Jesse Kennedy has established himself as one of Australia's most exciting snowboarders. Breaking onto the scene at a young age with the Billabong AM team, Jesse has had himself an unbelievably consistent stint within the Aussie circuit. A combination of creativity and tasteful snowboarding, Jesse's riding output has become a joy to watch over the years. After recently joining the bolstering YES team, Jesse was put to work with a spontaneous trip to Japan and filmed a part for the brand's latest Tasman Team series.
We got the chance to catch up with the Perisher native for a one-on-one interview.
Yo Jesse. How's it going?
Jesse: I'm real good! Just keeping busy and active during these strange times.
First up, congratulations on getting on the YES. team. When did it all become formal and how has your journey been so far?
J: It’s been awful. Haha, nah, nothing but fun with the YES family. I joined at the end of 2019 and straight away got put on a trip to Japan. It was such a humble experience from the get-go, that trip was insanely fun and they have been nothing but good to me so far!
Looks like you and Tom Pelley had a blast on that last trip. That inflatable suit video you did was hilarious. Had you done much riding/filming with him before this trip?
J: This was actually the first time riding and hanging out with Pelley. It was super fun, he's one of the better people to go film with. He looked out for me a lot on the trip and made sure I came home alive (haha).
We’ve heard stories of how fun and loose the YES. Crew are on a night out. What's been your favourite moment with them so far?
J: I have a couple that stand out, like a night with RDM (Romain De Machi) and Pelley in Tokyo but I really shouldn't talk about that one... I would have to say one of the first nights at the resort when we all had a few drinks and just talked. I was hanging out with riders I have looked up to my whole life. We talked shit, drank beers and i found out so much about the industry and how big of an impact they've made. I will never forget moments like that.
In terms of riding, you're pretty park and street orientated. How was your first trip in the infamous Myoko Pow?
J: It wasn't too bad. I knew from the start that I shouldn’t underestimate the snow even though I did a few times. It made me become more aware of how easy snow can move and how one small mistake can be life-threatening. I was lucky to be with such a well-experienced crew that had my back.
How did your first trip to Japan compare to the abundance of riding you've done in North America and Europe?
J: The trip was so last minute and spontaneous for me, I was there pretty quickly and I can say that it's the best place I've been to. I don’t know if it’s the food, the snow, or just the amazing cities that made it so unreal for me. It must be everything but Japan is a place I’ll always revisit later in life.
Favourite 5 things about Japan?
J: Food, pow, amazing people, the history and of course, the Onsen.
5 least Favourite things about Japan?
J: Drowning in snow, getting a shit haircut, being the rookie on the trip, COVID starting out and drinking too much sake.
YES really embrace the whole “family” mentality. Have you felt that there’s a real bond between you and the whole YES. Crew?
J: 100%. I haven’t felt so welcome to a brand in a long time and to me, it doesn’t feel like a sponsor, it's just a great group of people doing what they love.
What do you think makes for a quality video part?
J: Creativity, being a crazy fool and you need a great filmer for sure.
If you had to nominate your favourite video part of all time, what would it be?
J: Shit that’s hard. Hmm, any part from Double Decade.
What is your favourite way to ingest snowboard media at the moment, versus ten years ago?
J: Well 10 years ago I would wait for the Australia winter so I could go to Jindabyne and get the new movies. Now I just go on Instagram and that leads to everything from clips, movies, to interviews.
What would you like to focus on for your filming for the next 12 months?
J: I wouldn’t mind hitting different rails and spots around Australia. Maybe get down to Victoria if possible.
Are you cooking up any plans for some 'dream trips' once the world reopens? It certainly seems like there is so much more to explore in Japan for some FS-orientated filming.
J: I have 2 dream trips and Japan is one of them. I really want to explore Japan more, film some street and get myself more conformable with their insane pow. The other is to head back to Colorado with a good mate of mine and just redo a very old trip we did when we were grommets.
Your brother Jakob Kennedy has been a part of the YES. crew for a while. What's the best and worst thing about filming with your brother?
J: When I was younger we would clash over shots only because I was such a tight ass about what tricks I did. Now we never have a problem, it’s so easy, I never have to say too much for us to understand what we both want out of a shot. We never have any pressure, we just go out and have fun and normally that ends up with some good clips.
When you think about backcountry freestyle riding in Australia, what rider stands out in your mind as the pinnacle?
J: I always enjoyed watching Charles Beckinsale, seeing him on the cover of the new mags or seeing him hit spots around Jindabyne was always exciting.
It would be great to see more of this riding being documented - but I guess our short season isn't really that cooperative for the most part. Do you have any goals to direct your riding in this direction in the future?
J: It would be great and I would love to get around it more for sure. I tend to see what the snow is doing and make the most of it. If there's some good cover then there are always spots I have lined up.
How would you compare professional snowboarding now, to professional snowboarding 5 years ago?
J: Well in the last 5 years I think it’s changed quite a bit. I never remember it being competitive like it is today. It’s still so fun, but a lot more kids are being trained up and kinda forced to train on airbags and learn an insane amount of flips. Apart from that, it’s the same for me.
What is your prediction (or hope) for how it will look 10 years from now?
J: I really just hope it doesn’t turn into a sport that's overly competitive - like people going off or barking at each other over trivial stuff. If you watch it now everyone is so stoked on each other and that is something I love so much about the sport.
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