A Moment With Snowboarder, Jess Rich

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posted by James Willmott

She’s the snowboarder who travels the world chasing 9 month winters, is on board to qualify for the next Winter Olympic Games, has blown away the best in the game with her fearless approach to rails and airs, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Sydney born snowboarder, Jess Rich.

After joining the exclusive club at Burton in just March this year, Rich (like many others) is looking forward to the Southern Hemisphere’s winter season in Perisher and New Zealand, where she will no doubt be leading the scene in women’s snowboarding and continue to build her strong reputation as one of the county’s best boarders.

We caught up with Jess to talk about joining the Burton family, her favourite places to chase powder around the world, who helped inspire her fearless form of riding and a heap more.

Hey Jess! Thanks for catching up, how are you feeling now that winter in the southern hemisphere has officially rolled around?
Hey guys! I’m so excited for this Australian season. I’ve actually just moved down to Jindabyne and am eagerly waiting for the snow to come. It’s getting pretty cold here, so no doubt it won’t be long.

Where will you be spending the season?
I am based at Perisher Resort where I will be for the majority of the season, but I will be spending a little bit of time in New Zealand too.

You joined the Burton family in March, how does it feel?
I couldn’t be happier with Burton. They are so supportive and enthusiastic about my snowboarding endeavors and are always creating opportunities for me to further my career. In term of their products it’s out of control how much difference I see in my riding. Since riding their boards, specifically the Talent Scout, and their gear I have become more confident, and that has definitely come through in my riding. I know I’m riding the best gear and it puts a little of that doubt out of your mind that could come creeping in when you’re about to hit an 80ft jump.

Tell us what makes the crew so special?
Burton is arguably the most well known brand when it comes to snowboarding, as they have been involved since the grass root days in the 70’s. They are dedicated to the sport and are at the forefront of every aspect of it. Take one look at their international team and you will see almost all of the heavy hitters in the industry. Just to be involved, for me, is an extremely special honour and it makes me want to progress my riding and take women’s snowboarding to the next level. I deal with the Australian guys in Sydney mostly and they are a bunch of legends, so down to Earth and passionate about what they do. It’s always fun going and chatting with them about snowboarding, surfing or doing yoga and drinking kale smoothies (They love to tease me about that!)

Now 26, you have obviously had your fair share of travelling the globe chasing winter and all round good times. Where has been your favourite place? And in particular your favourite place to board? Why?
I definitely don’t think this lifestyle is for everyone as sometimes it’s really tough living in winter 9 months of the year, but it’s definitely always exciting. I find it really hard to say that any one place is my favourite because they all are special for different reasons, whether it be the terrain parks, the groomers, the pow or even the people and towns. I always love coming home to Perisher because there is something so cool about riding through the gum trees, something you can’t get anywhere else. I base myself in Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado for the northern winter and the conditions and parks are always good and I have some really close friends there.

You’ve been described as an ‘all-out fearless’ rider with energetic personality that matches your riding perfectly. Who or what inspired this?
I guess I have always been that person wanting to do things that scare me, you could say I’m addicted to the adrenaline. I was also raised to believe that just because I was a girl it didn’t mean I couldn’t be as good or as strong as the guys. When I started snowboarding I saw a huge gap between what the men and women were doing and that motivated me to follow around the guys and to use them as my inspiration. Sometimes that fearless attitude can be dangerous in snowboarding, but if you take the calculated risks and truly believe in your ability, I don’t think fear should stop you?

What’s been your career highlight to date?
I’d say the last northern season has been my career highlight. I was invited to the Dew Tour which is a really prestigious event, I got to ride at the Olympic test event in Korea where my results earned me a sport with the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia and I competed in one the most creative and fun events I have ever done in Austria called Spring Battle where I came out on the top of the podium.

Where do you see women’s snowboarding in 5 years?
Progression is inevitable, it’s impossible to tell what will come next in snowboarding. We’ve just begun to see women developing their individual styles and really putting their own creative flare on tricks. In terms of competing, I dare say that most girls will have a few double corks in their bag of tricks. It’s really exciting to think about and as long as everyone keeps on having fun what else really matters?

Who will we catch you riding with?
One of my favourite people to ride with, and one of my best friends, is Christy Prior. She is such a legend and can snowboard better than most guys I know. Also my teammates Joss, Josh, Tommy and Tess are hilarious and can turn the most foul days on the hill into the best. There are so many other legends that I love to ride with, I usually gravitate to the people that look like they are having the most fun!

What will we catch you doing after a day boarding?
After riding I usually do some yoga or at least a stretching session, this helps me stay strong and flexible so I can take big slams and still get up and ride the next day. Other than that just keeping it pretty low key with friends so we can wake up fresh the next day for another big day riding.

Kickers, rails or both?
I started out my snowboarding career as a rail rider, shooting street spots for magazines and competing in rail jams, so that’s where I feel most comfortable. Saying that, I absolutely love jumping too and nothing gets the adrenaline pumping like hitting huge jumps. I guess that is why I eventually found myself competing in Slopestyle events, the perfect combination of both.

What’s next to come from Jess Rich?

The qualification period for the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics start in July, so the goal is to get some bigger tricks for competition runs and stay strong and healthy. I am also hoping to qualify for the X Games in Aspen, as it’s always been a dream of mine to win an X Games medal.

Find everything Snow HERE, or grab Jess’ favourites: