One of the reasons that I created StillStoked.com was to tell the stories that I wished were available to me when I was younger.
Back then, it was hard to find any information on women in skiing or snowboarding. The magazines only featured men and in the snowboard movies that I would save my pocket money to buy on VHS every winter, you’d be lucky if there was one girl featured with a token few tricks.
How I’d play those parts over and over wishing there were more girls to emulate…
I believe I owe everything to those women that inspired me. Without them showing the young and impressionable me what was possible, I would never have wholeheartedly chased my dream to snowboard and travel the world.
Snowboarding has given me everything: a worldwide network of friends, confidence, independence, a career, a strong body and creative mind and most importantly, a never-give up attitude. I have these ladies to thank for that.
I was once asked in a job interview, if I could chose anyone to play me in a movie, who would it be. I answered Tara Dakides. The bad-ass freestyle queen of snowboarding that hit heavy street rails alongside the guys and went inverted over big jumps with her signature rodeos. I wanted to BE Tara. With her dyed hair, tattoos and backwards cap, she was just the coolest. What she accomplished paved the way for progression in the women’s freestyle snowboarding that we see today. Tara you are still my greatest inspiration and hero. Thank you.
While Tara was the queen of the park, Victoria was the queen of the mountain. She ripped the HUGE Alaska lines alongside the guys in Standard Films TB series and Teton Gravity movies. All while letting her long hair wave in the wind. She showed me that women also have a place in the backcountry and that you can remain feminine while you’re at it. She always had an air of mystique around her. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her talk! The impression she had on me carried through into my 20s and 30s, and lead me to go to Alaska and chase my own big mountain dreams and become a guide. I’m about to do my 5th spring in Alaska, still trying to follow in her incredibly stylish footsteps.
Tina was right there next to the guys when snowboarding was banned from ski resorts. She is one of the originals along side Shannon Dunn-Downing and was the first female to have her own pro model snowboard for SIMS. Tina also co-founded Boarding For Breast Cancer. When told that women’ were not allowed to hit the Big Air jump, her and Shannon snuck in and showed the world women could do it too. Her auto-biography Pretty Good For A Girl had a huge impact on me and is a great read. Tina you are such a boss!
I moved to Whistler aged 18 and rode the Whistler and Blackcomb parks everyday, perfecting my rail skills. There was one girl in the park alongside me that I watched with awe. Her name was Leanne Pelosi and she did the most stylish 270s on and off the C-boxes! I wished I could ride like her! Since those days, Leanne has gone on to do so much for women’s snowboarding, producing several notable women’s snowboard movies, the most recent Full Moon Film which is an incredible snapshot of female snowboarding, past and present. I was very grateful that she let me put some shots of her in my own snowboard movie, Snow Balls back in 2005. I can’t wait to see what she does next and hope one day we could collaborate on something.
When doing my guiding qualifications with the Heli Ski US Association, I was lucky enough to be taught and mentored by the legendary Lel Tone.
Lel has been backcountry guiding for decades. She was part of the team that set up my favourite place on earth Points North Heli Adventures in Alaska, and she is one of the head ski patrollers at Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Her tiny frame packs a big punch and her knowledge and experience is second to none. During my course and in the year that followed, she gave me some incredible advice and when I’m in a difficult situation guiding or with operational politics, I always ask myself “How would Lel deal with this?” I wish I could be half the backcountry guide she is. She is one in a million and I’m incredibly lucky to call her a friend and mentor.
There are so many other strong ladies that have had an influence on me and my ever-evolving journey with snowboarding and in the mountains. I have to give a nod to Ingrid Backstrom, Janna Meyen, Marie-France Roy, Jenny Jones, Jamie Anderson to name a few more.
It’s amazing when I get emails or hear that my adventures and mis-adventures have inspired others. I know how important those women and their stories were in my own development. I think it is incredibly important to get these stories out there in the world and show the next generation what is possible. It takes a lot of vision to be what you can’t see.
I hope that Still Stoked plays a role in providing that platform of female inspiration and I hope that one day, I can be a mentor for the next generation. Because that’s what it is all about: inspiration, growth and progression.
P.s. I still want to be Tara Dakides!!!
Header image provided by Niseko