Advice for Parents from Pro Snowboarder, Elena Hight
Elena Hight is a professional snowboarder, a two-time Olympian, X-games gold medalist, and an advocate for environmental protection. She was kind enough—kindness is her thing—to share with us some words of wisdom for parents who want to get their kids involved in snowboarding and other lifelong sports.
At what age did you start snowboarding?
I started riding when I was seven years old when my family moved from Hawaii to Tahoe. As a lifelong surfer, my dad made sure when we moved to the mountains that snowboarding was one of the first things we learned to do together.
How involved were your parents with getting you into boarding?
Snowboarding was definitely a family sport. We would all go to the mountains together on weekends. My parents would take me to little local contests and we would ride together as much as we could.
How much do you think your parents contributed to your success?
I wouldn't be where I am today without their support and sacrifice. They supported my dreams from a very young age and it took a lot of sacrifices on their end. Not only financially, but they spent all their time and energy to help me pursue snowboarding.
How involved were you with gymnastics or tumbling?
I loved gymnastics, even before snowboarding. Gymnastics gives you such a good understanding of your body and air awareness. Those early years of practicing in a safe gym helped me progress later on my snowboard.
How did you get your first sponsor?
My first sponsor was Burton. The local Tahoe rep saw me riding one weekend and gave me a snowboard when I was eight. He continued to support me until I turned 13 and began to work with the global team manager at Burton. That early support of gear made a huge difference in my career.
What do you envision as phase two of your career?
I retired from competing four years ago and have been focused on riding in the backcountry and filming. Big mountain snowboarding is a completely different style of riding. I am loving the new challenge and this next chapter.
What advice would you give parents who want to get their kids into lifelong sports like snowboarding?
I really believe the best thing parents can do for kids is slow play the sports you want to do with them. Introduce them to those sports, get some outside support like a coach or lessons to get them up to speed, and then make the days you spend together doing those sports really fun and memorable. Treats and friends always help! Don’t push too much and allow them to develop a love of it on their own.
What about parents who want to get their kids into snowboarding competitively? What does that process look like?
Find a local team or coach that can help develop skills and has some knowledge of how the competitive space works. Be prepared for ups and downs and some long days on the mountain cheering them on!
Thank you for your time, Elena! We can’t wait to follow this next exciting phase of your awesome career.