Weekend Warm-Up: Lost

Adventure Films Skiing
Brody Leven. Photo: Adam Clark

At the peak of physical exertion and fatigue, the mind begins to wander into previously unearthed thoughts. Questions occur, new perspectives noticed and loneliness creeps in, no matter how many people are physically present. Occasionally, an activity that was once such a source of passion leaves you depleted spiritually and doubting your morals and motives. Such was the experience of sponsored skier Brody Leven.

Brody Leven’s storytelling skills are the foundation of his ski career.

Throughout his career, Leven has had more than 70 brand partners, from technology, clothing and car companies to sports conglomerates. But when he lost his ski sponsorship deal with Salomon after four years, Leven began to question himself.

Imposter syndrome refers to the nagging feeling that you are not as competent as others perceive you. Sufferers are commonly high achievers, who secretly consider their success due to luck rather than ability. The phenomenon can be debilitating to a person’s confidence and self-esteem.

Brody Leven’s social media presence earned him a partnership with Salomon.

How Leven achieved his success had something to do with it. Unlike most sponsored athletes, he didn’t earn notice by skiing better than others. Leven was exceptional, however, at documenting his adventures. He’s a content creator, a videographer of sorts. Through social media, Leven used these skills to launch his ski career.

“His considerable social following was an obvious attraction, but it was as much the type of engagement that he had with his followers as the raw number,” says Mark McCambridge, who was Salomon’s outdoor brand manager at the time of Leven’s signing.

Leven’s athletic abilities shouldn’t be entirely discounted. His exploits include a 47-day climbing and skiing trip around Iceland and ultra-marathons. His website lists projects dating back to 2008. His mobile DJ business as a nine year old foreshadowed his entrepreneurial spirit. Nowadays, Leven is a successful public speaker. He’s effectively carved a career out of being himself, not an athlete per se.

Leven had always had the former Soviet state of Georgia on his bucket list. His friend and role model Andreas Fransson, with whom he planned to go, sadly died in an avalanche just two weeks after receiving funding to go there with Leven. So, after losing both his Salomon partnership and his close friend, Leven went to Georgia in 2018 to ski Shkhara, the country’s tallest peak.

Bordering Russia, Shkhara had already been skied in 2010 by Peter Schön, but the couloir that Leven had his eye on had not. Jason Thompson attempted it in 2008 and 2015 but was unsuccessful.

Brody Leven on Shkhara.

After 10 days at base camp waiting for clear weather, Leven ran into his worst fear: himself. Leven was exactly where he intended to be, yet miles away from where he expected to be internally. He questioned his ability, identity, ego and motivation.

Building a career through social media likes is meaningless at the top of Georgia’s highest peak. Away from family and friends, he was acutely aware of his need to bring off the descent successfully.

In the end, Leven skied the line from peak to glacier, and the imposter syndrome went into remission.

About the Author

Chasing Dreams Travel

Alex Myall

A travel journalist born of her own mini adventures into far flung destinations. What began as a passion for guiding others to explore, evolved into journaling, blogging and booking. Find out more at https://chasingdreamstravel.co.nz/

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Barry Leven
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What a great pre-curser to watching the movie. Puts it all into perspective. Nice job Alex Myall.