Alberta-born extreme snowboarder looks to fly up ranks at Freeride World Tour

An Alberta-born extreme snowboarder is hoping to improve her overall ranking in the upcoming Freeride World Tour starting this weekend in Golden, B.C.

'You get a whole mountain face to yourself,' Nicole Kelly says of the thrill

Nicole Kelly is competing in the Freeride World Tour this weekend in Golden, B.C. (David Bell/CBC-Dom Daher/Freeride World Tour)

An Alberta-born extreme snowboarder is hoping to improve her overall ranking in the upcoming Freeride World Tour starting this weekend in Golden, B.C., where she now lives.

Nicole Kelly — born in New Sarepta, Alta., about 45-kilometres southeast of Edmonton — has been snowboarding for half her life and loves every aspect of the relatively new freeriding.

Kelly sat down with The Homestretch ahead of her competition starting this weekend.

Q: What is freeriding?

A: You get a whole mountain face to yourself. You get to choose the line down.

It depends on your technique, control, if you hit cliffs or jumps.

You are judged overall compared to the other people in the category. It's pretty cool that way.

Q: Tell us about the competition this weekend.

A: It's at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden, B.C.

The weather window is Feb. 2 to Feb. 8, it's based on visibility and snow. Mother Nature determines what happens.

Q: How is the venue for this type of competition?

A: It's wonderful. It is steep and great.

Q: How long does it take?

A: Depend on the rider, one to two minutes. It's a one-shot deal.

Q: How do you train for something like this, because every course is different?

A: It's just getting out and riding as much as you can, putting yourself in different situations and testing yourself.

Q: Are there degrees of difficulty attached to some of what you do?

A: Absolutely. It depends on which line, where you go down the mountain, that could change your score.

The size of cliffs, how big you take that cliff. Some people do a 360 or backflip off of it. It's an awesome event to watch for sure.

Q: How long have you been snowboarding?

A: For 15 years now. I am 30 and I started when I was 15.

I started as a skier at four-years-old, at Rabbit Hill Snow Resort near Edmonton.

Q: Why did you switch?

A: Maybe a little bit of rebellion and just a change. I had skied everything at Rabbit Hill, why not try to snowboard everything.

Q: What appeals to you about this sport?

A: The creativity, the comradery. It is awesome. It's so friendly, it's just one big family. And it's a new way to challenge myself and push my riding.

Q: Can you make a career of this?

A: I think you can. I hope I can make a career out of it, see where it goes and what opportunities can come from it.

Q: How do you fund yourself?

A: I still do work, yes. And I have had a lot of wonderful sponsors help me out so that has made life a lot easier.

Q: You seek out cliffs. What about the danger in this?

A: It depends on the weather conditions, that is a big part of it, being able to adjust for that.

It is just knowing the mountain.

Q: Any serious injuries?

A: From snowboarding, but not from freeriding.

Q: What's the competition like, where are they coming from?

A: Everywhere. A lot from Europe, from Switzerland, and the United States and Japan.

Worldwide, which makes it really cool.

Q: How long do you see yourself doing this?

A: For the next couple of years, for sure. If not, I will still always be out on the hill riding.

Q: Is there a movement to get this into the Olympics?

A: I don't know how that would work, but that would be cool.

Q: Do you wear a GoPro, where can we see the footage?

A: I do and I post the footage to all my social media accounts.

Q: Is there prize money on the line this weekend?

A: Yes and it's also competing to stay on the tour for the next year.

Q: How have you done so far this year?

A: Japan was my first-ever event. I placed sixth out of seven, so I am really pushing to get better.

With files from The Homestretch


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