Breaking Into the Industry w/ 686 Team Manager Patrick McCarthy


Patrick McCarthy

Current Position

686 Team Manager

Years On Snow

28 years sliding sideways on the snow.

Days On Snow per year: Now? Years ago?

60-75 days on snow this year, but five years ago I would usually put in well over 100 days per year.

Finish this statement: Currently I am…

Currently I am working on Rabbit Hole, the new 686 movie project.

When did you get into snowboarding and what was your evolution through the ranks?

I started snowboarding in 1989 when I was 9 years old. At first, I rode the local school and church ski buses and went on family ski vacations. Then once I got my car, I spent nearly every day on the hill. Growing up in Seattle, I had a bunch of resorts within driving distance: Stevens Pass, Alpental and Crystal Mountain. Soon a shop sponsor in Seattle, Gregg’s Greenlake Cycle, picked me up as a team rider and they gave me a gold pass to every resort in Washington. Then I started competing and shooting videos with my friends then it just grew from that.

When did you turn pro?

I turned pro in 2001. I was at college at Western Washington University when one of my sponsors that had been helping only with travel budget, Option Snowboards, asked me if I wanted to go pro and snowboard full-time. I could not pass up the opportunity to live out my dream so I accepted and dropped out right away.

When did you realize you wanted to work in the industry?

When I turned 30, the wear and tear of snowboarding on my body started to become evident. I wanted to use the skills and industry connections I had gained during my time snowboarding to do something productive and hopefully give back for the 10 years I had as a pro. It was the perfect time for me to move into doing something in the industry. 686 had been my most loyal sponsor; I loved my relationship with the owner Michael Akira West as well as all of the employees at that time. It really feels like a big family and it has worked out well. I love being a mouthpiece for the brand, still being able to spend plenty of time on snow.

How did you go about making this a reality?

I just tried to take time to really learn what I could do to be as effective as possible as an employee. I looked to not spend all my time in the mountains but to split my time between working in the office and getting turns on the mountain. From there, I made an effort to figure out ways to better lead the team, to be more of an asset to the brand while learning a lot of different sides to what really makes the wheels turn for 686.

What is a typical day in your role at 686?

A typical day for me usually starts with a morning chat with the crew in the office. Then I reach out to the team to gather some assets (imagery, video clips, etc.) for social media the brand in general. From there, I sit down and start planning for various winter projects including getting this video put together. It's been rad all these years to be able to work remotely from my home office in Bellingham, dial in on Skype daily, and be able to contribute to this brand.

What is your favorite part about being in the industry?

My favorite side to working in the industry is all the relationships that I have built and still being able to spend a bunch of my time in the mountains. Nothing is more satisfying to me than sharing the experience of getting away and enjoying the actual act of snowboard or skiing with other people. I think this helps authenticate anyone working in our industry and revitalizes peoples motivation to work in skiing and snowboarding.

Education vs. experience – which has been more important for you?

I think a solid base of education is important but nothing can replace the experience that you gain working in the industry. The variation of people and environments that you encounter working and experiencing it in the industry is second to none.

What advice would you give someone wanting to break into the industry?

I would say stay in school and get those basic educational values so you have personal structure. Follow your heart and stay in the mountains if that is the route you want to take. Also, make sure to always treat everyone around you with the utmost respect and be as humble as possible. Build a network of people around you that you can trust and will drive you to work as hard as possible.