Is it possible to have it all? That’s the question that comes to mind when we speak to Marina Minetti.
The Finnish 37 year-old snowboarder and skateboarder founded Scandinavia’s biggest women’s snowboarding competition, while holding down a career as a criminal therapist – and bringing up a three year-old son.
We sat down to chat with her about growing up as a tomboy, skateboarding as a mum and whether it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too.
“I totally have two careers. I run women’s boardriding camps and organise snowboard competitions in Sweden, but I’m also a criminal therapist.
I started skiing at my local hill Mustavuori when I was really tiny with my dad. I come from Tampare in the middle of Finland, so we didn’t have any real mountains there. When I was 11 – this was 1989 – I saw a guy riding a snowboarder and I wanted to try it so much.
A month later, we went on a family holiday to Lapland. I asked my dad if I could learn to snowboard. He said yes, so I rented a board and since that day I haven’t touched my skis.
I grew up with a group of skaters and didn’t really want girls around me. Their world always felt so unfamiliar to me…
I snowboarded a lot from age 11 to 14, but then I got really sick when I was 14 and had to stop taking part in sports for many years.
I grew up with a group of skaters and didn’t really want girls around me. Their world always felt so unfamiliar to me. I’ve always been a tomboy. My mum pierced my ears because people kept thinking I was a boy.
I spent most of my twenties skateboarding with Tom Penny and Matt Mumford looking down on me from my wall. .
But then in 2004, I decided I wanted to try surfing. I saw an advertisement for Girlie Camps, where you could try surfing with other girls. I’d never seen anything like it before.
I told the guys that I was going to go – and they just laughed at me. “You’re going to have to spend two weeks with like ten girls!” they said. I remember being so nervous – but it was so much fun. I enjoyed meeting all these amazing girls.
Those weeks changed me a lot. It got my involved with women’s riding – and I’ve seen it grow and develop over the past ten years. I love being a part of Women In Boardsports, which is a strong group of women who are driving action sports forward.
Girlie Camps was how I met my boyfriend Johan. He’s a snowboarder from Sweden and he got me straight back into it.
Two years later we moved to Sweden and I started working for Girlie Camps as their skate manager and also running part of their snowboard and surf camps.
Now we live in Östersund, it’s about an hour from Åre, which is Sweden’s biggest ski resort.
Skateboarding is still really close to my heart. It’s probably the sport I cherish the most, but it’s such a difficult sport. I never reached the point where I was really good at it.
I’ve skated very little over the past year because of injuries and giving birth to Kasper, but I’m hoping to get back into it this summer.
You don’t realise until you become a mum how much giving birth affects your body and how tough it is to come back. I started snowboarding and doing jumps again just four weeks after having Kasper.
My body was way more affected from being pregnant than I realise. It took me almost two years to feel strong again.
I was also way more afraid of hurting myself, because I had to be there for Kasper. He’s now three years old and I think it’s been the first winter that I feel more relaxed when I go riding.
You don’t realise until you become a mum how much giving birth affects your body – and how tough it is to come back…
Of course, when I go off-piste now, there’s way more to think about. My life isn’t just about me anymore.
I don’t want to break myself because I want to snowboard with my son in the future. I can’t wait for that.
He’s been riding since he was one and a half. He can take the lift by himself now, and he just wants to go fast and jump. His dad likes to take on big jumps. I don’t even want think about Kasper doing that one day haha.
I’ve also always wanted to be a prison psychologist. Since the age of 20, I’ve worked with criminals and addicts – for the government and now with young people aged 16 to 24.
I love my job because it’s always challenging me. It never gets boring. I feel like I am doing something good for these people. It also gives me the freedom to go off and travel pretty much when I want to.
I love travelling. I get pretty restless and can’t stay at one place too long. Before I became a mum, I travelled a lot more but now I don’t want to be away from Kasper for too long.
We also travel as a family a lot which is easier because we love doing the same things. Even the kiddo already says he likes to travel. We just bought an old hippy van from 1971 that we’re fixing up. We’re hoping to get to Norway for some summer riding with it.
I get most of my money from the “real work” – I love it, I’d never want to give it up – but then I also love working in boardsports. For so many years, I thought I had to choose one – therapist or action sports. But in the end, it’s worked our and I’m lucky to be able to work with both!
Now I only run few camps every year but I really enjoy every one of them. As I don’t work nine to five, I get time to work with boardsports as well.
Boardsports is an amazing industry to work in but it can sometimes be a little unstable. The salaries are often low and the past couple of years have been really tough for many companies. I’m lucky that my home life isn’t dependent on the action sports industry.
It’s such a cliché, but it really is a passion and a lifestyle. I’ve been on board since I was 11 years old and most of my life has revolved around boardriding in some way. It´s one of the biggest loves of my life, for sure.
You shouldn’t think that you can’t do exactly the same stuff as the guys do…
What advice would I give to girls looking to break into the action sports industry? You shouldn’t think that you can’t do exactly the same stuff as the guys do. It can be a real career in so many different ways.
A lot of people think women don’t have support from the action sports industry, but I don’t see it that way. The more women there are, the stronger we become.
Big companies are starting to sponsor more female-only events again. They want to see women’s sports grow. They understand we are buying a lot of the products they are promoting. It really feels like a good point for girls to start pushing it. And that’s exactly what we are doing.
Connections are really important. It’s also important to think out of the box. It’s a creative business.
We wanted to do a big women’s snowboarding competition in Sweden for such a long time. It just came together and this year it’s part of the World Snowboard Tour. You just need to believe in yourself and make it happen.”