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Ride the Wave: Elena Hight

Photo: Tucker Adams

Backcountry days like these are the stuff of dreams. Just a glance at all that fluffy, unadulterated powder is enough to set any deprived gravity enjoyer into a trance. Sadly, it is a perfection that, for the great many of us, we rarely (if ever) get to experience. From the swaths of us who don’t get to go heli-skiing for work— we don’t rip hard enough — emerges 2 time Olympian, X Games gold medalist, and all-around backcountry shredder Elena Hight. While the conditions found in this video may be upsetting to some viewers, triggering a rush of powder-deprived envy to the head, the undeniable radness of Elena’s riding offers some morsel of consolation. Shred, she does.

If ever there was someone who’s earned their turns (helicopter notwithstanding), it’s Elena. At the ripe age of 13, she started setting records. After relocating to the mainland from Kaui, Hight trained with the US ski team in Mammoth, the period during which she became the first female rider ever to stomp a 900 in competition. As if that wasn’t enough, Hight would go on to land the first double backside alley-oop rodeo in competition at the 2013 Winter X Games, male or female. While her early career focused on trick progression and winning competitions, Hight has more recently shifted her attention to the world of big mountain and backcountry free-riding, starring in her fair share of TGR films at this point.

Elena about to drop.

Elena’s exploits in the world of trick combos, scores, and big-time competitions are remarkable. Her riding is inimitable— equally innovative in terms of style and vibe as in her taste for complex tricks. But it’s the stoke she exudes while riding that makes her truly a joy to watch. Bottoming out at the end of a steep spine of picture perfect snow, she can’t contain herself. Giggling is a lost art in snowboarding.

How is it that pure, exuberant stoke is too often pushed to the side in the world of high performance snowboarding. Perhaps it’s time to return to the roots of snow sports— having fun, usually with your friends. For most of us, it’s not the prospect of landing a double-rodeo that made us start riding in the first place. Don’t get it twisted, though— sketchy lines and ridiculous tricks often produce the pure kind of stoke I’m referring to. They’re also great eye-candy— one simply can’t look away from a big cliff drop, even if they’ve never even been to the mountains before, let alone ridden a snowboard. Through all of the flash, though, it is essential to remember that snowboarding is about making people happy. Behind fancy gear, risky lines, and heli-assisted riding, snowboarding is for fun! Elena seems to know that better than anyone— she’s got the tricks, style, and nerve to back it up.


Elena Hight’s episode of Ride the Wave is out now. Please enjoy it, and don’t be afraid if it makes you giddy. Lean into it. Consider this 1-minute edit a kind of amuse-bouche for the full slice in Flying High Again, which is now available for streaming on TGRtv. Don’t forget to bring napkins. It’s decadent.

TGR's 28th annual snow film, Legend Has It, is available for rent or purchase on your favorite streaming apps.

About The Author

stash member Nico Johnson