No one can deny that our generation sparked a phenomenon by adding our own category into the world of sports. Action sports seems to prevail even with the economic climate and the cross-breeding hybrids of non-traditional sports and professional competition just can’t be stopped. Doran Laybourn is a prevalent child to snowboarding and has been competing professionally since 1998. I’ve had a chance to spend some time with Doran over the past few weeks and there is nothing short of what the defining characteristics would label a modern day professional snowboarder. You can say Doran is an outgoing guy who isn’t afraid to speak his mind when it comes to matters of taste. Being in the limelight as a professional athlete has awarded him to indulge in some of the finer things in life but he always remains true to his roots as he knows that the connection with his audience is crucial. You might see him rocking Gucci kicks with a matching scarf (which he may or may not announce at any given moment) but don’t get it twisted, more than likely he’ll always be wearing some sort of streetwear label to show that he is in the know of what’s going on in the streetwear world.
Doran started snowboarding in the Colorado Rocky Mountains at the age of 11. Originally hailing from Wyoming, Doran ended up moving to Colorado where he currently resides (for the most part). He had gone pro by the time he was 18 and had won numerous pro contests. When we sat down at the skate park to talk, Doran was telling me about the story when he had first gone pro – which was announced to him by his high school principal. “You’re a professional now, you just won money from snowboarding.” Apparently, his principal was concerned with issues regarding the NCAA as Doran was competing as an amateur in a pro arena. Believe it or not, Doran actually has no college experience under his belt but has gone great lengths in his industry. From 2007-2009, Doran took a sabbatical as a pro to manage the Vans International Snow team which opened many doors for Doran’s professional career. I asked Doran how this recession has effected him personally and his industry and needless to say, this recession hit us all – hard. Just like you, me, and almost every other American out there, Doran was laid off at his position as the Vans International Snow team manager in 2009. Doran saw this as an opportunity to reconnect to what has always been a part of his life – snowboarding. The depressing loss of his job actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise as since then, Doran has redirected the energy from the loss of his job to shredding mountain tops and regaining his skill as a snowboarder.
6 months after acquiring his position at Vans, Doran went through a traumatic accident while he was snowboarding. After a collision with a snow mobile, Doran had broken his leg in multiple different places. For any athlete, a serious physical injury can be a detriment for your career – especially when the injury is directly related to what is essential to your sport. Doran told me that the accident had forever changed his life. He was on the brink of a serious come back and had it all taken away in a blink of an eye. But Doran is a true fighter and had a life changing epiphany in that snowboarding is his life. Everything that I can see myself after getting to know Doran, this accident will be the prelude of his prime. His positive attitude is always present with the energy he gives off and he told me that this accident is only going to make him work harder to achieve his goals and ambitions. After his surgery and a year of physical therapy, Doran made an amazing recovery and is now riding in full effect. Even now, he goes through physical therapy sessions to maintain the success of his recovery but it doesn’t stop him in doing what he loves most.
Aside from snowboarding, Doran partakes in interests of all kinds and isn’t shy to talk to people that have the same interest. Skateboarding, DJ’ing, big trucks, hot girls, chronic – what appeals to the Stink Grenade’s audience is what appeals to him as well. When I was shooting Doran during his grind session under the Manhattan bridge, we came across a couple BMX’ers who Doran ultimately gravitated to. That’s just the type of guy Doran is, it doesn’t take much for him to be able to strike up a genuine conversation with a complete stranger if they have the same interest as he does. Watching Doran do his thing at the skate park made me realize that it doesn’t matter what life has got to throw at you – you can always come out on top with the right attitude and positive energy. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Doran has a bright future ahead of him which is why I asked him to give our readers who may want to pursue a pro career in actions sports, a word of advice from his experiences and this is what he had to say, “DO YOU!!! They are gonna try and tell you what you gotta do to get what they say you want as an athlete. FUCK THAT! Ride what you wanna ride, dress how you wanna dress, hang out with your REAL friends and DO YOU! If you have the talent and dedication, you will be discovered and your dreams will come true.”