7 Awesome Snowboarders (& 1 Skiier) from Countries with Little to No Snow
If you want to become awesome at snowboarding, but live a long way from the mountains, take heed of this bunch of pros
Great snowboarders need snow right? They've all been frolicking in the pow since birth yea? No, not necessarily. Sure you've got the wonderkids who grew up in the shadows of Mammoth and Whistler or the Scandinavians who have only ever known snow, but there's a reel of incredible riders who've grown up in flat, temperate countries and still absolutely kill it in the mountains.
We've got guys from Belgium, Australia and even little old blighty in our list but don't be underestimating them just because they're not from Canada or the US, these guys are awesome and representing for the 90% of the word that doesn't have a mountain in its backgarden.
[part title="Cheryl Maas"]
Cheryl Maas has been at the forefront of women’s snowboarding for the last 10 years. Not bad considering she started snowboarding at the age of 11 on an artificial slope in Holland. Working her way up the contest rankings she landed herself on the top of the TTR world tour for the 05/06 season winning this prestigious World Title.
Since starting to snowboard in 1995, Cheryl has not only won many of these world-class contests but was also awarded by her peers with Snowboarder magazine's female rider of the year in 2011. Her Open Air web series has been one of snowboarding’s most popular, unsurprising given her all-round riding skills. Still shredding, even as a mother, Cheryl represented Holland in the 2014 Olympics at Sochi.
Cheryl Maas Video:
[part title="Jenny Jones"]
Jenny Jones' bronze medal in Slopestyle at Sochi proved that you don’t need loads of snow or hills to get to the top of snowboarding. And Bristol, UK, her hometown, definitely doesn’t have either. After being a successful gymnast as a junior, Jenny started her snowboarding career after going to a free half-hour lesson at her local dry-slope.
Soon after, she left college and moved to France to pursue the sport full-time on quality terrain. From 2009 through 2010, Jenny won three consecutive X Games Gold Medals, definitively establishing herself as the most globally respected and successful women’s snowboarder to come out of the United Kingdom, and her bronze was the first ever Olympic medal won by a Brit on the snow.
Jenny Jones Video:
[part title="Jamie Nicholls"]
Yorkshire, in the north-east of England, isn’t known as a production line of great snowboarders - probably because there are no mountains, and very little snow. Lucky then, that Jamie grew up near a dryslope and had his first taste of snowboarding at the age of eight. By age nine Jamie could already do front flips and backside 900s.
By the time he was a 13-year-old, he was already one of the best UK snowboarders ever. Armed with mad board control and a humble attitude, Yorkshire unleashed Jamie on the rest of the world back in 2009. Since then, he has travelled the globe shredding big air, slopestyle and rail contests. At his first Winter Olympics at Sochi Nichols place an incredible 6th in the slopestyle contest, proving that he is one of Yorkshire's -and the world’s - best snowboarders right now.
Jamie Nicholls Video:
[part title="Seppe Smits"]
Smits is further proof that you need to be brought up around mountains (or even loads of a snow) to become a superb snowboarder. Smits grew up in Westmalle, Belgium, thus being a fridge kid who learned to ride on dry slopes and indoors before actually shredding real snow in Gerlos, Austria, for the first time in 1999.
Today, he is one of the best contest riders in the world, taking the first-ever World Cup win for a Belgian snowboarder in 2012 at Antwerp, clinching silver in the big-air contest at the 2009 and 2011 FIS World Championships, and also earning the first ever slopestyle World Championships title in 2011, too. Mountains? Snow? Chairlifts? Who needs them? Not Seppe.
Seppe Smits Video:
[part title="Torah Bright"]
Okay, Torah Bright did grow up in a small town called Cooma, only an hour’s drive away from what the Australian's inventively call the Snowy Mountains. The thing about the Snowy Mountains though, is that they are not all that snowy. The season lasts less than three months and the highest mountain is just above 2000m.
It’s pretty amazing then that Bright has gone onto have a legitimate claim to being one of the most progressive female snowboarders in the history of the sport. Granted, she and her family moved to Salt Lake City in 2000, but it was as an Aussie that she won an Olympic Gold in 2010, numerous X Games Medals, and a couple of TTR world Championships.
Torah Bright Video:
[part title="Elena Hight"]
You think of Hawaii and you think of snow, don’t you? No? Strange then, that one of the world’s best snowboarders, Elena Hight grew up on the island of Kauai. This is home to some of surfing’s most famous champions, including Andy and Bruce Irons, but funnily enough, very few snowboarders. Yet Hight was the first woman to land a 900 in competition (when she was 13) and has proven to one of the most progressive girls in the superpipe.
She was the first woman to land a double backside alley-oop in halfpipe, and then the first person, man or woman, to nail one in competition. She has competed at the last three Olympics, has won five X Games medals and has been on some of the biggest podiums of the World Snowboard Tour. She still calls Hawaii home and again proves the theory that growing up at altitude isn’t always the way to snowboard success.
Elena Hight Video:
[part title="Alex “Chumpy" Pullin"]
When boardercross champion Alex "Chumpy" Pullin was carrying the flag as flag bearer for the Australian Winter Olympic Team at the Sochi Olympics, his home town of Mansfield was undergoing a 40 degree heatwave and under the threat of bushfires. Lucky for him, his parents ran a ski and snowboard shop and took him to the mountains every chance they got.
At age 15, Chumpy was at the FIS Snowboard Australian National Championships and has since travelled the world, with considerable success at boardercross. He won two back-to-back World Championships, two Crystal Globes as the overall winner of the World Cup tour in 2011 and 2013, and nine World Cup Podiums, and is going into Sochi currently Ranked #1 on the Olympic qualification list.
Alex "Chumpy" Pullin Video:
[part title="Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe"]
Okay, Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe isn’t technically a snowboarder, but when you are representing Mexico at the Winter Olympics, we are happy enough to let that slide. Born into the German royal family, the prince has lived in Mexico for most of his life and even set up the Mexican Ski Federation.
He'll be representing the country on the skiing slopes and at the grand old age of 55, he's the second oldest Winter Olympian of all time. If that wasn’t good enough for you, he will even be doing it dressed in a special fancy dress suit, in the style of one of Mexico's famous folk musicians. Ariba!