“In this small (adventure) niche of the industry, I believe we’re quick to compare the athletes we’re told to admire. And I simply don’t fit the mold that’s been laid by those before me. I do this differently. I’m not a one-trick pony, don’t commit myself to only one sport, don’t swear, don’t drink, don’t do drugs, don’t do one-turn-wonders for the cameras of ski photographers, don’t ride ski resorts, don’t follow the annual pro-skier-migration to places like BC and Japan, don’t have a trust fund, don’t work another job, don’t believe in being apathetic or silent about important world issues, don’t really hang in the circles of skiers or ski mountaineers. For these reasons, I don’t seem to have the respect of many of the industry insiders.”
- Brody Leven on Instagram on July 15th, 2020
Brody Leven recently released a 15-minute ski movie about ski mountaineering in Georgia called “Lost.”
The movie is short & sweet and is focused on Brody’s struggle for validation in the ski industry.
The movie displays very little skiing footage – just POV of the run he went to Georgia to ski, but his GoPro was pointed too far down so you only see his boots and ski tips.
Brody is a professional ski mountaineer based in Salt Lake City, UT who was recently dropped by his sponsor of the last 10-years, Salomon.
“The business of skiing has been harder than the skiing itself. So much of my identity is tied up in the validation from my peers and was dismissed with a single email.”
“Without warning or explanation, an email ended my job with my ski sponsor, my employer. After a decade of building the skills and recognition to make a living, I’d made it. I thought I’d have another sponsor by the end of the week. But each rejection ripped apart my identiy in a way I should have allowed.”
– Brody Leven in “Lost”
In “Lost” and in his recent social media posts, Brody broadly discusses how he feels like an outsider in the ski industry and that the ski industry insiders are keeping him out.
“If I died skiing this year, it wouldn’t be all the big-name pro skiers showing up at my funeral. The ski industry insiders, they would never guess that I actually make a full time living as a skier.”
– Brody told Ski Magazine
Ski Magazine recently interviewed Brody about his movie and published some powerful insights into Brody’s perspective on the ski industry.
“Leven calls the industry insiders “the establishment,” or professionals, media, and those who uphold an “insular old boys club.” Leven is quick to delineate the establishment from his fans and people who consume ski media, the people that watch his content and actively support him by doing so. The establishment, according to Leven, are the athletes and members of the media who uphold toxic norms.”
One problem the ski industry has is a diversity problem and Brody appears to understand this.
According to the SIA:
- 62% of snowsports participants are male
- 72% of alpine skiing participants are white
Brody is a straight, white, male and does not feel welcome in the ski industry.
“Leven is candid about his privilege in the ski world, “I’m sick of it. If I look the way I do, as a white male, and I don’t feel welcome in the ski industry, I can’t even imagine the way that others who don’t look like me feel.” Though despite these sentiments, it can’t be ignored that “Lost” itself centers around Leven, a white male, and ultimately his trials and tribulations.”
Brody’s message in this movie and in his recent social media has created some controversy.
Brody’s former Salomon team member & pro skier, Chris Rubens, recently replied to Brody’s message of the ski industry excluding Brody with strong words & advice.
Chris Rubens had this to say to Brody via Facebook:
“Why would anyone want to sponsor you when you continue to slander the previous companies that you have worked with. This is business, it has ups and downs, relationships start and end. I have had sponsors come and go, I never felt negatively when the relationship ended. We work under contracts that benefit both parties – when someone chooses to end it they have the right to do so.
It is all part of it and it’s ok, go for a run, climb a mountain and move on. There are plenty of career athletes out there talking about environmental and social issues, we take a lot of heat for it from our followers but we all find it an important enough issue that we need to keep the conversation going.
Everybody that I have met in this industry is where they are for a very good reason, they are good skiers, work their butts off and provide value to the companies they work with. You make fun of skiers that have other jobs, well consider yourself very fortunate for being able to hustle enough that you do not need another job. These skiers love skiing so much that they feel it is worth working their asses off all summer to pay their way in the movies, all for the love of the sport. I know this well, I have done it for the majority of my ski career.
One of the well established legends of this industry once told me that he “Treats every day like it might all be over tomorrow”, these are words I live by, nobody owes me anything and I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to do what I love and call it a career. I also make sure to work my ass off to make sure that this continues as long as possible.
So next time you are feeling sorry for yourself, go get some exercise, clear your mind of negative thoughts and try to think how you can do what you love, more creatively or better while creating value for a company. This is what keeps you in the game for the long haul. All the best.”
- Chris Rubens to Brody Leven on Facebook, August 7th, 2020
Video of Brody & Chris on a ski camping trip together in Svalbard, Norway:
Finding validation and respect in this highly competitive, small industry is certainly a formidable challenge.
Thanks to Brody & Chris for their perspectives.