Checking in with Keir Dillon
10 Nov, 2008
In August, Keir Dillon’s name was missing from the Burton Global Team roster for the upcoming year. However, Burton did state that Keir was ”very much a part of Burton, but not on the Global team”.
I caught up with Keir to find out what’s going on with him after the changes with Burton and to get a look into professional snowboarding when riders find it’s time to transition to other arenas.
Shay: Burton announced the team changes in August, how did you get the news?
Keir: I had known for the past two years that was the direction that Burton and I were going. I first noticed when I was at the summer sales meeting and realized that my name wasn’t on the list. The funny part was I had known and it had been talked about but my boss still hadn’t told me in person. I can only imagine the shock of others that weren’t expecting it. Expecting it or not, it’s never a day that stokes you out. Kinda makes you go damn, you think back about your career and then you say…that ends that chapter.
Shay: Did you see it coming or was it a wake up call for you?
Keir: I saw that coming from the day I started collecting checks and stopped going to college. I come from a family where my mom is a junk dealer. I guess back in the day she was an antique dealer but those days are over. My father was a painter and sandblaster. Neither of the two seemed like options that I wanted to do. So my whole life I have been looking at ways to do what I love and make money at it. As a pro it’s tough, you get handed the lifestyle of a millionaire; you travel with no expenses, travel all over the world every week and make a pretty good amount of money. The problem is that you last till you are about 30 to 35 if you are really lucky. So I always knew that day was coming, and I have been thinking and planning since then.
Shay: What does it take to be on the Burton global team?
Keir: It obviously takes some skill, but I think it’s a lot more then that. Yes, you have to be good and have an area that you succeed in but it also comes down to pushing product and how marketable you are. I also think it comes down to a lot of hard work and that people want to work with you. There are a lot of kids with the same amount of talent, its just getting the break and making the most of it. Also don’t be mislead that all pros have to do is shred. The higher up on the list you get the more other stuff you have to do and it gets hard to balance out the reason you started. Unless you are the top 3, there are always kids just as good as you so you can save the attitude, people like to work and do business with people they like.
Shay: What role did you, as a pro rider, play in R&D work for Burton?
Keir: Burton really is a rider driven company, there is a select few of us. Trev, Jeremy, Mason, Downing and I have a hand in almost everything as a whole. Not so much the design but the sign off. We have two meetings throughout the year and then a huge go through every screw and make sure none of them suck. I know we always seem to let a few slip through. Besides that I was super involved in the mark 13 line as well as the vapor and always battling to get more youthful graphics on them, and letting them know that just because you happen to be rich and can spend 1000 on a board doesn’t mean you have no style. I think the future and this coming years board are steps in the right direction.
Shay: Several successful pipe riders have switched over the big mountain riding when they are done competing, how has your riding style changed over the years?
Keir: It hasn’t really changed at all in the past 5 years. I used to be into jibbing and jumps back in the day before we had half pipes. I guess I should leave out the racing in a speed suit talks. Oh those were tight as well. Nothing better than training gates on a 200 vertical mountain at 7 in the morning. I first got noticed by the Burton rep at a mogul contest at Shawnee, PA. Those where the days. After I got into pipe that was what I was always stoked on. I tried filming and living in BC and doing the back country thing and it was cool and fun but pipe is always what brings me the most fun. I guess I will always be a pipe jock doing air when I am fifty.
Shay: Did you ever feel burnt out from snowboarding?
Keir: It took a while but of course it happens. Like most pros say, it was when I got hurt that I remembered why I started snowboarding.
Shay: Despite not being on the Global Team, are you still working with Burton?
Keir: I am. They are supporting me in my next chapter of wanting to do more hosting and riding, and hopefully showing snowboarding in fun and new ways, allowing kids to hopefully see the personality of some of their favorite pros.
Shay: What are your dislikes and likes about working in the industry?
Keir: Likes are everything. Almost everyone in the industry shares the same love and passion for action sports. The end goal is about having fun and living your dreams and that truly is a thread that I think flows through the industry. Most people in the industry also appreciate where we were and what it took to get to where we are. I think the worst part of the industry are people that really don’t have a clue but feel it’s necessary to add there two cents that usually isn’t based off of any real life knowledge or experience. But in the end like all things it’s what you make of it and I am always looking to make fun.
Shay: Would you consider working with another company or a career change?
Keir: I can’t say I wouldn’t but I am not looking as of now. I am stoked at where I am and what I am trying to do, as well as the sponsors and people that are supporting me. If I can’t pull off what I want to do then I am sure I will have to figure something else out. Like I said before, I used to always stress about what I was going to do after snowboarding. I have learned for me, I never planned on being pro and living the life I have, so I hope what is to follow is something far greater then I could have ever imagined as well.
I just re-read over the question which brings up another question that wasn’t asked and I am sure many people share different views then me but I want to throw it out there. What do you think about selling out..? For me there are two different kinds of selling out. Or I guess two ways to go about it. First, I think that being able to support your family and set yourself up for the rest of your life through something you love to do, if possible do it. The moments of being the man and cool and thinking that your *** don’t stink lasts for about a second. That being said, I think there are ways to go about it. For instance everyone hates on Shaun but I know that every sponsor he backs he has total control of his image and the way the company gets to use it. That way any gay stuff is your fault in the end and the way you are portrayed cant be abused unless you allow it. Also a lot of sponsors that you think are corporate and are, still do give back in ways that you may not see on the surface. Anyway just my two cents.
Shay: You’ve started contest hosting and commentary; do you prefer that over competing in the contests?
Keir: It depends. Take the X games, during the day practice, warm soft pipe, people loving it, having the best time ever. That is amazing and sitting in the booth with Todd watching can get old. Then comes the night 0 degrees if not colder bullet proof ice, having to throw tricks you don’t want to and at speeds you are over with going for sure. Oh yeah you fall all three runs and its over. That on the other side I don’t miss and it was nice to be sitting in the warm booth with Todd watching Rio and Shaun battle it out. It just depends on the contest and the situation. Trust me I lose just as much sleep preparing to host the contest as I did competing in it.
Shay: What is your educational and work background?
Keir: I have all 12 years completed with a nice 2 years of third grade, felt that was a good one to repeat. I also got a governors scholarship to go to university which I went to for one semester. Man, no matter how you say that it doesn’t sound that impressive.
Shay: Looking back on your pro career, would you change anything?
Keir: You know I would try and enjoy it a little more. I used to stress a lot more then I should have. If I could do it again I would try and live in the moment a little bit more. Also I think if I could have put a little more effort in to it and took it a little more seriously that would have been cool and helpful as well.
Shay: What are your plans now?
Keir: Continue shredding, hosting contests, TV shows, as well as other things. Having fun with trying to do cool and creative projects with our Frends Crew, and just enjoying each day as it comes. I think right now thought I am going to catch up on some Entourage. Peace out.
Shay: Big thanks to Keir for taking the time to do this interview.