The life of a professional snowboarder is hectic, to say the least. There are competitions, video filming, photoshoots, and traveling the globe. Smartwool athletes Bryan Fox and Austin Smith are no strangers to this lifestyle. In addition to balancing their snowboarding careers and personal lives, they've put a ton of effort into starting and growing their own organization - Drink Water. The duo is using their influence in the snow community to offer a positive alternative to energy drinks.
Smartwool has been a proud supporter of Drink Water since 2013, including the Rat Race and Double Tap banked slalom snowboard events. Read on to learn more about what Drink Water means and the faces behind it.
Smartwool: Let’s start with the basics, tell us a little about yourself.
Bryan: I am from Ramona, California. I now split my time between Portland, Oregon during the summer and Whistler, British Columbia in the winter.
SW: Austin, we know you spend most of your time in Bend, Oregon living out of your firetruck tiny home, but where else? We heard a rumor you might be building another…..
Austin: It’s true. There is a 1953 GMC firetruck that can be found in the snowy parking lot of Mt. Bachelor and hopefully in Alaska this spring. It’s my favorite house ever, with a little wood stove for heating and cooking, solar on the roof and lots of snowboards. I also have a 1996 GMC Astro box van, kind of a plumber’s truck looking thing in Mexico. I converted that into a micro dojo (house) and park it in front of my favorite surf breaks. The rooftop deck is probably my favorite feature on that one, now I want a rooftop deck on the firetruck.
SW: What got you into snowboarding in the first place?
Bryan: Growing up in Southern California, I started skateboarding and surfing. It wasn’t long before a friend’s older brother took me snowboarding for the first time at Mt. High. After that I was hooked, and became somewhat of a weekend warrior, riding Big Bear on the weekends. Right after high school, I moved to Oregon where you can snowboard year-round.
SW: Not only are you professional snowboarders, but you are also the founders of the organization Drink Water. Tell us about that! How would you describe Drink Water?
SW: What spurred the Drink Water movement?
Bryan: It all started one day with Austin calling to ask my opinion around the idea of an energy drink company sponsoring him. We both felt that there should be an alternative to energy drinks, and we came to the conclusion that drinking water is the voice for a healthy living. It started pretty simply in 2011. We would write Drink Water on our snowboards and starting screen printing sweatshirts in our garage.
Austin: Energy drinks were everywhere, and they started to take over the identity of snowboarding. We wanted to support something that we believed in, something as simple as drinking water.
SW: Is anyone else involved in the organization?
Bryan: Aside from myself, Austin, and my older brother Steve Fox, what has really built our brand is the snow sports community. Many in the community share the same thought and really took initiative to support Drink Water.
SW: What’s your most memorable Drink Water event to date?
Bryan: Hard to say what's the most memorable event. There are two that come to mind. The Pathology premiere in Portland was amazing, there was a great energy that night for our first big video premiere. We had home baked goods, lots of drinks, and a photo show/auction raising money for a friend of ours who was battling cancer. Also, the second year of the Rat Race. Year one was just our homies, but year two we realized it could be something. Tons of pros we didn't really know came up to race. Terje (Haakonsen) came and won it, which was just cool to have it feel like something larger than us. We also quadrupled the funds we raised for Water.org.
SW: What is next for Drink Water? What does the future look like?
Bryan: We’d really love to be a household name for people to really think about what they are consuming and why.
Austin: We produce movies and hosts events, partly to promote something we believe in. But mostly we create these things to build the snowboard community and showcase how great it is. As for what’s next? We want to continue to promote and say, “drink water.” We recognize nearly a billion people on Earth lack access to clean drinking water. That is why we currently donate 10% of our profits for every Drink Water product sold to water.org. We want to continue supporting this nonprofit as they work hard to solve this global crisis.
SW: With traveling the globe, filming, competing, and building a brand, it seems nonstop! You both lead extremely busy lives, to say the least. How do you balance it all?
Bryan: I think that is the balance, you just have to enjoy the free time you do have and also enjoy the "non-stopness." It's quite an opportunity to travel, snowboard, and generally live out your dreams.
Austin: I’m a bit envious of pro snowboarders back in the day before cell phones. They would go on a trip and that’s 100% what they were doing. Now I have internet everywhere in the world and am always working on other projects while we are traveling. It’s one of the draws for where I live in Mexico, no reception! That’s also why I love my firetruck and plumber's truck tiny homes. I spend as much time as possible in both those homes and everything balances itself.