Rude Girls Welcomes Finn Westbury to the Team
What is your relationship with snowboarding now compared to a year ago? Or post/pre covid?
I feel like my relationship with snowboarding is the best it has been in quite some time. I’m excited to go snowboarding. Part of me still feels like I’m 18, but on the flip, part of me is only now recognizing that I’m not a kid anymore. I’ve been working hard on my physical and mental health in recent years, which has been beneficial in so many ways. You gotta take care of yourself. There have been times when I felt pretty burnt out on everything. I’m excited to be fired up these days!
COVID was/is a wild ride. Lots going on, lots to digest. I like to snowboard before and I will like to snowboard after. Travel restrictions sucked, but also really made me want to get back out into the world and travel around to snowboard. I’m eager to make some trips happen this winter. I got a big ol’ list of places I would love to go snowboarding so I would like to check some of those off if possible…
I feel like this fall there has been so many videos released, and the quality of each video is so high. Every video I watch has something that stands out, something special. I think the global snowboard community is in a good place right now. It feels good to be in the mix.
How does Rude Girls fit with your relationship to snowboarding now?
The energy from Rude Girl is exactly the energy I am trying to take into snowboarding. The pure excitement to ride a piece of wood down a hill with your friends. That’s really what is good. Also, in line with what I said earlier, I’m not getting any younger. I want to keep that childish optimism alive while also looking at snowboarding more critically. Rude Girls walks that line nicely.
In what ways have your values in snowboarding changed?
That’s a great question – I think, partially thanks to my parents and siblings, I’ve always had a decent set value, but only now have I began to realize how they can be applied in potentially progressive ways. Inclusivity has always been huge – my mom is the reason I got into snowboarding, and my twin brother and sister both learned with me. It was me, my brother, my sister, and my mom learning together. It took years to realize that actually “hey, 50 percent of snowboarders are not women”. Along those same lines, it’s important to recognize that a huge percentage of snowboarders – particularly sponsored snowboarders – are white men. That’s clear as day. I guess now my values have changed because I recognize that snowboarding isn’t perfect and that those in positions of privilege must actively do something about it.
In what ways do you think you can contribute to the Rude Girls team and community?
Of course, another thought-provoking question. I think my greatest contribution will be flying the Rude Girls flag. I want to contribute by listening to, and learning from, the Rude Girls team and community about how those of us in positions of privilege can shake things up.
You and I have been in conversation about your addition the RG team for over a year now. You have acknowledged your hesitancy about not wanting to fill that space from someone else. What are some ways that you think you can create that space for others?
Oh yeah, this conversation has gone on for quite some time! I was hesitant to take you up on your offer because my greatest fear is taking up space in snowboarding that someone else could fill. I’m a cisgender straight white man, I’m the definition of privilege. I recognize that. We have talked about this so many times, and we’ve also had some great conversations with Kennedi (Deck) about this too. Considering that, I think the best way I can begin to help create space for others is beginning that conversation about who takes up space, who gets heard, and why. I mentioned this earlier, but we do need to look at snowboarding more critically. By doing so, the dominant group can “check ourselves” and make tangible changes.
The barrier to entry within snowboarding is significant, what are some ways you think you can help contribute to breaking down those barriers?
The barrier to entry is huge. Side story here on that note - I was doing some research on the Canadian snow industry for university and I found that the industry doesn’t consider families making less than 100k a year as their core market. About half of Calgarian families don’t clear 100k a year… so that is half of the city that is basically cast aside. That’s fucked up. We are trying to be a diverse city but then half the people here can’t participate in one of the most prominent winter activities. And then of the half that can, how many people don’t feel welcome or comfortable? There is more barriers than just financial. Hard to quantify that but you get the idea.
I feel that the first step to breaking down barriers is awareness. We need to call a spade a spade. So many people don’t fully grasp that these barriers even exist - I’m still trying to fully understand what I can do to understand and combat these barriers. We shouldn’t blame ourselves, because these barriers function best when they are not spoken about, just the invisible hand doing its damn thing. It’s also not the fault of one corporation or company. These barriers are upheld in a lot of different ways.
By sharing that story, I hope some readers have a better understanding about the barrier to entry within snowboarding. And maybe they will donate their old gear instead of throwing it out. Or they will donate to one of the numerous organizations that are already out there that bring underprivileged youth snowboarding – Like the Dillion Ojo Lifeline Foundation, or The Chill Foundation. These kinds of programs are important. On that note, it’s also important to note that I’m far from the first to recognize what we can do better as snowboarders. I feel like I was a bit behind the times, but there is no time like the present to begin having these less-than-comfortable conversations.
What is it about the Rude Girls family that you are most excited to be a part of?
I think it’s clear that Rude Girls is the shop doing the most right now. Ya’ll are killing it – world renowned. Mad collabs, so much support coming from all over. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? I’m honoured and excited that you would want to have me in the mix. Means the world! Thanks for the set of questions, Abby. You goddamn legend.