Editor’s Note: This interview is more than a year old. It was scheduled to run on Snowboarding-Online.com in the fall of 1998 but due to complications (mostly lameness on my part) it never went up. Now, after reading it again, I realize that it’s mostly timeless and works just as well today as it would have then. It also presents a side of Tara that many people might not know. We’ll be following Tara more closely this coming season, but until then, here is an interview that should have run a long time ago. — Lee Crane, August 10, 1999.

She’s got what every guy wants in a girl-and every girl in a girl, for that matter. Starlet eyes on a body that surfs, skates, and snowboards, adorned with a touch of the exotic: two tats and a simple, silver belly-button ring.

Tara Dakides makes people stare without even trying or knowing. I met her after she landed a lopsided 720 off that ungodly ramp built by ESPN for the 1998 Summer X Games. Her trick was off, but cool. Kind of like her sweaty brow. At the bottom, while she smacked a gob of gum and checked her bindings, I caught a glimpse of the “ring.” And I wanted to be like her. To see what it felt like to be so bitchin’.

A line in one of her poems reads, “…you are the untouchable garden that lies powerful in the grip of the universe.” Tara claims she was describing Alaska; I say it’s autobiographical.

I was reading your poem “Desert Land” and was blown away by how visually you write. “….amazing greens and rivers of electric blues….pronounced divides and blurred lines…and when the sun has found a place to shine, a symphony of lights comes out to play.”

I write a lot of poetry like that. Like the one in Transworld, it’s about a shark. I saw one in the ocean and was thinking of what he was thinking. I wrote that poem “Desert Land” from an airplane. We were flying to Alaska, and we went from this desert to beautiful white peaks and a city at night. Most poems come from things that inspire me–by things that I see. I get into a certain mood or a zone and a lot of feelings come out with it. Sometimes I wish I could ask them questions and see what they’re thinking.

Like the shark?

Yeah. I watch it work and how the world works. I’m curious so I write about it. I write more than I read-on planes. I keep a journal, even when I’m not traveling, so that one day, when I’m in a wheelchair, I can put it into a book. I was going through my old stuff the other day and was thinking that anyone could do it.

But not everyone writes “…visual bloodstreams of a circulating world seen through a tiny window from high above.”

Well, yeah, sure, but eveyone’s got their stories.

You’ve got a couple from Alaska and Hawaii. Different places geographically, but I bet you find them somewhat similar.

They are alike. Both are beautiful and both haven’t been touched. That’s the great thing about flying-you get to look out over everything. The season before was my first time in Alaska, and I was blown away by that place. I was in Valdez for two weeks and we got two fly days. It was a gnarly experience for me. It scared the shit out of me. I’ve never done something so extreme before, and I don’t have that background. Dealing with things that come at you like bregschrunds and crevasses. I was out of my area in that place.

People think you’re so tough. What got to you most?

I got set down on a peak. I’m stupid sometimes and think “I can do it” when I should be smarter and think “Tara, you shouldn’t do that.” We had double exposure on both sides and any mistake, you were done. I was the last person up there. The guides were like, “You don’t have to do this.” Rocket Reeves and Kevin Jones had been telling me stories the day before. Kevin had been taken out just the other day. My whole thought was about their stories and I was like, great. So, how do I use my Pieps? I have a tendency to push myself probably to an unsafe poi. I beat myself up about it. I wanted to cry, I was so overwhelmed by that, up there, by myself. I was trying to figure out how I was going to get down it and was convinced that I was not getting picked back up, but I did. I’m glad I didn’t go for it. My guides said I wasn’t ready and to wait. I had good guides. But if I don’t ever go back, that’s fine.

That blows me away. So often people don’t know when to say no. I admire you for that. I mean, knowing that about yourself. On the other hand, you’ve surfed neck-breakers in Oahu like Sandy’s and Makaha. That’s gnarl.

Yeah. That’s where I learned. Surfing is rad and sketchy. But I try to go out everyday. Surfing is still new to me. Snowboarding I’ve been doing for 10 years. Skateboarding all my life. But with surfing, it’s inconsistent, and you’re dealing with Mother Nature’s forces and getting pushed to your limits.

How did you end up in Hawaii?

It was a couple of years ago-a long-distance relationship thing. You know.

You still with him?

No. Boyfriends are a distraction for me. But he got me into motocross over there.

You ripping Kawhokwho? They’ve got some cool red tracks.

Yeah. It rips there. I’ve been doing motocross for three years, but I grew up on ATCs and stuff like that, ripping around Orange County, Laguna Hills, and Laguna Niguel.

What kind of bike do you have?

An RM 125 is what I goof around on. I did the Morrow Dirt Flyer Challenge on it. I did badly though, and I think some people are pissed ’cause I kept bumping into the girls and stuff. It was fun, but I crashed in the woods. Went down hard.

But from your image created by the mags, it seems you’re a powerful backcountry girl. Guess you’re kind of all-round.

I’m all round. Except for Alaska laughs. I do a lot of big air contests. I like them. They’re scary sometimes, and it can be a gnarly event. At the San Diego X Games, I remember how hot it was. But from the top of that tower, you could see the whole coastline. I remember checking out the surf in South San Diego up to San Clemente. It was cool.

You’ve been hanging out a lot in Mammoth. Why Mammoth?

Mammoth is appealing. It’s mellow and the people are cool, and it’s still close to home. When I get a break, I can get home Laguna and back into the water and be refreshed. Plus Mammoth is so much mellower than Tahoe. Tahoe is a scene. Its great, I mean, it’s all good. But Mammoth is my bowl.

Do you have some specific snowboarding goals for this winter?

I’m really focused on the pipe this year. I’m going to be working with the U.S. team, trying to learn some new tricks. What’s hard is I still do most of the other events like boardercross, slopestyle, and big air. I’ll be doing all of it at the X Games again.

So you’re an X girl huh? What do you think of the mainstreaming of our sport?I mean, on the one hand, it’s been very good to you. You’ve got three of the hottest sponsors Sims, Vans, Sessions, Dragon in a time when many ex-pro riders are now delivering pizzas.

There are so many ripping riders out there having a hard time. I was sacred there for awhile, but I’m not done yet. I’ve got goals I need to meet, and I’m going to work towards them. As for the consolidation, it was bound to happen, and it needed to be cleared out. Then, bring the people back in. It was crazy there for awhile. Everyone and their grandparents were sponsored-it made snowboarding a joke. Then, people got sponsored and didn’t even ride anymore. It made those of us who were working look like a joke. This sport has definitely taken a turn, and I think its getting better. It still has roots to it, which is rad. But I hope it doesn’t lose it ’cause of the popularity and media attention. I’m freaking out. I got all my contest stuff the other day and read that Fox and CBS and NBC are covering the Grand Prixs. Part of me is excited. I’m stoked to be part of the whole thing, but part of me is like what? That’s weird. The media can take a story and dramatize it-that’s what’s weird about it. They need to bring it down and make it real.

What would you say to all those kids out there that look at you, say, on TV? How would you make it real?

I’d say follow your heart. If they want it bad enough, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it ’cause you can if you put your heart into it. It may take a long time, and you may get discouraged, but don’t give up.

Is that what you’re all about? Tenacity?

Always. Since I was little. If I was going make it, it was going to have to be around my sports. I like testing my body physically and myself mentally. Sports are a challenge for me. I just kept doing what I loved doing. I keep getting surprised by people approaching me and offering me free snowboards and things. I never looked at the sport as being sponsored. I didn’t think of it until someone put it into my hands. I thank my friends for where I am now. BK, my buddy, he helped get me my hook-ups.

And after pro riding?

I’m expecting to do this for quite few more years. I’m 23. Afterwards, I don’t see myself getting involved in the industry like a team manager. I’d rather try and use my connections and move into film. Try acting. But I have so many different interests, like acting and writing. Then again, I’ve always thought of moving to a tropical island, taking up my diving again. I love the water and surf. After being in the cold for so many years, maybe I’ll try the Islands again. For a little while.whole thing, but part of me is like what? That’s weird. The media can take a story and dramatize it-that’s what’s weird about it. They need to bring it down and make it real.

What would you say to all those kids out there that look at you, say, on TV? How would you make it real?

I’d say follow your heart. If they want it bad enough, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it ’cause you can if you put your heart into it. It may take a long time, and you may get discouraged, but don’t give up.

Is that what you’re all about? Tenacity?

Always. Since I was little. If I was going make it, it was going to have to be around my sports. I like testing my body physically and myself mentally. Sports are a challenge for me. I just kept doing what I loved doing. I keep getting surprised by people approaching me and offering me free snowboards and things. I never looked at the sport as being sponsored. I didn’t think of it until someone put it into my hands. I thank my friends for where I am now. BK, my buddy, he helped get me my hook-ups.

And after pro riding?

I’m expecting to do this for quite few more years. I’m 23. Afterwards, I don’t see myself getting involved in the industry like a team manager. I’d rather try and use my connections and move into film. Try acting. But I have so many different interests, like acting and writing. Then again, I’ve always thought of moving to a tropical island, taking up my diving again. I love the water and surf. After being in the cold for so many years, maybe I’ll try the Islands again. For a little while.