A MINUTE WITH MARK SOLLORS | STACKING STICKERS
Mark Sollors talks about when he got an agent, learning his worth, and the expectations of professional snowboarding.
Kennidi Deck won Transworld Snowboarding’s Rookie of the Year in December 2018 for her part in The Uninvited. Before that nomination, however, it’s fair to say that she wasn’t well known. As a Calgary boarder, she was just riding with SRD and trying to put together a good video part. But not even a year after winning Rookie of the Year, her influence has grown hundredfold. Kennedi is now being invited to go on trips with K2 and Vans, and riding with people she’s looked up to for her whole life. Being only 22, I think we’re all very excited to see where Kennedi’s career goes; it’s apparent that she is not only talented and dedicated to snowboarding, she is also a nice person. But how did she get to where she is now? The following is an origin story of Kennedi Deck.
Written By William Fraser | @whilebeingwilliam
Photos by Cole Martin | @coletaco
Kennedi is a prairie child. Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan she grew up riding in the divots of open fields, similar to other prairie boarders like Craig and Mark McMorris, Layne Treeter, Kael Hill, and Jed Anderson. Kennedi received her first snowboard at the age of five. It was a gift from her grandfather. From here she would snowboard only about once a year with her family, travelling nine hours to ride in Fairmont, BC, every February.
In grade five, Kennedi moved to Grand Prairie, Alberta, and things changed. Her shift in location put her only 15 minutes away from a local hill. With this new proximity, she quit hockey and signed up for Grand Prairie’s Nitehawk Snowboard Club.
While with Nitehawk, Kennedi was being coached by a woman named Shantell, who Kennedi gives a lot of credit to. Thinking back, Kennedi said, “Shantell basically taught me how to hit a box, how to bend my knees, and helped me pick out baggy snow pants [laughs]. She helped me get a job at a snowboard shop, too. The shop was called Dark Flavor.” Shantell was the first big influence in Kennedi’s snowboard career. She was the person many of us probably remember having. The person who helps you love snowboarding.
Now that Kennedi was in, she was really in. “I’ve always been the person that no matter what I was doing, that’s what I was going to do,” she says. “When I was playing hockey, I was going to be a pro hockey player. Now that I was snowboarding, I was determined to be a pro snowboarder.” But no one accomplishes anything on their own. Apart from Shantell, Kennedi’s family was a huge support. They would regularly drive seven hours from Grande Prairie to Calgary for contests and other events. Her family was just as committed to the sport as she was. Or, more accurately, they were committed to Kennedi doing what she loved.
After some time with Nitehawk Snowboard Club and a bunch of long drives to Calgary, Kennedi started getting noticed by the Riders on Board snowboard club, which is a much bigger club based out of Calgary. It was founded by Jed Anderson’s mom, Beth, and is now run by Jed’s older brother, Jared. Kennedi explains the draft pick like this: “I was winning shit in Calgary, some random girl from nowhere, and Beth and Jared were like, ‘Who is this kid?’ Eventually, we started talking about what I wanted to do in snowboarding, and they were like, ‘Yeah, we can help you get there.’ They took me under their wing.”
This relationship started with Kennedi catching flights to Calgary for important contests on the weekends. Then those weekends turned into week-long visits. And, eventually, it led to her moving from Grande Prairie to Calgary, living with her auntie, doing all of grade 12 online, and riding with Riders on Board almost every day. In Calgary, Kennedi was part of a much bigger scene which pushed her riding. It’s one thing to be a good boarder in Grand Prairie, but it’s another to be good in Calgary.
While in Calgary that year, Kennedi got connected with the SRD guys: a group of Alberta street boarders featuring Finn and JJ Westbury, and Tom O’Reilly, who were also in Riders on Board. And, at the end of grade 12, knowing she had something great in Calgary, she decided to stay, shacking up in a rental place provided by Beth.
Exiting her grade 12 year, Kennedi said, “I was on the contest train: nationals, Olympics vibes. Trying to do all that stuff. At that point, I had podiumed at nationals a couple of times and got third in Canada Winter Games.” But as her friendship with the SRD crew developed, her desire to compete changed. “The year after high school I squeezed myself in with Finn and JJ, and Tom’s crew, and started thinking street snowboarding was way cool. I loved the [Westbury] twins and Tom. They helped me out a bunch.” The SRD boys took Kennedi in, inviting her to film for Twist that year. Looking back with gratitude Kennedi says, “I probably wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for SRD and Twist.”
Filming for The Uninvited video was a direct result of what Kennedi produced for Twist. “Basically,” Kennedi explains, “I sent my Twist part to Jess, and was like ‘hey, here is some of my stuff. I heard you guys were filming a movie and it would be cool if I could get a couple of clips in it.’” This was over Instagram DM. “And Jess hit me back and was like you should fly to Quebec.” So, Kennedi packed a bag and flew out that night. “It was crazy,” she said. “I literally didn’t know any of them. And I also came in on the Quebec trip at a funny time. The crew was already there for a couple days, so everyone was tired, and I was fresh and spazzing. I got like three clips on the first day.” Those three clips turned into an opening part for her in The Uninvited and won her Transworld’s Rookie of the Year award on December 14th, 2018.
“Looking back, I didn’t even know what I was walking into. I was like, Jess is here, she is a legend, I’d be dumb if I don’t go. But now Jess and I are homies, and honestly, that was another turning-point person in my career. I owe a lot to her.”
The summer following The Uninvited release, Kennedi had high market value. And although she was happy to be on Capita, she thought it might be time for a change. Thinking back on that time Kennedi says, “I just didn’t want to be stuck in my career, you know? Like [Mike] Rav and Johnny [O’Conner] were riding for Capita for a long time before going pro. I didn’t really want something like that to happen to me—as much as I hate saying that.” But she’s right, the Capita team seems like a hard one to crack. So, after getting a couple different offers from other companies, Kennedi took some time to think. There was a lot to consider when leaving Capita. There was history there, and friendships—especially with Jess, someone who had helped her out so much in the last year. “It was really hard to leave,” she says. But, as we know, Kennedi accepted an offer from K2, joining the ranks as an International Am., next to long-time SRD friend Tom O’Reilly, and a whole new crew of boarders with a lot of growth potential.
“Looking back it’s kinda funny,” Kennedy says. “I remember being 17 and being like this stuff is taking so long! And Beth always told me, you’re so young still. No one wants to take 17-year-olds on trips.” Now at the age of 22, it seems like she’s being invited everywhere. If this last season is an indication of things to come, it seems like Kennedi has a real future in snowboarding, and she deserves it. She’s determined, focused, and a genuinely good person—just don’t catch her on a rough day of snowboarding, as she is also a self-proclaimed spazz…
I wanna say pepperoni but I don’t eat pepperoni, so veggie.
Mom or Dad?
No, I’m not answering that!
Pencil or pen?
You can gain one ability, what would it be?
What do you value most in a friendship?
Oh man, uhh, connection?
How many friends do you have?
Is cereal soup?
Is a hot dog a sandwich?
If you were a pair of shoes, what pair would you be?
Steel toe boots.
What’s the most played spot in snowboarding?
Green triple-flat rail in Calgary
Does grey ledge open up a new bag of tricks?
What are you reading right now?
Lamb, by Christopher Moore.
Do you read a decent amount?
A decent amount, I try to.
What’s your favourite country?
Are you down to throw a board at the spot?
Yeah, [laughs] I’m down. But it doesn’t look sick.
Live with people or alone?
What rider do you look up to right now?
Who did you look up to growing up?
Raewyn Reed and Tom O’Reilly.