“The first day I tried snowboarding, I fell in love with it. It became my everything, my thoughts, my life,” Calais Le Coq said.
Le Coq, an art and design sophomore, happens to be a sponsored snowboarder who grew up in the “heart of the Colorado Rockies,” as she puts it.
From the city of Silverthorne, Colo., Le Coq spent countless hours on the slopes of nearby world-renowned Breckenridge. She first got into snowboarding around the end of middle school and instantly fell in love with the sport.
“When I finally got the hang of it I wondered to myself why I haven’t been doing this my whole life, I was hooked,” Le Coq said.
Her career as a sponsored athlete did not start till she broke her collarbone in her junior year of high school.
“When I broke my collarbone, I didn’t know what to do with myself since I couldn’t board for a while,” she said. “So I went to the SIA (Snow Sports Industries America Snow Show) and found out about Anakie outerwear.”
Anakie is a snow apparel company which makes pants and jackets exclusively for women in snow sports. Le Coq is part of the Anakie “team” that consists of riders sponsored by the company from the United States, Australia, Spain, Japan and Canada.
During the time her collarbone was broken, Le Coq arduously put together a video of clips of her snowboarding and sent it in to Anakie as part of a video contest. Anakie reached out to Le Coq after receiving her submission and requested to sponsor her.
“It was a dream come true,” Le Coq said.
“Snowboarding style has pretty much been baggy clothes, not a lot of things have been geared towards girls. Anakie lets girls look feminine if they want to and still encourages them to shred, they’re definitely showing the market that it’s not just a guys sport anymore,” Le Coq said.
Le Coq has maintained close ties with Anakie. Each time she enters competitions or practices snowboarding routines, she takes pictures of herself wearing Anakie outerwear and posts them on her social media accounts.
“I was really inspired by Anakie,” Le Coq said. “In the future I want to create really unique jackets for both guys and girls, stuff that really hasn’t been seen in the industry before. I want to bring some more style to the sport.”
Le Coq’s artistic side drew her to Cal Poly, she said she is “too comfortable in Colorado.”
“I wanted to adventure out and experience something that was completely new,” Le Coq said. “On top of that Cal Poly’s art and design major was exactly what I was looking for.”
Art is another reason she got involved with MNMNT (pronounced monument) Snowboards, a sponsor that reached out to her around a year after she signed with Anakie.
Originally Monument got in touch with Le Coq because they did not have any female riders or boards designed for women. The company sent Le Coq a free board to show that it was now trying to market its products toward women.
“From there I got closer with the company. Now I’m trying out all of their boards,” Le Coq said. “But besides from the boards it was really the art that they put on the boards that got me hooked to them.”
MNMNT stands apart from other board companies because every line of its boards features different artists, and the company includes artists’ signatures on its boards in place of putting its own brand name.
Le Coq was inspired by the way the brand operates, she said, and now aspires to design unorthodox artwork for snowboards. Ultimately it would not be her end goal but it is a step she would like to take in her future.
One of her main goals as both a winter athlete and artist is to break down what she described as a “divide” preventing many girls from becoming interested in snowboarding.
“Girls reading snow sport magazines only see girls in tiny bikinis or lots of make up to sell gear. For the most part they’re never actually riding or doing anything,” Le Coq said. “Girls don’t think that they can eventually hit cliffs, because they’re never in magazines hitting cliffs.”
Women in girls are now seen as more marketable or “shreddable,” Le Coq said, because of companies like Anakie and MNMNT.
This winter Le Coq said she will be back in Colorado and will be trying to ride every day. Though she sometimes misses Colorado, she said there is no love lost from living in California.
“(I) constantly have snowboarding on my mind. I’m always itching to get to Mammoth or Tahoe when there’s snow, but I love living in (San Luis Obispo) too,” Le Coq said. “I like how laid back it is here, which is much different from the snowboard culture, which is expensive and puts a lot of pressure on you. I miss home a lot, but I’m nowhere near done exploring California.”