Believe In Barrett

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Believe in Barrett
I first met Barrett at a Nike sponsored Big Air contest in Aspen, Colorado in '96. The organizers wanted to push the hype level through the roof by making a huge night kicker within walking distance of Aspen's Main Street. Then they made the mistake of making it a winner-take-all ($10,000) shootout and invited only men.

What didn't they account for? Barrett Christy was in the house. She looked the organizers and the kicker up and down a couple times, put on a helmet and launched it — without a chance at the big prize. She proceeded to bust a couple 360s and then attempted her signature 540s while some of the pro men were still just straight airing.

She must have caught someone's attention because now you can see her launching off buildings in a single bound for Nike (still next to a man contemplating a straight air).

Believe in Barrett
After watching Barrett rule the big air circuit for several seasons since, we have been blessed by witnessing the transformation of Barrett — into a supreme halfpipe rider. Unlike some riders last year, who mounted huge all-or-nothing attacks for the chance to go to the Olympics, Barrett's segue (and Olympic inclusion) was smooth and subtle. She simply blossomed into one of the best pipe riders in the world.

As her time in the trench increased, she began taking on more and more pipe contests. Then as the Olympics approached, she tightened her focus on the halfpipe trials, and snowboarding fans everywhere held their breath hoping Barrett would make the cut.

The first big test she passed was winning the US Open in March of '97 while in the company of the best riders in the world. Even though the boarders consider The Open their Olympics, it wouldn't qualify Barrett to go to Japan with the first ever US Snowboard Team.

In the top ranks at the US Grand Prix qualifiers, she struggled without a podium until placing third in the final qualifier, at Mammoth — just nine days before the opening ceremonies in Nagano. This late date left the decision of who else would introduce snowboarding to the world up to the coaches.

I saw Barrett that day, stretched out on a couch reflecting on the possible outcome. All I could say was "good job" and smile, knowing that her Olympic destiny was in limbo. Then, as the first American Snowboard Team was lined up under the lights, the coaches announced the finals team members.

By the time they said "and riding for Gnu...", I was screaming her name while trying to see through my lens and watery eyes.

"They're going to say and think what they want about snowboarding and unless they're involved in it they probably will never know..."

Barrett's been pro for five years and had her signature Gnu board for the last three. She rides for the most downhome, Northwest manufacter and the biggest shoe company on the planet. So The Mountain Zone sat her down, between biking, surfing, tennis and traveling, for a few questions. Now with the Olympic hype behind us, we got to hear the truth from Barrett herself. So surf on through and find out from an American halfpipe hero just where snowboarding is headed.

When did you start snowboarding?
"I really learned how to ride mountains when I moved to Crested Butte..."
click for audio and transcript]

Do you feel the Olympics adversly impacted snowboarding?
"We know what it's about and the Olympics aren't going to change our feelings on that..."
[click for audio and transcripts]

I yelled "you idiots" when they got your name backwards during your Olympic run.
"A lot of people involved in the Olympics don't know anything about the sport and hopefully they became a little more educated but I don't really care..."
[click for audio and transcripts]

We missed you at X Games this summer, sup wit dat?
"Until I get back to the soul of the sport I'm not going to compete again..."
[click for audio and transcript]

What's your Northwest affiliation?
"I love the Northwest, Mervin was my first sponsor so that was just a coincidence, they happened to be in Seattle..."
[click for audio and transcript]

Do any surfing this summer?
"Yeah, but I soon got over the cold because I was just fighting to keep my head above water. It's fun..."
[click for audio and transcript]

What's your take on the Federation International du Ski (FIS) and its recent interest in snowboarding?
"If they want to get involved with the riders and see what the sport's about and go from there, that's been working pretty well..."
[click for audio and transcripts]

What events will you be hitting this year?
"I ride my best when I have time to snowboard for myself and not just snowboarding for the judges..."
[click for audio and transcripts]

Will you be at The US Open?
"Understand that it wouldn't be an event without us..."
[click for audio and transcripts]

What're your thoughts about people who say sponsors like Nike aren't about snowboarding?
"There are so many different people snowboarding from different backgrounds, different shapes, sizes, ages — that snowboarding can be just about anybody..."
[click for audio and transcripts]

Where are you going?
"Surfing and hiking and tennis and golf and..."
[click for audio and transcripts]

— Hans Prosl, Mountain Zone Staff

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