Though she calls the South Coast home, last year she spent about five months living closer to her favorite place — Mount Bachelor.
Brittany Williamson, 16, has made huge strides in her snowboarding dream this past year, and one big step for the teenager was to move to Bend by herself and spend nearly every day on snow while taking online classes at North Bend High School.
Living close to her home mountain helped her finish ranked fourth overall in the nation at the USA Snowboard Association national competition at Colorado’s Copper Mountain in the 16- and 17-year-old age group two months ago. She also joined the Revolution Tour, which consists of some up-and-coming athletes and competes regularly around the country.
‘Lot more competitors, definitely stiff competition,” she said.
She competes in all disciplines — halfpipe, slopestyle, boardercross, slalom and giant slalom — and she’s ranked in the top 35 nationally in every event while being in a four-way tie for third in the halfpipe and 15th in slopestyle.
She did all this after recovering from a December knee injury — she suffered a series of contusions and the swelling was intense, pushing back her training.
‘I was out a month,” she said, before adding that she got the best of care in Bend, with a great doctor and constant physical therapy.
‘It was hard because I wanted to bring her home,” said Brittany’s mother Patti Williamson, who still lives on the South Coast.
‘She did a lot of things for herself this year. It was torture,” she added with a smile.
The past couple years, Brittany’s mom drove her to Mount Bachelor every weekend in the winter, but that just wasn’t enough time on snow. And since Brittany’s got the X Games on her mind, she needed to do more.
Brittany said it was a bit scary moving away from home for the first time, especially since she just got her license before leaving and had to adjust to the snowy roads of Bend with her mom’s car. Patti gave up her car and drove around a beat-up vehicle because she thought it’d be safer for Brittany.
‘But I didn’t hit anything,” Brittany said, laughing.
Brittany has been grateful for her mom’s support, saying it’s made the transition a lot easier.
‘It’s amazing,” she said. ‘No other parents do that.”
She lived with a teammate (Brittany joined the Mount Bachelor Snow Education Foundation team a few years ago), and went to the mountain in the morning, watched film after she finished practicing and did hot yoga with the team to stay in shape.
‘You have to study snowboarding,” Brittany said. ‘I love it.”
The biggest difference for her was not getting up and going to school every day.
‘That was so weird,” she said. ‘I was like, ‘Oh, I need to go to school.’ And my teammates said, ‘Don’t you do that online?'”
‘The school has been amazingly supportive,” Patti said. ‘(Principals) Bill Lucero and Bill Yester have been great.”
Brittany finally got to return to the Bay Area in May after moving in late November, but she’ll back at the mountain this weekend for a halfpipe clinic and will visit Mount Hood throughout the summer to take advantage of its year-round snow. It’s a busy life, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
She wore a huge grin as she talked about this past year’s competitions in Michigan, Colorado and California, and said she got to meet Olympic champion Hannah Teter during her travels.
‘Michigan was a higher level, but it was like a hill,” she said of the state’s lower elevation. ‘I love Colorado, it’s super cool.”
She finally got to visit Breckenridge in Colorado, one of the most popular resorts in America, and ‘it was phenomenal,” she said. Mount Bachelor is still her favorite, though, because they get plenty of good powder.
Now that she’s well-traveled, the do-it-all teen has to narrow down her boarding focus. Boardercross used to be her favorite, but now she’s looking closer at the halfpipe, which is a good discipline for smaller-statured boarders.
‘I went to nationals and finished fifth (in halfpipe) and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,'” she said. ‘And my coaches said ‘Where’d that come from?'”
She said the halfpipe can be quite intimidating — if you haven’t seen the massive structure in person, television coverage doesn’t do it justice.
‘It’s 22 feet of walls of just sheer ice,” Brittany said.
When she first started on the national snowboarding scene at 14 years old she still was a bit timid about competition, but that’s not the case anymore. She’s ready to dive right in with all the confidence in the world.
‘I’m a lot more confident. Now I’m like, ‘This is my mountain,'” she said with a laugh.
And now that she’s healthy, she’s ready to go all-out to qualify for the X Games in Aspen, Colo., where she could share the mountain with the likes of Teter or run into well-decorated Olympic snowboarder Shaun White.
She’s got a friend making a highlight video in attempt to woo sponsors this coming season, and she hopes to join some Grand Prix events, where many professionals compete, which means she’ll be heading back to the mountain once winter hits again. And with the X Games approaching next January, there’s no looking back.
‘It’s super exciting,” Brittany said. ‘I love it.”
Sports Writer Rachel Finney can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 237, or at email@example.com.