He's always grinning... What is he smiling about... ? What is he not saying... ? If you've ever met Jeff Keenan, you get the sense that he knows something that you don't. The sense that somewhere along the way he was introduced to Sinatra's, 'My Way', and decided those would be the lyrics that he would live his life by. What is his way? And how is he so confident in it? As it turns out, Keenan's 'way' is with friends and in the mountains, continually pursuing his love for snowboarding. As an owner and co-founder of DWD, it's plain to see how Keenan's influence and confidence has kept the brand on it's current course, handling it's growth while maintaining a firm grasp on it's roots. Whether it's the day to day at Dinosaurs Will Die, fine tuning the next version of his pro model (The KWON), helping out friends and fellow team riders, or stacking clips for his next video part... Keenan's got it handled... smiling all the while, letting his actions speak louder than his words... and letting his riding speak for itself.
DWD - As a kid, there is TONS to do growing up in Vancouver... what was it about snowboarding that hooked you?
JK - I came from a HUGE Hockey family and the cost of hockey programs were to much for a family of 3 boys. Skiing was less expensive at the time, so my parents took that route. We were all on the slops as soon as we could walk, and the first time I went snowboarding was 1990. I was 10. I remember watching old Burton movies and they would be at Lake Louise jibbing garbage cans and hitting picnic tables. I remember my eyes bugging out of my skull at the sight of that. It changed everything, I was embarrassed of skiing, I would wear my ski suit and ski in the morning (because I had to) and at lunch I would run to the car and change into my Wide leg pants and Oversized Plaid Jacket before my friends could see me. I did this for a season and that was it. Skiing was passé and Snowboarding has been my life ever since.
DWD - Is that what still stokes your love for it today?
JK - To me Snowboarding is my life, it’s a true lifestyle, being out in the mountains with my friends and family, filming and progressing. I’m old in snowboard years, but I don’t feel it, every time I go out and ride I want to do something that I have never done before. That’s the thing with it, the options are limitless, you can follow the pack and get bored or you can steer your own course. I used to think it was the backcountry that held all the creativity, then I came back to Seymour, Heneghan and all the young guys were riding park like I’ve never seen. Ollieing over rails to quick turns into down-bars and having ideas to ride closeout rails with wooden banks behind them. It was so fresh compared to the basic FSBS down a 21 stair that I was so over seeing. Now, I look at Larson, Hupp, Brewster and so many of the young creative riders hitting street stuff, and I’m so inspired by it.
DWD - How has your perspective on snowboarding and the snowboard industry changed since you were first introduced to it?
JK - I was sponsored when I was 16 and I’ve seen the money come and go within the industry. The financial situation is one thing but the participants are another; those who stick out the bad times are truly the ones that reap the benefit of the good times ahead. I feel we are in a great position with snowboarding right now. It is coming full circle and the industry is once again in the hands of true snowboarders. Our “Industry” is no different from any other, every industry in the world goes through growth and strategic cycles, and we are a youthful, experimental and innovative group. It took us as snowboarders to revive the ski industry, with sidecuts, twin tips, powder specific boards, camber profiles all come from the brains of snowboarder. If we stay on our path we keep snowboarding alive and strong.
DWD - Is turning something that you love into your livelihood a benefit or a burden?
JK - Burden is pretty strong word, it’s not a burden but a stress. All you want is the best for everything and everyone around you, to balance this is the true key to success. What I loved when I was young is what I love today, there are massive ups and massive downs but in the end you are doing it your way and not answering to anyone other then those who surround you.
DWD - If we were to find you on a 'perfect day'... where would you be?
JK - At 6am already on top of the mountain watching the sunrise with a group of friends. All ready to work and ride, trading off filming and riding cliffs, lines, jibs, and building a jump in the afternoon. Hitting our last feature at sunset and coming home healthy (with a couple of clips) to a bunch of cold beer and positive emails. Haha that would be perfect!!!!
DWD - What influences you?
JK - My Surroundings, I never really put anything on a pedestal when I was young. You see, growing up on Seymour you would see guys like Kevin, Devun and even Peter Line, ripping around. I’d watch what they did and pull little tweaks and styles from what I saw. Seymour was a teaching ground it taught me that nothing is perfect and you can only create with the tools you have. For me these tools are the mountains, ocean, friends and family.
DWD - What are a few of the things that you knew you needed to have in your board (The Kwon) when you were designing it? How does that set the KWON apart from the rest of the DWD line?
JK - I had the pleasure of riding with Tyler Lepore for two years. He is a tiny guy and rides wide boards. When I stopped riding Option boards, Tyler hooked me up with a couple of his pro model Capitas. They floated in powder like no other board I had ridden before, however it was too stiff for the quick maneuvering I like. I wanted the Kwon to be a little wider for Powder with a more forgiving flex pattern for tree riding. I like to compare the Kwon to an Anti-Hero or Creature bowl board. It is made to rip fast and strong with a slight forgiveness.
DWD - What are some rad things that you're seeing on the horizon for snowboarding?
JK - Innovation in board technology is insane. The ideas and visions that have come to life and the resurgence of past ideas made better are truly shaping how we will perceive Snowboards in the future. As for snowboarding itself, the paths that one can take are growing year to year. From seeing the streets as a blank canvas to the allowance of split boards into where only helicopters could go, we are pushing into the unknown. As we explore deep into these areas progression endures.
DWD - What advise would you give your younger self now?
JK - To stop going big and save your body, wait I need to tell that to present day me. Ummmm, Don’t take things to personal and don’t hold grudges. Your time will come, and you will be stronger once you know this.
DWD - The people wanna know... when can they expect that next J-Kwon video part?
JK - Well the last one took a couple of years, the next one will take quite a few, lets say 10-20 years.
Follow Keenan on instagram and on facebook, and go get your DWD Kwon board are your local DWD retailer before they're all gone!