Pro Chat: Orla Doolin

Badass Burton rail rider, Orla Doolin, exploded on to the scene a couple years back. Although technically Irish (from County Westmeath) the 26-year old shredder hails from Glasgow’s Braehead snowdome and has quickly been adopted by the UK scene. Always with a smile on her face, lapping away in the park (from sunrise to sunset), we were lucky enough to snap her shredding a sunny Sunday in the Burton stash, Morzine before she rushed off to spend the rest of the season in the US, lucky thing, we got to find out more of her story…

Interview and photos by Hannah Bailey

So you’re relatively new to the scene, where did you all of a sudden appear from?
I went to NZ for 8 months and found myself in Queenstown and loosely decided to spend the season there. Rode Coronet and Remarkables, we used to through ourselves on any rail. No clue what we were doing, just learning there! Then I took a break for a year and half when I went back to Uni then went to Glasgow. I used to go to Braehead twice a week and that’s really where I learnt proper freestyle. It all took off and I got really addicted!

So had you snowboarded before you went to NZ then?
A day or two, I’d gone for a week before and broke my arm on the second day! So NZ was really the first time…

Had you come from a boardsports background?
I’d done a bit of surfing, but mostly I was into Irish sports, like camogie and Gaelic football. So not really boardsports, just massive sports back home. I used to take up a sport a little bit and then move on to another… Definitely snowboarding is sticking!

I’m really stubborn. I’ll work my ass off, trying a trick a hundred times but I’ll have to get it!

What made you progress so quickly on rails do you think?
I’m really stubborn. I’ll work my ass off, trying a trick a hundred times but I’ll have to get it! If I’m doing something I’ll commit to it, plus I’m really hard on myself. You can’t do the bare minimum; I’m always aiming higher, always looking at the best and wanting to do what they are doing!

Apart from your NZ adventure you hail from a dome background, what do you think the advantages are?
Even though its only two nights a week its just park so its really fast laps. So you can get a good solid 4 hours each night and you don’t stop. You just lap, lap, lap! No waiting around, so you’re using your time more efficiently. Your local dome always has a cool crew of people and that’s really how you learn, riding with people who are better than you. I was lucky enough to have really good guys in Scotland who really pushed me. When you’re in a small setting, with fast laps and everyone looking at everyone that pushes you! You learn tricks really fast as you can have 4 or 5 hits in a row and back up to the top in 20 seconds. In the dome you learn the tricks, on the mountain you get them back and put them on bigger features.

Who in the UK dome scene inspires you at the moment?
Recently I’ve been in MK, my new dome, who I am really lucky to now be sponsored by. Every week I’m riding with the likes of Ollie Dutton, Chris Chatt, Tom Guillmard and Gareth Andrews. I love the way they ride.

What was good about Braehead?
The Scottish really took me in, they are really friendly and I only lived 10 minutes up the road. I got to meet, Rio Peterson, one of my best friends up there. With the Scottish scene it’s the people, the crew and that’s what I needed when I was learning, a friendly environment that doesn’t intimidate you. Now I’m in Milton Keynes, they’ve got the best parks, two nights a week. Milton Keynes is consistent, with legit set-ups all the time and immaculate parks all night. So good! And a super crew! From 8 years olds just taking it up to the older lads killing it. It keeps the motivation up. Big fan of MK!

How does it feel to go from the snowdomes to the real mountain, the giant playground?
I’m getting a lot of slack cause I never leave the park, but I’m getting better! It definitely makes you think a bit more and become a more versatile rider. The park runs on real snow. It takes me a few days to get my tricks back and build up my confidence. You get to meet loads of new people, so loads more people to inspire you.

Have you a favourite real mountain park?
I haven’t been to heaps in Europe; only Morzine and Laax. I’m a big fan of Laax because they are massive on rail riding. You can do a park run that is a couple of km! But I’ve spent some time in Snowpark NZ, which was sick. They have features for everyone. Then America wise, the likes of Bear and Brighton, that’s where I am going this year. They are definitely my favourite resorts.

Do you want to ride street?
That’s my biggest goal for the next year or two. I’m not interested in the Olympics or slopestyle, I just haven’t the years behind me snowboarding to start hitting jumps. Riding street would be my ultimate, to have a crew and go to the likes of Quebec and Helsinki. It’s harder in the UK, to find a crew you can tag along with as there are not so many girls in to it. When I go to the US, I’m going to push to film in Utah a bit, plus there’s an Aussie crew over there I hope to tag along with and hit some spots. That’s what you need, a crew that knows you and has your back. So yes it’s my ultimate dream. I feel held back at the moment as I don’t have the crew. I’d be in Helsinki in a heartbeat, but you need a filmer, a guide, someone who knows what they are doing and I don’t have that. Hopefully if things come together, by the end of the season Ill have it. If not next season I’ll make the crew!

Riding street would be my ultimate, to have a crew and go to the likes of Quebec and Helsinki. It’s harder in the UK, to find a crew you can tag along with as there are not so many girls in to it.

Shame there’s not more girl rail riders in the UK right?
There are a couple of girls but they are pursuing other things at the moment, like team GB or happy chilling in the park. Definitely struggling to find someone who’s like, ye I want to go to Helsinki with you! That’s where you need to make it happen yourself. Bringing it all together….

How do you think you could help get more girls in to rail riding?
It’s still a huge minority in the park and there’s huge intimidation. That’s what girls tell me anyway. Maybe we just need to man up! Everyone is there encouraging each other, not there to judge. There could be more promotion to girls on it, for example get the media to invite a girl on a trip they are organizing. We can do it, we are just held back! There are so many great magazines, but they are male dominated and not as interested in females.

So Burton hooked you up, how did that come about and how did you feel?
That was amazing! I entered a couple of the local Scottish comps and the Burton High-5 tour started around the UK. I was lucky to win the first one in Tamworth as an unknown. People were like, who are you? Then I won the second one in Glasgow, got friendly with the Burton guys Chris and Lizzie, and then we had a couple of chats. You’ve got to start somewhere and I came along at the right time! They hooked me up with clothes and Rude Chalets out here in Morzine. Loads of great stuff came out of it! This year is my first proper year with them so lets see…

Is one of your aims for your snowboarding to push things for Burton, and achieve stuff for them?
I’d love to do more work with the head guys there. But there are a lot of amazing guys riding for Burton. So you’ve got one foot in the door, but you’ve still got to break through. I think America will really help! I’m hoping to film a little bit, get some more media and shoots. It be amazing to get more European and American coverage!

How important is competition and winning to you?
Competition is definitely not my focus. I want to be a street rider, that’s my ultimate. If I finish snowboarding, I’d want to go out with a killer street part! But definitely along the way you have to do a couple of rail jams to get the coverage. Plus it’s great to have good results. I won in NZ and Northstar and it felt great to win. It keeps the year ticking over but it’s not my focus!

It’s a tough task, a lot of effort to get something out of shredding as a girl, what drives you?
It’s such a personal thing, you can hike all day and if you get that trick on the last go, it’s the most natural high you’ll ever feel. I’ve always played sports but never felt that kind of a high from it. It’s so personally challenging and that’s why it’s so rewarding. There are days you will cry and then you land that one trick… then you’re right back on it again! Put the time in and it can be so rewarding and you meet the most amazing people, in the most gorgeous places. If there was a heaven!

Your favourite trick to pull?
Hmm, it depends on the rail feature. I’d love to get cab 270’s on lock! I’m trying a few things on the double kinks to get a bigger bag of tricks on them. Even big steazy back lips or front boards, they are timeless!

It’s such a personal thing, you can hike all day and if you get that trick on the last go, it’s the most natural high you’ll ever feel.

What would you love to learn?
The most amazing thing to learn would be a front board pretzel, on either a kink or a down rail. That would be it! Or steazy one back ons, at the moment I get them 1 out of 10 times. Then the challenge is taking these things to the streets!

Orla is sponsored by Burton, Rude, MK and Anon.


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