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Q&A: Big Sky freeride athlete Chance Lenay

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By Doug Hare EBS Staff

BIG SKY – Local snowboarder and freeride competitor Chance Lenay started his season strong. During the second weekend of January, he took third place at Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s Freeride World Tour Qualifier event in British Columbia, bringing him one step closer toward his goal of making it into the Freeride World Tour.

EBS interviewed the Gig Harbor, Washington-native after he returned from his first competition in B.C., to learn what fuels his competitive drive and inspires him to reach for the next level in his sport.

Explore Big Sky: When and where did you start skiing or snowboarding?
Chance Lenay: I started snowboarding in 2007 at The Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington state.

EBS: How long have you been in Big Sky and what brought you here?
C.L.: I have been in Big Sky for 10 years now. I moved out here to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city life and to pursue my passion of snowboarding.

EBS: What keeps you here?
C.L.: Everything out here is slowed down just a little bit. It’s not all about work-work-work, money-money-money. People live out here to enjoy being outside and to live their lives around their passion for the outdoors. I like that lifestyle.

EBS: When did you start competing in freeride events?
C.L.: My first freeride event was the Headwaters Spring Runoff at Moonlight Basin in 2010.

EBS: You finished third in Revelstoke to start the season, are you pleased with that early result?
C.L.: I am super stoked on a podium spot at the first event of the year. It gives me a huge boost of confidence moving forward in the competition season.

EBS: What are the next events you plan to attend, and how do you choose which competitions to enter?
C.L.: Next up is Crested Butte, Colorado [Feb. 10-11], then Kicking Horse up in Canada, Crystal Mountain, Washington, and Kirkwood, California. I have my favorites, such as any event in Canada, as well as Crystal Mountain in Washington, because that is one of the resorts where I learned to snowboard in my early days.

If I have to drive more than 12 to 13 hours then I probably won’t do that event, unless it gives me a shot at winning the title and going to the Freeride World Tour.

EBS: What are your goals for the 2018 season?
C.L.: One of my biggest goals is to make it onto the Freeride World Tour. I would also love to make it into one of the big time magazines, such as Transworld Snowboarding or Snowboard Magazine.

EBS: Do you have a favorite venue? If so, why?
C.L.: One of my favorite venues so far—not including the Headwaters [at Big Sky Resort]—would have to be “The King” over at Crystal Mountain. That venue, to me, is a real deal freeride competition venue. You have to hike a ways up to the top, which usually makes for good conditions. It’s steep, gnarly and has a lot of options for riders to choose from. And the views from the top are amazing.

EBS: How do you train to be a freeride athlete both during the season and through the offseason?
C.L.: I snowboard as much as possible! I don’t really hit the gym or anything, which I probably should. I pretty much work all day, everyday in the summer as a fly fishing guide at East Slope Outdoors, just so I can take the winters off and ride everyday.

EBS: What do you consider your strengths as a snowboarder?
C.L.: Fluidity, technique, style and energy. Riding steep and technical terrain. I am not very good at throwing tricks—360s, backflips, etc.—but I am working on it!

EBS: Who has helped you along the way to becoming an elite snowboarder? Who do you look to when you need advice?
C.L.: I have a lot of people to thank for where I am right now, [including] my manager when I worked as a lift operator, Ross Smethurst. He saw my passion for riding the steeps and would have me work the [Lone Peak] Tram or the Headwaters lift just so I could ride that terrain and work at the same time.

Also my good friends, Alex Buecking and Erik Morrison who helped me get my sponsors. And of course [Skylab Media House’s] Chris Kamman who has worked his magic in the video/editing side of things. His work has really helped me get recognized in the snowboarding/skiing industry.

EBS: Who is you favorite athlete on the IFSA?
C.L.: Jake Larue. He is a fellow snowboarder on the tour and blows my mind every time I watch him throw down a comp run. Definitely a huge inspiration.

EBS: Any advice to amateur snowboarders on how to get to the next level?
C.L.: Just ride hard and have fun! Also, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. They are your dreams, go get ’em.

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