Which of your wins means the most to you?
It was a competition right at the very beginning of my career when I won my first prize money. You have to remember that, back then, I started out in the sport without a coach and without association or federation backing. I was totally on my own and under extreme financial pressure. Everyone was telling me that I was too old to be breaking into the sport, I should forget about snowboarding and go to college instead. Winning that event and the prize money couldn’t have come at a more important time. The message for me was loud and clear—I can do this, I’m not quitting. Come to think of it, I didn’t actually win at all—I came third. But it was a podium finish in a competition with the best in the world.
You compete in slopestyle, which is a kind of obstacle course, and in big air, or freestyle ski jumping, so to speak. Which is the bigger adrenaline rush? And do you prefer one over the other?
It depends. I’m more nervous in slopestyle because you have to complete a long, complicated run flawlessly. On the other hand, in big air you attempt the difficult tricks more often, which is why my heart’s in my throat here, too. Not because it’s a competition, but because I want to show off something that I might never have pulled off before. But big air lets me focus on just one thing and I prefer that. A slopestyle win makes me especially happy though, because I haven’t been as successful in that as I have in big air.
You’ve already accomplished so much. How do you keep yourself motivated day in, day out?
For me, continual improvement is the most important thing. I don’t want to stand still, I want to keep moving forward. When I pull off something new, that’s a good day in my books.
So you haven’t reached your peak as an athlete yet?
No, and I don’t think you should let yourself think that way. If I felt I’d gone as far as I could, I would probably quit—at least competing at a professional level. Which is not to say I spend much time thinking about when that will be. It would just limit me.
But you have probably given some thought to what you’d like to do when snowboarding is no longer your primary career?
I just hope that, when the time comes, I find something I’m equally passionate about. At some point, I’d like to be a mother … at least, that’s the general idea. As far as my professional life goes, I can imagine myself doing something creative, along the lines of movies or photography. But standing behind the camera rather than in front of it.