How do you top a fifteen year competitive freestyle snowboard career and a mantle full of the biggest trophies in the game? If you’re two-time US Olympic Halfpipe team member Elena Hight, the next chapter of your shred career starts with a long walk…
In March 2018, Jeremy Jones called Elena and asked her to come along on a 9-day Trans-Sierra splitboard tour filming for his latest movie, Ode To Muir. Though she had zero winter camping experience and only casual splitboard experience, Elena crushed the tour from start to finish, climbing and riding every steep technical line they stepped to with power and style. Turns out backcountry couloirs are no match for a rider who can float 900’s above icy pipe walls. After twenty years sliding on snow, it’s clear Elena is a natural on any terrain she touches.
We are beyond honored to welcome Elena to the Jones ambassador family in 2019! Her talents on two edges are undeniable and with her focus now set on freeriding and exploring the wilderness her passion is in perfect alignment with us. Elena was the first woman to ever land a double backside alley-oop rodeo in a halfpipe competition (and a 900). We can’t wait to see where her pioneering spirit takes her as she starts seriously eyeing up summits.
Read on to hear from Elena about where it all started, where’s she’s going and why she’s fired up to take her snowboarding to the next level riding the renowned Jones Women’s collection.
No lifts, no halfpipe, no worries, Elena’s all smiles splitboarding in the High Sierra on the Ode To Muir tour.
Where did you learn to snowboard?
When my family relocated from Hawaii to the mountains in Lake Tahoe one of the first things that my dad did was teach us all how to snowboard. Coming from a surf background, his love for the outdoors and board sports is undeniable, and quickly transpired into snowboarding. From the very beginning I loved it. I took to it very quickly and just remember chasing my dad around the mountain with the promise of hot chocolate at the end of the day.
When did you start competing in halfpipe? What was your first big pipe trick?
I started competing in local amateur USASA events when I was 7. I was a super competitive kid so I really loved it. At that point a 360 was a big deal. As I grew up and started entering bigger events, my first contest winning trick was a frontside 900. I was the first girl to land it in a competition and it definitely was my staple big trick for a long time after that.
What drew you to step away from competition and focus on the backcountry?
I have always been drawn to the backcountry. Growing up in Tahoe exposed me to so many different types of terrain and snow conditions, and I have always loved being in the trees and in the snow. Over the past 5 years I have been doing my best to spend as much time as possible in the backcountry, gaining experience and knowledge in bigger mountains in my free time away from contests. The winter is short though, so while my backcountry time has been limited, it has always been really special to me.
Going on the Sierra traverse for Ode To Muir was also a really big catalyst for me to take the leap and devote my energy entirely to the backcountry. During the Ode trip I was just so inspired by it all and I realized how much I love the experience of being in the wilderness. Stepping out of bounds opens up a whole new side of snowboarding that I haven’t explored much in my 15 year career. It’s an exciting new chapter and new challenge that I cannot wait for!
Ode To Muir day one: Jeremy and Elena shoulder a heavy load enroute to camp.
What was going through your head when you walked away from the trailhead on the Ode To Muir tour?
HAHA! I was so nervous for the Ode to Muir trip! I have always looked up to Jeremy for what he stands for and for what he has accomplished so walking out on a trip with him not knowing anything was intimidating. The only thing going thru my head for the first hour was my packing list. I just hoped I wasn’t the rookie that forgot something important!
Did you have any idea of what a nine-day High Sierra tour might entail?
I honestly went into the trip with no expectations. I had nothing to compare it to, and really had no idea what we were doing. I went in with the mindset of just listen and learn as much as you can and take in every moment. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
Jeremy and Elena double down on the Ode To Muir tour.
What has you fired up to shred in 2019?
2019 is going to be so exciting!!! Devoting my entire season to riding backcountry and experiencing mountains in a brand new way has me beyond stoked. I have a lot to learn and more than anything am just looking forward to the creativity of it all.
No better crash course on split skills than a nine-day mid-winter tour. Elena passed the test with flying colors.
Why are you excited to join the Jones family?
I have been a huge fan of Jones for a long time. I always see the boards on the mountain, especially at home in Tahoe and every board looks so fun to ride! I am really excited to try some of the surf shapes like the Woman’s Mind Expander and the Storm Chaser, but also really looking forward to ripping the traditional shapes like the Airheart and the Flagship. I have never had such a quiver as the Jones collection. Can’t wait to set them all up and get out there!