Ellery Hollingsworth is one of the youngest snowboarders in the international competitive circuit and has been a member of the US Snowboarding team since 14. She burst onto the competitive scene in 2007 when she became the first female to land a backside 900 during the Lake Placid US Snowboard Cup, and then went on to be the first woman to land a 1080 in the superpipe during practice. The 20 year old Stratton Mountain School graduate just wrapped a highly successful season that saw several podiums and multiple top ten finishes. Ellery strapped into her first board in order to follow her two older brothers around on the mountain, today she straps in to follow her dream of competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
We caught up with Ellery in Park City, Utah where she is hard at work training with the US team at the Center of Excellence.
The Ski Channel: How’s your summer going so far? Been busy training?
Ellery Hollingsworth: I’ve really busy working with my coaches and the US Snowboard Team here in Park City, Utah. I have two weeks left here for training, then we are heading up to Mt. Hood, and then we will go to New Zealand twice, once in August and again in October.
What’s the scene like down in New Zealand?
Ellery Hollingsworth: There are a few contests and a lot of training going on. Its winter there, so its much better for training. When we are at Mt. Hood the snow is a lot different than what we are used to when we are competing in winter (in the northern hemisphere) so its better to train in New Zealand, but sometimes we still get skunked with the weather.
So what is it like being one of the youngest riders in the Competitive circut and on the US snowboarding team?
Ellery Hollingsworth: Its funny, when you mentioned New Zealand I began thinking how many times I have actually been down there! I’ve been going to New Zealand once or twice a year since I was about 13 years old. So it’s crazy to think about. I’ve been talking to Gatorade and the Women’s Sports Foundation about the 40 year anniversary of Title IX, and one of the guys at Gatorade was like,”Think about what your life would be like if you stopped playing sports at 14!” To be honest, I have never sat back and thought about that before because sports play such a big role in my life. My brothers always played sports, and I always tried to do what they were doing. Studies show that girls who stay in sports are healthier, more confident and more successful in life. I can totally see that and it’s crazy to think that even after 40 years of Title IX’s existence, girls still drop out of sports twice the rate boys do.
TSC: What are some of the ways you serve as an advocate for women in professional snow sports?
Ellery Hollingsworth: I do camps with my sponsors and sometimes I ride with little girls or people who don’t know how. It’s inspiring to see so much joy on their face as they learn to ride, and its great to be out in the elements and stay active. I grew up playing soccer and hockey and lacrosse, and so did all my friends. Snowboarding and any type of sport contributes to a great lifestyle. I urge women to get more active, it will make you happy — it makes me happy.
TSC: You took your athletic pursuits a step further when you left your school in Connecticut, to pursue more sports oriented academics at Stratton Mountain School. What was the inspiration behind that decision? That is a pretty huge move to make at 13!
Ellery Hollingsworth: When i started competing at 11 or 12, there were a few girls who were better than me. I wanted to be as good as they were and beat them! I knew I had a lot of work to do, but I set goals for myself. I heard about Stratton Mountain School because all the good kids riding at Stratton went there. So, I made that a goal — to be good enough to go there. At the end of the season they approached me and said that they wanted me to come. The hardest part was convincing my parents, because they believe academics hold the most importance. So they had to go and visit to make sure the academics were really good before giving me permission. When they decided to let me go I was really happy.
TSC: You credit your brothers for getting you into snowboarding at a young age, and not treating you like a little sister, but pushing you to become a strong rider.
Ellery Hollingsworth: Well I am the baby in the family. My brothers are 5 and 7 years older than me, so they wouldn’t go easy on me just because I was a girl, but because they didn’t know any difference. So they were snowboarding a ton, and I was like “Mom I want to snowboard!”. She told me I was going to hate it. The first day, I brought my mom up to the top of the hill after my lesson and made her go down with me, it took me like 2 hours to get down the baby hill. Even though I was completely frustrated, I wanted to prove everyone wrong. It didn’t take long for me to get better and I started following them all over the mountain. It’s funny looking back at it all.
TSC: What is the dynamic now? Do you all still snowboard together?
Ellery Hollingsworth: We barely get to go out together now. One of them still snowboards and we have a good time cruising around. He got into back country skiing because he lives in Tahoe. When we ride together he really pushes me out of my element, its a lot of hard work!
TSC: A number of park-oriented athletes seem to be making the transition to backcountry riding. Do you think you will ever embark upon those kind of pursuits or are you a park girl at heart?
Ellery Hollingsworth: I love everypart of snowboarding — well I don’t really love racing — but I’m committed to wherever my career takes me. I don’t know… I like backcountry, but you have to be very safe out there and I still have a lot to learn. Right now, I am really focused on snowboarding halfpipe, and being on the US Snowboarding Team. As a team, we are very goal oriented. I also have some personal goals in my mind that I want to check off.
TSC: What are some of those goals?
Ellery Hollingsworth: I have some certain tricks in mind that I want to incorporate into my runs, a few 900’s and some other tricks I need to learn. I’ve been working on the trampoline and we have an airbag at Mt. Hood which is very helpful. I’d love to make the Olympic team but I think qualifying is much harder then actually being there. The last time around I missed it by one spot, but it was a great experience. The level of riding on both the female and men’s divisions are being pushed higher than anyone has ever seen before. It’s really cool to be a part of it all — it’s going to be a good run!
TSC: As you look towards the 2014 games, in terms of your training, how has it evolved from your experience preparing for the 2010 qualifiers?
Well, before Vancouver I wasn’t living in Utah and I think it is really beneficial living here. We have the training center, my coach lives here and we can practice on the trampolines. When it comes to the Olympics it’s not like you can train a couple months before winter — you need to train all year and have those years build upon each other. So I think the last three years I have really been working on that. With any athlete’s career there are highs and lows. Two seasons ago I didn’t have the best season, but I worked hard on my mental game and fitness and gradually got better. It’s interesting, everything is tied together and you need to have a handle on it all. From mental and physical conditioning, to aspects such as hydration, or even just the actual snowboarding — it’s the whole package, and I am working on that.
TSC: Would you say a lot of that is coming with age, and that you have multiple years on the circuit to compare and contrast between?
Yes, I‘m really happy that I was around for the 2010 qualifiers. I noticed how everyone changed during qualifiers, things get really tense and more serious. Being around that and have that experience before helps great deal.
TSC: It was between you and your friend Elena Hight right? Are you two still really close?
Yea, Elina is one of my best friends. We both did the best we could, and when it comes down to a sport that is judged, things can go either way.
TSC: So, are you thinking about participating in slopestyle as well since it got added for the 2014 Winter Games?
No, I will just be going for halfpipe.
TSC: Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Yes! You should tell all your female readers to change their social media profile pictures to them as a young athlete or a female athlete they look up to. We are doing that as a fun way to get our message out. Or if you’re a guy, to a female athlete they look up to. This is just our way to advocate our overall message of women in sports.
TSC: What should men do?
Well, guys should change their photo to a female athlete that inspires them or their mom…….or me! [Hahah]
- End of Interview
Readers are encouraged to visit KeepHerInTheGame.org to learn more about female athletics, donate to the Women’s Sports Foundation and help keep young girls active. Just imagine a world where athletes like Ellery aren’t out there sending it on the slopes! Terrifying!
There are few things cooler than a girl that rips! Lets keep them in the game!