Things are never run-of-the-mill with Shannon Dunn. She’s about living for the moment and attacking life with unrivaled ferocity. You may not know of her love for dressing up punk-rock style or in 80s’ glam, or of her spontaneous dance moves, or the fact that she’s met a former President and shot eight ball with Uma Thurman.She’s good-no, great at everything she puts her mind to, whether it’s surfing the breaks in her hometown of Encinitas, California, serving forehand, or logging more miles on a beach cruiser than anyone I’ve ever met.Snowboarding is of course what she’s famous for-the most consistent and successful female competitor in the history of the sport. Shannon’s won an Olympic bronze medal and is going for her second. A friend to many, her success and tenacity make her an amazing role model.-Anne-Marie Dacyshyn
Is there any expectation that women ride as well as men, or at least on par with Tara Dakides?
Sometimes I think girls aren’t expected to ride that well. That’s why when one does, it seems like a big deal. In the future, girls will be as technical as guys, but there will always be a difference, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It takes those busting like Tara or Janna Meyen to set the standards.
Are the “big three” production companies reluctant to shoot with female riders?
I don’t think they’re reluctant. They want girls to go off, and if they do, then they film them. But it kind of has to be on their the filmers’ terms.
Why don’t you film?
I think it would be awesome to dedicate the time, but I really need to feel comfortable, and it’s too much of an effort. It’s so difficult-you can work so hard, go out days, and not get anything. It can be really frustrating. It’s never under the circumstances that I’d prefer, and so it takes the fun out of snowboarding for me. Anyone who gets a video part is my hero.
Does your husband Dave Downing inspire you?
Definitely. He’s a person of integrity. Everything he does, whether it’s washing the car or the dishes, doing the laundry, or snowboarding, he does a good job. In sports, he really looks at the fundamentals of things. With my riding, I wanted to learn so fast that I skipped over the fundamentals of using my body correctly. He has always told me to go back to that. And so I’ve had to relearn, work on style, stuff like that, which is pretty cool.
What is style?
Style is the way you move fluidly. I think it comes from using your body efficiently. I think of a Jamie Lynn method, Devun Walsh going off a jump super smooth and landing like it was nothing, Janna snowboarding like she always does, Victoria Jealouse’s freeriding, or Terje, who has the best fundamentals one can have.
How long have you been pro?
Since 1990, when there was a Pro Snowboard Tour of America event and my brother Sean and I went together. You pretty much had to circle “pro” or “am,” and he’s like, “Yeah, just circle pro, ’cause if you do well you’ll get money instead of a dumb T-shirt.” Michele Taggart was there, Carla Dalpiaz, and Lisa Vinciguerra. I got fourth, and that totally surprised me and was the start of my career.
What keeps you going?
I’m all about living in the moment; I’m still having so much fun. Every year I set goals for myself. When I first started professionally, I would try to do everything possible in one season: shoot photos, film, and contests. If I didn’t do it all, I thought it wasn’t productive. Then I figured, I’m gonna burn out and hate doing this. I’ve come to realize that I don’t need to kill myself every year.
What makes you tick?
God. That’s my battery power right there, and I’ve learned that from ups and downs in life. It’s not something I was told by some person, but by God himself. It’s pretty awesome.
How about a standout memory for you?
Being up in Alaska. You’re on top of a peak that maybe no one has ever been on. It’s so crazy to look down at all the valleys and glaciers. Every time you get to the botttom, you’re glad you made it, and at the same time, it was the most fun thing ever.
Your biggest accomplishment in snowboarding?
When I was first doing the PSTA series, eight years ago, it was all about contests-that was the way to go to the next level. I’d practice super hard, but during the actual competition, I wasn’t pulling it off. I think I finally said, “I want to do well when I’m under pressure, I’m gonna figure out what was going on.” That next event, I started to focus and won. And I won consecutively after that. It gave me confidence for a lot of different things in my life. I know that if there’s an obstacle, if I really focus, I’m gonna overcome it. It’s mind over matter and not letting your own fears just take over.
When and where do you learn?
I have to learn under pressure, otherwise I get lazy. I tried that rodeo seven in the pipe last winter because I wanted to do it in the X-Games. Then I dedicated a couple days to actually learn the trick.
The next level, what’s that for you?
I always want to progress in some way, otherwise snowboarding will get boring. I was thinking about this the other day-there’s only so much you can push yourself to do as you get older, and it just starts to get monotonous. Like, what?
I’m just gonna go bigger, do more tricks?
After a certain point, it’s the same thing I’ve done my whole career, same mind frame. It’s fun to do, but I don’t want to kill myself. I want to set goals in snowboarding to reach out to other riders. I think it would be fun to do day camps with girls, or something where I can actually help other people to fling their bodies off jumps laughs.
And those you’d like to thank.Thank you, Jesus, for loving me deeply. Dave, no words can say what you mean to me. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for constant and total support and love in all I do and all I’ve ever done. Thanks, Sean, for being my big bro in the true sense-looking out for me and pushing me to be the best I can in all things. To Ken and Ester-the best parents-in-laws I could ever wish for. Bets, you make a me laugh-someday we can make a book of all the practical jokes we’ve done. Leslee, you are my beautiful friend in all ways. Thanks, Tina, for teaching me the ropes of snowboarding-you are a huge part of what I’ve done in this sport and a great friend. Thanks, Brad Steward, who saw potential in me and took a chance in first sponsoring me. You enabled me to easily do what I love to do. Thanks, Bea Morrow, for being my on-the-road mom back in the day. Thanks, Foster-if you quit, I quit. Curtes-you’re awesome. E.K.-thanks for everything, especially hooking me up with Burton. Schriber, contracts! Jake, thank you a million times-I love riding for Burton! Amy, you are such a great person to work and be friends with; Anne-Marie, “Who loves ya, babe?
” Ha! Gomez and Bob Hurley, yay karaoke! Pat and Cindy from Velvet; Kayte, Kaipo and Giselle Kananiokekai, Cheetah, Lisa; Chad and Andy from Nixon. Dave Sypniewski for being such a great team manager and helping me so much. To my “little sister” Alyx, you better get all As in school! Grandma, you are so important to me! To all the rest of my friends and family, love you and thanks!