Being sponsored by a ski and snowboard company is not always a life of 50-foot jumps, shredding the X-Games and popping open a luxury bottle of champagne from the podium.
It can involve getting from class to class then shred when you can. More Castleton University students than you would think are sponsored by both up-and-coming companies and well-established prestigious ones.
Castleton Senior Tyler Bernatovich has been sponsored since his senior year of high school in 2015. His friend got him in touch with the people from a ski shop called The Ski Company. Then the people from the shop got him in contact with Apo skis.
As time continued and his skills got better, he became sponsored by more companies. He is currently sponsored by Fatapus Skis, Blackstrap face masks and a local ski shop, Black Dog Sports in Killington.
Back in 2015, Bernatovich was competing in various events, but those days are behind him.
“I do rail jams here and there just for prize money, but I’m not into the whole slopestyle X-games stuff anymore,” Bernatovich said.
His main responsibility is to “create media for the company,” he said.
Coming from Victor, New York and skiing at Bristol Mountain, Bernatovich specializes in park skiing.
“I started skiing park, cause that’s all there was in New York,” Bernatovich said. “Once I came to Vermont, I started skiing trees and jumping off some big rocks and cliffs.”
Skiing is a huge part of Bernatovich’s life and his goals are to “eventually set up (a ski and snowboard) shop by a resort” he said.
Castleton University student Evan Bloch has been sponsored since the age of 14, but he didn’t become sponsored in a conventional way, like Bernatovich. Bloch said the conventional way is to first ride for a shop. The people who run shops are extremely well-connected in the ski and snowboard world.
He met the owners of Powe Snowboards at Killington, and got their contact info.
Tragedy struck when one day not long after when Bloch said his board snapped. That was “back when I was paying for boards,” he said. He decided to use the Powe contact and he was offered a contract. The past four seasons, all he ridden was a Powe board.
But it won’t stay that way.
His sponsorship game has expanded. Now he is sponsored by Killington Resort, Darkside Snowboards and next year, Bloch is leaving Powe for Nightmare Snowboards.
Bloch described his sponsorship role as “a lot of social media stuff.”
“Like five years ago, it was a lot more like filming video of parks and street and stuff. And I’m trying to do that more cause sponsors like that stuff,” he said.
Social media is changing the game all around.
Castleton Freshman Dan Hathaway was approached this season by the company, Proteus, through social media.
“They hit me up on Instagram and asked me if I’d be interested in a sponsorship,” to which Hathaway replied, “hell yeah,” and the days of his sponsored snowboarding life started.
They sent him a goodie basket consisting of stickers, a T-shirt, smartwatch and a fisheye lens for his phone to capture video in the gnarliest way possible.
The wide use of social media makes it easier to become noticed by companies and also for companies to keep tabs on you.
Athletes like Kobe Bryant and Carson Wentz make millions and billions per year, but skiing and snowboarding is not as glamourous. Pro rider Danny Kass is worth about a million dollars and skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn is worth $6 million, but how much are some of these sponsored Castleton students worth?
A lot of free equipment, but no cash.
“To be really good, you gotta be making podium” Bernatovich said.