Sean Ryan is not your average business major. Sean, a senior, will graduate this spring but you won’t find him on Wall Street or working for a big marketing firm come next fall. Instead Ryan will return to the job he holds while not at school--asa professional snowboarder. Sean began seriously competing at age 15 and turned pro in 2009 when he was offered a contract with Kicker Action Sports. Her Campus sat down with him to learn how he balances riding with school and about his plans for after graduation.
Her Campus: How did you become interested in snowboarding?
Sean Ryan: My parents have a house in Okemo, Vermont and I started skiing when I was two. Eventually, I picked up snowboarding around age nine, and I had so much more fun snowboarding than skiing because it was a whole new progression. In high school I decided to take it more seriously, so during my sophomore year, I got into a weekend program at Okemo and that was the first year I started competing.
HC: So what does it mean to be a pro snowboarder?
SR: Kicker Action Sports was the first contract I got that technically classified me as a professional snowboarder. But sometimes I still don’t like to fully call myself a professional because I definitely can’t support myself solely through snowboarding. There are different degrees of contracts and before Kicker, I rode semi-professional for a bunch of companies, like Dakine, Forum, Oakley, and Special Blend, on their AM team, which is right before pro.
HC: What have been your best competition results so far?
SR: I usually travel around and do the Burton Global Open Series. In general, people are most familiar with the US Open but they have Opens all around the world. That whole circuit is ranked under TTR World Snowboarding, the highest-ranking system for competitive snowboarding. Two seasons ago I finished 25th in the world.That’s when everything was going really well and I knew I needed to stay focused and continue to take time off from school. This year, I finished 12th in the European Open and 17th in the U.S. Open, which were two big contributing factors to my world ranking.
HC: I noticed you’re on crutches now, so what kinds of injuries have you dealt with throughout your snowboarding career?
SR: Last January I was training in Switzerland right before the European Open and I broke five bones in my foot and dislocated my lisfranc juncture, which is a pretty complicated injury. My foot was almost half metal and I had to come back to school. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to snowboard again after that because they had to fuse three joints in my foot, but I stuck with it, did a lot of rehab, and got back to pretty much 90%, which in a snowboarding boot, was like 100%. I got back into riding this year and things were going really well. I was riding probably better than I ever have before and was doing a bit of riding with the U.S. team and the U.S. coach. But I just recently broke my fibula and spiral fractured my tibia.