Shred Mommies: Shannon Dunn-Downing

Shannon made a name for herself in the 90’s with her progressive riding, winning tons of competitions and riding for the US Olympic Snowboard Team. She started riding in 1988, and dominated in the halfpipe through the 90’s and into the early 2000’s, and was hugely influential in progressing the level of competitive riding among women. For the last few years, she has taken a break from snowboarding to focus on being a mom.
In case you weren’t aware of her gnar-iffic shredtasticness, here are some career highlights:

  * Took home a bronze medal the 1998 debut of Olympic Snowboarding in Nagano, Japan. Invited to ride again for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where she took 5th Place.
  * Other assorted halfpipe domination, including 1st place in the 1997 & 2001 Winter X-Games Halfpipe, and a series of victories in the USSA Grand Prix, and the US Open Halfpipe events.
  * First woman to have her own pro-model snowboard (with Tina Basich, who got hers the same year).
  * First woman to perform many tricks in halfpipe events such as: frontsitde 540 in 1991, backside 540 in 1994, mctwist in 1994, frontside 720 in 1995, and frontside rodeo 720 in 2001.
  * Worked on the development of female-specific snowboarding gear, including the Burton Feelgood, and Velvet Goggles.
  * Cofounder of Boarding for Breast Cancer.


How do you like being a mom?
I have two boys: an almost 5-year-old and a 3 1/2-year-old. They are close in age, so until recently taking care of them full-time was crazy! I love being a mom (most of the time!) Honestly, it’s the most challenging experience I’ve ever had. Being a mom is a joy, and it can also be very hard at times, and humbling.

Besides motherhood, what have you been up to?
That’s about it. It takes my complete attention ant time, since my boys are so young. I’ve chosen not to work so that I can be with them during this time in their life.

Do you still get in plenty of shred time, or have you decided to take a break from riding?
I don’t get too much time for me, personally. I live in Southern California, so I actually get to surf a bunch, but I’m limited in the amount of time I spend in the mountains. So, I haven’t ridden too much since the kids, but when I do, it’s so fun! I can’t wait until I can ride with my boys.

Did you snowboard when you were pregnant? We’ve heard doctors advise against it, but it seems hard to go without!
I snowboarded until my last month of pregnancy. I had to ask for help buckling my bindings, because my belly was so big. I set up a fun event called the P!Jamma Party (it was a girls photo shoot). I was up there organizing and hanging out.

Pirates or ninjas?
My boys like pirates

Do you still have an active role in the snowboarding industry?
No, I was consulting with Burton up until my second boy was born, and then it was just too much to spend time on anything other than taking care of them. I didn’t want anyone else taking care of my kids, so I chose to stop my career and focus on raising my little ones. I am fortunate that Dave can bring home the bacon, and I can fry it up in the pan - Ha!

Seems like a lot of pros of your generation are popping out babies. Do you have pro-snowboarder play dates?
Lots of riders with kids live near us, so I see them at times.

Favorite all-girl shred film?
Can it be surfing? Blue Crush

What do you think the best thing about the changes in womens’ snowboarding in the last 10 years is? The worst?
The best change in women’s riding is the riding. I can’t believe the level riders have taken it to! It’s amazing. The women are really pushing themselves and the sport. Really awesome to see. The worst changes? I don’t see any bad changes happening, it’s all progressing and the women shredding are great!

Are you starting your kid on skis or a snowboard?
We took our boys snowboarding, and got them a lesson in Mammoth. It was so cute, and they were able to stay on the snow so much longer than when we try to take them. They had a blast, and learned how to crash.

What age do you plan on starting your kid on snow?
My boys went up this year

Any up-and-coming riders young riders you’re impressed by?
Torah Bright, Gretchen Bleiler, Kelly Clark, Janna Meyen - I guess these girls aren’t up-and-coming, but they are my favorites. They all have great style, and are pushing themselves and the sport so much.

How long ‘til we have a famous pro snowboarder mini Dunn-Downing?
I’m hoping for a surf star, so we can follow the mini Dunn-Downings to warm beach events!

How do you feel about contest moms? Do you intend to avoid that, or embrace it?
I don’t want to put pressure on my kids to perform in whatever they choose to do in life. I just want to encourage them and support them.

What will you do if your kid decides to take up some really embarrassing sport like extreme snowshoeing or ski blading?
I don’t know what my kids will be into, I just have to support them in what they are passionate about.

What about something really dangerous?
I will just keep them in prayer! If they are really passionate and want to pursue something, I feel like I will have to support that… as long as it is a good thing.

What’s the most creative excuse you can think of to skip work fora powder day? Or did you have to stop doing that now that you’re a responsible mom.
My husband Dave is awesome, and he is good to take the kids while I play. He has a bit of a travel schedule though, so that’s a priority. It’s easiest to go and surf, but if my friends ask to go riding, I’m totally up for it and just have to arrange for the kids to be taken care of.

Any advice for other shredders getting ready to have kids?
If you live in the mountains, just get a babysitter! The advice I have for future moms is: being a mom is a full-time job, but also the most important role you can ever have. Enjoy every moment, because time really does fly with the little ones.

If a young girl asked you why she should try snowboarding, what would you say?
Snowboarding is sooo fun! It’s awesome because you can pick it up really quickly, but you can still constantly progress and enjoy yourself. You can ride with your friends, even if you’re at different levels.

Posted by staff on 06/03/08

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