The life of a snowboarder is an exciting one. After all, their job involves
racing down snowy hills on a fiberglass or wooden board.
Snowboarding is like skiing, but a snowboarder's hands are free (they don't
use poles like skiers do), and both their legs are on the same board. Snowboarding
originated in the U.S. in the '60s. Now it is one of today's most popular
sports. Professional snowboarders compete in contests and get sponsored
Some boarders even make it to the Olympics! Snowboarding became an Olympic
sport in 1998.
Like skiing, there are different types of snowboarding: freestyle, slalom,
racing and free-ride, to name a few.
There are a few other ways to make a living in the snowboarding business.
You can become a snowboarding instructor. And you can design and manufacture
snowboarding clothing. Some people also design the actual snowboards.
Professional snowboarders have sporadic hours. If you're traveling to competitions
or putting on demonstrations, it can feel like a 24-7 job. There may also
be slow periods where you just practice as much as you feel is needed.
But how do competitive snowboarders make money? And is this a realistic
way to make a living?
Scott Birke is the editor of a snowboarding magazine. He says earnings
will vary widely.
"Most pro snowboarders make their money off of a monthly salary from a
certain company to ride and endorse their product," he says. "The company
then uses their image in ads and hopes these riders are getting exposure through
magazine and TV. They pay out an additional bonus called 'photo incentive,'
where a pro gets a set, agreed-upon payout rate per size of photo, that ideally
displays the sponsors company's logo prominently.
"Some contracts have a matched-winnings clause for contests, where a sponsor
matches the prize purse a rider earns when winning or placing in a contest.
And, in rare occasions, some pros with signature-model products get a percentage
off of the sales of their models."
With so many different types of contracts, it's not surprising that there
is no standard salary.
"It could be anywhere from slightly less than $1,000-a-month salary plus
photo incentive, which are almost always in contracts, to in the millions
annually for the top riders," Birke says.
"A lot make money through contests, but some pros also don't compete,"
says snowboarder and snowboard instructor Natasha Paterson.
"Some make money through sponsorships, but normally you are a pretty big
name before a sponsor will pay you. Most of the time you just get paid in
new boards, boots, etc. Some boarders also make money with movie spots and
such, but, again, they are normally pretty big-name people."