You got questions? They got answers! Oh snap-The ladies of Misschief Films are here to help. Answering questions this month: Gretchen Bleiler, Leanne Pelosi, and Emily Akerblom.
Leanne, My name is Rainbow. I’ve been riding and living in Tahoe for eight years, and I’m 23 years old. Up until March, I was having my best season ever-learning tons of new tricks and just killing it up at Northstar, but on March 1, a 40-foot down rail left me with a compound-fractured kneecap. I had to get emergency surgery, and now I have three screws and two pins holding my kneecap together. It’s delightful.
Anyway, in one of your interviews you say you blew out your knee but went pro shortly after. How did you overcome the fear of reinjuring your knee-and what did you do to get yourself where you are today?
I’m sorry to hear about your injury! Damn knees. Almost every pro out there has injured their knee at some point in their career-I know that’s not going to make you feel much better, but shit happens, and it’s not going to ruin your chance at becoming a pro snowboarder if you really want to be one. Eddie Wall did the same thing as you about two seasons ago. He was injured for a little bit, but he came back stronger than ever and is absolutely destroying it now.
Injuries are hard to deal with for two reasons: One, you have to really focus on proper rehabilitation, so that your body makes a full recovery. Two, and this is probably hardest, there’s the mental aspect-coming back and not being scared. What you have to do is start snowboarding mellow, and as soon as you’re ready to get back into the park, make sure you hit a bunch of rails right away so that you don’t have time to get scared of them for life. I blew my knee my first season in Whistler (three years ago), and to get back into it right away, I registered for the Vans Triple Crown the following December. It forced me to hit jumps again, and I admit I was scared shitless because I thought my knee was going to blow again. Of course that didn’t happen, and I got used to hitting jumps. After a full season of taking it slow and getting my confidence back up, I don’t even think about it anymore. If you want it that bad, you’ll be hitting the same rails next season, for sure.
Now for your other question about making it as a pro, I believe that anyone who has motivation, drive, and a dream can be whatever they want. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work. My advice is to keep working hard on your tricks so that you can kill it at your local competitions. People will recognize! Save money, and then go to some bigger contests like the U.S. Open. From there, you can qualify for contests like the X-Games, Gravity Games, et cetera. Keep track of all your accomplishments and results for a rà‡sumà‡, and make a sponsor-me video to send out (they really do watch them). This is the best way for the snowboard companies to really get an idea of who you are and what your riding is like. I made one after my first season and put it up on Snowboard.com. K2 saw it and put me on as an am with a bit of travel budget. Keep at it, and I’m sure you’ll have success. I wish you all the best to a full recovery. Hope to see you next season somewhere!
Keep in touch,
Hey Gretchen, what’s the most fun day you’ve ever had snowboarding?
Hi Katie, I’ve had a lot of fun days snowboarding-it’s hard to decide. But I’ll pick winning the 2003 X-Games in my hometown of Aspen, Colorado. I was riding better than I ever had, and because I was at home, I was really confident and having so much fun! Also, I was competing with some of my best friends, the weather was warm and sunny, and my family was there cheering me on and supporting me. It was a great day and probably one that I’ll never forget.Gretchen
Gretchen, it seems like riders always talk in their interviews about how fun filming is and how competitions are boring. I was wonderring what you liked doing better, filming or competing?
Well, filming and competing are so different. This year, I got to do a little bit of filming in between contests-it was a good way to mix things up and help put things into perspective. But I’m definitely a competitive person. I feel like I ride my best during contests, and I can’t imagine not competing. A big goal of mine has always been to get to the Olympics, so who knows? Maybe if I accomplish this, I’ll feel like I can move on to another aspect of the sport.
Do you girls ever do street rails, not just park rails? How much harder is street compared to park?
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Yes, of course girls are doing street rails! As for your second question, park rails are different because they’re usually just one of the things you hit going down a run, or something you can session and practice all kinds of tricks on for hours and hours. But taking it to the street is like doing a big secret operation. You need to scope out good spots, sometimes import snow with trailers, and drag a ramp, salt bags, shovels, et cetera to the spot. You need a crew, and if you want, a cameraman-which includes twenty pounds of heavy equipment that needs setting up, too.
You don’t want to go all crazy and try new tricks on street rails for multiple reasons. For starters, park rails are mostly set up with the takeoff straight onto the rail, like a small jump. It’s always different in the city, because the construction of both the rail and the surrounding drop-in area is obviously not built for snowboarders to ride on. Usually, you set up a small kicker on either side at the top of the rail, and that takes practice to get used to.
Secondly, the majority of rails and other slideable objects are located in populated areas where you might get busted at any second, so you want to make something of the short time you can hit your rail. And trust me, setting all this up takes time! Thirdly-and this one is an obvious one-concrete and metal are hard, and falling will hurt.
Before you go out, make sure you can ollie. Practice in the park by building “street setups,” which means making a small kicker on the side of down rails and learn how to ollie onto them in all kinds of ways. Also, try to not get too picky about having a good run-in, because when you’re doing street rails, you’ll either need someone to pull you in or some kind of drop-in ramp made at home or out of whatever you can find on the spot-trash cans, boxes, cars. And usually there’re only a few feet to work with.
. But street rails are fun and worth all the hustle! Actually, the hustle is what makes it so fun. I wish you good luck, Casey!
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