Elena Hight is poised to be a dominating force in snowboarding during the 2013 season, after a dream 2012 run with several podium finishes including gold at the Grand Prix in Mammoth, silver at Winter X Games in Aspen, silver at X Games in Tignes France and gold at the US Open Snowboarding Championships in Stratton, Vt.
An energetic fireball of positivity and artistic creativity, Elena's sights are now on 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia – after breaking back into her stride with a celebrated spot on the Winter Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado, that is. CraveOnline caught up with Elena as she prepared for her Winter Dew Tour run – and we'll be on hand to watch her compete!
How are things? Are you out in Breckenridge already?
I am, yeah. I'm actually riding Copper today. The halfpipe over here is open, so it's on.
How's the snow? Anything good accumulated yet?
It's snowing a little bit now! It's really starting to come down so hopefully it'll keep coming.
You've had a hell of a year so far, winning the US Open Halfpipe and rocking hard in the X-Games. How does Breckenridge measure up in terms of your personal excitement?
I took the Summer off, because I had surgery in the beginning of the Summer, so this is the first contest back for me. I'm feeling pretty good! I'm excited to get the season started off on a good foot, hopefully.
Describe a typical day when prepping for something like Dew Tour
I kind of go into every event the same. My number one goal is to have fun and to be able to express that through my riding. I always ride the best when I'm having fun. Obviously secondly though I want to push myself and ride the best that I can. I go into it with the same mentality, whether it be the X-Games or Dew Tour or what have you, and hopefully it comes out the way I would like it.
You mentioned a while back that you hit a point in your career where there's really no time to step back, ride for yourself and develop some new tricks, with all the traveling and contests. How do you avoid burnout when the grind is so tough?
It does get intense. This Summer I took all this time off, so that's definitely refueled my stoke. Stepping away from things, it's always easier to get excited about coming back. During the season I try to just make the road as homey as possible. I bring my yoga mat everywhere and do a lot of that, and try to bring things that remind me of home like candles and things like that. Just to make hotel rooms and condos seem more like you're at home. For me, that's the most important thing, being comfortable and having things that make me feel good off the hill. When you're riding and you're outside and it's beautiful…. every day is a good day. So it's just coping with being in a random hotel room in a random country.
Yoga seems to be a really sensible pairing with the sport, through dexterity as well as peace of mind. Are there a lot of other riders into yoga?
Yeah, it's becoming a lot more popular. It's definitely one of the main things that I do to keep my body going throughout the season, to prevent injury just by staying flexible. It's easy to do, I travel with my yoga mat and you can do it in any hotel room, and I think that other riders are starting to find as well. I know a lot of girls are into it, and now a lot of guys are getting into it, so it's pretty cool.
It's a funny contrast to the rider stereotype of the fun-loving party life associated. But operating at this level of intensity, it's gotta be so hard to maintain a productive career like that.
Snowboarding does carry a bit of a party rebel attitude, and I think that still definitely exists, but it's become a lot more mainstream. The tricks we're doing have a lot more consequence, and the seasons are longer, a lot more grueling… You've gotta take care of yourself, but you're not going to make it out of the season in one piece.
I imagine that discipline it where stuff like your double backside alley-oop rodeo came from?
Yeah, definitely. Last season I was really lucky to be able to spend a good amount of time just snowboarding and working on tricks, trying to progress. That trick was something I'd been thinking about for a while, and I'm really excited to have accomplished it. Hopefully I can get it going again this season, in the next couple months.
So we're not going to see it at Breck?
Ohh not at Breck (chuckles). I'm just getting my feet underneath me. I've only been on snow for two weeks, and we're at the beginning of the season. The Dew Tour is such a great event for really brushing off the cobwebs and finding yourself again.
On a gigantic superpipe.
Yeah, and Breck and the Dew Tour always make sure it's a great one. It's an honor to ride it. I'm excited.
And it's so rad to see Kevin Pearce on hand while he's in recovery. There's such a supportive energy all around the experience. It's a real inspiration to those coming up or first really getting into riding. You get a strong sense of family.
Yes, that's very true. That's one of the main things I love about snowboarding, really. I travel all season with this group of people, and they might be my competitors, I want to beat them in the runs, but at the end of the day we're all going to go down and have a great dinner together and celebrate. Cheers to whoever won. You really do become family because we're on the road so much.
I saw your new board graphic that you posted on Twitter – pretty sick! Did you do that yourself?
Thank you! I did, actually, yeah. Volcom makes these custom snowboards that come just blank white, so I got into drawing on all my boards and drawing graphics – it's my new hobby in my off time.
You're known to be a music lover – any go-to names on the playlist for your runs?
Lately I've been riding to some pretty mellow music, just trying to keep it calm. Keep the good vibes going. So I've been listening to a little bit of The Lumineers and Florence and The Machine, and some Bob Marley. Good mellow vies while I'm snowboarding. It's been good, I like it. It's crazy how much music affects your mood, the way you act and everything. I've definitely noticed that in my snowboarding. Most of the time I need calming down though… (laughs)
Won the US Open Halfpipe contest – any other bit milestone goals you're looking forward to, besides winning in Breck of course?
Breck's gonna be huge, I'm definitely looking forward to the X-Games this year, and I can't wait for the U.S. Open. I'm going to defend my title at the new spot that's going to be in Vail, so I'm excited to see the new venue and I think that'll be a great event.
Do you get anything go through you when you say the words 'defend my title'?
(Laughs) You know, it's kind of exciting! It makes me stoked to see what's going to happen.
Elena is also a Team Toyota athlete. Toyota is a founding partner at the Dew Tour, and Elena will be signing autographs throughout the Winter Dew Tour weekend at the Team Toyota booth.
Keep up with Elena Hight at the following:
Elena's Blog: http://blog.elenahight.com/