Hana Beaman has been making her mark on snowboarding for longer than most. From her early days riding with the Grenade crew to her extended stint topping podiums around the world, to her current standing as one of the most progressive backcountry riders to strap in–Hana has done it all with authority. Her relentless drive to progress coupled with her experience and style have all been factors that set her apart, and her laundry list of accomplishments only further cement her place among snowboarding’s elite.
This past season, Hana joined up with teammates Leanne Pelosi and Mary Rand to film for Vans’ first all-female backcountry powder flick, Listen to the Eyes. With Jake Price behind the lens, the three set out on a mission to advance the snowboard film tradition with a movie rooted in experience and the custom of mentorship. While Hana and Leanne have long been intertwined with both the film tradition and backcountry riding, Mary Rand has not. What unfolded over the coming months was undeniably a learning experience for all.
I reached out to all three to discuss their adventure with the intent of revealing a glimpse at what is produced when both veteran and rookie unite. The film isn’t perfect and neither was the experience–but perfect doesn’t exist in snowboarding. Below, you will find the first of three interviews with the women of Listen to the Eyes. Beginning with Hana, we will dive behind the curtain for a look at the snowboarder’s career trajectory, and how each individual’s path has shaped snowboarding today. Make sure to check back soon for continued insight from Leanne and Mary.
Is it true that you got your first snowboard from Tom Sims?
He didn't hand it to me, but he gave my parents a prototype for a kids' snowboard. We lived near him in Santa Barbara when I was a little kid.
Maybe one of the first kid's snowboards ever made.
It could have been; that was in 1988. And there were no kid's boots by any means. I just had my ski boots, and they were attached to the board by these plate bindings.
When did you really get into snowboarding?
I started snowboarding when I was six. For a while I was skiing and snowboarding, and then I was just ski racing. I ended up rediscovering snowboarding when I was 15 through shred flicks. Seeing that whole side of snowboarding was really eye opening. I had been snowboarding for a while, but I wasn't really clued in to the lifestyle aspect—people traveling all around, shredding in the parks and partying. That caught my heart.
You were the only female rider on Grenade. How did that happen?
I had met Danny [Kass], Lane [Knack], and everyone else at USASA nationals at Waterville Valley in New Hampshire. Later in college, I would go down to Mammoth every weekend with [Kevin] Casillo, and I reconnected with all of those guys. I just wanted to be snowboarding and to be a part of that scene you saw in the movies. That spoke to me, and I was drawn to that crew—they were just having a good time.
Those guys were arguably having the most fun out of anyone.
Yeah, it was crazy. There were other girls around, but none of them were really shredding in the same way. It was cool to feel like I was brought into the group as part of that shred crew. I felt I had been "chosen," and it was an honor to feel like I was a good enough snowboarder to be included in that mix.
What spurred your transition from competing to filming?
You just get to that point where it gets a little monotonous. I had been lucky enough to get into the backcountry a couple of times, and I got to see a little bit behind the curtain of where else snowboarding was. Once I got a taste for filming in powder it became this whole new challenge.
What was that experience like?
It took me three years of trying to hit jumps into powder before I really landed a trick. I was going out with Travis [Rice], and I would just huck myself off of things that I had no business on. It was trial and error, and, honestly, some of the most difficult riding I can remember to this day. I owe a lot to him for setting that bar so high.
Was it hard transitioning from a rider who was regularly on podiums to a beginner in the backcountry?
I think that is why I didn't immediately leave contests—they were good money. If I didn't get anything in the backcountry, at least I was still doing well in contests. It was a struggle at times too; I definitely had some moments where I had to refigure out my love for snowboarding. Contests were taking the joy out of it. The backcountry gave me that joy back and redirected me.
Now that you have substantiated yourself in the backcountry, what is it like to be a mentor there?
It has been a bit of a realization that it's not all about me anymore. I felt a little selfish in my snowboarder ways, but it was really cool to realize that. I want Mary to do well. She is so willing and so eager. It puts it into perspective how much I have learned over the years, and I feel like it is my duty to pass it along to the next willing generation.
I am sure it also has its moments of being difficult—knowing what you want, but needing to slow yourself down in the interest of the crew.
I definitely had to put myself in check a couple times. I do have my own goals and things I want to do a certain way. But it was really a good exercise in teamwork and trying to compromise. It can be frustrating at times, but you just need to focus on the big picture.
Everyone has their own preferences and riding style.
Yeah, it also opened up my eyes to other possibilities. You see a lot of opportunity when you ride with people that have different styles. This year we rode what presented itself; we didn't try to fight the season. At times, we were limited with what we could get for footage, but I think we made the best out of what we had. That's all you ever do, right? Filming snowboarding, you make the best of the cards you are dealt.
Mary mentioned that she learned a lot from you this season, was there anything you learned from her?
Yeah, it was really cool to ride with Mary because of our difference in age. She is just tuned into different things in snowboarding. She definitely taught me a bit about what her generation considers cool. It was neat because it made me more creative.
That's interesting to hear.
Yeah, and it was neat to see what Mary was stepping up to. She was really fearless and it made me think that maybe I should light the fire under my ass a little bit.
You've been on Vans for nearly 19 years now, what was it like making Listen to the Eyes?
I feel like it has been the best sponsor relationship I could have asked for. They have always been so supportive. It says a lot that I have had many opportunities to jump ship but I didn't want to.
Continuing with that, you have also recently completed your real estate license, are you seeing your career path differently now?
I got it last October, so it has been a little over a year now. I definitely see myself continuing to snowboard–but doing it the way I want. With the realities of the industry, I know I can't rely on it to sustain my snowboarding addiction forever. So I was looking around, and I really love homes and all that they entail. I have a couple friends that are in real estate, and I really like the lifestyle that they have carved out for themselves. I think it could still allow me to snowboard the way I want to snowboard, but also make the money that I need to live. I look at it as a good compromise and a good place to start my next journey.
It is definitely the snowboarder's side job.
Exactly, I keep telling myself that I am a cliché. But you know, I don't care and I see myself hopefully in it for the longer term. I am not getting into real estate to make a quick buck, but more to sustain my lifestyle once the snowboarding dries up.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would just say that I am really grateful that Vans gave us this opportunity. I hope people are stoked on it, and I am super grateful to be in snowboarding still. It has become such a cool time for women in snowboarding; watching the girls do everything in big air and halfpipe and slopestyle. Watching them compete is so incredible, it is so far beyond what I could have imagined when I was doing that. To have carved out a place that allows me to still be in snowboarding and to continue to be able to be a part of this family and culture is pretty special to me.