Nora Beck’s creativity, style, and the ability to walk off harsh bails all add fuel to the fire she’s been setting in snowboarding, blazing a path for herself. Last season, Nora managed to show up and stand out at nearly every event and still film a killer part in The Uninvited III–a testament to her work ethic, dedication, and determination. It’s clear from her riding, and even brief conversations, that Nora doesn’t shy away from a challenge; she keeps it real, raw, and unfiltered, just a few of the things that make her a rare breed. We couldn’t be more excited to see what Nora was cooking up last season in her part in The Uninvited III this November, so we checked in with the Bend, Oregon-based rider to get a glimpse into her winter. – Sadie Maeda
top image: Mt. Hood, Oregon. p: Gabe L’Heureux
Despite the challenges of a worldwide pandemic, it seems like you had a super busy season. You were at the World Quarterpipe Championships, Game of SNOW, Red Bull Recharged, IT’S TITS!, Holy Bowly—did I miss any? How was your winter, overall and did you have a favorite event?
Ha, wow I didn’t think there was that many. Let me think. There was SKOLF Finals in Bogus Basin, and I was in town and subsequently on the sidelines for Lord of the Ropes, but I think that’s everything! Overall, the winter was good. Sometimes I feel like each winter is akin to building a house, for lack of a better analogy, in the way that you have a block of time to get the job done, and the next house is dependent on the last one you built. I struggled a bit this year finding the time to enjoy it, but I feel good about the house I built, which is a nice feeling. As far as a favorite event, I’d have to go with the Game of SNOW. Having all those boarders together in such a strange place but in such close proximity to the city, and in the summertime, is a rare occasion. Big SNOW is an amazing place, too. All the staff are so down to earth and were just as stoked as I was to be there.
Plus, Bend was firing last winter! I saw you went to the Brain Bowl Sessions in Bend and Hood–can you tell us a little bit about what goes down at those events and what it was like?
Yeah, Jackson Hole is great these days! JK, that’s a housing crisis joke. The Brain Bowl Sessions were a blast. Max [Warbington] had the idea last year for a couple pop-up parks on Forest Service land up by the mountains, totally open for anyone to come to. The gist is we’d spend three to four days in an easy-to-hike-to location. Everyone builds features for the first day, then riding and adding subsequent features as the days go on. So, someone would be shoveling a log while someone builds a jump, and the last day is just all boarding. They did two or three around here and one at Baker, I think? It was awesome to see the community come together and just hype each other up. Pure, fun snowboarding.
On top of all that, you were filming for The Uninvited! This was your first time filming for it, what was your experience?
I was! It was nice to have a goal to work toward this year. The past two years I found myself in the project-less void, so it was nice to know there was a finish line this year. In terms of the physical experience, it wasn’t all too different than the two void years. We didn’t go on any group trips because there was a thing that happened? If you remember… It’s still happening, actually. It starts with a C and ends in 19? No? Okay, that’s beside the point, but overall it was a battle. If anyone tells you filming a video part is fun, it’s crap. But it feels good to know you worked hard and that’s where I’m at.
When it comes to events/contents and filming, how do you balance the two throughout the year and what do you like about having that balance?
Oh boy, I like to pretend I’m not a competition boarder but I guess kinda—only like the ones never shown on network TV. I really like filming; it’s a great personal battle with yourself, seeing zero physical results each day but knowing the long-term battle is going to be worth it. That’s the ultimate test to see what you can do, I feel like. But then sometimes a fun contest comes along and it’s like, “Oh, I can just do this for two hours and be able to pay some bills tonight.” That doesn’t happen filming; the reward for a good day’s work is getting to work somewhere else the next day. I don’t think that answered the question though, what was it? Oh yeah, balancing the two. I dunno, to be honest. I spent three winters living out the back of my car so I could afford to go to everything I could, every film trip, every little thing, and now when something comes up I can’t say no. It keeps me busy and gives me a sense of purpose, to be honest.
You were out filming on the East Coast with Maggie Leon and her crew, yeah? How did it go?
Yeah! I spent about two weeks out there and it was a good time. They’re all great humans and I’m not joking when I say the loudest cheering section I’ve ever filmed with. You know there’s the stigma against making any noise in the first few seconds of someone riding away from a landed trick, but they were so wholesome and so in unison every time they cheered that you couldn’t even think to be upset. The locals there have a lot of heart and it’s just a very pure place for snowboarding. COVID kept everything pretty mellow, though. We went to bed early every night and just got up each morning for the day.
Returning to your East Coast roots must have been nice, also!
It was great. I hopped on a train and went down to see my mom in Virginia for a few days afterward and that was really nice to just recover for a little bit.
When looking for a spot, what kind of features get you excited?
That’s a tough one. I don’t think there’s any I get excited about, to be honest. I have a tough time filming. There’s always this self-preservation in the back of my head that’s saying, “You won’t get hurt if you don’t strap in,” and everything is a battle past that point. Even if it’s something I could have boardslide at 12 if it was in a park, once I’m out of that controlled environment it’s like a constant fight keeping myself in this delusional state of ignoring reality—hollow head, like you’re trying to fall asleep.
Were there any spots that were particularly challenging? If so, what’s your process for working through them?
Yeah, there were definitely a few that got the blood boiling and had me questioning what I was even doing in the first place, ha. Sometimes it’s just brute force, and all you need to do is keep rolling the dice because you’re going to hit it eventually. The probability of you not getting it, given enough tries, is zero. Like you’ve got to roll a six at some point, even if it takes hours. Sometimes it involves figuring out what you’re doing wrong and adjusting for it, and then sometimes I have to give up, like fully give in to the part that wants to quit, sit down, drink water, and then change my mind and go do it again. I’ve ended a few battles that way.
What gets you in zone/mindset when you are filming at a spot?
Once the first like four tries are behind me, I think is when I actually can focus, ha. I try not to think about hitting whatever I’m setting up and will act like I’m just shoveling for someone else, then look around and go, “Oh okay, if I were to do it then this is the way I’d go,” and then strap in and go before I can think about it. The first fall is always the worst one, so once you get that past you is when it really starts. From there, it just becomes tunnel vision until it’s over.
This is also your first season fully riding for Burton (congrats by the way!), how has it been working with the Burton crew more?
Ah, thank you. It’s been a different experience than what I’m used to, but in a good way. Honestly, it kind of lit a fire under my ass because as much as I like to pretend I don’t, I like attention. I think we all do, subconsciously if not lucidly. So I looked around last year at Zoi, Anna, Maria, etc. and realized that’s the bar right now and if I want my oh-so-needed attention, I need to be above that bar, too. Which is a selfish answer, so I’ll also add that everyone I’ve met within the company is so nice. They care about snowboarding and they’re professionals in the business sense. And that’s hard to find in this industry. They get a bad rap because everything needs a bad guy, but I feel they actually listen to my opinions and will take them into consideration, which doesn’t happen at a lot of companies unless your name is going on the product.
Do you have anything you are excited about coming up this winter? If you can’t say anything, how about a one-word sneak peek?