Hi! This is Brendan from Infinite Degrees!
Like many 8 year olds, I was captivated by Shaun White. To see someone so young flying 10 feet out of a 22' halfpipe wall seemed improbable, let alone adding 3 full rotations on top of that, popularizing moves like the McTwist, and then adding jaw-dropping style on top of other tricks.
As a kid in St. Louis, Missouri, the closest mountains are days away. I ended up being grabbed by snowboarding as an escape, both as a viewer and as a rider. I would go to my local man-made hill most weekends to hit the 10 foot jumps to try and pull a front three and take advantage of every trip out west that I could (including one lucky trip to High Cascade!). In addition, I would try to watch every competition I could and see Shaun battle it out versus the likes of Danny Davis and Kevin Pearce, potentially see Kelly Clark throw a 1080 in the halfpipe, or occasionally watch a Travis Rice or JP Walker film.
Fast forward to college, I got really big into sports analytics at the University of Michigan. It made me see how data and my computer science skills can augment professional sports to tell a story, enhance viewership, and keep people interested in a Tuesday night MLB game between the Detroit Tigers versus the Kansas City Royals.
After school, I tried to apply this computer science, engineering, and analytical knowledge to aspects of finance at BlackRock. But at the end of the day, creating systems to analyze or trade some financial derivative in Big Corp was not the most exciting, impactful, or worthwhile use of my time.
Fortunately, I still kept doing sports analytics projects on the side, and presented at the 2020 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Hackathon where I met Gus Kaeding of US Ski and Snowboard. Gus had been asking “how can we better apply data to freestyle snowboarding”, dangled the opportunity of free lift tickets, and I was hooked.
The main problem was that there was not much data out there on action sports, and few viewers (including the announcers) knew what was being thrown in any competition or on Instagram. I think in a large part, this has been represented in viewership dropping for both the X-Games and Winter Olympics, the Burton US Open shutting down, camps like High Cascade merging with Windells, or halfpipes disappearing from mountains around the US.
I realized that my main goal should be to try to recapture what I and so many others were once captivated by professional snowboarding and skiing.
Snowboarding and freeskiing are not dying, in fact they are growing a huge amount because COVID tailwinds, stars like Eileen Gu bursting onto the world stage, iconic story lines emerging between Ayumu Hirano and Scotty James, and innovative companies like Woodward or events like Natural Selection establishing themselves globally! I’m working to make Infinite Degrees augment the action sport viewing experience and grow these competitions, athlete brands and pockets, and make action sports more inclusive to inspire the next generation of athletes.
At Infinite Degrees, we have started with something that I’m familiar with: the data. We provide a training and analysis tool for people looking to progress. Currently, you can look up any trick instantly and see a six second clip of that trick of videos from competitions and around the web. Also, we are partnering with athletes like Bruce Oldham to provide a better training and mountain experience in app, while helping him grow his brand and business. If you know of other ski or snowboard athletes, industry professionals, or anyone else who would be interested in or partnering with Infinite Degrees, let me know! I moved out to Portland and the Mt. Hood area for the whole summer and would love to connect.
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Anyways, enough sales/engineering/networking/product talk. I think at the end of the day, Infinite Degrees, with our data, product, and action sports community, can create an underpinning for a day when I mention action sport athletes with my friends in the same sentence as LeBron James, go into a random bar and talk and watch action sports with the stranger next to me, and see more riders, films, coaches, competitions, tours, broadcasts, and parks around the world.
To everyone on this email, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy days and lives to provide some nugget of knowledge, mentorship, connection, or input into Infinite Degrees! It means a ton.
To infinity and beyond!