This shred goddess doesn’t need much introduction: not only is she a Cooler cover girl, she has also won some of the world's most prestigious snowboard contests, including the X-Games, the Burton Global Open Series and the TTR World Tour – by the age of 22! We meet up with Torah and Roxy team manager (and former pro) Stine Brun-Kjeldaas during her promo tour through Europe.
Interview by Anna Langer
Hey Torah, what are you up to at the moment?
Torah: My Roxy signature line hits stores now, so at the moment I’m on a promo tour. On average I have approximately ten interviews a day! Apart from that I’m just enjoying life, happy being anywhere, doing anything…
How much are you involved in the signature line?
Torah: I put together a book with all my ideas and figure out the direction I want to go. Then I meet with the designers and show them all my ideas. They help me to work out the designs and then they do some mock-ups of the pieces, send them to me and I give my opinion. It goes back and forth like a couple of times until the product is finished.
You also have a signature snowboard. Did you put a lot of effort into getting it perfect for your style of riding?
Torah: Yeah. I talked with the guys at Mervin about what I liked about the board I was riding at that time and how I would like it to change. They told me all about the different core materials, which woods are stiffer, which ones softer and all sorts of things. I made a list of how I would like the board to be, they made a bunch of different test boards and I chose the best.
What is the difference between your signature line and the regular Roxy outerwear?
Torah: Well, I guess it’s a bit more expensive than normal gear, because we use satin lining for example. But hmm… (to Stine) How would you explain it?
Stine: The products are more about fashion and made of more expensive materials. It’s also highly technical but that’s not the emphasis, the focus is more on the design. We wanted it to be top of the line, make it something special.
Torah: My idea behind it was to make it feminine, luxurious and glamorous. You know the snowboard style, people think it’s such a male-dominated sport but I am a female and I want to be feminine.
Do you have a favourite part in the creative process?
Torah: I like seeing the final product! I just saw some samples for the new 09/10 collection and was really nervous to see them but they’re all really good. It’s a great opportunity that Roxy has given me, it’s fun and if people like it, I’m stoked.
Is fashion design something you might pursue as a career at some point?
Torah: I don’t know. It’s something I definitely enjoy, but actually I want to be an interior designer then. It’s not that I’m fed up with the snowboarding business, it’s just something I’m really interested in and that I enjoy a lot. Right now I’m experimenting with my home a bit, decorating and stuff. I have a golden living room for example. There’s really no right or wrong thing to do when you’re decorating. It can’t really be too bad, can it?
If you paint it all in pink that may be a bit too much…
Torah: Well, but you know what, if you like that… good! (laughs)
Last year you only missed the TTR crown by a few inches, but you didn’t compete in this year’s NZ and Australian open, why is that?
Torah: I decided that I needed a little bit of a break. Since the year before the Olympics until now my life was packed with contests and really hectic. This year it’s time for the Olympic qualification again and I wanted to give myself a little breather before it starts being full-on again.
You’ve already won the TTR tour, which is one of the biggest goals you can reach in snowboarding, when you were 20. Are you maybe a bit over it?
Torah: (laughs) No! My motivation is not to win anything! My only motivation has always been to become a better snowboarder. Winning contests makes me stoked of course, but I don’t tick them off my list like “now that I’ve won that one I don’t need to win it again".
Would you say that it’s your goal to win again this year?
Torah: It’s definitely in the back of my mind, but I’m not chasing it. I will compete in a bunch of 6-Star TTR events like the Roxy Chicken Jam, I’ll be on the new Dew Tour in the states, which means even more contests, but I also want to fit in some World Cups to qualify for the Olympics. And there are also some sponsorship commitments I have to attend.
What are you looking forward to most this season?
Torah: There are a lot of things, but actually I think what I look forward to most is to having some days to myself to ride some powder (laughs). I wanna ride powder! (laughs more) I mean, training isn’t really THAT hard, but I would definitely enjoy some powder days this season!
Do you have any major goals in snowboarding?
Torah: There’s one thing: when I was younger I really wanted to compete in the Arctic Challenge. And I did, I went there… eh when was that?
Stine: 2005 and you did a McTwist.
Torah: I haven’t been back there since. But that’s the only thing I can remember that I really wanted to go to.
So for the future there’s nothing left that you totally aim for?
Torah: I don’t know! I mean it changes. I don’t really plan too far ahead too much. Like the Global Open issue, I wasn’t going to win it, I didn’t even really want to compete that much but it just kinda happened. I guess I’m lucky. I guess in the long term I am looking forward to the Olympics again and will hopefully ride really well and represent my country well.
You've said that many people think of the snowboard business as being male-dominated, have you experienced that yourself?
Torah: I sometime hear comments like "she’s pretty good for a girl", but as we’re proving that we are not “just" girls it’s getting less and less. We can ride pretty well too and I think that the last three years everybody has been surprised at how well we’re doing and how far we’ve come.
Would you say it’s easier to be a pretty girl in a macho world or is it more difficult because people only see you as a pretty face?
Torah: (Pause) Hmmm… I don’t know. Maybe I’m naïve to that reaction, but I want to say no to both.
Stine: I think Torah is definitely not just seen as pretty face. When I hear boys talking about her, they talk about her riding and how good she is. I know that they think she is pretty, but I also know that they have so much respect for her. And Torah never used her looks to get where she is today.
Torah: That’s it exactly. If you do use it and sell yourself like that, people might just see your looks and not your skills.
Stine: If she would be flirting with everyone or sleeping around or doing things like that it may be different. People would maybe lose respect. But Torah has never done anything like that at all and I’ve never seen anyone not respecting her.
Torah: I think in many businesses people don’t buy it if you’re really successful as a pretty girl, so it’s great that people do recognise that all you achieved came through your riding.
Stine: I think Torah is pushing the sport more than any of the other girls. She is taking the slams and she’s doing stuff that nobody else does, some of it even better than the guys. They can’t really say anything, you know.
I always read that you are very disciplined, train really hard and always really focus on the contest.
Stine: Yeah, I hear that too but I don’t think it’s really true.
Torah: (laughs more) No it’s not! I’m always the one to say, “let’s go dancing". I mean, I do work hard when I’m out on the hill and want to learn something, I’ll spend hours and hours, even days, doing it over and over and over. But I don’t see myself as very disciplined. I think it’s just a little bit of hard work, you know, just trying till you get it.
Stine: I think it comes natural for her. I know that you ride all day long, but that’s because you just like riding.
Torah: Yeah. We do ride all day long, pipe and then jumps.
Stine: I think it’s not a discipline thing, it’s more that Torah wants to learn more in snowboarding and have fun with it. Errr…sorry I’ll stop answering for you! (both laugh)
Torah: No, Stine knows me very well and can see me from the outside, which helps me to figure it out too! Maybe the fact that I have a “coach" keeps the illusion that I’m very dedicated and have a strict timetable like go to the hill from 9 am to 4 pm. Actually we have a lot of fun!