GRILLED: The reality of being Bjorn Leines
Remember the 2001 video True Life, where Bjorn Leines wrecked himself out of a video part, and it looked to be a possible career ender? If you didn’t notice, the Minnesota native recovered from that harsh season, brushed himself off and continued clawing his way onto the international stage. In the process, he has dropped more renowned video parts than most kids can imagine getting. He also just nabbed the cover of this year’s Snowboarder Magazine’s November issue—just another testament to his continual prowess.
Always on the move, Bjorn constantly has several big projects in the works. They all have lofty goals, and he is notorious for meeting them. Never being the type to sit at a dead-end job, dreaming of the day he’ll forge his own future and live his dream, he has spent the last couple of decades doing both. And doing them well.
Every project or brand he aligns himself with seems to explode. Something he could easily take advantage of, but instead of squeezing every dime out of the industry, only to leave when his pockets are full, he does the opposite. Whenever he starts a new project or works with a different company, he considers a few things: the first is if it will help or hurt his family dynamic, and the second is if it is going to help or hurt the snowboard industry. If either of the answers is no, than you can bet he won’t take part.
Like any legend, he is leaving a legacy. But a legacy doesn’t mean much if it came at the cost of friends and family. Bjorn understands this, and when it comes down to it, he has worked too hard to forget everyone who helped him, and everything he’s learned along the way.
The season is about to start, what’s the news?
I was actually snowboarding a little earlier today. We got a couple inches, and of course we hauled up some snow onto the mini-ramp and had a little session.
So what have you got cooking for this season?
Well we recently decided to make a Celtek video this season, so I have been working on organizing all that, and working on the budget and everything. It’s coming together and we’re pretty excited about it.
Will it be episodic, or will it be more of a full-length video?
It’s going to be about 30-minutes and be called Nothing to Prove. It’s kind of based on the fact that snowboarding is about friendship and community, and not so much about winning and competition. It will be broken down into three sections, and each section will tell a story about a piece of snowboarding. Also, we’re going to do a live cast, where we’ll be sessioning a spot. We’re partnered with Dye and ProTech, and it will be live on the web as we session it. We feel like it is something new and cutting-edge that will be cool to get going.
How long has this been in the works?
We have wanted to put together a video for a while, but just with timing and everything it hasn’t been an option. We really wanted to be able to control the content, and just do something different. Celtek needs to have a lasting message, and the formula for videos has been the same as it was 10 years ago for the most part. We just want to show the passion, community and stoke of snowboarding. Everything from pow runs at Snowbird, or lapping parks, we want to include everything. Pro snowboarders aren’t hitting huge jumps every day all day, most of the time we are riding with friends, and we think kids will relate to that format.
We also want to help younger kids get a platform to succeed. There are so many kids that are ripping. The kids on Celtek are killing it, and I feel like it’s my responsibility to help them. I mean, I’m a dad now. And I remember what it was like coming up in this industry, and it can be really difficult without someone taking you under their wing.
Sounds like you’ve got a busy season.
[Laughs] Yeah, I have been staying pretty busy.
Anything else on your plate at the moment?
Actually, I am working with a production studio to put together a pilot for a network reality show.
That sounds big. How did that come about?
A little while back I was approached by a production studio called STS (Super Top Secret), and after discussing it with my family, we decided to go forward with it. We figured it could be a way for us to portray snowboarding in the “right light,” I guess you could say. Kind of show what goes on, not just in the video, but behind the scenes and have a inside look on my life being a company owner, pro snowboarder, a father and husband. So we’ll see if the networks are into it and hope it gets picked up.
What’s the ultimate goal with going into the mainstream market?
I just think it’s an opportunity to show who snowboarders are to the mainstream market. You know, to show that we aren’t all just a bunch of partying potheads. But more just what snowboarding really is. We want to show a little bit of what snowboarding truly is. It’s a lifestyle. I have built my entire life around snowboarding, and it’s attainable. Not just on a pro level. There are tons of people out there that aren’t pro, but they live it and breath it just the same. But yeah, man. I just want to show the world the freedom and the artistic expression of what it is, and that it’s not the competition that so many people think it is.
Do you think network TV is going to be receptive to you?
I hope so. I hope that television doesn’t have to be so based around non-valued drama. It just seems like so much of this reality lifestyle stuff is really about not having any values or morals. I hope I can show the world that you can reach a high level at a sport, and you don’t have to be a dirt bag. It’s not really even about being at the top or being the best at something.
What is it about?
I think that if you embrace something hard enough you can really accomplish anything. When I was younger, we didn’t have much. I worked construction when I started making money snowboarding, so it had a lot of value to me. When we started planning for a family, I had to step back and think, “Oh, man, am I going to be able to support a family with snowboarding?” That kind of thinking just made me work that much harder. I think everyone grows up in a sense. And it’s taught me to be a lot more humble and not take life for granted. And if I can translate that through a reality show, and leave a message with people, I think that’s rad.
If you look at “Duck Dynasty”, it’s the number one show. It has all these crazy characters, but at the end of each episode they always reel it back in and they are these humble guys.
So you’re not going to be faking any drama?
[Laughs] Yeah, when I first brought it up to my wife, I said “reality show,” and she immediately said, “We don’t have enough drama in our lives. We have a good marriage.” So I think there is that mentality that for reality TV you have to be some sort of outrageous character. For me, the drama is all in the risks of snowboarding, the traveling and business side of things. But, we chatted and came to the realization, that if we just stay true to who we are, it will work out and we don’t have to be something we’re not.