This Is Me: Elena Gonzalez de Murillo

The boardsports lover and translator on snowboarding, how surfing is almost mainstream in Spain and making your own splitboard

Interview by Anna Langer

I grew up a happy kid, surrounded by nature and a big family of travellers. I was born and grew up in the Basque Country, very close to the ocean and the little mountains in Gipuzkoa. My dad was frustrated starting to learn English in his twenties, so I started to learn English when I was 5. I spoke Spanish with my parents and Basque with my grandparents and at school. When I was 10 I started to spend a month with an English family during summer holidays, so I began to write letters. I started to take French lessons when I was 11. At 17, I spent one whole year in a tiny town called New Berlin, in Central New York, I went to high school there and lived with a US family. I started to learn German at 18, on my first uni year. I lived in Regensburg –Germany- for a year as Erasmus student, working now and then to make money and discover the Alps.

I moved to Granada in Southern Spain to study translation and interpreting, just 30km from Sierra Nevada. Snowboarding was starting to blow up in Spain, I loved surfing and skateboarding, so when I first saw a snowboarder I knew it was my kind of thing. Once I tried it that was it, I had the virus and my whole life started to evolve around it.

I now specialise in boardsports. I’m the Spanish editor for Onboard snowboard magazine, I translate for Patagonia, The Program, TTR, Nitro, Rip Curl, Quiksilver, Surfrider Foundation, Nixon, Pull-In… I also work a lot around films, I’m part of Surfilmfestibal-San Sebastian and Freeride Film Festival Saint-Lary. One of my most recent projects is, a free web magazine exclusively about splitboarding that some friends from Barcelona started a couple of years back. And I just wrote my first article for Cooler [a travel guide to San Sebastian, appearing in the next issue]! During winter, I occasionally teach snowboarding in Baqueira, in the Pyrenees.

I started to compete in snowboarding by chance. I’m definitely not a competitor, but all of a sudden I found myself in the middle of an up and coming snowboarding scene. At some point I started to merge by career –writing and translating- with my passions. A dream come true…I feel thankful for it every day!

Boardsports are a big deal in Spain. Especially as surfing is almost starting to be a mainstream sport…well, it’s not quite there yet but it’s definitely growing and attracting mass attention. Skateboarding is pretty healthy in Spain too, considering the weather and the skate tolerant authorities. Snowboarding is clearly the one that’s the less accessible, due to geographical and financial reasons, but there’s a lot of passion for snowboarding and getting up for first lifts after a dump in a Spanish resort you’ll score way more than elsewhere in Europe. There’s just too much football in the Spanish media, it seems to drown out everything else.

The most exotic destination I’ve ever travelled to is probably Ushuaia, all the way down south of Argentina. Or some mountains in New Zealand, or G-Land in Java, three lonely wild places of astonishing natural beauty. I’d love to check out some Japanese powder, I have to go to AK one day too and I have a loooong list of surfing destinations to go to!

When it comes to making your own splitboard there is no one big problem but a list of small problems. Such as choosing the right board, ordering the different parts, finding a patient craftsman/woman who cuts it, seals it and assembles it as a splitboard. Other than that it’s not such a big deal, but a factory-made splitboard is usually better.

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