Caught Up with Elena Hight
X Games, Olympics, and Doubles…
At 23 years old, Elena Hight is raising that so-called glass ceiling for women’s snowboarding progression. She’s consistently been the first woman to do…well, a lot of things in snowboarding.
Although she wouldn’t boast about her accomplishments, we have no problem doing it for her. She was the first woman to land a 900 in competition back in 2003. She represented the US at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. This past May, she made the record books again as the first woman to land a double backside alley-oop rodeo in the halfpipe.
We caught up with Hight in Breckenridge as she talked about preparing for Winter X Games, her partnership with Boarding For Breast Cancer, and the looming topic on everyone’s mind—the Olympics.
Boarding For Breast Cancer (B4BC) is doing an awesome event called “It’s Personal” this Thursday in Aspen for Winter X Games. What’s it all about?
This year B4BC is doing a benefit at the Caribou Club, which is pretty cool because it’s a private club in Aspen. You have to be a member to get into it, so it’s very swanky and cool. [Laughs] So, they do a benefit every year and it’s usually a silent auction. This year they’re going to have HoneyHoney play, which is a bluegrass band that I’m really excited to see. Basically it is just a fundraiser to help them reach out to more people and continue their work. I am a huge fan of B4BC and that’s why I became an ambassador for them. I’ve been working with B4BC for four to five years, and have done cool stuff with them through some of my sponsors like Nixon and Volcom for while now. B4BC’s mission is to educate the youngest generation on how to live a healthy lifestyle; and in the long run, learn about early detection of breast cancer. Everyone should come out for the event!
*Check out the specifics for It’s Personal presented by The North Face with support from Nixon.
What did your offseason look like? I know you were down in SoCal nursing an injury. How’s your recovery looking?
I had kind of an ongoing injury for the past two years. I hurt my hip at the Olympics, actually. It was just time to get it fixed. So I had surgery at the beginning of the summer and spent the summer rehabbing out in Carlsbad, CA. I’ve been trying to get strong for the season and get back on my feet. It feels great to be back on snow—I’m very happy and can’t wait for a good season.
X Games starts this week. It’s the event to pull out all the technical tricks. You’re the only woman to land a backside double alley-oop rodeo. Are we going to be seeing this at X?
Well, I think that’s the question of the year for me. [Laughs] That’s my goal to have it at X Games. I’m working this week to make that happen.
Hight stomps the first ever backside double alley-oop rodeo last May in Mammoth.
I know we’ve all watched Kelly Clark raise that bar for women’s riding with the 1080. Would you say that you’re taking on that initiative as well, trying to push an elite level of riding with more rotations in the pipe?
Kelly’s done an amazing job at progressing women’s snowboarding. Obviously, it’s an individual sport and we’re all out there to push ourselves. A double is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. Yeah, I think it’s a great progression for women’s snowboarding. I think the guys have stepped up so much with the double-corks and I think it’s time for us to follow in their footsteps.
What do you have coming up after X Games? Do you have any other projects in the works besides competitions?
Well, right now I am definitely just focusing on the Olympics.
We’ve got World Cup and lots of contests this year. I’ll head to Russia next month. [For the FIS Olympic test event.] That should be a cool experience, for sure.
I’m also working on a small web series with Rockstar. It will be coming out later this season. This web series has been fun to work on throughout the season, and it’s nice to be able to do some filming in the off time. It’ll be three episodes, kind of a “follow me around and see what I’m doing this year” type thing. There’s nothing too specific, we are kind of taking it as it goes and seeing kind of what comes up this season. Hopefully we’ll get to ride some pow at some point. It’s kind of more of a behind the scenes of some of the contests, and what we’re going through leading up to the Olympics.
What are you doing to prepare yourself for the Olympics?
My biggest goal right now is going to Sochi and hopefully coming back with a medal. This season we do have some qualifying contests. Other than that I’m just working on progressing, trying to work that double into my run and working on a couple of other tricks—trying to work some consistency into my riding is the most important thing for me.
Any other tricks that you are working on that you’re excited about?
Right now I’ve kind of got my hands full with this double but hopefully after I get that dialed in, I’ve got a couple of other things I want to start working on. Just taking it one step at a time and enjoy the moment on the way.
What are your rituals before a contest?
I don’t really have any superstitions. My only one would be calling last run, which I never do—you never call last run. Only bad things happen when you call last run. [Laughs}. As far as rituals, right before contests I get up and do a little bit of yoga, stretch and meditate. I just try to go with the flow of everything else, trying not to get too stuck in any one pattern, because there’s always so much changing from contest to contest.
The ladies drop-in at Snowmass for X Games Women’s Superpipe Finals this Saturday at 7:15 p.m. MST. Tune into ESPN on Saturday from nine to 11 p.m. to check out Elena and the other lovely ladies tear it up. And stay tuned to TWSNOW.com for original coverage.
Hight’s winning run at the TTR Burton US Open last year.