Industry Profile: Snowboarder Magazine Editor Pat Bridges
06 Oct, 2009
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Pat: Depending upon the situation I sometimes use the aliases Lincoln Terns, Oli Andropov, Helmut Kamn, Kenny Land, Willy Plant, Blackie Diamond, Basher Gates, Cliff Line and in very rare occasions Tara Ligamente. I also spent four years without wearing a single pair of socks more than once. Socks are like 50 cents a pair.
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Pat: When I was waiting tables fulltime as a freelance journalist they definitely had their concerns. Once I got the call to come inhouse at SNOWBOARDER I think they were relieved but they always were supportive.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, what opened up more opportunities for you?
Pat: I knew Mark Sullivan from when we used to compete on the New England Cup series. In 1994 after he finished his stint doing Player Magazine out of Summit County he moved back to VT to go to UVM. I saw him late season at Killington and he mentioned his interest in starting an East Coast mag. I suggested the name East Infection and he used it. A year later after a few submissions he asked me to come inhouse so to speak as a full editor and that was that. The two years that we produced EI were incredible and invaluable as far as making contacts and building not so much a resume but whether it was good or bad a reputation. We were really fearless in those days. Hard to believe that nearly everyone involved in East Infection found a legitimate home within this industry. Obviously Mark Sullivan is renowned in snowboard media for what he did alongside Jeff Baker at both SNOWBOARDER and Snowboard-Mag. Some of the current guard in Burton Marketing Evan Rose, Lance Viollette and Mike Gardzina also had a hand in East Infection. Today the mag isn’t even a footnote in snowboard media but back then it was our outlet.
Shay: Did having knee surgery really get you the editor role at Snowboarder Magazine?
Shay: What was your first set up?
Pat: In junior high school the Vice Principal broke into my locker and planted a copy of Gallery, some illegal fireworks, a four pack of Bartles and James Lime Mist wine coolers and a pair of brass knuckles with the intention of getting me expelled. How do I know he did it? As the “Vice” Principal he was the one who handles the vices.
Shay: What is your current set up?
Pat: Ok now I understand. I apologize for being confused on that last question. Currently I run a 1994 153 Terje Haakonsen. It’s the one with the cat on the base and Jeff Brushies dog Dias peeing in a corner on the topsheet. I use 2010 Burton Mission bindings and some type of three-year-old Forum prototype boots with Daleboot style Burton bladders from the 90’s. I like to ride boards from the early to mid 90’s because I was obligated to ride Rossignols back then so I am exploring all the cool boards I missed out on. It is amazing how good boards from the 90’s ride compared with todays’ stuff. So long as it has a 3-hole or 4-hole pattern you can use new bindings on it and it’ll still ride great.
For modern boards I am very particular about what I run but I am adapting as of late. I try to ride models from people I have a connection to. I have known Pat Moore since he was 8 years old. He texted me the first day he got to ride a Forum with his own name on it. That was a very cool text to get. Recently in New Zealand I rode a prototype for some odd Forum board that has a spoon nose and a wavy base bevel right along the edge inside of the contact points. Kinda like Magnatraction but on a different axis. Pretty stoked on that and I rode Pat’s 2011 board in a 55. That board was really, really good as well. Not as stiff as his past two boards. Slightly catchy at the contacts because of the abrupt kick and high angle nose and tail shapes. It had a blunter tip than I am used to but I still liked it a lot. I am particular with boards in that I don’t like reverse camber or blunt shapes. They work for some but not me. For powder I have had a few fishes because I am a real fan of specialized pow boards. Currently my favorite pow board is a 2001 O-Sin 4807 swallow tail with the hull nose.
Shay: What was your first job?
Pat: Man was that last answer long. Will try to pick up the pace. My first job was as a bellhop. I once checked in Geraldine Ferraro. For those kids who don’t know she was the first female Vice Presidential candidate in 1984.
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Pat: Different days can have their moments. I endured two seasons just riding from point a to b because I had a blown knee and no health insurance so I have spent the last six years playing catchup. Obviously pow days are all time. I really enjoy quarterpipes. For the most part a fast lap with a surface lift or high speed quad in a park with plenty of tranny is a dream setup for me.
Shay: Who are your influences?
Pat: In snowboarding Palmer, Jamie Lynn, Salasnek. Ingemar Backman in his prime was one of the most innovative to watch. What he produced in the mid nineties in films like Substance is unreal. Subject Haakanson era Terje is untouchable as far as raw riding skill. In that movie he does it all and there were virtually no setup shots. The pipes were either contest runs or public and all of the backcountry stuff was pat downs. Not one cheese wedge or park jump in the mix. I was also a huge fan of Tom Gilles and his go for broke approach to going big in the pipe and on quarters. Ross Powers doesn’t get enough credit in my opinion. I still think his air at the 2002 Olympics was the biggest in halfpipe history. That is a real feat. Every time someone drops into a pipe they try to go as big as possible. He is the one who did it. Currently I find Nicolas Muller and Scott Stevens the most compelling to watch. They elevate everything they ride by exposing the less than obvious possibilities. In media it would be Lee Crane I suppose. The dude definitely isn’t afraid to be opinionated. John Erban is who I regard as the best scribe snowboarding has ever known. Jeff Galbraith and Colin Whyte are the class of the current crop in my opinion. David Benedek is also someone I admire. He might be one of the smartest people our sport has ever known. He takes both a cerebral and creative approach to both his riding and the projects that said riding has enabled him to explore.
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Pat: Since 1984.
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Pat: Over 100.
Shay: What is your role at Snowboarder Magazine as the Editor?
Pat: More than anything else during production as editor I am a writer. I produce roughly 30% of the copy in the magazine. Next I work on the assignment and receipt of content. Handling budgets and contributor buyouts and expense reimbursement is also one of my duties. Online content generation is peppered in there when needed on a consistent basis as well. Now that we have grown to including 11 SNOWBOARDER exclusive events those properties demand an ever growing amount of my attention. With the Superparks etc I handle concepts, location scouting, terrain implementation, insurance, invitations, contracts, onsite execution and of course many aspects of the coverage in print and online.
Shay: What is the focus and mission of Snowboarder Magazine?
Pat: SNOWBOARDER is here to entertain, inspire and educate. News is handled these days online so in print we take our irreverent voice and use it to explore all aspects of snowboarding’s culture. This hopefully provides our readership with intimate access to the locations and individuals we spotlight.
Shay: When it comes to ideas for articles, do you work collaboratively or individually?
Pat: We are open to any and all ideas but we mainly rely on our inhouse staff, Sr. Photographers and most often used contributors for pitches.
Shay: How do you select articles for print versus online?
Pat: Current content that is timely is reserved for the web. This includes most contest coverage and casual interviews. We also have found a great resource online for those photos and videos that enhance the overall package of a print feature. In addition to this supplemental content we also have quality made for web signature pieces at SNOWBOARDERMAG.com such as our 30 Second Caption segments, Page 1 cover interviews and Guestbook Columns. The Guestbook has been a real neat inclusion to our site as of late. We have constant traffic at our office and having the online Guestbook gives us a brief opportunity to tap into the minds of the riders, photographers, filmers and industry luminaries who drop in daily. For example in the last two days Jamie Anderson, Johnie Paxson, JP Walker, Simon Chamberlain, Roberta Rodger and David Benedek have made the rounds here.
Shay: What’s your favorite article/interview you’ve done for the magazine?
Pat: There are a few. I wrote a piece about the snowboard cliques in SLC called Rumble At Brighton a few years ago which was unique. I thought my Shaun White, Natasza Zurek and MFM interviews were somewhat revealing. I did a perspective piece on Danny Kass in 2001 which seemed to be a coming out party for the anti establishment persona he turned into. For travel pieces an article I did on UK and Amsterdam snowdomes was unforgettable. The story was ok but the trip was all time. It was a tight crew of people who knew each other really well. At the time it was like a family vacation rather than a magazine trip. It was myself, Pat Moore, Zach Leach, Kyle Clancy, Kevin Casillo, Matt Barbour, Joel Muzzey, Scotty Lago, Hana Beaman, Joel Muzzey, Rich Goodwin and Travis Rice. Ed Leigh was our tour guide. There was no stress because when you are trying to get photos in a snowdome the ceiling isn’t too high, so to speak. For the small humor pieces I would say a story I did hitch hiking across Alberta resonated with a lot of readers. Last years piece on Colorado smoke shacks was something I had wanted to do for a while. Years ago I wrote about “dirty snowballs” which is when you put baselodge condiments in snowballs as makeshift paintballs. Unfortunately that never really caught on. Not sure why. The Rider Of The Year writeups are perhaps the most fun to write.
Shay: What are you thoughts on the current state of the industry?
Pat: I think the economy is actually forcing our industry to have a major correction in all aspects. These lean times are forcing us all to do away with the redundancies that were a byproduct of more gluttonous times. This means that only the top videos, movies, pro riders, shops, company employees, events, magazines, products and brands will survive.
Shay: Does snowboarding need more honesty and brutal truth?
Pat: Let me preface this by saying I don’t think honestly and truth are the appropriate words to use here. By using those words you are implying that there is dishonesty in our sport which I don’t believe is the case at all. That said I do admit that there is indeed a lack of critical analysis and frank commentary.
Shay: What do you see for the future of snowboard magazines?
Pat: I honestly don’t know. Things are changing daily. In the immediate future magazines will continue to be the most widely distributed and least biased form of quality media available. For the most part videos are entirely beholden to the logos that appear in the intro. Web sites are great for timely stories, niche coverage and videos but in large part lack the same quality as a print magazine. What Tracy Anderson is doing at ESPN is in my opinion the highest quality of the online fare. Other sites are equally or more entertaining but they don’t take the same objective and analytical stance with well-researched content. For over ten years the web has been a media behemoth within snowboarding. Unfortunately the internet still can’t sustain a high level of content. The model simply isn’t there right now. Currently 90% of online snowboarding content is subsidized by other means. Of the professional writers and photographers whose work you see online a majority of their income comes from print media or the advertising associated with it. This means that if magazines were removed from the snowboarding landscape tomorrow a majority of the compensation for quality media goes with it. In turn the incentive and a lot of the expense disappears. The free videos that appear on all of these sites do so because of the sponsor dollars associated with them. This means that someone dictated which riders appear. Otherwise sponsors see no return. Basically if magazines disappear, which is one possibility, quality photography and writing goes with it. Ironically it is an exciting time to be an editor because of this. Much of my time is spent figuring out the best path forward. A lot of our success has currently been with growing our event properties and creating ways that our print and online outlets can not only coexist but be mutually beneficial.
Shay: Do you feel that print media is controlled by advertisers?
Pat: I would say all successful media, print or otherwise is subject to influence by advertisers. Anyone who says differently is delusional. Beyond that I can only speak for SNOWBOARDER and no we aren’t controlled by advertisers. My role as editor is to provide entertainment to our readers in the manner they have come to expect from SNOWBOARDER. By doing the diligence to include compelling riders from the brands that support our magazine within our own self guided editorial I am helping to insure that we’ll have the resources to utilize the best photographers and writers and place their work in front of the most readers possible. At no point does anything appear within our editorial at the sole discretion of an advertiser.
Shay: Do you travel a lot for Snowboarder?
Shay: Prior to Snowboarder, what other jobs/companies have you worked at?
Pat: Rossignol Snowboards, Scott Snowboards, Airwalk Snowboards, Killington Ski Area. Duratech Bindings, JDK.
Shay: What’s your average day like working on the magazine?
Pat: I arrive at work around 9 am. The first thing I do is a daily check of the web. I visit over 20 sites regularly. They are in order Boardistan, TWsnow, Snowboard, Snowrev, Yobeat, Board As Fuck, Shayboarder, ESPN, Draplin, Foliomag, Saminfo, Angry Snowboarder, A Good Read, Vt. Death Rider, Stale Tail, Tackled-Box, South Of The North, Bored Yak, Peetard, Bad Boy Sodas, Deserts Don’t Snow, Tahoe Danger Zone, and Kingsnow. I visit most brands sites about once a week with some more than others. That all takes about an hour so at 10 I check and reply to email. Once that is out of the way I sit down with my associate editor Tom Monterosso, Photo Editor Ryan Hughes and Art Director Andy Sekora to see where we are at with production for the current issue as well as the upcoming one. After determining what needs to be prioritized for the current day of the production cycle I will call the contributors who are behind. Ryan Hughes and I will usually brainstorm on which photographers we need submissions from for the upcoming issue determining on how specific our needs are. Sometimes our needs are already within existing submissions which is determined via a couple of keyword searches on the hard drive. This is invaluable considering that digital technology and readily available submissions via ftp’s etc… has brought in photos from literally hundreds of different shooters this year alone. That is how the morning goes.
After lunch I either call resorts and discuss upcoming events like Super Sessions or Superpark or I write up a quick Guest Book questionnaire for whomever happened to join us for lunch that day. The afternoons are when I usually handle my writing duties. If it is an Ondeck or something small like an intro it isn’t too difficult. If it is my Genuine Draft or a feature then I’ll procrastinate and walk around looking at layouts, giving design input or captioning photos. The Sicktionary is the best thing to write each month. Tom Monterosso and I will sit down for an afternoon and brainstorm topics and terms for an afternoon. Then we’ll divide and conquer the list. Once written we’ll get together and tweak each others definitions to create the final product. Those are really fun because we can be abstract and indulgent or really low brow with our copy. After 5 is when I do the secretarial aspects of my job. Somehow I find it easier to handle invoices, buyouts, expenses and the other less glamorous tasks after hours.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Pat: Anything having to do with Ricky Melnik.
Shay: How is working for Snowboarder (any cool work events, work environment, job perks)?
Pat: Everything is a perk. Free boards and lift tickets are a given. Being able to spend a lot of the winter getting paid to do what others pay to do is a dream come true. Working with friends I’ve had for 20 years is something I don’t think a lot of people have the opportunity to do.
Shay: What education/experience did you have before getting the job?
Pat: I am a lifelong snowboarder. I was a sponsored rider, A snowboard Ambassador, I did a little repping, taught elementary schoolers snowboarding, shot photos for a month, did catalog writing for brands, coached snowboarding, concepted and wrote copy for ad campaigns, worked at The Village Store in Govy for 2 summers and I went to college for a year.
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Pat: Sure but they are trivial when compared to the perks.
Shay: Since you started in the industry, what’s been the biggest change?
Pat: Technology. When I was a field editor in the late 90’s I would hand type my stories and fax them in to the office. Then someone would retype that information into a computer. Digital photography has totally changed that side of it in immeasurable ways. Imagine the expense of learning to shoot photos with the costs of film and imagine the amount of time it takes till you can see a result. There are also more riders receiving coverage than ever before. Access to cheap media capture via digital photo and video means that it is no longer as exclusive. This is a good thing in many ways yet it also takes credibility away from those riders who really are next level.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Pat: Late spring and late fall. In late spring we are actively finishing up our field assignments while starting our print production cycle which means there is a lot to juggle. Late fall is a similar situation in that we have multiple issues in production and we are also planning our upcoming season at the same time.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Pat: I wish I was a better writer. My grammar is poor. Therefore I think education is very important. At the same time you can’t learn how to be a snowboarder in school. There is no Ski Town 101. Therefore I must say for me, I am the product of experience.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to become a magazine editor?
Pat: Learn it all. Learn how to write, shoot photos, edit videos and program a web site. Always be fair to everyone you meet because that out of focus freelance photographer, kooked out hucker or person hawking extreme deodorant could become highly successful.
Shay: Final thoughts?
Pat: Hopefully not.