Q&A: Hookom Talks Retirement After 12 Seasons
Stacia Hookom (Edwards, CO) was the first female named to U.S.Snowboarding when the Team formed after the 1994 nationals. Now,after 12 seasons of World Cup alpine snowboarding, includingseven trips to the World Championships, Hookom decided to retirefrom competitive riding following her most successful WorldChampionships performance this week in Arosa, Switzerland.
Q: What has been the highlight (or highlights) of your career?
Hookom: I have six National Championship titles. I am very proudof that.
Q: Is there a particular event that you clearly remember asbeing a favorite and why?
Hookom: The World Championships are always my favorite eventbecause of the excitement and prestige that surrounds it. ThisWorld Championships in Arosa would have to be my favoritebecause I got to take a lot of race runs in both slalom and GS.Plus, I got my best ever World Championship finish – fifth inPGS (eighth in PSL).
Q: What do you see as your biggest accomplishment in the sportoutside of results?
Hookom: Perseverance – I stuck it out through a lot of hardtimes result wise, a lot of injuries and a lot of politics.Because I kept at if for so long I managed to win a lot ofraces, have a lot of cool experiences, and end my career at apoint where I am in love with snowboarding.
Q: How has snowboarding evolved from when you were named to thefirst ever U.S. Snowboard Team in ’94?
Hookom: Snowboarding has changed so much it is baffling and I amnot sure even where to begin. For me, the most difficult changewas when breakaway poles were replaced with stubbies in slalom.My favorite event was slalom and the poles gave me my timing andrhythm in the event. So, when we lost the poles the event justwas not the same. Later, two run GS was eliminated and parallelGS became the Olympic event. That was heart breaking to most ofmy teammates at the time. But, it didn’t bother me so muchbecause my heart was broken when the changed slalom.
When I was named to the team, lots of people still competed inall events. Sometimes the ‘stylers’ would show up and enter theraces. I usually did the halfpipe. Now, the sports are socompetitive it is really impossible to do them all. Even insnowboardcross it is becoming more specialized. Only a fewpeople do boardercross and another event. The biggest changeshave been in equipment. Mostly, the equipment is made better nowso that it lasts longer. Men used to break bindings on a dailybasis, but it is pretty rare now.
Q: What will you miss the most about being on the World Cup tourand hanging with U.S. Snowboarding?
Hookom: I will miss the daily dose of mountains, fresh air andsnowboard turns the most.
Q: Over the course of your career, who or what has been yourbiggest influence/inspiration?
Hookom: My biggest inspiration has been my goals. I have thesegoals that I want to accomplish so badly and I believe I canaccomplish them, so I keep going trying to make them happen. Anytime that I am tired of travel or poor results and I have an urgeto quit, I feel that I am giving up on those goals. I don’t likethe idea of giving up on anything, especially, when I haveworked for so long and hard to reach the goals. I still feelthis way, but time and opportunity have simply run out. I haveother things that have priority now. It is a sad thing, becauseI still think I am capable of accomplishing those goals. I justhave to set new ones outside of snowboarding – some of which Ihave.
Q: Do you see yourself continuing with the sport as a coach orany other capacity? Any other plans?
Hookom: I probably won’t be involved in snowboardingcompetitively. I would like to coach, but I will be living inHouston and I am not willing to travel. So that makes itdifficult. I love the sport, so I am going to miss it a bunch.Now, I am planning on going the Physicians Assistant school. Iwill apply in November, so in the meantime I will finish mydegree at the University of Colorado this springg and take somepre-requisite classes for PA school.
Q: What advice would you give to young riders to encourage themto reach the World Cup level?
Hookom: I think I learned the biggest lesson in the last threeweeks of racing. “Win every run” is that attitude that Iimplemented and I would encourage everyone to take the sameapproach. Jeff Archibald told me to do that years ago, but Inever trusted it. The thing is that if you try to win every run,sometimes you’re going to crash. I had a very difficult timeconvincing myself that I needed to “win every run” to competeeffectively at a World Cup level. Most the time, the fire cameout when I was backed up against a wall where I had no choicebut to go all out to win. If I was not back up against the wallI had difficulty riding my best. With the “win every run”attitude, I was able to challenge myself in such a way that thefast Stacie showed up.
Q: Who are the riders we should look out for?
Hookom: Of course Michelle Gorgone (Sudbury, MA) is riding asfast as ever and Erica Mueller (Steamboat Springs, CO) is fulltime on the World Cup now. Erica is very good at slalom and hasalready had good World Cup results. Lindsay Lloyd (Centerville,UT) is really getting her snowboard racing down, too.
The men’s field is so packed there are always strong riders. Ourworld cup team is really coming together and is going to be verysuccessful. Tyler Jewel (also Sudbury) has had a very goodseason and is starting to make things happen on the World Cup.He will get on the podium very soon. Justin Reiter (alsoSteamboat Springs) is also really fast. Japan is going to be agreat opportunity for us this year. The Euro’s have to travelthere too, so it levels the playing field. Go USA!
For additional stories on Hookom from Arosa: