On Sunday, while training with the U.S. snowboard team in Mammoth, Calif., Elena Hight became the first woman to land a double backside alley-oop rodeo in a halfpipe. This may be the trick that finally unseats Kelly Clark and her contest-dominating 1080. We caught up with Hight to have her tell us more about it.
ESPN: Elena, what has gotten into you lately?
Elena Hight: [Laughs] I just finished off the season on a really good note. We had such a great season as far as weather for contests. It was a bad snow year, but for contests it helped out a lot. It really added to people's ability to progress. With the Olympics coming up, I've been trying to set goals for the next couple of years, trying to set timelines. This has been a good year for me to learn new tricks.
For a while there it seemed like you were kind of just hanging back in the pack, contest-wise. But this season you have really been stepping it up.
Yeah, I've just been snowboarding for so long, I definitely had a couple of years where I lost my passion. I did my first Grand Prix in 2003, when I was 13. You hit a point in your career where there's not any time to take a step back, learn new tricks and ride for yourself because there are so many contests -- we travel all season long, and they're just back-to-back -- and that's where you hit burnout. It's hard to stay on top of your game all of the time.
So last summer I took the whole thing off, just to get away from it, and when I came back this winter I was really excited. I think I just kind of started really loving snowboarding again. I made a goal to progress more this season, and to learn some tricks that the other girls aren't doing. That's where this rodeo came in.
Do you think you'll be able to get it into a contest run next winter?
It's my goal, for sure. The progression of learning it was pretty quick. I worked with my coach for the U.S. team. We went to the training center in Park City, worked on doing it into the foam pit. Then in Mammoth I did it into the airbag, and then tried it on snow.
Being able to progress the trick that way, I felt way safer and more prepared than if I'd tried to do it for the first time on snow. I feel good about it. I am excited that I landed it, and I'm definitely going to take some time out in October to get it a little more dialed, to see if I can get it into a contest run this year.