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Monday, April 3, 2017

FWQ 2017 SEASON WRAP UP AT CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN, WA



So many things had to line up going into the final stop of the Freeride World Qualifier in order for me to make it on the World Tour next season. I needed to place 1st or 2nd at this final stop to edge out my friend and the current leader Michelle. I had a lot of emotion coming into this event, given how much effort has gone into the season leading up to it. Putting that much pressure on yourself prior to an event usually does not work in ones favor, however, I have been competing long enough to learn how to channel that energy into my snowboarding.

We arrived at Crystal Mountain, the morning before qualifiers to get on the venue and inspect the course. Unfortunately, we misunderstood where the venue would be since the organizers told us it would be somewhere different than what they had planned, in order to conserve snow conditions on the actual course. So, after spending the whole day inspecting the wrong course, I was a little stressed out to learn that the venue was actually going to be somewhere other than what I was looking at all day long. That being said, we were provided with some good photos of the actual qualifying venue at the riders meeting the night before so I was able to study those and find a line to inspect the following morning.

The conditions were pretty great considering the less than ideal snowpack, as well as the lighting coming in and out. We were able to get a glimpse of Mt. Rainier towering behind us from the top of the venue prior to us dropping in for our runs. The sport is continuing to grow and I was ecstatic to compete against 17 talented women in the field (the largest of any i've been a part of.) I dropped in 4th, and was elated to find my line, which was a typical line for me on qualifying days, being a technical line with a high consequence exit through a narrow chute. Most of the field stayed on their feet and there were so many good runs I new that the cut for finals would be harsh and the scores would be tight. They cut the field from 17 girls to 10 for finals, landing me in 5th place going in with less than a point spread from my 5th place score to the girl in first place. I knew I had some making up to do to get myself into that second or first place on the podium. So, I decided to mix up my strategy for finals after seeing what the judges really liked by watching the rest of the runs.


A big thank you to Crystal Mountain for giving us by far the most amazing finals venue of all of the Freeride World Qualifiers in the US. Aptly named the The King, this peak looms above the rest of the surrounding mountains in the area, with prominent rock features, spines, and chutes that cover almost 1200' vertical feet. Needless to say every single person was FIRED UP to ride this venue and genuinely looking forward to our runs for finals. Mother Nature did her part in providing us some fresh snow to help soften up our lines and cushion our landings. Again I dropped in at the beginning of the pack. As I mentioned earlier, I decided to take a less technical line and really lay down some nice turns with some speed that I could take into my cliff drops as well. I found a fun natural halfpipe at the top that allowed me to make some really nice turns tossing snow off the side of the spines each turn and truly having a blast which I think translated into my snowboarding. Hands down one of the most fun runs of my snowboarding life.

 It was a tense few hours waiting for awards to happen later in the day, but it was filled with laughter, smiles, and lots of hooting and hollering watching the rest of the competitors absolutely annihilate The King venue. After it was all said and done, and was literally skipping up to the podium when they announced me in 2nd place solidifying my spot on the FREERIDE WORLD TOUR for next season! I've haven't been this overjoyed in a long time, and it was great to share this moment with my fellow athletes and friends from all over the world.




THANK YOU SO MUCH to all of my supporters, and my sponsors for helping me get from my first contest in Japan, all the way to standing atop the podium at my last event here at Crystal Mountain and cementing my place on the Freeride World Tour for the 2018 season. Also a big thank you to my family, my mom especially for always believing in her little baby and helping me see through this crazy dream of mine. I love you all, thank you a thousand times! Get ready for the big show next year!



Thanks to my sponsors: Niche Snowboards, Discrete, Mt. Hood Meadows, Aura Optics, PlayHardGiveBack, XS Unified, Outdoor Technology, Shred Betties, 686, Polar Pro

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

FWQ 4* KICKING HORSE MOUNTAIN, B.C.



 The Canadian Rockies are every bit as magical as you may have imagined, Kicking Horse in particular is a special place. A relatively small resort compared to the mega corporations that seem to be expanding year by year, Kicking Horse Mountain has a total of 4 lifts that access some of the most incredible in-bounds terrain i've ever been privileged enough to ride. Graced by some fresh snowfall, the venue chosen for the qualifying and finals venues had every single athlete very enthusiastic to get the competition underway.


Leading the charge up the boot pack as the first athlete eager to ride this venue, I wasn't even tired at the top of the relatively short but steep hike to the top of the aptly named Terminator Peak. I was second to last to drop in and was elated to watch the rest of the field dance down the mountain in front of me. There was still quite a bit of snow left on the venue regardless of the open inspection where all of the athletes can go and "check out" their line and landings prior to the start of the contest. Due to the lack of visibility and possible weather coming in, the judges made the tough call to split the judging into 3 separate portions of the hill, instead of all collectively watching and judging a top to bottom run from the bottom of the venue. Although its not ideal to be judged like that, it was the right call to make and helped the contest run very quickly and smoothly. I was able to find my line with ease, execute my airs and keep my fluidity and speed up through my run, landing me in second place going into the Finals venue the following day.

Last year on the same finals venue, I made two almost fatal errors that were haunting me all morning while trying to choose my line. Last second before dropping in I decided to switch my entry point and chose the slightly less technical chute to ride into the main chute. Mentally I wasn't totally there, and it was probably apparent in my riding. However, I was able to make it down, ride the traverse over the rock island to the other chute on the course, and find my bottom air into the powder field below. I wasn't completely happy with how the run went, but I had a decent point lead on the competitors who qualified behind me. Its always nerve wracking not knowing exactly how you ended up until the awards, but regardless we all have to play the waiting game until later that night when they hosted the awards party at Whitetooth Grill. I am so proud of Kiana and Michelle who placed in 2nd and 1st place, and deserved every bit of it. I am also delighted to come in 3rd place knowing I could have done a little more on the finals day, now it all comes down to the last event at Crystal Mountain next week. Wish me luck!



Tuesday, March 7, 2017

FWQ 4* TAOS SKI VALLEY



New Mexico, not the first place that comes to mind when you think of big mountains, great snow, and extreme terrain. But it should be. The Taos Valley is beautifully dramatic, rising from around 6,000ft in town to the top of the peaks around 13,000ft which tower above the valley below giving expansive views in every direction.

Like the rest of North America they have been having an absolutely stellar season. Needless to say, all of the athletes were fired up to arrive for the contest knowing there was good coverage and some fresh snowfall. The day one venue for the qualifying round into finals took place on West Basin, which is a fun technical zone, including some steep rocky areas and tight chutes. I found my line relatively quickly during inspection, and was truly looking forward to riding it.


We were greeted by the warm New Mexico sunshine the morning of the contest, so warm in fact that I was able to ride in just my sweatshirt, which is my favorite snowboarding attire. Women snowboarders were the first group to go and I dropped in somewhere near the end of the pack. I put in my headphones and was fired up to drop in and ride my line. Feeling confident about knowing exactly where to go, I made quick work of the run, tried to look fluid, nailed my bottom air and I think the judges could tell I was having a ton of fun while doing so.  There were so many strong runs from all of the girls it was a great show to watch and I was elated to qualify 1st for the finals day.
We were really hoping to ride Kachina Peak for the finals venue. All of the athletes couldn't stop talking about how great that venue would be for the final and I know that the event organizers really went to bat for us trying to make that happen. Unfortunately the new CEO of Taos didn't allow it because they didn't want to shut down that venue to the public which was extremely disappointing. That being said a big thank you is in order to Kaela and Tom whom organized the event and really went out of their way to try to get that venue for us!


Another incredibly warm and sunny day welcomed us first thing in the morning the following day for finals. Again, women snowboarders were the first group to drop and I was the last person to drop in. Since we were unable to have a different venue, we competed again on West Basin, so I rode the same line I did the day before. Since I had already rode the line and scored well on it, I was feeling extra calm and excited to ride it again. The run flew by, I stayed on my feet and was so excited to have finished the day on a strong note and watch the rest of the show. Some unbelievable runs went down, and I can't say enough good things about how hard these athletes work and put themselves on the line sending it off huge cliffs, tight trees, shoots, and some relatively tough landings. The day wrapped up and awards took place around 6 pm, and I couldn't believe I was standing on top of the podium with another 1st place finish! Congrats to all of the girls for riding so hard and inspiring me to push my riding as well. Thank you again to Taos for hosting the event along with all of the event organizers and volunteers. And a BIG thank you to my sponsors for their continued support in this chase for the Freeride World Tour spot, as well as my family and friends both old and new! Off to Kicking Horse tomorrow for the next stop of the tour.



Sunday, February 26, 2017

FWQ 4* Crested Butte










Crested Butte has been having a record setting season, with 100% of terrain open for the first time in years, it was an awesome time and place to have a the 4* Freeride World Qualifying event! Upon arrival, we were greeted with some unusually warm temperatures and we got a taste of spring riding during our inspection day.

Mother Nature decided to give us some fresh snow for the qualifying rounds and luckily they kept the venue closed and we only had visual inspection of the course until the morning of the competition to preserve the snow. Unfortunately, after about 60 competitors inspected the venue the morning of the contest there was little snow left covering up the rocky features hidden just below the surface.
I felt confident about my line choice, I knew exactly where to go and how to get into the chute I chose for my run. The bottom of the chute funneled into a little cliff zone, with a mandatory air at the bottom into a less than ideal landing, but I was feeling positive that I could pull it off. I put on one of my favorite Cypress Hill songs, dropped in and was feeling the flow. I felt solid in my execution, made it through the technical entrance to the chute, sent my bottom air and came out of the chute going FAST. Somehow, I was able to hold on and not tumble through the mogul field that I ended up jumping into. I cruised into to the finish corral with a smile on my face, and some good friends waiting to give me a hug and a high 5!




Qualifying for finals day in 2nd place, had me feeling calm, cool, and collected even though they weren't sure exactly what venue would be chosen for the actual contest. Since these contests are a cumulative score of your qualifying score plus your finals day score, I knew that I just needed to put down a solid fluid run. The event organizers were scrambling trying to provide us with most technical venue while also putting our safety first. A task much easier said than done. At the end of the day they made a decision that all competitors and spectators appreciated, giving us one of the longest venues possible, a top to bottom run that included everything from technical tight chutes, drops, open powder fields, and an amazing place for athletes to really shine at the bottom.
I chose the line less ridden for my finals run, only one other female athlete chose the same line. I found some good snow, dodged some potentially life ending rocks through a chute and found my way down to the bottom more technical section of the run.


My original plan changed on the fly when I got to my arrival point where I could either choose to get into a more dangerous zone, or keep up my fluidity and make it look good. Making a split-second decision when I was at the point of no return I decided to take the "easier route" after feeling the snow conditions on the other route. My gut instinct was right and I was able to put down a really solid top to bottom run, and come out with a 1st place finish! A big congratulations is in order to all of the other competitors for handling these conditions, venue changes, and mother natures' inherent ability to make your second guess the run you've chosen. Thanks also goes out to my sponsors, family, supporters! And a HUGE thank you to all of the event volunteers, organizers, and Crested Butte for hosting yet another historic freeride event. Now off to Taos for the next one!



Thursday, January 26, 2017

JaPOW - Freeride World Qualifier 4*



The look of pure satisfaction of getting faceshots in your contest run.
The land of the rising sun. A label true to the name, Japan is one of the most amazing spiritually connecting places in the world. To be in Japan is something that every snowboarder dreams about, one experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. To not only be there, but get 6 days in a row of the best days I've ever had on my snowboard in addition to the most fun contest there could be, felt like an absolute dream come true.

After hours of travel a makeshift office in the airport.
The ride into Hakuba Valley, enjoying my PHGB trailmix!


After hours of travel, planes, trains, and automobiles I was happy to get out of the big city and start making our way up into the "Japanese Alps" a.k.a the Hakuba Valley, a landscape which is sincerely remarkable.
The "Japanese Alps" 

Happy Ladies!
Upon arriving in Japan we heard they were having a bad year, but since the Freeride World Tour Qualifier was making its debut in Asia, regardless of the conditions we were fired up. These events take an enormous amount of planning and coordination from everyone, from the Hakuba tourism department to the FWT organizers, to the volunteers, and the athletes. Everyone has to come together, be understanding that we do a winter sport, and the conditions and safety take priority over how badly we all want to compete. That being said, luckily someone had the foresight that we might need a lot of extra weather days, and did we ever!

The contest was supposed to happen within the first 3-4 days we were in the Hakuba Valley, but with heavy snow continually falling through the week making the venue unsafe for competition, the event
organizers had to do some crafty thinking and rethink a venue with very short notice. They did
everything in their absolute power to keep the contest and spirit alive, keeping us updated with constant emails and meetings throughout the week. Thanks Alicia for being so on top of that :)

I don't think anyone was complaining about having to wait for the contest because every single competitor got to go ride at multiple resorts around Hakuba Valley and have literally, the BEST days of our lives. We rode chest deep powder all day, soaked in the natural hot springs (onsens) with a view after riding, then ate the most incredible fish every night, this was paradise.

One of my favorite buildings in Hakuba









A few days later the weather and snowpack was finally stable enough to have the contest in the backcountry of Hakuba Happo One Ski Resort. By this point I think half the field forgot we were there for a contest, because we were all grinning ear to ear all day every day with the meters fresh snow accumulating.
Possibly one of the best days of my life. Hakuba 47


The morning of the competition the sun greeted us for a little while, just enough time to give us the vitamin D we were missing from the huge storm that we were submersed in for the last week. By the time we were at the lodge to get our avalanche equipment checked, the storm moved back in, and made visibility a little bit more difficult.


Since they had to move the venue last minute they ended up giving us a snowmobile ride up a couple miles almost to the top of the venue. Lucky for us or we would have had to boot pack nearly an hour and half to the top of the venue. I'm amazed how efficiently it all went given the number of competitors and limited snowmobile usage,  not a single person missed their start.

Women snowboarders were the third group to drop, I was the third person to drop and I ended up in 3rd place on the podium! It was difficult to find my line after getting a faceshot first turn into the unbelievably steep venue.  I lost my line I inspected the day before nearly immediately, and just went for a soul inspired run, nearly blind. Congrats to all of the athletes and especially the ladies battling challenging near white-out conditions, and persevering with smiles on your faces. It was amazing to watch all of the competitors in their elements and especially watch the ladies absolutely SEND IT! Special shoutout to my friend Michaela Davis Meehan for her aggressive line that put her in 2nd place and the Russian sensation Anna Orlova for charging her way to the top spot!
Pure stoke with my girl Michaela Davis Meehan!

Another highlight for everyone was the fact that not only Travis Rice decided to show up to compete and absolutely dominate, but he was one the nicest people at the contest, kudos to him for being a humble human being and inspiring so many to do what we do.
The legend himself

Girls just wanna have fun! 



A big thank you again to the FWT organizers, Hakuba Tourism, and the Japanese people. Without whom this contest would not have made history the way it did. I am so honored to be a part of this event, and to stand atop the podium with some of the world best athletes is just a bonus! Thank you to DISCRETE HEADWEAR for helping me to get to Japan as well as PlayHardGive back for your support and keeping me fueled up and ready to ride. Another huge shoutout to NICHE SNOWBOARDS for shipping me a board suitable for these conditions all the way to Japan. As well as Aura Optics, XS Unified, Outdoor Tech, Polar Pro, and Shred Betties.






video
I can't wait to hit the next stop of the Freeride World Qualifier at Crested Butte February 10-12th. Stay Tuned!

I love JAPAN!

A burning cleanse before entering the temple

Big city lights. Tokyo, Japan. 

Near the famous Tokyo Scramble

Sake Barrels in Tokyo


Meadows Spring Park

Meadows Spring Park

Pow Day at Mt. Hood Meadows

Pow Day at Mt. Hood Meadows

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