Birthdate: June 8, 1989
Amanda Hankison is hands down one of the most inspiring people I'm lucky enough to call my friend. We met at a time when all we knew definitively about snowboarding was that it was our favorite thing to do. I think both of us wanted to make a go of it in some sort of career sense but didn't really know how. Since then I've watched her follow a path guided by a compass I would describe as both moral and visionary. She follows her heart.
After graduating from the University of Utah with a finance degree, she did what no girl who just finished business school has done before—or likely entertained the idea of. She traded her little Subaru for a GMC truck, packing the bed with shovels, bungees, lights, and a generator, leaving room in the cab for an HVX, MacBook and some of the girls who represent the next generation of professional snowboarders, defying the gender stereotypes imposed both by our industry and society as a whole. What transpired is called Jetpack, and by this point it has provided opportunities for many.
Cursed with a perpetual lack of contentment and blessed with the talent to succeed at whatever she puts her mind to, she began to take an interest in backcountry snowboarding, and after discovering the doors that a splitboard can open, she's been on a tear, bagging peaks throughout the Wasatch with her sights set on more, local and beyond. All the while, she's added more tattoos to her sleeves, bought and sold some motorcycles, ran some marathons, ran some Instagram accounts, bought a sled and another truck, shot some photos, and dug parks at High Cascade each summer. At this point, I don't know if she's more a rider, photographer, videographer, or mountaineer, and those distinctions matter to me none. I certainly have no clue how she manages to do everything she does. What I do know is that I'll continue to look to her as a reminder of how to get after it.
— Taylor Boyd
Badass master splitboarder. PHOTO: Sean Ryan
What do you do?
I freelance in all types of media—photo/video/writing/content/etc. and am the founder/brand manager/creative director for Jetpack, a media and clothing company. Editing, logistics, and various correspondence requires a lot of screen time that I balance with plenty of time spent outdoors using cameras and running all over different mountain ranges with a variety of interesting folks.
Where are you from and where do you currently call home?
I’m from a suburb of Chicago called St. Charles, but have spent the last seven years split between Mt. Hood in the summer and Salt Lake City the rest of the year.
How did you start snowboarding?
My mom and I took a lesson together in 1994 at Steamboat in Colorado. I didn’t get to go very much over the next few years, but when my dad passed away in the fall of sixth grade she bought me a setup from the local shop, hoping the new activity could help take my mind off of the loss. Snowboarding has been there for me ever since.
At what point did you realize that you wanted to work in the snowboard industry?
As a kid in Illinois before the internet, I wasn’t really aware there was a snowboard industry; I just knew I wanted to snowboard forever. Once I moved west I was injured pretty often and ended up being behind a camera more than on a snowboard, trying to help film my friends. I wasn’t going to stop snowboarding or stop being around the people involved with it, so I had to make something work in the industry.
Blessed with the talent to succeed at whatever she puts her mind to. PHOTO: Desiree Melancon
And how did you make that happen?
Over the last seven years I have been a customer service representative, caption writer, SEO optimizer, traveling rail jam crew member, french fry and waffle maker, gardener, landscaper, dishwasher, prep cook, photo editor for a peewee baseball team, retail store manager, digger, banked slalom builder, photographer for various brands, writer, filmer at Brighton Resort, content curator, and probably a few other things. During this time I was working at High Cascade Snowboard camp every summer. There’s no better place for a kook from Illinois to gain access to the people that make snowboarding what it is.
After a few summers of rejected applications I sent it out to Govy for a summer with no idea what would happen. A couple days in to the first session that summer Darrah Reid-Mclean broke her arm and had to go back to Canada leaving an open dishwashing position for me (thank you, Darrah). That was it; I was in. Over the summers to come I became close with Desiree Melancon, and she introduced me into her world. I met Marie Hucal, Nirvana Ortanez, Isabella Borriello, and Danika Duffy, and together we started Jetpack. At camp I was able to lurk in the shadows and learn what good filming, editing, and photos looked like from Tanner Pendleton, Harry Hagan, Greg Furey, Cole Taco, Sean Lucey, Jon Stark, and Matt Roberge. As a fly on the wall I was lucky enough to study some of the best in the industry while they worked at camp as well as the litany of industry folks and riders funneling through Govy, taking notes the whole time. I also had the great fortune of learning what a real ass work ethic is from none other than Corey McDonald and the HCSC Diggers who also introduced me to Jeff Keenan and Sean Genovese at Dinosaurs Will Die, which I will forever be grateful for.
From producing the first year of Jetpack to my current focus on freelance photography and splitboard mountaineering, none of it would have been possible without learning what hard work and professional production really looks like. Keeping my eyes and mind open to those around me gave strength to my vision and provides the confidence to keep going.
Who did you look up to in the industry for inspiration?
Jon Stark, Jake Durham, Pierre Wikberg, Think Thank (Jesse, Pika, Lucey), and VG
What do you feel has been your biggest impact in your line of work?
I believe that through what I have documented, created, and the way that I carry myself through everyday life, I have helped to facilitate a world in which women are seen more as equals to men in the industry. I don’t mean physically equal in terms of the exact stunts performed on a snowboard; I mean equal in the creative ideas, follow-through, motivation, professionalism, and overall potential we share as humans. I hope that through waving my camera all over the country at all types of people I have encouraged other girls and women to do the same. Cameras aren’t just for boys, they’re fun for everyone. And if I’m missing the mark on both of those I at least know that positivity breeds positivity and by spreading that to those around me I have been able to encourage growth and optimism in others.
Turnin’ and burnin’ her way to making snowboarding an everybody industry. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen
What do you want to accomplish that you haven't yet?
I want to either make or see a snowboard movie made that has equal representation of the genders, snowboarding, and lifestyle documented in a way that depicts the experience we all share. My reality in snowboarding is made up of many men and many women, and it's time for a snowboard movie to reflect that, not just to make a point that women can do it too, but to make a point that we are all in this together. I also want to climb a few mountains, but that’s for another time…
Anyone you'd like to thank?
Mom, Kevin McClelland, Tyler, Taylor Miller, Jake Malenick, Levi, Alexa McCarty, Mia Lambson, Parker Duke, and Taylor Boyd.