yeah, there are a ton of riders my age that are branching out from the trick scene to focus on carving and blowing down mountains. Cool surfy snowboards, different shapes. That’s way more surf-influenced than when I was younger. All the older guys were just trying to compete in halfpipes. A few were riding powder and filming, but most of the guys I was looking up to—Ross Powers, Danny Kass and all them—were still competing and trying to go for the Olympics. That’s pretty much all I wanted to do when I was little, basically until I moved to Mammoth when I was 18 with Jake Blauvelt. That’s when I realized how sick powder was, and how much my surfing made riding powder so much more fun.
It’s the most insane board I’ve ever ridden at a powder resort.
Since Bataleon has the Triple Base, do you think that helps or complements your style? Or is there a noticeable difference between riding that and a flat board?
I think there is a noticeable difference. When I was younger and riding halfpipe, I was always detuning the shit out of my edges so I wouldn’t catch at a certain point. The moment I stepped on a Bataleon and saw that the Triple Base allowed you to flow off those edges instead of catching, it changed my mentality on how I could ride the mountain. Riding one of their boards called the Magic Carpet, it has a ton of Triple Base—nose and tail—and is completely twin. It’s the most insane board I’ve ever ridden at a powder resort. Not only am I floating and feel like I’m doing reverses on a wave, when I do butters on the snow, it’s so floaty, soft, and poppy. Then once the mountain gets tracked out, you’re still just flowing through bumps and everything.
I rode one at Whistler two years ago. I missed the pow by a day. It was late season and it got really warm, so it was really slushy. But it was so fun cruising around on that thing.
I’ve always ridden stiff snowboards my whole life, because I’m a little heavier than most riders and like to have a super stable board under my feet. Once I rode that thing… It has nice flex, pop, and insane float. It’s kinda the only board I’m going to ride if I go up to Mammoth and just shred powder for the day.
How would you say that your approach to snowboarding has changed over the years? Or maybe more recently, over the past five or six years?
It has totally changed. I’m not trying to hit a huge park jump these days, or try to compete anymore. I’m just focused on finding the best powder I can when I have the opportunity to. Bataleon has been an awesome sponsor that has allowed me to go on some trips, get over to Europe every winter, film with their riders, and get into some insane terrain. Then living in Mammoth the past few years, I’ve focused on trying to get the best powder I can with some good trips to Whistler or Mt. Baker. But I pretty much pick my battles these days and not worry about riding every single day at a resort, or going to a contest to compete with a million kids.
Have your sponsors always backed that?
Do you think that is a trend with sponsors now? When did you start to feel comfortable with saying that it’s what you want to do?
It was around when I peaked in my contest days, around 2009 and 2010. All of these specialty events were popping up, like some quarter pipe contests and random hip things. I would go there and surprise myself with a top three, or even win. Competing all my life, from when I was 15 to 25, like going to Breckenridge every year in December to ride some slopestyle contest that I hated to do. I think all those years of doing contests like that just wore on me. When I won the Arctic Challenge, then that New York contest in 2009 and 2010, I was on a high where it couldn’t really get any better than that for my contest riding. I don’t want to jump on a trampoline and learn how to do triple corks for slopestyle, or ride halfpipe every day. When those quarter pipe contests died and Terje stopped doing the Arctic Challenge, I just focused and full-on switched to powder riding. When Jake Blauvelt came out with his movie [Naturally], I was traveling a lot with him and Eric Jackson. When I was doing the Arctic Challenge and all these contests, Jake was fully transitioned out of contest life and into powder.
He took a risk with that.
Yeah, he was kinda the first one to do it when he was a young kid after the US Open. He just said, “Fuck it. Hopefully my sponsors will be with me, but I’m going to ride powder, enjoy the backcountry, and do what I want.” Once I did well in those few contests, I wanted to do that too. I got the opportunity to film with him. Dakine was a good sponsor to have for those few years, traveled around with them a lot. Pretty much had a lot of good opportunities after those few years of contests, kinda the best years of my life in snowboarding. I really enjoyed it. Nowadays, I’m just lucky I got to live them. Trying to be a pro snowboarder now, it has to be so hard having only slopestyle and halfpipe, and not being a rider like me who can do some specialty events that were fun and not so stressful. It seems like it’s a lot harder these days.
Even though I was hitting quarter pipes and going twenty feet out, risking my life in one trick, I was so confident back then—and loving it—that I didn’t even care. Now, I’m dreading that Terje would give me a phone call to tell me to come to the Arctic Challenge again. Every time I see him he’s like, “I’m going to do another quarter pipe.” Alright… maybe I’ll go.
A lot of people have called you underrated. How do you feel about that?
It has always kinda been that way. Every big contest I’ve won, I got a random invite to. Trying to get my sponsors to send me on heli trips and film for big movies was always a struggle. It’s nice to come out with some good content and have some good results to back it up, but there are so many snowboarders out there who are underrated. Every rider who I grew up with, all my best friends who are great snowboarders. None of them really survived, and it’s sad to see because they were such good riders. Even though I’m underrated, I feel lucky to get as far as I did and have the opportunity to travel to all the places I went, and do well in these contests.
I’m dreading that Terje would give me a phone call to tell me to come to the Arctic Challenge again.
I think that speaks to you, because humility is something that is super important. It can go very quickly from underrated to overrated.
So fast. I never wanted to be that guy. I never wanted someone to say that about me. I wanted to be that guy where people ask, “Who is that?” And then I’ll pop up and kill it in something. Then I’m back to powder or something. It was hard for me to dedicate myself to contests back in the day. The Arctic Challenge was complete luck. Getting some invite to an Aspen contest, like a qualifier for it, and winning that. Then going to the Arctic Challenge and doing very well, going back every year and doing well. The New York contest, I wasn’t even invited. I was an alternate. I was put into that contest at the last minute. It’s funny how things pan out sometimes.
Looking at the Bataleon team, you’re a veteran. You’ve had a lot of experience doing a lot of different things in snowboarding. What do you see as your role on the team?
Just trying to be homies with everyone on the team. I’ve been filming with DBK for the past few years, Ethan Morgan last year, Tor [Lundstrom] a little bit. I definitely try to mentor them a little when I’m in the backcountry, and use my knowledge of filming. I’ve been riding their surfboards a ton, riding one of their models called The One. It’s a main focus for them, to get as much riding and surfing on these two boards, and let everyone know how sick they are. The technology is so insane on their snowboards and surfboards. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff with the designers and it has been working out really well.
Do you think people are hesitant about Bataleon boards because of the technology?
I definitely was hesitant at first. I had heard of it, but hadn’t really tried it. But the moment I stepped on one of their boards I was amazed. It’s going to be crazy. In a few years, you’re going to see how many people are going to be using this technology. There are already companies out there that are starting to figure it out. Especially all the people building these surfy snowboards. Bataleon invented that shit. You’re going to see a changing in the board making really soon, and Bataleon has done a great job in pioneering that technology. I think it’s great that two guys from Amsterdam who love surfing and snowboarding are the guys to do it.
And are rippers!
Yeah, killing it. Danny [Kiebert] and Dennis [Dusseldorp], legends.
What’s it like working with DBK? Why do you think people are resonating with his style of filmmaking, as compared to something that’s a bit more traditional?
People just want to see new things, new angles, new perspectives, and ideas. He just has such an eye for filming and riding. He combines the two to make such a cool combination; breaking out of the normal film element. I thought his ideas were great when we were filming for projectDETOUR. Doing a lot of follow cams, and more fun riding. Doubles and stuff. Things that he knows will make riding more enjoyable for the audience to watch, rather than just seeing the same tricks every day. Everyone is going to have a video part doing the same tricks. But it’s two guys going down a hill spraying each other, or rhythm lines through the village. One of his buddies that used to be a pro snowboarder was following us around when we were filming for DETOUR, using one of those gimbals. That’s such a different element from what the old videos used to be. It has pretty much changed the whole way snowboard filming can be done. He made it happen with GLUE, it’s all follow-cam gimbals. That’s one of the coolest videos I’ve watched this year.
Still trying to ride and go on these trips, but I’m definitely focused on the future these days. I’m happy where I am.
You said you just bought a house, you’re going to stay around the East Coast. Where are you at in life right now? Do you have a five-year plan or anything like that, or are you just going with the flow?
Pretty much just going with the flow. I’m content with life, and snowboarding kind of winding down. Just picking my trips to go on every winter, and really enjoying them when I do. Right now, I’m filming with Blauvelt in interior British Columbia for his new project and it has been great to be back on a pow trip with him. We have a simple cabin in the woods with my buddy Cole Barash and good friend Gabe Langlois. It has been good vibes, savage pranks, pow slaying and tons of laughs. The past ten years I’ve had the best time ever filming in the backcountry, so I’m stoked anytime I can get on a film trip with good buddies and do what I’ve loved to do for so long. After this, I’m focused on being around Jersey with my family and my girlfriend, and starting my life with her. It has been a nice change, not thinking about sponsors. Now I’m just thinking about things to build onto my house and spending money on that. But yeah, pretty content on the East Coast, living in Jersey and traveling up to Vermont, and going on some big trips when I can.
Snowboarding has a certain lifestyle associated with it, that is very on-the-go, very active. Do you think people are discouraged to make those kinds of decisions, or life choices? You’ve had experience with sponsors disagreeing with what you want to do, and it seems like it is changing now with how they are accepting your decisions. Do you think that’s a larger issue in snowboarding? With sponsors being accepting of what their riders want to do?
It’s a lot different now. All of these companies had so much money back then, their teams would be gigantic. They would have ten to twenty riders on a team. If you weren’t one of the top three contest dudes, you were just riding, having fun and filming; sponsors were pleased with what you were doing. It was more of a fun thing than a stressful thing. Nowadays, with budget cuts and all of these companies going under, if you don’t have a board sponsor and an outerwear sponsor… It’s pretty insane to see how much is different and how much has changed. Everyone could be a pro snowboarder back then, to only a select few these days.
Do you think companies have more loyalty to those people? Or is no one safe?
Yeah. They definitely have more loyalty to these guys. There is only like four dudes on a pro team these days, so they have to be. Things have changed a lot, where companies respect the riders they sign and they go with them. No one else matters. I feel like a lot of people got screwed that way, but it’s just how it has gone. Hopefully snowboarding makes a comeback and these companies get bigger again, and there there are a ton more kids getting sponsored. When I was young, all of your buddies were growing up as pro snowboarders and traveling together. Hopefully that comes back, but you never know.
Do you feel lucky to be where you’re at right now?
Yeah, I definitely feel lucky to be where I am. I’m satisfied with everything. I’ve had a great career, loved living in Mammoth, traveled, the world and all my sponsors have been great. Pretty much content on getting barreled rather than riding every day.
Life, snowboarding; what’s the next thing that you have your eyes set on?
Right now there is so much stuff going on with the house. Pretty much gutted a house in New Jersey and am rebuilding the whole thing with my girlfriend. Transitioning her out of Vermont and into New Jersey. That has been my life, just restarting it with her and trying to move to Jersey. I eventually want to start a business here. Still trying to ride and go on these trips, but I’m definitely focused on the future these days. I’m happy where I am. Hope to get on powder trips when I can, get the opportunities when they come. Loving life.
Is there anything else you want to close out with?
Just want to thank all of the guys at Bataleon, and all the sponsors that have helped me throughout my career. I wouldn’t have been able to travel and do it all without them. Especially my parents, who have had my back and supported me since I was really young, bringing me up to Vermont every weekend to ride an icy halfpipe. They started a fire under my ass to do something big. If it wasn’t for my parents, I wouldn’t be where I am and I wouldn’t have succeeded in snowboarding like I did. I definitely want to thank them.