Pro chat: Chanelle Sladics, snowboarder

Credit: Cindy Santini

We chat to the super interesting US pro snowboarder about loving NZ, the power of sport, keeping eco issues at the front of the agenda and being ever-grateful for progressive people 

What do you love most about snowboarding?

I love that it takes me outside and within myself. The fresh crisp, clean air…the snow beneath my feet. The challenge of elevation, the stillness of the forest. There is so much magic in the winter, it feels so pure.  I look forward to more and more expeditions and time in the powder, as that is the side of snowboarding I have experienced the least. It is calling me more and more and it is a natural transition from the last 8 years I have been competing professionally.

How has being good at sport changed you as a person?

It has completely changed my life. The opportunity to travel the world and get time to get in tune with the details of my body has been irreplaceable. I will forever cherish my memories of snowboarding around the world, what it has taught me, who I have met along the way…how it has shaped me to be the women I am today! Snowboarding has transformed my life more than anything I could imagine.  It has exposed me to so much! I am soooo happy I have embraced it!

How can we get more young girls into snowboarding and surfing?

The more girls in the surf and on the mountain the better!  I see more and more every year and it is excellent.  It is pushing the progression of the sport, supporting its growth and empowering women with confidence in their body and beyond! I hope to help nurture the future and present generations with our Women Radical Wellness Retreats and Adventures.

What are your plans for this winter? And big Iceland-level trips on the horizon?

I am working on a few projects.

1. Community Cup: a women’s snowboard competition built for the riders, by the riders. We will be moving into year 2 of this event. It is safe to say we are also the most sustainability operated snowboard event on tour as well. We’re really trying to set an example of how to bring out the best in the women riders and nourish them and the planet to the best of our ability. Thankfully we save money in the process. Less waste, less energy moving plastic bottles around, etc.

2.  One Life is aiming to do another splitboarding expedition. Location has not been shared publicly yet, we still have some details to finalise. I am always looking forward to these trips, they seem to get better and better. We really want to integrate more info about the environment, sustainability, food, trade, etc….while sharing our personal experiences on our expeditions.

Credit: Cindy Santini

3. I am also commentating on some of the top events to help tell the inspiring stories of these incredible riders and close friends. I want to do whatever I can to help preserve the creativity and freedom of our sport. That’s why I created the Community Cup with Kjersti Buaas and also joined the FIS/WST Task Force as a rep for the riders.

4. I am really looking forward to coaching snowboarding and teaching yoga at the Oakley Progression Sessions again. It has truly become one of my season highlights. Oakley has done an amazing job creating a fun environment for ladies to bond and inspire each other to progress their snowboarding…there are always some sweet dance moves that go down too!

Credit: Cindy Santini

Do you worry that eco issues have been pushed off the agenda recently and if so how can we bring them back to everyone’s attention?

I think the older I get, the less I believe. Proof is in the pudding. It seems our governments have become theatrical acts for the corporations that run our globe. Unfortunately the governments don’t have much power anymore- they just appear too. They are getting lobbied so hard from the biggest corporations to approve laws that protect their toxic practices and keep them in power.

It’s not all bad; technology and social media are really helping us see transparency in these brands and political dances. Pop on Netflix, watch the documentaries and open your mind! The most powerful action we have is to VOTE with our purchases! Every time we put our energy (money) towards a product or service we feed and nourish its growth.  Do we want to see our local economy grow? Do we want to see products that nurture the earth and our health? Do we mindlessly support a company that is poisoning our food, waterways, killing the bees while abusing our farm animals? It’s an easy decision when we learn the practices that are really going on behind those fictitious product labels.  For example, they are selling us the “idea” of food, not real “food”. In USA, there is barely any nutrients left in processed commercial goods. They have been fertilised, sprayed and treated with chemicals, genetically modified, pre-plucked and then processed with low standards. Once you add some preservatives you have a proper science project called “dinner”.  I don’t want to get into the animal farming it’s too traumatising for most to handle and weighs heavy on the heart.

I could go onto a lot of other environmental challenges and it’s obvious most countries prioritise capitalism over environmental preservation- BUT the good news is social media, online bloggers, non-profits, documentaries, celebrities, and beyond are speaking out to educate and it’s gaining more and more momentum everyday! I truly feel we are moving into an era that exposes these negative practices and opening our eyes to what’s really important. Health, happiness, creativity, community and time to have fun with the ones you love!!!!

And how was NZ?

New Zealand is such a magical place. One of the most preserved countries in the world. They do not allow farmers to grow GMO crops, but they do import some which is kinda of funny! Everyone that lives there, seems to have some connection to the local farms and can connect dots that most citizens overlook. The lifestyle feels very Scandinavian to me. Lots of candles and cozy restaurants. The more I travel, the more I am trying to absorb and understand how the countries’ infrastructure works.  Do they import or export more.  What are their top resources? How self-sustaining are they?  What is their main energy source? How much does gas cost? Do they enforce recycling programs, spray they food with chemicals, allow gay marriage, abortions…the list goes on.

We saw the hand holding circle to support human rights in Russia, which was cool…

It’s funny how this has been labelled a “gay rights” issue, when it is really about “human rights”. I am stoked the girls took a moment while waiting for the snowboard event in New Zealand to collectively support against the new law in Sochi. The timing is really unique and has offered an opportunity for the athletes to speak out and have an impact. There are over 76 countries I believe, that still enforce against gay marriage, so it’s not like Russia is the only one…it’s merely an opportunity for the athletes to use their attention for the greater good, so we can love and accept each other more and more as we evolution as a global community.

An issue that few are talking about is the environmental impact Sochi is having, and the commitment they made when bidding to host the Olympics. In a nutshell, they are dumping waste into an illegal landfill, contaminating the natural spring water. The water supply has already been affected, dried up, and is needing weekly water drop offs to meet the towns needs. That is just a piece of the pie.  I am very disappointed in Russia’s lack of transparency with their actions. I wish we could get the IOC to step up and do their job.

Does it surprise you that in 2013 some countries do still push an anti-gay agenda? I know it amazes me!

Society is constantly changing, and I think it is mostly positive change. Think back to when African Americans, women and “gays” had no rights…it wasn’t that long ago. There has been some incredibly inspiring humans that put their lives on the line to wake up society and its closed minded ways.  I am so grateful for these humans and think of them often.

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