Seven years ago in the small city of Kongsberg, Norway, Stine had the option of getting into Telemark skiing or snowboarding. Since Norway is the birthplace of Telemark skiing and she’d been alpine skiing all her life, you’d think she’d take up the sport half of her country participates in. And she did. Twice, or so. But she preferred her board and the smooth turns, carves, and speed she could achieve to the funky angulation of a three-pin turn. “They are out of fashion,” says Stine, laughing now about her nearly-new Teles still sitting in her closet at home.
A couple of years later, Stine entered her first European Championships. “I was nervous. I was wearing this bright blue scarf I borrowed from my friend,” she says, pointing to a faded, tattered scarf she still had wrapped tightly around her neck.
“I think this scarf helped me to do very well in the contest, so I kept the scarf always.”
Stine may think it’s the voodoo of her lucky scarf that prompted her rise to international snowboard rock stardom, but it’s mostly her innate ability to twist on a board in mid-air. Years of dance–classical ballet, jazz, funk–and weekends of skiing with her little brother and parents, are stored in her bones. It is as if by instinct that at 21 Stine is able to spring so high, spin a 540 frontside, and land softly back into a halfpipe. She goes so far above the lip, it seems as though she has plenty of time to spin at least a 540 before popping back in. And if she goofs up, she’ll smile, shake her long pony-tail, pop off her board, and hike back up for another go at it.
It’s this inexhaustible energy that’s landed Stine comfortably into the top five ranking of most halfpipe competitions she enters in both ISF- and FIS-sanctioned events. To ensure her spot on the Norwegian Olympic team, though, she’s had to compete on both circuits to earn points this past season. But not necessarily because she wants to.
“I have to be in a lot of competitions now,” she says. “I prefer the ISF circuit because we riders have a say in the politics of how the events are being run. We are included in their meetings, they respect our needs.” But with the FIS competitions, such as the last World Championships in Italy, Stine was pissed. “We were thrown out of meetings. We were not allowed in the VIP tent for food. We can not ride our sponsors clothing. The FIS is like we are on a ski team.”
Unfortunately, Stine has to compete and do well in at least two FIS events to qualify for the Norwegian Olympic Team. But like most other snowboarders, just because she’s on a national team doesn’t mean she wants to ride and hang-out with them constantly. The difference with World Cup snowboard competitions versus, says alpine ski races, is that many riders are friends with their competitors and set national pride aside.
“I wanted to ride the bus with my friends, Carabeth Burnside and Victoria Jealouse, but I had to ride our team bus,” explains Stine about what happened at the competition. “I don’t always want to be with just my country’s teammates.
As a matter of fact, she likes to ride with many people from different disciplines. Stine likes to freeride with Victoria and pop in the pipe with Noah Brandon and hit some kickers with Carabeth. And why not? All summer she coaches pipe on the glaciers of Norway at two different camps, Stryn and Folgefonna. In the winter, she competes in competitions weekly and makes her sponsors, Duotone, Smith, Roxy, and Airwalk very happy. She does what she’s suppose to do and does it well. And because of this, she will most likely represent Norway in Nagano next winter.
But, she points out, the Olympics are making some pro riders do things they don’t normally do. Victoria is a perfect example. “She is back racing, even though she is so good with the backcountry riding. I feel sorry for her because she is doing this for the Olympics,” says Stine about her good friend.
As for Stine, she hopes to ride Alaska with Victoria somee day, and maybe score a few days in a season simply freeriding an entire mountain. But for now she must focus on the pipe. “That is what my sponsors and my competitions are about right now,” she says.
And that was what she was in Park City to do. We never did get in a free run. “This is just a stage in my life right now. I am here to snowboard the pipe and do well. I have learned so much from snowboarding, traveling, meeting people. After this stage, I will go back to University, maybe get into filming and behind the camera.”
Although her optimism about the sport she loves so much is inspiring, I can’t help but think of Stine as a beautiful, caged deer. And I wonder what will happen when she does get the chance to leap out her pipe and over the fence.