Shred Mommies: Barrett Christy

Barrett began riding in the early 90’s, and competed for over 10 years. She’s best known for kicking ass in pipe and slopestyle competitions with progressive and creative riding, winning 11 X-Games Medals. She’s also an influential product designer, overseeing the Gnu Girls line since 2003. Currently, this inspiring shredder is focused on designing great boards for female shredders, working as a mentor for up-and-coming team riders, and motherhood.
Here’s some of Barrett’s ass-kicking stats:

  * Female Snowboarder of the Year – 2001 ESPN Action Sports & Music Awards
  * Most Decorated Snowboarder in Winter X Games History
  * Best Overall Female Snowboarder – 1999 & 2000 Transworld Rider’s Poll Awards
  * Award-winning snowboard designs for Gnu, including her pro model, the B-Pro (the longest-running women’s pro model on the market), as well as the B-Nice, B-Street, and B-Real.
  * Nike 6.0 Mentor since 2005
  * Featured in 2007’s Float Film riding huge backcountry powder lines
  * Team rider for Boarding for Breast Cancer , donates a percentage of royalties from Gnu Girls boards to the breast cancer awareness organization.

How do you like being a mom?
I love being a mom. It, of course, is like nothing I’ve ever done before. It’s rewarding and challenging and fun, and it makes me a better person.

Besides motherhood, what have you been up to?
I have stayed involved with my sponsors… with Gnu I am the product manager and team manager for Gnu Girls . I am also a ‘mentor’ for Nike 6.0… basically a team manager, but the focus is on creating fun opportunities for the riders and supporting them however I can. I get to work with a lot of really talented riders and good kids through both of these jobs now.

Do you still get in plenty of shred time, or have you decided to take a break from riding?
I still get some good shred time. Not as many days total as I used to, but I mostly ride when there is fresh snow, and we ride a lot as a family so I still get some good days in. And then I get to ride around with the teams and watch events on snow as well, so I still ride a little bit of everything.

Did you snowboard when you were pregnant?
We’ve heard doctors advise against it, but it seems hard to go without! Yes, I snowboarded when I was pregnant. I found out I was pregnant a couple weeks before X Games in 2003. I was supposed to compete in Slope and Pipe. I backed out of Slope but tried to do the pipe event. I didn’t tell anyone I was pregnant at that point, but I also couldn’t get myself to ride hard because I just didn’t want to fall or risk it. Safety runs don’t do that well at the X Games! I rode the rest of the season on good powder days, I jumped a couple little cliffs. I actually had an ad with Gnu jumping a cliff that I hit when I was 3 months along! I felt good about that, and didn’t ever do anything that felt like impact… just smooth powder:)

Pirates or ninjas?
Hmmm, Pirates I guess. Ninja’s seem a little too sneaky.

What’s the biggest challenge in designing snowboards? Anything new we should look for from Gnu next season?
The biggest challenge is to make sure there is something for everyone. Mervin has some amazing technology with magne-traction and Banana, it’s exciting to adapt that to women’s boards. It’s a little harder to get graphics to please everyone. Next season we have several Gnu girls boards in banana tech. The B-Street is a great park board and my board, the B-Pro is an all mountain freestyle board… with banana tech, it is so much fun to take anywhere!

Seems like a lot of pros of your generation are popping out babies. Do you have pro-snowboarder play dates?
I don’t live very close to my snowboard friends with babies. Megan Pischke and I get together whenever we can and let the kids play, but our homes are not close anymore for casual play dates. At the mountain, when we are at Baker, we often see other parents doing shifts and taking turns with the kids on the rope tow. It’s fun to have those play dates because we all get to play, not just the kids!

Favorite all-girl shred film?
I don’t know, they do keep getting better and better. I might be biased, but I really liked Float from this year. I worked with them a little to put together a segment, but I just enjoyed watching the whole movie because it had a good variety of riders on lots of different terrain. It did a good job of capturing the adventure and the travel and the energy behind the girls, not just trick focused.

What do you think the best thing about the changes in womens’ snowboarding in the last 10 years is? The worst?
The best thing about the changes in women’s snowboarding I think is 2 fold. One, the equipment has gotten so much better, it’s made snowboarding easier. Two, this has allowed women to take their riding to the next level. More girls are going bigger and doing more progressive tricks and lines, with more style! The worst… that’s harder. I think there are a lot of really good female snowboarders out there pushing riding to a new level, but often the only ones receiving a lot of financial support are the girls that are super pretty. I understand it’s about marketability, but I just don’t see guys being held to the same standard in that respect.

Did you start your son on skis or a snowboard?
I really tried to keep him on skis, but Cannon decided this year that he is a snowboarder. So, he had a few days on skis when he was 2, but now at 3 he snowboards.

What age did you start him on snow?
He was on the snow at 1 1/2.

Any up-and-coming riders young riders you’re impressed by?
So many! For the girls… Bryn Valaika, Kaitlyn Farrington, Ellery Hollingsworth, Faye Gulini, just to name a few. These girls, like their competitors, have all set their limits so much higher than my generation. They don’t limit their amplitude or number of rotations because they are girls, they see the current female elite doing it, so they know they can do it all with confidence!

How long til we have a famous pro snowboarder mini Christy?
Hmmm, I’m definitely not pushing that. I can really sympathize with how my mom must have felt watching me huck all those years! Cannon is really physical though, and he already jumps off everything, whether it’s on snow, feet, or wheels. I’m sure I’m in for competition of some sort in the future.

How do you feel about contest moms? Do you intend to avoid that, or embrace it?
I have seen lots of contest mom’s that do a really good job of handling it all. It’s all about encouraging your kid to have a good time without pressuring them to perform. The ones that do it right, in my opinion, are the parents who are also snowboarders, they ride with their kids and have fun with it. I’ve also seen some parents act completely nuts about their kids future as a professional snowboarder. When you see parents coaching and yelling at their 8-year-old for not practicing enough, or not focusing on their trick, you know they are doing more damage than good for their kid.

What will you do if Cannon decides to take up some really embarrassing sport like extreme snowshoeing or ski blading?
Oh my, I can’t wait to see what he gets into! I think it would be refreshing… but I also don’t really see that happening.

What about something really dangerous?
That’s what I worry about. I just want to instill a lot of common sense in him, and teach him about knowing his limits and progressing at his own pace. It’s not so scary when you watch really good snowboarders trying something dangerous or new because they have great air-awareness and they seem to know what they are capable of. I just want Cannon to be smart about it all.

What’s the most creative excuse you can think of to skip work for a powder day? Or did you have to stop doing that now that you’re a responsible mom.
Well, I guess I’ve set myself up with the ability to do that on the good days. I like to call it product research and development! I work from home, or wherever I am able to be on my computer. Sometimes it’s a challenge to juggle the responsibilities, but it’s worth it!

Any advice for other shredders getting ready to have kids?
It sure helps having a good relationship with the dad! Make sure you both make time to do the things you like to do. Keep a sense of humor about it all, and stay flexible.

If a young girl asked you why she should try snowboarding, what would you say?
It makes you smile, breathe fresh air, and you can do it your own way!

Posted by staff on 06/09/08

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