Mountain moms: Five iconic matriarchs of snowboarding
This is a Mother’s Day ode to Megan Pischke, Barrett Christy, Tara Dakides, Erin Comstock and Cheryl Maas — five females who set the bar in women’s snowboarding and are now passing their wisdom and love of mountain life adventure on to their next of kin. How many kids can say their mom invented a snowboarding trick, was the first woman to stomp a 900 off a jump, was the first female to land a 900 in slopestyle, won X Games gold medals, had video parts in Mack Dawg Productions, was in Rolling Stone, can bust backflips and double backflips for that matter on a snowboard and hold their own in surfing, skateboarding and motocross to boot? Meet five of the raddest moms in snowboarding.
Mom, wife, snowboarder, yogi, surfer, breast cancer survivor, B4BC wellness ambassador and athlete for The North Face, Chasing Sunshine.
Tell us about your family.
My amazing husband and I have 2 beautiful, bright, sensitive, sporty, loving kids! Leighli is eight, and Reef is three. We are so blessed to live a beach and mountain life, which my husband and I cherish, and know my kids feel the same by how they love and live life.
How has motherhood changed your life?
Oh gosh, loaded question. Priorities shift, yet I really feel I still need to be myself and continue to do the things that make me happy (travel, surf, and snowboard, and a job that fulfills me!) Let’s just say I am a better person than I ever thought possible or dreamed of, and have gained so much perspective and meaning through the eyes of my children.
Has snowboarding influenced the way you raise your children?
Yes, of course. Life revolves around powder days and tide charts. Not to mention the community of amazing humans and souls I have literally grown up with — I feel honored for my kids to be influenced and raised by some of these talented, motivated and kind people.
How old were your kids when they started riding?
Leighli 18 months (bindings at two), same for Reef. Leighli picked it up easier; she was making turns and on the hill with us by age three. Reef has a harder time, as he just wants to do what his big sister is doing like building jumps and hitting them. But he has plenty of time — he will be 4 this summer. He has not learned to turn yet, just stop and not run over people’s boards and scream, “Move it!” (Thank goodness).
Did you have to choose between being a mother & having a career in snowboarding?
Well, I wasn’t sure in the beginning, but that first contest in AK, dropping in and eventually choosing (what I thought to be) a “mom line” and then rushing down to breastfeed my child… I think I realized that I needed to choose either to push myself where I wanted to keep going in snowboarding, or to be the mother I needed to be for such a small fragile being that I consciously brought into this world. Obvious answer, but strangely a really difficult choice to put myself aside for a while. Plus to have my husband doing the same risk taking, it just didn’t make sense to me. I think I teetered on the edge for a while as I searched for my transition, (I had an athlete contract with The North Face and some other sponsors I wanted to do my best to honor) and then began to understand that my seemingly less glorious “job” of motherhood, would be the best job I have ever done, and ever will do. But I have to tell you how harsh I still feel on powder days when I don’t have a sitter, or when David forgets the time out in the surf and we are kid juggling! But Reef is almost there, in a couple years he will be able to hang. Time goes so fast when you have kids, I am loving the little person time, because someday they will be too big to sneak into their beds and cuddle.
Do you have some words of wisdom that you can pass on to families looking to raise their kids in the mountains?
Just do it! Move to the mountains and make it work. Just go outside, let your kids run wild and free, breathe the air, eat snow, jump into lakes. Teach them to love the outdoors, by finding YOUR passion outside and pursuing it. The mountains are a special place and you don’t have to have tons of money to be connected to the earth, and enjoy its gifts. I believe it’s one of the reasons that every single one of us is here — to connect with the outdoors.
Page 2: Barrett Christy
Page 3: Tara Dakides
Page 4: Erin Comstock
Page 5: Cheryl Maas