Did you miss Helen's Check Out in our January issue last season? Well, if she's still off your radar, get that thing calibrated. A longtime Whistler resident, Camp of Champions coach, and all around human; Helen is on the come up.
How's Whistler been? Can you talk about how the scene there has influenced your riding?
Whistler is definitely a mecca for backcountry riding, and aside from Alaska, I can't imagine a better place to be. Backcountry riding is what I want to do. I used to do contests, I think that's how everyone got started in the snowboard scene, but one day I was supposed to drive out to some icy halfpipe (contest) but it was so powdery and amazing in Whistler, and I just thought to myself, "Why the hell would I go to this icy pipe when I could be riding pow?" So I got a sled and just started doing that, luckily I had a lot of good friends to help me out, kind of show me the ropes, and it just escalated from there. Rube Goldberg, Crispin Canon, they'd take me out on gross days just to teach me what was happening. Annie Boulanger really helped me out a lot; she definitely got me into filming. Sometimes if she didn't have a crew she'd let me tag along, which was amazing. I think that's when I kind of crossed the line between being amateur and being taken seriously.
Some of Helen’s footage from YES. It’s a Movie.
Can you tell us about the new YES movie?
It's called YES. It's a Movie, Too. I filmed with all those guys— Romain (De Marchi), JP (Solberg), Tadashi (Fuse) a lot, DCP a little but he kind of worked himself mid-season at Supernatural, but he rode hard before and rode hard afterward. We did a lot of exploration this year. We'd always drive to the craziest places, just try and break trail everywhere, tagging along with them was so amazing but so nerve racking because you have to keep up with them no matter what, you know, nothing comes easy. So you have to work, but it makes it so worth it at the end of the day. A lot of sleepless nights, I got yelled at a couple times, but it gets you to improve, not just the riding aspect but the sledding aspect, too. And then being able to read the terrain and understand snow conditions. There was pretty high avalanche danger all year long, so we had to be pretty cautious. I feel so lucky to be with them. They're so knowledgeable; they know when something is worth attempting even though there is a risk and when to back off.
Sounds like a good crew.
To be a part of this is unbelievable, it was a little scary when I first jumped on with them because they had no idea what I was all about. They just gave me a couple boards and said, "We'll see what happens." Then we did the Team Shoot Out, which was kind of my test, a kind of defining moment for them. It's been good, I'm happy being the one girl amongst the guys.
Early season boarding in Whistler with the crew. Check Helen at 2:30 and 4:34.
How do you feel about being nominated for Rookie of the Year at last year's Rider's Poll?
It was a great year last year, or I guess two seasons ago. It was my first time filming so I had no expectations. I was able to go out with the Yes guys a little bit that year, and I guess I kind of showed them I wanted to be taken seriously and could produce under the pressure. So then I was able to ride with them all this year, full time. They're such good guys. So hopefully I can keep moving forward. Just see where it takes me.
Any other thoughts?
I just signed on with Billabong. They are unbelievable. We went on a team trip at the end of March, up to Alberta around Banff, did some cat boarding and some heli riding. My team managers are just awesome, so happy to be a part of that.
What's next this summer when you leave SoCal?
I coach up at Camp of Champions in Whistler during the summer. That should be a lot of fun; it starts in a couple weeks. Then I think in August we might head south to Argentina or Chile, try and get some snow, make it a yearlong season.