Salt Lake City local Laura Hadar is known for her killer video parts, uncompromising snowboard style and wild child tendencies. We headed to her hometown to shoot her and chew the fat to the rind on everything from being an outsider at school, the pressure to be hot, and how the makers of female snow movies should worry less about what 12-year-old girls might find offensive
Interview by Sam Haddad, lifestyle shots by Kassia Meador, action shots by Christy Chaloux and Dave Brewer
It was awesome.
Do you like the modelling side of your job?
I definitely prefer the riding part, modelling is just something that goes with the job description. It’s more stressful because I feel pressure to be hot and take good pictures and I never wanted to be a model when I was younger, I just wanted to be a snowboarder. But it’s something that you learn how to do and it gets easier the better you get, so that’s good.
Do you think it’s tough for female pros to be judged by their looks?
Yeah but it’s the way of the world. Both women and men are subjugated by the pressure to look good, and for women it’s especially important.
When did you first want to be a pro rider?
I started riding at 13, and when I figured out you could get paid to snowboard and travel the world I was pretty over school. I was a bad student and needed some kind of escape, snowboarding came along and grabbed my attention.
Where did you grow up?
Just outside of Aspen. I was definitely on the wrong side of the tracks. I lived in a trailer park but went to school with a lot of really rich people and always felt quite out of place. But when I found snowboarding I kinda found my place in this world.
In terms of being respected by other people?
Yeah definitely and having real friends who weren’t just about what you were wearing or who you were with. My grandparents have lived in Aspen since the late 40s. I have a real love for the place but because it’s so beautiful it’s been overdeveloped and run down by rich people. It’s now more of a claim to live there than to be part of the community you know. There’s now this whole class of people who all work for the rich people. It’s a real juxtaposed place.
I grew up skiing and remember seeing this snowboarder when I was like 12. I was like, “That looks fun I want to try that." And when I did I just fell in love with it. I was doing gymnastics a lot then so picked up on it really quick. I took like three runs down the bunny hill then we went to up to Buttermilk. It was funny as the cute girlfriends that were meant to teach me ended up ditching me because I wasn’t cool enough or something and then I met up with these two guys who taught me instead. But I ended up seeing them that day up on the hill, and they were the kind of girls who weren’t really snowboarding they were like sitting around. I lapped them twice on my first day.
Were you drawn to riding park or powder?
I joined the snowboard team and did a lot of freeriding but also started doing contests. You had the choice of the Alpine racing stuff or half pipe and slopestyle, and I chose the half pipe and slope. It was definitely the smart choice.
All the cool kids were doing half pipe and slopestyle and the more dorky kids were racing in like spandex and stuff.
My whole priority was to be cool and have friends.
Which did you prefer out of half pipe and slopestyle?
I liked half pipe more but I would do better at slopestyle, maybe because I put less pressure on myself. Slopestyle was pretty new when I started. I went to the Junior Worlds when I was 15.
How was that?
It was like a dream come true as I met so many people from around the world who all loved the same thing. I met the Oakley manager there and got sponsored. I think they always had high hopes that I would do well in contests.
And how did you do in contests?
I did ok. I never placed really well though. I was kinda a wild child, like I still sort of am. Even when I was super-young I was a partier and it was fun to be somewhere with no parents and no rules just getting drunk and stuff.
When did you realise filming interested you more than contests?
When I was around 18 or 19. I did contests right through high school, as that’s how it was back then for girls, it was the only outlet. There weren’t many girls filming, or many girl movies. When I was 19 Misschief started, and I got my first film part and really found my place as I realised I could be more creative. I’ve had strong parts since and created a space for myself within that.
What films do you have coming out this winter?
I filmed with Peep Show, which I’m really excited about. Other films market themselves to all girls where as Peep Show is kinda like, “Fuck you. We’ll swear, smoke and drink. We’re not trying to please your 13-year-old daughter, and if she can’t handle it tell her to get a different movie." It always annoyed me that other girl movies have censored that side of snowboarding. Why do boys get to be bad but we have to keep this good image for the 12-year-olds?
When I was just out of high school as I wanted to get out of the whole mountain town thing as I didn’t feel at home. And Salt Lake seemed like the place if you really wanted to make. It’s so close to the mountains and they’re so bad ass, but you can still live in a city.
Is the whole Mormon side to it a big deal?
If you look really deeply you’ll see how it affects things but in your everyday life you don’t notice it. And everyone still parties. The actual city is probably only 25 per cent Mormon, but the suburbs are more like 75-80 per cent. I can’t stand the suburbs. I don’t understand how so many snowboarders live there. It’s to be closer to the mountains but I couldn’t do it. Downtown is still really small compared to other cities, but there’s a lot of cool stuff going on and a good music scene. You’re either a snowboarder or musician if you live in Salt Lake.
You own a snowboard shop there, how did that come about?
I’d finally become a pro snowboarder and had a crisis, where I was like, “I did that but I could have done so many other things, so why…?" And I started to realise that the world was super-big and you could do anything you wanted so I put that energy into my snowboard shop. I did it with another guy but he was really the man that made it happen. When it first started I did lots of the buying, but this past year I’ve kind of stepped back as I’ve realised how much I love snowboarding and how I wasn’t done with it yet and wanted to keep progressing. But I still work there in summer and we do art shows so I help book those and hold parties and stuff like that.
Way too much crap like records and old cameras. I like using film, as you don’t get to view it right away so there’s an element of surprise. When people take all these pictures with digital cameras it seems they’re no longer part of moment. By trying to document it too much you lose being a part of it. You have a picture of you there but were you really there?
Where are the best places to ride around Salt Lake?
Snowbird is probably my favourite. It’s freeride heaven up there. It’s steep with long runs and natural hits and you can get to places that will scare shit out of you. It’s always good to get a push, it makes you a really good snowboarder.
Where else do you like riding?
In Colorado, Breckenridge and Keystone are fun. They have really manicured parks, which a lot of other places don’t have, especially at the beginning of the season. I went there early last season but I kind of freaked out as everyone just goes through the snowboard park. It’s like a training ground. When I started snowboarding, parks were pretty new and people did a lot of freeriding but now when you see the kids, it’s all they care about, doing lap after lap after lap of the snow park. They don’t see the whole mountain around them, they just see snowboard parks and contests.
Do you think it’s due to parent pressure?
Yeah I think everyone sees you can be successful in snowboarding now, and it’s accepted by our culture where as it used to be like an outlaw thing. Kids are more interested in treating it like a real sport, which has its benefits, as when I stared you still couldn’t snowboard on Aspen Mountain. But I got the tail end of when snowboarding was still like the bad kid thing to do.