Ladies Room

Insight into the female mind.

By Robyn Hakes

Hopefully by now you’ve read up on all six of these ladies in the February issue of Snowboard Life. If not, check it out. The following is more insight into who these girls are, what they think about, and how snowboarding has affected their lives.

Megan Pischke

Years Riding: 10

Resides: Vail, Colorado.

I got into snowboarding about ten years ago. I had seen a photo of a friend on a Barfoot, flying through the air. That definitely looked like something I would love to try. I did love it, even though for a while the only place I few to was my ass.

Accomplishments?

I think the biggest accomplishment for me has been everything I’ve accomplished to be where I’m at now. All of my experiences, good or bad, I feel successful. Although there’s still so much more, I and to experience and accomplish.

Motivation?

What motivates me to keep pushing myself? Probably French Canadians. As well as … the feeling I get after a day of riding or while riding. How good it feels to accomplish something and how good it feels to fly through the air on your snowboard. It’s a cool feeling to do a trick that you’ve thought about for so long and you’ve been scared to do or to do a line that you’ve looked at that you originally thought “no I can’t do that” but then you end up doing it and having the confidence. Plus there’s so many friends that inspire me and so many riders that get you all excited and stoked. Our sport is just so fun.

Learning something new–not only just trying something new but working really hard to dial it in. For some riders, it seems learning something new might be easy. I’ve got to work hard for some things, when you get that way, you want more.

Obstacles?

Learning the business side of things the hard way. I’ve often just jumped into things, or signed a contract without reading it or understanding it and not having enough confidence in my self to tell somebody that I’m worth a certain amount. The whole business aspect has been an obstacle for me. As much as I just want to cruise around and ride, there’s also that aspect of it that if you do want to be in this profession and be where you’re at, you have to be able to work it into a job.

I think the only real obstacle has been myself. Whether it’s been fear or insecurities or just not knowing better. I’ve experienced these things in all aspects of my riding and business. Yeah, most likely I’ve created my own obstacles. I guess the adversity I’m trying to overcome would be never being content with things. I mean, I’m content sometimes, but not enough. I know that it’s good to always push myself, and want more, but I think I need to be content with where I’m at a little more often. Patience, yeah I’m learning patience. Enjoy the moment.

Injury?

Injury is definitely a head trip because I’ve been there and I’ve been in the position before where you get hurt and it holds you back for a long time because it hurts really bad to get hurt. It kind of puts that little mental block in your head. You don’t really realize it’s there sometimes until all of a sudden your put in that position again and on that same type of situation where you got hurt before and you’re like “oh shit.” The mental aspect of it first of all, being patient when you’re hurt and understanding that it happens to everybody and that’s probably not going to be the last time the way you snowboard. Yeah it happens for a reason, either to tell you to slow down or maybe there’s something else worse that could of happened. And another thing is being patient to let your injury heal so you don’t go ouand reinjure yourself. Being injured has taught me more about my body and prevention and I’ve always thought out sources to try and prevent injury and now I’m really into streching and yoga’s been a really big part of my training the last few years.

Definitely as you get older and you start to feel it more. But I know 19 year olds who say the same thing, out sport’s at such a level that you can’t be a half-ass lazy boozer athlete you either have to be 100 percent, I guess some people can pull it off but not for very long. If I’m not feeling it or I don’t think I can do it, I don’t. There may be times when I know I can physically handle it, but if my mind isn’t there too, then I don’t even go there. Through my injuries I’ve learned this: I truly believe all things happen for a reason. When I get injured now I take the time to stop and figure things out, I think about how I can avoid the pain next time. I would say more than half of my injuries were from not thinking. Then there’s just being at the level our sport is, inherits risks.

I try to eat sensibly, mellow on the booze and what not, and definitely indulge in yoga. Plus I think the other sports I love to do are sort of cross-training for snowboarding. The gym thing is cool sometimes, but I’d much rather be outside.

Overcoming injuries for me it has been more mental than anything. I’m really fortunate to have a pretty strong body, unfortunately my confidence level hasn’t been as strong. But I’ve had enough injuries now to know that I can come back just as strong physically (so far) therefore it’s created more confidence in me mentally.

Opportunities?

I think there’re more opportunities for all snowboarders now, not just women. Although there aren’t as many women, the cool thing is he women at the top of our sport are all pretty damn good. So when women are chosen for certain opportunities they represent snowboarding well. It’s not just a “she’s good for a girl thing.”

I’m not really sure if I have a “specialty” but I don’t focus on freestyle for sure. I love all areas of snowboarding. If I have a chance to go heliing and have a chance to do some lines and jump some cliffs then I’m extra happy and I’ll work at that. Then the next day if it’s not happening in the heli or snowmobiling and I have a chance to go to the park and ride the pipe I’ll go do that. I’m passionate about whatever I do in snowboarding.

I think back in the day they used to just sponsor you if you were a girl and if you were flying throught the air. I think now it’s a little more selective and the level of women riding has really come up. But as opposed to the men’s field there isn’t a whole lot. Although there is a lot more now, I think that we have more opportunities as women, being where we’re at now. If they’re going to do a commercial or whatever and there’s sixty guys and ten girls there’s more of a chance. I feel pretty stoked to be in our sport. There isn’t a lot of women but the women that are up there on top are really good and plus there’s some good up and comers. The women who are good in our sport are really good. There’s just a lot of opportunities through that.

Who do you admire?

There is one person who I will eternally admire and that would be my friend Bob Redmond, because he showed me so much about being an individual and being strong and healthy and doing things for yourself first and foremost. I think he really showed me the way of being physically healthy and happy and from when he was 50-60 when I knew him he was strong, healthy, paving the way to where I want to be when I’m 50.

I think just about everyone I know has a little piece of something that I admire. I especially admire people who work hard to overcome adversities and setbacks then shine.

Support system?

That would be my close friends and family, but ultimately I look to myself. I’ve always had a sort of independence. And I’ve been raised to know that if you can’t give yourself something you won’t get it from someone else. But hugs are always good.

Fear?

I try not to really think of scary things. But I am faced with scary situations from time to time. It seems like when something scary happens it happens so fast, and most of the time I feel really lucky, like it could’ve been worse. Overcoming fear I think is learning from your mistakes and not letting fear make your decisions or run you life.

Best travel story?

Probably that I get to travel so often … I remember this one time in Alaska, I learned the g-chord and everyone was jamming on their guitars. I met a cool dog in Turkey that the military gave me, a musk ox snorted at me in Greenland, and oh that rainy summer in Whistler (J’aime le pluet).

Is there a comeraderie among women snowboarders or competitiveness?

I’ve never really seen a competitiveness. I wouldn’t exactly say that everybody’s up there broing down before they drop in. But I don’t think I’ve ever felt any like “Oh god Megan’s here,” I don’t think it’s anything like that with me. There’s a couple of girls with that kind of attitude but I don’t really know them that well. I just stay away from it. Most of my friends, everybody cheers each other on. It’s pretty cool in our sport like that. I’ve seen it before in the guys too they’re high fiving each other.

Has your personality influenced your snowboarding or the other way around?

I think both. I’ve always been a really aggressive person, agro and kind of a spaz so I’ve always started out like in snowboarding as a hucker. But through the hucking I’ve learned you can’t just be a hucker. I kind of like having a little more control. Snowboarding has also humbled me and I realize that snowboarding can be a big powerful thing and it’s kind of put me in my place in a lot of situations, and taught me a little more self control and self reliance. Relying on your mental and physical ability is one. It’s taught me a lot about holding back at times. If I really want to go for it but I know it’s not good or vice versa, kind of like the fear thing. I think it goes both ways for sure for me.

Joanna Laajisto

Years Riding: 9

Resides: Half year in Helsinki, Finland, half year in Lake Tahoe, California.

My sister started first. We both were skiing with our family a lot. We went skiing every weekend and I got just bored. She saw somebody with a snowboard and she thought that was her thing and she wouldn’t let me do it. She’s actually younger but very powerful, very determined.

So I had to wait for a year for her to let me start snowboarding too. At first it was so hard because there was no one to tell me how to do it. There weren’t that many people snowboarding yet in Finland.

Accomplishments?

I think to have made my hobby into my job. I really still love it and I’m very happy about my life right now. I think being able to snowboard with the people that I really looked up to when I was a kid, when I started snowboarding, and to feel I can be at their same level and do the same tricks, I think that’s my biggest accomplishment.

Who do you admire?

I remember watching Nicole Engelwrath winning the world champs in Ispo, I don’t even remember year it was, but I was so totally into snowboarding already and I thought she was so rad. And she was totally my idol. I think I’ve always looked d to overcome adversities and setbacks then shine.

Support system?

That would be my close friends and family, but ultimately I look to myself. I’ve always had a sort of independence. And I’ve been raised to know that if you can’t give yourself something you won’t get it from someone else. But hugs are always good.

Fear?

I try not to really think of scary things. But I am faced with scary situations from time to time. It seems like when something scary happens it happens so fast, and most of the time I feel really lucky, like it could’ve been worse. Overcoming fear I think is learning from your mistakes and not letting fear make your decisions or run you life.

Best travel story?

Probably that I get to travel so often … I remember this one time in Alaska, I learned the g-chord and everyone was jamming on their guitars. I met a cool dog in Turkey that the military gave me, a musk ox snorted at me in Greenland, and oh that rainy summer in Whistler (J’aime le pluet).

Is there a comeraderie among women snowboarders or competitiveness?

I’ve never really seen a competitiveness. I wouldn’t exactly say that everybody’s up there broing down before they drop in. But I don’t think I’ve ever felt any like “Oh god Megan’s here,” I don’t think it’s anything like that with me. There’s a couple of girls with that kind of attitude but I don’t really know them that well. I just stay away from it. Most of my friends, everybody cheers each other on. It’s pretty cool in our sport like that. I’ve seen it before in the guys too they’re high fiving each other.

Has your personality influenced your snowboarding or the other way around?

I think both. I’ve always been a really aggressive person, agro and kind of a spaz so I’ve always started out like in snowboarding as a hucker. But through the hucking I’ve learned you can’t just be a hucker. I kind of like having a little more control. Snowboarding has also humbled me and I realize that snowboarding can be a big powerful thing and it’s kind of put me in my place in a lot of situations, and taught me a little more self control and self reliance. Relying on your mental and physical ability is one. It’s taught me a lot about holding back at times. If I really want to go for it but I know it’s not good or vice versa, kind of like the fear thing. I think it goes both ways for sure for me.

Joanna Laajisto

Years Riding: 9

Resides: Half year in Helsinki, Finland, half year in Lake Tahoe, California.

My sister started first. We both were skiing with our family a lot. We went skiing every weekend and I got just bored. She saw somebody with a snowboard and she thought that was her thing and she wouldn’t let me do it. She’s actually younger but very powerful, very determined.

So I had to wait for a year for her to let me start snowboarding too. At first it was so hard because there was no one to tell me how to do it. There weren’t that many people snowboarding yet in Finland.

Accomplishments?

I think to have made my hobby into my job. I really still love it and I’m very happy about my life right now. I think being able to snowboard with the people that I really looked up to when I was a kid, when I started snowboarding, and to feel I can be at their same level and do the same tricks, I think that’s my biggest accomplishment.

Who do you admire?

I remember watching Nicole Engelwrath winning the world champs in Ispo, I don’t even remember year it was, but I was so totally into snowboarding already and I thought she was so rad. And she was totally my idol. I think I’ve always looked up to women who are very determined and believe in themselves and do their own thing. We just had a woman president in Finland a month ago and I think that’s rad.

Obstacles?

The biggest are injuries for sure. There was a long time when I didn’t get hurt at all. I think I was just young and my body was made of rubber and I could land on my head and I wasn’t even hurt the next day. I broke my acl two years ago and that was my first big injury, it totally stopped me from doing any sports for six months. I think it was a big turning point in my life and I had to think is it worth it. But I really felt like I still wanted to snowboard and I had to go to the gym a lot and after that I felt stronger. Sometimes you have to think about how your body is going to be when you’re 40 years old. There aren’t that many examples yet because there aren’t that many people who have snowboarded their whole life.

Injury?

I work out a lot. I use braces on both of my knees and I listen to my instincts. If I really feel that I’m doing something that I might get hurt or it’s above my limits then I won’t do it. That’s something I learned I think after getting hurt. Some days I feel like I can do anything, but when I’m scared then I do get hurt.

Fear?

I’m scared of avalanches a lot. I think people who are not afraid of avalanches are just stupid. It’s just mother nature and nothing is more powerful than mother nature. I’ve triggered a couple of big avalanches but nothing has ever happened and I’ve gotten out of there, but it’s just something that’s very scary.

If everything looks good but the cliff is big, like if I know there’s no rocks underneath or anything, then I like the feeling, I like the little butterflies in my stomach. I think that’s one of the reasons I snowboard. It just has to be something that makes sense. I don’t want to have it 50/50 percent that I might hit that rock and I might get hurt. Because then I can’t concentrate on the trick or whatever I’m doing. But I like the feeling and I like that I feel a little shaky afterwards.

Motivation?

All the girls that snowboard at the moment are so good. Everybody’s pushing, there are so many girls out there who don’t ride like a girl. You really have to push yourself and there is just so much to learn. I think this is the ideal way of living for me right now, I can travel I can be outdoors, I can hang out with amazing people, its something that I don’t want to give up. The price to pay is to learn the tricks that you have to learn. And so I think that’s worth it.

Is there a comeraderie among women snowboarders or competitiveness?

I think now, because I haven’t been doing contests almost at all, I don’t see that competition anymore. I definitely saw that when I was doing contests, people change on the contest day a lot and I didn’t like that. But now I think everybody, all the girls that I’ve been riding with, they’re so happy when they see some of the girls doing something new. And girl snowboarders talk about a lot more things than just snowboarding.

Support system?

I would say my friends back home. They are very important to me but they don’t snowboard that much so they don’t understand what’s going on here and it’s hard to talk about. They say “Your life is so great,” but they don’t see that sure its great but there’s a lot of pressure and there’s a lot of other things, like sitting on an airplane half of your life. But when I’m home I don’t talk about snowboarding and I just live my city life Helsinki. But when it comes to snowboarding I think it’s the Finish snowboarders. Some people say the Finish people have a certain pride. If your Finish and you belong in that crew they really want to help you and teach you. Like Ami Voutain and Alexi Vanninen and those guys I feel like they’re my big brothers here in the states. They really take care of me. And then of course my boyfriend Neil, he’s a big support for me.

Goals?

I want to keep on doing this, snowboarding. I don’t want to say how many years because you really don’t know, but at the same time I want to find what I really want to do in the future. You meet so many incredible people all of the time and I think the more you snowboard the more you get opportunities in your future life to start something that you really like. And now when I said I’m very happy about my life and I’m doing exactly what I want to do, I think it would be so hard to go to a normal job and be working under somebody and have an 8-4 job. I really want to find my own thing and I kind of have found it already, I do snowboard camps in Norway. I want to be maybe working more on TV and stuff like that. I have a certain picture of what I’d do in the future that is not like ready yet. But I think it’s going to be something good though.

Disappointments?

Som