It wasn’t that long ago that slopestyle courses included jumps with two take-offs, with one designated as “the ladies tee”. Now, the ladies are stomping their tricks on the same features as the boys, and the state of women’s slopestyle is at an all-time high.
There is a new group of young riders leading the charge, pushing each other to learn new tricks and progressing the sport. I caught up with Ty Walker, one of the rising stars of snowboarding to talk the Olympics, East Coast pride and the US Snowboard Team.
What’s your plan for the rest of the winter?
For the rest of the winter, I’ll be travelling quite a bit, doing the World Cups and Burton Open events. My main goals are to lock down the tricks that I already have and move them to contest-sized jumps and get the results needed to make myself eligible for 2014.
Sounds like making the Olympic team is your main focus?
I told my first snowboard coach ever that I was going to go to the Olympics one day. Since slopestyle was announced as an event for 2014, it’s been my number one priority to put myself in the best position possible to make the team.
How’s life on the US Snowboarding Team? What advantages does being on the team offer you?
The US Snowboard Team is awesome. They have a huge support team for their athletes and utilize all the resources that an athlete needs to be able to perform to their best. We have the most amazing coach in Bill Enos, and we have physical trainers, doctors and even a chef on some trips. On top of that, I get to ride with the best snowboarders in the US and progress with the other people on the team. It’s been a great experience so far.
What is your view on women’s slopestyle right now?
I think right now, women’s slopestyle is coming into a huge era of progression. In the last two years or so, the level of riding at the top events has gone up so much. Girls are pushing themselves to do more technical tricks on bigger jumps. I definitely think that there’s a lot more progression that can happen, but all of the girls on tour right now are really stepping up their game.
At some point do you want to step away from contests and bring your snowboarding to a different environment?
I think I’ll definitely be interested in filming, but I don’t know if I’d ever make it my main focus. I don’t think that I’d give up competing for even one full year just to go film. It’s something that most snowboarders will do at least once, so it’s an idea that’s always in the back of my mind.
You are a fellow East Coaster, so why do you think many of the best snowboarders hail from the East Coast?
I think that there are so many talented riders from the East Coast because we learn to deal with adversity. Fundamentally, people from the East Coast typically need to be a bit better than somebody from the west, simply because the weather and conditions are so variable. Out west the weather and the park are always perfect. You never need to learn to ride anything else. In the east, you have to deal with bad weather, rain, ice, and small or poorly built parks. When an East Coaster goes to the West Coast, it’s almost too easy to get good.