Rome Global Pro – Ozzy Henning

Ozzy Henning, cred: Darcy Bacha

Ozzy Henning, cred: Darcy Bacha

By Justin Phipps,

A couple months ago I got a text from my buddy Brandon Kirkland in Minnesota freaking out about Ozzy Henning going pro, that was when I knew I had to interview him. Ozzy has been ripping forever and seeing him go pro was no surprise, just that it took so long. The man has some answers, and he should, he’s been putting in work year in and out and making tracks practically every month of the year. Ozzy had some really good thoughts and adds to the ongoing discussion of snowboarding, including his making a name in street snowboarding among other things.

JP: Where are you at now, who are you filming with, and what’s the most recent trip you’ve been on?

Ozzy: Right now I’m in Utah and I’m filming for Bode Merrill’s new called Reckless Abandon and we just recently got back from a two and a half week trip to Baltimore and Minnesota. We had a

week in Baltimore and a week and a half in Minnesota. A good time a really good trip, a lot of stuff went down!

JP: That’s sick! So relating to that, I think there’s a lot of people that don’t have ANY idea the amount of work it takes to get a single clip, let alone a hammer. So what can you tell the next generation of up and comers what to expect when it comes to street work?

Ozzy: Ooh, something I can tell up and comers.. haha .. it’s not about the snowboarding! You don’t end up snowboarding that much. You’re usually shoveling, all day long. When you’re not shoveling you’re usually pulling a bungee, or, you’re helping a friend film. It takes a LOT of work to get a good shot, ESPECIALLY a hammer. It takes everybody doing their job at once, and you’re friends shovel when you’re in the middle of a trick your friends are out there filling in the landing or help fixing the lip. It takes a lot to get an eight second clip!

JP: Yeah, for sure! So is lapping Brighton or Park City, and getting out of the street, and just lapping with your buddies, explain how big a deal is and what kind of therapy that can provide for you.

Ozzy: Lapping with your friends is the best. It eases your mind and reminds you of why you’re doing what you’re doing. You tend to, when you’re out in the street, forget what it is you’re doing because you don’t snowboard that much like I said with all the shoveling and other work so it’s nice to actually get back with friends and ride chairlifts and always stay strapped in.

JP: For sure. So if synchronized jibbing were an Olympic sport is that something you would bother training for and who would your partner be?

Ozzy: Synchronized jibbing.. um let’s see, I don’t know if I’d do it to be honest but if I had to do it I’d probably do it with my buddy Ryan Flaska that nobody’s probably ever heard of.

JP: So when you got the news from Rome they were turning you pro it had come on the heels of Alek, TK, and Thomas Delfino getting the news as well. As the people’s choice you had to be preparing yourself for an “I’m next” kinda of moment, right?

Ozzy: Um..you know I honestly didn’t have that feeling, never thought of that just because we’d always talked about my future plans and what would come and it hadn’t even been mentioned once and I didn’t care to think like that. I was just there, I honestly didn’t see it coming.

JP: Really? So when it did actually happen can you maybe kind of give me an idea of the feeling you had, like was it emotional for you and anybody else?

Ozzy: Woooo!! The feeling I had was, I mean just jaw dropping! You’re kind of just in awe and you just can’t believe that it’s happening cause a lot of kind myself including look up to as the thing to do growing up. The whole dream was to become a professional snowboarder, or a skateboarder.

JP: Yeah? Did you get emotional during it?

Ozzy: Not too emotional. When my mom called and congratulated me I got a little butterflies. She’s been the biggest supporter of me and backed me more than anything. So it was a little emotional for my mom. But, no tears shed or anything like that.

JP: Who was the first person you broke the news to?

Ozzy: The first persons I contacted was my family and my girlfriend. I sent them some snapchats to them of the big poster they (Rome) made.

JP: I’ve seen some footage of your skating, and you rip by the way.

Ozzy: Thanks man.

JP: Most recently I’ve seen some footage of your snow skating, do you think any of that will eventually work it’s way into one of your parts?.

Ozzy: Yeah I would like to! I mean even going back to what I said about just getting snowboard clips, it’s harder (snowskating) than you think and getting legit clips that you think look cool is another step. Any skate or snowskate clips that I think are good enough I’m definitely putting them in my video part.  

JP: Alright, let’s turn the clock forward ten years, what do you want your legacy in snowboarding to be?

Ozzy: Ooh… I don’t know. I mean, well, creativity. Just that I was never a stock rider, hopefully to be remembered as trying the different.

JP: Well, yeah that’s about all the questions I got. Do you have any shout outs you wanna make?

Ozzy: Shout out to my family and my sponsors and you for doing this interview. To snowboarding!

JP: Yeah for sure man, sick!

Grady Skelton, Rome Snowboards Team Manager

Rome TM Grady Skelton/@gradySkelton

Rome TM Grady Skelton/@gradySkelton

by Justin Phipps,

I met Rome Snowboards team manager Grady Skelton back at the SIA On Snow in February up at Copper Mountain. I wanted to catch up with him and get a little more info on Rome’s current projects, the responsibilities of being a TM, and other fun stuff too.. like the Rome van. Here’s how that conversation went!

JP: Tell me how you got into snowboarding how you learned and where you started.

GS: I started when I was 12 years old and my Aunt knew a friend that ran a ski and snowboard bus that left every Saturday and Sunday from a local high school. She told my mom that I should probably get into it, that it would be good for me. I had no idea what it was and so I borrowed some gear from a neighbor and went up and tried it and from that point on I’ve been hooked ever since.

JP: Wow.. that actually sounds kinda cool.

GS: It was rad.

JP: Yeah, alright, so in your transition into the snowboarding industry, when did you know that it was gonna be the thing you wanted to try and make a career out of?

GS: I think it was my senior year in high school. I was on a snowboard team in high school and I was trying to decide what I wanted to do and at the time I was running a clothing company, it was like an action sports clothing company, we sold a lot of apparel gear toward snowboarders and skateboarders. And, I grew up snowboarding and skateboarding and surfing and it felt natural to wanna stay in it. So when I went to college I focused all my efforts at the university to figure out how I wanted to be a part of the industry.

JP: Cool, that sounds neat.

GS: Yeah it was cool.

JP: So during your time with Rome what might be one of the more rewarding events you’ve had being the team manager?

GS: I think the most rewarding thing is when I see all the work our team has put in the season come out in their video part, or seeing the videos that Theo and I help create with Rome. At the end of it, seeing it all come together into one piece from projects that we’ve worked all year or what the riders have worked all year on like Will in Déjà vu, or Jonah with his parts in Nation last year or VG this year. Seeing that come out is probably the most rewarding thing to being a TM.

JP: Cool. Ok, so maybe you can share a difficult time too? Like have you ever let go of a team rider or anything?

GS: I’d say probably the most difficult thing is (pause) probably making decisions on what projects we’re gonna help support, where we spend our time and effort . That can be pretty difficult because I wanna support all the projects, but you have to choose the right ones that Rome should be involved with. Having a healthy snowboard industry helps allow us to do that. So we wanna make the right choices so snowboarding stays alive and that Rome stays relevant.

JP: Yeah, alright so as a rider what does ‘making it’ in snowboarding mean from the perspective of a team manager? Cause it seems like there are a lot of levels.

GS: There are a lot of levels. I’d say its pretty standard that there is the AM/regional levels through the reps, that’s like the start. Then there’s the AM level. I’d say you’re making it when you have solidified some type of travel budget and you have a contract solidifying your finances for the year as an AM. Really after that it’s, are you ready to turn pro? Unlike skateboarding, turning pro in snowboarding is kinda ambiguous. So I think it’s when you have full support and are able to live off your income from travelling all year snowboarding. That’s when you make it.

@gradySkelton slashing away.

@gradySkelton slashing away.

JP: As the team manager what type of expectations do you have for riders moving from one level to the next?

GS: I think availability is one of them. Two, is marketability. So I expect them to understand that what Rome is doing is our goal is to help them succeed.  When you have a rider that doesn’t understand that it makes it difficult for us because we want to see them succeed. When our riders are getting attention in the media we’re getting attention. We expect them to be involved and want to create their own content, so like a drive (of their own). We like to see riders have a drive. When they don’t it’s pretty detrimental to their own success.

JP: Just in general, have you ever seen riders get jaded n stuff and maybe start to feel like snowboarding owes them something? What’s some of the worst stuff you’ve seen go down?

GS: Um, yeah I think riders do get jaded because of, well cause a lot of riders will spend a lot of time in the industry and may not move forward or they stay stagnant and they get jaded because they feel like they’ve been putting in a lot of effort, but, they might not be putting the effort into the right places to succeed. And so they’ll get frustrated and move to something else and I’ve seen that a lot. That’s probably the biggest thing. If a rider can understand that the TM, or that the company that they’re riding for, is there to help them succeed then it will benefit them in the long run.

JP: Yeah.. I get that. Let’s talk about Kazakhstan real quick you and the guys were there a few months ago, who all was there and what all happened?

GS: Oh man… so the riders that we took to Kazakstan were Ian Boll, LNP, and Ozzy Henning. It was probably the most foreign place that we’ve ever been to. As in, all of us, as individuals, and for the company. Snowboarding is very young in Kazakhstan so everyone was extremely interested in what the riders were doing, and, they were excited. I think all of us left Kazakhstan really truly seeing something unique and that is snowboarding in its complete infancy. Seeing snowboarding and its potential in that country. It was, it gave us a true excitement to go there. We hit handrails while we were there, we went to the resort, we visited the local skate shop, we drove around to extremely third world poverty stricken areas and found handrails and interacted with the people there. We also went to very high end high class areas of the country. You know, we went out to dinner with people who are very successful and treated us and took us out. We saw all sorts of stuff in Kazakhstan and it definitely had potential for snowboarding, and there are a lot, a lot of handrails there.

JP: Nice. Being in a foreign country did you maybe have to plan ahead for injuries or busts or stuff?

GS: Oh, after the first handrail we hit, Ozzy ended up breaking his wrist and injured himself, so we had no idea what to do. We had to scramble to figure out how to get to the hospital, to get an x-ray and get a cast. You know, that was a shock, and it was something as a TM I had to deal with and the riders really came together and as a team we were able to figure it out. But, it also put a lot of pressure on the other riders feeling like they really had to perform. But Ozzy’s a trooper, he came back. You know, talk about a rider who has a lot of drive and he finished the whole trip and got a lot of shots with the cast on one arm with a broken wrist.

JP: Huh? That’s kinda cool.

GS: Yeah it was awesome.

JP: Alright final question, what’s up with Rome van and what’s its most significant contribution to the industry?

GS: Haha yeah… The Rome van is THE most travelled van in snowboarding by far. Probably it’s been across the country with AM riders, pro riders, and filmers more than any other van. It’s probably been across the country 20+ times back and forth and Canada back and forth. It was something we allowed the riders have control over and if they needed it at any time for filming it was available. And really, van life is a part of Rome Snowboards, it’s something we cherish because it really brings the team together and you have a good time together and get to know each other. There’s nothing like getting to know each other spending two weeks travelling together hitting handrails, or going to a resort. It’s a lot of memories were made in the Rome van.

JP: Okay. So is there anything else maybe that you wanted to talk that I might have missed?

GS: Oh. Well I think maybe just the new Find Snowboarding project that’s coming out with TransWorld this upcoming August and September and October. The (last year) 12 Months project was revolutionary for the snowboard industry and putting out a video every month that has to do with snowboarding. At Rome, we are focusing on the things that are important to snowboarding and Find Snowboarding is exactly that where people can relate to and you know bringing that excitement back to like the time when I was 12 years old and started snowboarding or any other person that just started snowboarding. The reasons why you got in it.

JP: Cool. Well that’s about it.

GS: Right on dude, thanks for the interview.

JP: Yeah, you’re welcome!