With the winter just around the corner, we decided it’s time to get more into snow and winter sports again – of course just theoretical and not practical yet (buhu). So to satisfy our longing for the white gold at least a bit, we had a little chat with British Freeski icon Becky Hammond
Interview: Anna Langer
Hey Becky, where are you and what are you up to at the moment?
I’m in Sheffield at the moment working for HSBC earning as much as possible for the winter. I’ve also been coaching at weekends across the UK and Ireland on Salomon Freeski Camps.
What are your plans for this winter?
I’m off to Verbier, Switzerland for most of the winter. I have some trips planned for World Cup Halfpipe comps across Europe and hopefully USA. I also have some photo shoots lined up in Europe and some coaching camps to coach. Another busy winter!
How long have you been competing for?
I started competing at local UK comps about 7 years ago and started to compete at World Cup level 2 years ago.
Have you always been into competing?
Yes, I like the challenge. Even playing tennis when I was younger, I always wanted to beat the boys! I am quite competitive. Growing up with a big brother and sister has always made me want to succeed.
What were you like as a child?
Well before I could walk, I would crawl backwards up slides. I guess you could say I was very adventurous.
When and how did you get into skiing?
I started skiing at 14 at my local dry ski slope. I decided to tag along with my next door neighbour and after a few weeks joined the local ski club, Sharks.
How did you turn pro?
When I was about 18 I started to do really well in competitions. I got regular coverage in local newspapers and ski magazines. After a successful season, I started to pick up sponsorship.
Who are your sponsors and how have they helped you in your skiing career?
Cushe Footwear supply me with very comfortable footwear for every occasion including the ‘Diva Lace Up’ winter boot, which features my special “Endless Journey” design on the sole. Animal sort me out with technical and casual clothing. The ski shop Ellis Brigham provide me with Full Tilt boots (best freestyle boot available), protective gear, wax, and servicing, it’s a great shop with friendly staff. And Head supply me with skis and bindings every season. They are super strong and light.
What’s the girl’s Freeski scene like?
It’s very friendly and supportive, everyone gets on and every year more girls are getting into it.
Freeskiing has grown huge over the last couple of years, would you agree with that?
It’s definitely got bigger. I think it will continue to grow especially if halfpipe and slopestyle become an Olympic discipline. The invention of twin tip ski made skiing cool again. Gradually over the years more manufactures and models have come along and started to make fun looking skis with bright, colourful designs. And the girl’s scene has increased massively as well, and is continuing to grow.
How’s the level of riding among the girls?
The level is getting higher and higher. There are also a lot of younger girls starting out, which is pushing the girl’s scene in the UK.
How’s it compared to the guys?
There’s still quite a gap between boys and girls. But the gap has closed over the last year, girls are really starting to push things. I think one of the main issues is strength.
What would we still need to do to improve the level of riding in the girls freeski scene?
For the UK the level is improving massively and this is down to the Grom Camps. Also girls need to be just as strong as the guys!
You’re coaching at Grom Camps, can you tell us a little more about that?
The Salomon Grom Camps started out about four years ago now. They are freestyle coaching camps we hold at different ski venues in UK and Ireland for any level and any age. The camps have really pushed the UK scene and we have some amazing young talent. This season we are taking them abroad for the first time.
How did you first get into coaching?
I started coaching at my local ski club at 16. I took my BASI at 17, so I could coach in the Alps.
What’s your motivation for that?
I really enjoy seeing people progress, it also gives me a better understanding of my own skiing.
What tips would you give girls who want to start riding professionally?
Start entering competitions, go to the gym to get strong, practice on a trampoline loads and have an outgoing personality.
What do you think are the most important traits for a Freeski pro rider?
You have to be very determined, have confidence, be committed to improving and prepare to take a few knock backs.
Where do you stand on the everlasting discussion about spins vs. style?
I like to think style. I don’t really spin to win!
What goals do you still want to reach?
I’d like to ski for Team GB in the 2014 Olympics, if it becomes an Olympic discipline. We should find out in the next year. I’d also like to one day set up my own Personal Training Fitness Business.
Becky is sponsored by Cushe Footwear, Animal, Ellis Brigham and Head, find out more about her on cushe.com
Becky’s Comp schedule for 2011:
World Cup in Austria, January
World Championships in USA, February
European Open in Switzerland, March
The Brits in Switzerland, March