ONE RUN, ONE CHANCE:
Q+A WITH FREERIDE SNOWBOARDER,
Interview by Billie Norman
The Swatch Freeride World Tour sees the best of the best battle it out all over the world deep in the backcountry, and Banff’s Audrey Hebert is taking it on. In this interview, Hebert gives us the lowdown on how she got into snowboarding, her picks for local powder day runs, and an insight into the unique challenges of competing at big mountain events.
Q+A WITH AUDREY HEBERT
Billie Norman/ What is your earliest memory of snowboarding?
Audrey Hebert/ When I was eight, my older cousin tried his hand at snowboarding. Intrigued too, I joined him at the local hill. I’m not sure if the local hill can even be referred to as a hill as it was more of a hole with a T-bar to help you climb out of said hole. Anyway… Neither of us really knew what we were doing, which was pretty obvious once we tried to ascend the ‘hole’ by unstrapping our front foot. From then on, I was hooked.
BN/ I read somewhere that you skied before you began snowboarding, how come the switch up?
AH/ Growing up I was constantly surrounded by skiing. My grandparents owned a ski school and my mother was a World Cup Racer. At the age of two, I was getting my first turns in. And at the age of eight, I was confident on black diamonds. So when my cousin traded in his skis for a snowboard, I did too. I felt the need for a new challenge and, for me, snowboarding was just that.
BN/ You’re originally from Quebec. Why did you choose to settle in Banff and call the Canadian Rockies home?
AH/ Back in 2006, I came to the Rockies for a winter season thinking I’d be here for four months. Little did I know that ten years later, I would still be here. Banff is home now and there is no other place I’d rather be.
BN/ Being a Banff local, you must know your stuff. What are your favourite runs on a powder day at the local hills?
• Emergency Room Chutes – Lake Louise
• Delirium Dive – Sunshine Village
• Lone Pine – Norquay
BN/ How did you get into competing?
AH/ Snowboarding is a pretty expensive sport. Every season, I go through at least one snowboard and two pairs of boots. Competing is a way to support my snowboarding passion. At first, I tried all of the different styles of competition – park, race, slopestyle – but it was until I entered a freeriding competition back in 2014 that I knew competing was something for me.
BN/ What is freeriding? What are the unique challenges of this type of snowboarding competition?
AH/ Ultimately, freeriding is big mountain riding. Think all natural, ungroomed terrain in the backcountry where you are judged by four criteria: fluidity, control, line, air and style. The day before a freeriding competition you go to the mountain, get your binoculars out, pick your line and take photos. The day of the competition is where the biggest challenge lies – you get one run, one chance to get everything right.
BN/ What made you decide to take on the Freeride World Tour (FWT)?
AH/ I love to challenge and push myself with snowboarding and the FWT is the highest form of competition for big mountain riding, so, naturally, it made sense to go for it.
BN/ The Freeride World Tour means three months of not working, having to pay for flights, accommodation and food. That would deter a lot of people. How have you managed to make this work for you?
AH/ It’s tough. During the summer, I have two jobs and work a lot of doubles. As of October, I move out of my apartment to avoid the high cost of paying rent and ride the local hills as much as I can before the tour starts in January. Come January, and for the duration of the tour/competition season, I move to my boyfriend’s place in Salt Lake City and base myself there. I couldn’t do it without the support and help from my friends and family. This year I am holding a bowling fundraiser event at High Rollers on September 16 with a mini tournament and raffle prizes.
BN/ Which stop are you most looking forward to and why?
AH/ [Without any hesitation] Alaska. I cannot wait to ride a typical Alaskan line with its deep and steep snow-covered spines.
BN/ What do you do when you’re not snowboarding? What are your off-season sports?
AH/ I love to be outside, so I try to get out as much as I can. During the summer, you can catch me climbing in Kananaskis and camping wherever I can.
BN/ What’s next for you?
AH/ Nothing is set in stone. I would love to attend Arctic Man in Alaska but I will just have to see how everything goes. This season is kind of a ‘make it or break it’ for me. The dream would be to get my name out there, pick up some sponsors and do more backcountry. Possibly even get into filming.
BN/ Anything else you’d like to add?
AH/ Huge thank you to all of my friends and family who have supported me along the way.
Join Audrey at High Rollers on Friday, September 16, 2016, from 8pm-12am to help her raise funds to cover the cost of representing Canada and the Bow Valley on the Swatch Freeride World Tour this winter.
More information can be found on the Facebook event page.
Follow Audrey on Instagram at @audreysnowclimb.
Billie Norman fell in love with Canada at the age of seven and writing at the age of 21. After studying History & Politics at Loughborough University and enjoying a couple of winter seasons in the Rockies, it felt right to merge her two passions together. She started a travel guide website called Voyage Collective to inspire others to get out there and explore.