Industry Profile: Writer Natalie Langmann
28 Jun, 2012
Job Title: Writer
Employer: Freelancer for Push.ca, SBC Media, Transworld, etc…
Years on snow: 18 full-time winter seasons a
Days on snow: Anywhere over 150
Currently Riding: Whistler/Blackcomb, Burton Feelgood (thanks to Jeff Martino), NoFish, and a Ski-Doo Rev with a Cheetah Factory Racing Rack that straps my boards to the back of my sled.
Currently I am: catching up on life as I’ve been travelling around Colombia with my husband for the past five weeks.
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Natalie: I’d rather write about you then talk about myself. I love snowboarding. I love snowmobiling. I work at an awesome sushi restaurant in Whistler called Sushi Village to support those aforementioned habits. I often dream about writing a screenplay with the Coen Brothers; actually I dream about writing a screenplay better than the Coen Brothers ever could. One day I will, and that my friends is a true story.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Natalie: It’s really difficult to say that snowboarding changed my life because it’s always been a part of my life and has influenced my way of life since I moved to Whistler 18-years ago. Perhaps, if I never snowboarded and never experienced living in Whistler, then maybe I would have wound up with a 9-5 desk job never knowing that I could ride pow all day and then work at night. Perhaps, if I didn’t love riding pow so much I would have taken the industry jobs that have been offered to me over the years. Perhaps I would have gone to journalism school, and maybe I would be chasing rock stars (my childhood dream) and not snowboarders. Who knows, but I do know that because of snowboarding, I travelled all over the European Alps and call the Whistler area my home. Because of snowboarding I bought my first snowmobile 12 years ago which lead me to buying a haunted 80-year-old house in a snowmobile-accessible-only ghost town just north of Pemberton (Bralorne). Think about how amazing it is to snowmobile from your doorstep and ride lines that haven’t been seen in every single snowboard flick. I call it cottage country, and trust me it’s a whole other world up there. I always thank my first love (snowboarding, duh) for opening my eyes to that world.
Noboarding Bralorne Credit: Darin Towers
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Natalie: While living in Chamonix, France in the late 90s, I went for the summer to live with my grandma in London, England to work at a snowboard shop and save money. I worked with this awesome guy named Tom Copsey who seemed to love snowboarding as much as I did. Long story short, I was on his case to quit this job, move to the mountains, and do what makes him happy. I actually wrote up a contract for him to sign and that he would have to abide to. He did it, and then became the editor for Snowboard UK, and that’s when he asked me to write for them (He’s been the english editor for Onboard for many years now). But the person that has been the biggest influence on my writing life is hands down Matt Houghton (editor at Push.ca). He gave me my first gig with Snowboard Canada (he was the editor there for something like ten years) in the early 2000s and asked me to break the code of silence in Bralorne. He had no idea if I could write or not, and he gave me a full feature right off the bat and has supported my writing for at least a decade-strong. A few years back I was going through some personal shit and had quit writing and was pretty down on snowboarding in general. Houghton came out to Whistler and while riding chairlifts all day with him, he convinced me that I should try writing again. He told me to write about whatever I wanted and Push would be stoked to put it online, so I went with what was important to me – I covered the Mt. Baker Banked Slalom which lead me to chasing contests for the past two season all over North America for Push. Words can not express how much I owe Matt for convincing me to never give up.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Natalie: I never went to college or university until 2008. Writing about snowboarding came about because I loved to write, my father and my grandfather were both editors, and that I went out and pursued it. Learning to write properly came after. For years, while waiting to start at my waitressing job, I would read self-help books on writing, like Elements of Style or On Writing Well. Having friends in college taking english courses, I would ask for their text-book lists and buy them on Ebay, and then I would read them, and get my co-worker and friend Karlie Straza to quiz me. We talked about certain customers in commas and semi-colons; it was hilarious and totally nerdy. I completed the Continuing Studies Writing Program at Simon Fraser University in 2009, and I have a certificate in Web Publishing from Capilano University. They don’t teach you about snowboarding in university that is for sure; you need to live the life to be able to write what you know, and from what they say, that right there is the ticket: write what you know.
Credit: Jussi Grznar
Shay: Tell us about your role as a writer and a description of the work you do?
Natalie: I spend a lot of time covering contests because I love to be able to bang out content fast and furious. I am competitive when it comes to my mind. But my true passion is writing interviews. People fascinate me, and I love asking questions and finding out what makes people tick and then putting it all into words. Q&As are fun and interesting, but I like to tell peoples stories through description.
Shay: If you had to make up a job title that most accurately described what you REALLY do, what would it be?
Natalie: A slave to my computer?
Credit: Darin Towers
Shay: Describe the craziest day/moment you’ve had at your job?
Natalie: Crazy? Hm, I guess being told by a PR agent that I would only have 15 minutes to interview Travis Rice for a full feature interview for Huck Magazine at his Art of Flight premier in Whistler. I was like shit, that’s going to suck, I mean I’m a professional and all, so I knew I could do it in a short time, but I also knew that getting juicy antidotes out of him would be rather difficult at his own movie premier. Upon meeting up, I was able to convince Travis that I needed to get on the AOF tour bus and interview him on his way to the Vancouver premier the next day and that it would be even more awesome if we stopped at DCP’s house in Squamish on our way through. He was down. That was probably a moment where I silently thanked myself for having the guts to not listen to what the PR agent and my editor told me to do.
Here’s the interview:
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Natalie: I would say that Heliboarding with Eagle Pass Helis during Tailgate BC was epic, sharing a cat with Josh Dirksen, Louie Fountain, DCP, Gaetan Chanut, Rube Goldberg, and Jaako Seppala in the Monashees years ago was all-time, being convinced to get on a dirtbike while interviewing Martin Gallant was amazing, flying into the Queen Charlottes with Meghann O’Brien for a Haida Gwaii potlatch was influential, but hands down the best part of my job has been meeting truly awesome people, people that have gone out of there way to thank me for interviewing them. I appreciate that more than anything else.
Credit: Jussi Grznar
Shay: What do you think are the biggest challenges that the snowboard industry faces and what changes would you like to see for the future?
Natalie: This is a funny question for me because I feel like I don’t really work in the industry and that a question like this should be reserved for those who I consider to be super influential because they have worked their way up by thinking outside the box – people like Matt Houghton at Push, Pete Anderson at Red Bull Canada, Blue Montgomery at Capita, and Randy Torcom at Anon and Red. When I write, I write with the reader in mind, not for the sponsors of the event or any other influences. I guess here would be a good spot where I should talk about freestyle snowboarding and the introduction of Slopestyle in the 2014 Olympics, but really I would rather go head up to Bralorne, dust off an old copy of Technical Difficulties, throw it in the VCR…and sit back….
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Natalie: If you want to write about snowboarding then go out there and live it first, get a good night job so you can afford to buy the truck/sled combo and make sure you can ride the hill day after day, and definitely learn to really ride that beast of a snowmobile. Never take no for an answer, put yourself out there but realize early on that you have to give a lot to get a little, and definitely learn how to make fun of yourself first and foremost. Understand that you will never get rich. Oh, and most importantly, never, never leave a paper trail.
Header Photo Credit: Aaron Blatt