What did you get up to last season?
I spent almost the entire year snow-camping in my camper van on the side of a mountain pass up in the Yukon, Canada… about 2000 miles from home… I drove up there with my crew to film. We went there to avoid the warm temperatures across British Columbia and the Western States, but the Yukon had these frequent little rain spatters that would wreck the snow for us, often.
We pretty much battled, sledding up to high elevations to find dry snow. We worked super hard, snowmobiling and maintaining our camp which was about a two hour drive from any service stations/stores. We had to keep fuelled up on diesel and propane and food to keep warm, and keep the sleds gassed up. Every day we’d burn through a tank each, so we had to fill up lots of gas cans and an extra big tank. We wouldn’t shower for a week or more. When we arrived in the Yukon, it was -40 degrees and we almost froze in the camper. But then it turned to 0 or +2 on and off.
During the times that we had really bad weather forcasts, I flew down to a couple contests… the Vans (single crown) and the US Open to poach the pipes. It was a lot of fun and more actual snowboarding than I got in up North, in terms of runs I took.
Then I went to Haines, Alaska to film with TGR. It turned into winter in the north, finally, and I had the best heli trip of my life. Riding so many incredible peaks…
Have you got anything planned for the summer?
In between summer snowboarding trips and Burton meetings… I’ll be starting and hopefully finishing quite a few projects… I’m camerizing a new van. I hope to be riding horses, swimming in lakes, and getting a tan before I head to South America.
Who\\what inspired you to start snowboarding?
What made you decide to tackle backcountry/big mountain riding?
I grew up in the mountains, skiing since I was three, and I used to love to ski in the backcountry powder. When I started snowboarding, I started competing my second season… it was just the natural thing to do at the time. Competitions were where snowboarding seemed to happen. But then all these guys started just filming for movies and had a whole different scene going.
Finally I asked my team manager at the time if I could go try to do that without losing their support… he said, "Sure". I was kind of invited to a couple guy’s film shoots, and it was tough. But when we got in the bigger mountains, it seemed that not even very many guys could ride that stuff well. I think that because I had skied mountains for so long, I could do it and keep up with those guys.
What’s an average day in the life of Victoria Jealouse?
Hectic. Especially this season. I think it’s only when I’m actually snowboarding in the mountains that I feel like I used to when I was little.
Do you get scared at the top of a big mountain descent? Do you get the fear, and if so what do you do to combat it? Do you do any specific mental preparation at the start of a challenging run ?
I get the fear, for sure. It doesn’t matter how many years you have done it, the blind, scary, roll over at the top of a steep run always gives me that same weird feeling. It is probably experience that makes me feel more comfortable about my decisions now.
I used to pick lines or cliffs and when I get to the top and see that roll over, think, "Wait. Am I standing at the right spot? This looks so different, it can’t be right. This looks like the edge of thousand foot cliff." And I’m sure that the girls who are starting to venture out into the backcountry are starting to experience the same thing… how blind you have to ride.
But now, I can predict from looking at the run from the bottom or side, how I’m going to feel at the top, and then I can double check with myself if I think I’ll be able to pull it off.
What was going through your mind when you did that 24 foot acid drop off a crane for that NBC show?
For some reason, I was fairly comfortable with it. I knew that if I didn’t panic and "jump" off the crane… if I just let myself drop, I’d hit the tranny. It was hard though, because we were cold and the contest ran way into the night.
What advice would you have for riders who want to experience the big mountains safely and challenge themselves?
It is a big question. There are a lot of things that I can say that I wish someone had told me years ago.
The first word of advice about safety I have is to never just follow guys out there because they say "I’m experienced. We’re going to be really careful". That worries me the most because almost every guy thinks that they make good decisions out there. The facts are, that even the guys who are most experienced and educated in safety, have the tendency to equate factors into their backcountry decision-making that have nothing to do with safety.
They will say the snow-pit results are yadda yadda and the temperature is yaddayadda and then (unknowingly) factor in that they don’t say out loud, things like… "I hiked all the way up here…" or "I spent so much money to come up here." or "If I did this line and jumped that cliff, I’d get the shot and be a hero".
Girls are much better at isolating the safety factors and making a clear decision, and they also seem to err on the side of conservatism. They tend to not bring the hero factor into play.
It is important to educate yourself and to know that by being female, you are going to make better decisions than men. This is not by biased opinion. It is a fact. Women are more conservative and will stick more to safety guidelines. Basically, we are less willing to take chances.
So it might be encouraging to know that women make great backcountry decision makers. If you are scared, it’s a good start. You can learn in conservative steps and go out in the backcountry and have fun without taking bigger risks. Start with and avalanche course. You will see that there is a lot of technical information to retain, but you can break it down to a few simple principles that will keep you out of trouble. I live and ride by some very basic, personal backcountry protocol.
It’s all about EXPOSURE.
There is a good book to read and it’s called "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain". I highly recommend it!
Where’s your favourite place to ride?
The Chugach Mt. Range in Alaska and Whistler/Blackcomb.elines. Basically, we are less willing to take chances.
If you had to pick one resort as your favourite (even though we know you don’t really ride at resorts) which one would you choose?
Was that tunnel in TB9 as much fun as it looked?
Features like that are always really cool to experience. Sometimes, way out there, I’ve found the coolest things that I wish I could bring all my friends to.
What’s been your best mountain experience?
Filming this year with TGR in Haines. We have been working for three years as the exact same crew and we are getting really tuned into each other and it goes so smoothly. Heli filming is super, super hectic. Even very experienced crews will tell you that. There is a lot of pressure… from the safety aspect, the money aspect, the weather aspect and then there is group dynamics. Everyone has to work well together, make fast decisions and give a lot.
What’s been your worst?
I’ve been on some film shoots (where of course I’m the only girl) and none of the guys are really friends of mine. They see me as a fifth wheel and they are acting really competitive.
I’m sure that some girls have experienced this kind of situation, and all I can say is, it super-sucks. It’s hard enough to ride well in natural terrain where you usually don’t get to warm up, only get one chance to get the shot, and have all the variables of weather, snow, good/bad camera angles, that have to come together, let alone, some group-dynamics struggle. You are trying to dare youself to do something, and there is some comment thrown at you thatcompletely blows your confidence. Those vibes can be so hard to ignore. And that is the struggle that we learn from.
But hitting your head against the wall doesn’t always work. It’s best to ride with supportive friends that you have a really good time riding with… friends that you can learn with.
Do you do any kind of strength/fitness training off the mountain?
I try to run often and stretch. I try to ride into shape, for the most part, so many times I end up at photo shoots "cold-turkey". If I "cold-turkey-it" often enough, then I kind of stay in shape like that. Haha.
How do you deal with all the traveling that comes with the life of a pro rider? Is there anything you make sure you pack to make it easier?
I pack emergency food. Cans of tuna, and Chinese medicine herbs prescribed by Kendra Starr (my best friend and Doctor of Chinese Medicine) to ward off any colds or flus and it really works.
It’s always tough to figure out how to bring enough, but not too much, stuff. Whatever I leave behind is always what I need and whatever I bring, I never use. I don’t know what to say about that. I can’t figure it out. I just never panic, I try to relax and enjoy wherever I am.
Are you still involved in product development for Burton and did you enjoy designing the Face and Sensation boards?
I’m still involved. I’m riding the ES (Feelgood) now and we worked a lot of the best parts of the boards I’ve ridden into these. It’s a constant evolution as we discover new materials and ways to make boards better.
What would be you single most important piece of advice for anyone wanting to snowboard professionally?
You need to ride a lot. If you do, and you rip, you need someone to video and take pictures of you. Even if they are amateur shots, if you send them to snowboard companies and film companies, someone will recognise your talent. You can also go the competition route, but it usually only works when you are placing in the top three of your local events. There is a lot of room for new talent, so just believe in yourself and don’t get discouraged.
We heard that a Japanese fan once made a doll based on you? Is that the nicest/most unusual thing a fan has done for you?
That was pretty cool. Somehow, that guy found me two different years in a row while on the Burton Tour of Japan to give me his little figure dolls that he made.
Do you keep memorabilia from your travels/experiences? What have you got on your walls at home?
I’m a packrat. I keep everything in boxes. When I’m in a rocking chair, I’ll go through it.
What did you make of your experience guest editing SG Mag – is it something you’d like to do again?
It was really cool. I realized something when I was there. I know that women-only projects usually get mixed reviews. Some people see it as segregation and as taking a step backwards, and some people just love it. I see it as a natural reaction. Obviously, girls aren’t being filmed by film companies, girls aren’t getting editorial in industry magazines, but about 40 percent of all snowboarders are women, and they want to be inspired, too. So it’s natural that all-women projects sprout up.
I think that we have to give these (relatively very new) projects time to grow like the all-dude movies and films did. Their first projects went in the hole, and weren’t very good quality, but now everyone is so quick to judge the women’s projects. I’d say that the more (us girls) get involved, the better the products will be. Like the girls at SG… they just really wanted to make a great magazine. Now they are working more with the athletes. It can only just keep getting better and better. I think it’s rad. I’m stoked on the women’s film companies.
The only thing that matters is if girls are getting stoked.