Feb 2, 2017

This winter is already shaping up to be a big one for Elena Hight. Fresh off promoting her amazing riding in the critically acclaimed Full Moon film, she is back to competition, and it's paying dividends instantly. This week, we caught up with the longtime GoPro team athlete just days after she secured her first X Games gold medal in Aspen, Colo. This weekend, she heads to Mammoth, Calif., to compete in the USSA Grand Prix, an Olympic qualifying event, but she still made time for a chat.

In case you missed it, check out Elena’s winning run at X Games HERE.  

GoPro: You’ve competed in 13 X Games, medaled five times (three silver and two bronze), and your last X Games podium was in 2013. How did it feel to win your first X Games Gold at Buttermilk this year?

Elena: I am beyond stoked right now! I went into the event more focused on riding well than the actual results. I wanted to put down that run and do the best I could. At the end of the day, I’m happy with how I rode, and the winning results were the cherry on top.

We understand you’ve been super focused on the fundamentals of snow training. What are you concentrating on the most?

Over the past six months, I took it back to the basics. It’s easy to get caught up, wanting to learn the next trick and step up my game. I needed to focus on actual snowboarding—my edging, gaining speed into the walls of the pipe, and focusing on the lines I want to take. To make everything cleaner, I needed to better my on-snow riding because, once I’m in the air, it goes back to the tricks I’ve learned and mastered.

As the first female in history to land a 900 in the halfpipe and the only female who has landed a double cork in the halfpipe, do you plan to pull out the double cork this weekend in Mammoth? Or are you saving the double cork for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics? 

The 900 is in my run right now. It’s awesome, but has a been a bit tricky over my career. That said, I’m now more confident than ever. I’ve learned the double cork and done it a bunch, but it’s still a scary trick. It has to be a good time and place for me to want to throw it. I hope to have more time to dial in over the summer and really lock it down. Mammoth has a solid halfpipe and the USSA Grand Prix is a great event. You can’t beat the Cali sun. Maybe if it's nice and warm, I’ll throw the double.

As a two-time Olympian, how are you training for PyeongChang?

I’m using this season to build my fundamentals and dial in new tricks. I’ll spend the summer working on amping up my run a bit. All the girls are riding so well—it’s cool to be part of the progression of the sport—so I know the skill level is going to be high going into the Olympics. It’s cool to see the girls of snowboarding stepping it up across all disciplines—from slopestyle to halfpipe to backcountry to filming. Women’s snowboarding has skyrocketed over the past two years. The girls are going to keep pushing it. It's great to see the next generation and continue to make snowboarding great. There are no limits.

What’s next for you after training for the Olympics?

I love competing in halfpipe, so I’ll want to do a little of that for a few more years. I’ll still want to compete in my favorite events and be part of the scene. That said, I want to get more into backcountry riding and filming.

Speaking of filming, congrats on your success with the Full Moon project! What was your favorite part of filming?

Thank you! It was the turning point for girls in snowboarding films because the level of riding was so high, the story telling was great, and it was inspiring to everyone, no matter who was watching it. Being out there in the backcountry with seasoned veterans, as someone who is new to film world, I picked their brains and learned a ton from them. I am honored to be part of the project because it represents women’s snowboarding so well.

And last but not least, what are you most looking forward to in the 2017 season?

I’m excited to ride in Mammoth this weekend. Then I head to Baker for the Baker Banked Slalom—one of my favorite events—then the US Open. I’ll spend the spring filming in BC and Alaska with the Full Moon girls. Then after competing, I’m looking forward to riding a bit of powder in the backcountry in Whistler and heading back to Alaska.

Best of luck in Mammoth, Elena!