LESSONS | DAVE DOWNING
This is a series where we talk with riders about lessons they've acquired through a life lived snowboarding.
A pioneer of the golden era of snowboarding, Dave was an early adopter of backcountry wedges and dropped standout style in all arenas of the game. Street clips, park performances, freeriding, freestyle—he did it all. Beyond paving the way for film part pros, he’s been invaluable to product development and the marketing tactics at Burton for 25-plus years. He lives at the beach, gets his in the mountains and is passing on knowledge to the next, next, generations. When I reached out to talk to Dave about what he’s gleaned from a life lived snowboarding, his response was immediate, “Yeah bro, whatever I can do to help promote snowboarding in a positive way, I’m in.” That’s, Dave. A true champion of the culture. And, as our conversation unfolded I learnt, despite all of his accolades, his best life is lived helping hold the spotlight rather than getting caught up in it. ––Jesse Fox
Be More Selfless
“I've learned a lot about life through snowboarding. And now that I look back on my whole pro snowboarding career, I can definitely see that it was a really selfish part of my life. Being a pro is all about promoting yourself, doing good for yourself. It's all about me, me, me. You have to commit to it. I filmed a lot of video parts, and I knew what the end goal was, three minutes of, hopefully, A-grade footage packaged in a VHS cassette tape. That was the end goal. And I had to be really selfish about it. I’d put my family away, my friends and my relationships with them away and totally focus on that for six months. I think any athlete probably feels the same way. You're not this giving person, giving your time to other things. You're taking. And I would have a really hard time with it nowadays. Promoting yourself through social media, gosh, to go through life, with that lens in everything you do? From the food you eat, to how you dress, what you do, where you go—it's all documented so you can be promoting yourself every day? I would have a hard time living my life like that.
In the last 12 years or so of not being a professional snowboarder, I've tried to get away from my name. I'm just who I am. I'm trying to be a part of things, be a part of teams, and be a janitor basically. Pick up the broom and sweep if you have to, do whatever you got to do.
I'm so grateful, and so proud and stoked of what I did for that 16 years as a professional snowboarder. But at the same time, I'm looking back and going, God, that was too selfish. It was crazy. I could do whatever I wanted to do every day.
Now, I just want to help—because it needs to be done, I'm going to do it. Like, at a demo I’m going to pack up the bags, and chip the ice off the bindings, and get it packed up for the reps 'cause it's hard. I've done it before. I've been a rep in the snowboarding world before I was a professional snowboarder. I understand where they're at. Dude, they have a hard job and I'm going to help. And that's how I see things for me in the snowboarding world. And I have a family and the life of the family is different, you have to be more selfless, giving. That's a part of my life that I'm trying to constantly work out. I want to help. I want to help people snowboard better, be more comfortable. I want people to learn from all the mistakes I made, so they don't make that mistake or have a bad day. So, that's how I see it. And when I do that, I feel good about it. I'm like, 'Cool. I helped that person.'"