Taking success one step at a time
November 10, 2015
Hailey Langland gazed out the window of her room at the Sporthotel Neustift. All around her were jagged, snow-covered peaks. Along the flanks, larch trees were turning yellow mixed in with green. In the village, a lighted clock tower stood out as dawn crept over the Stubaital southwest of Innsbruck.
Having just turned 15 in August, it was a long way from her classroom in California.
"I love it here — I have the best room in the hotel," she laughed.
Each morning she grabs her Burton board, packs some snacks and heads up to the glacier, ready to ride some rails and throw it down off the towering jumps that have been built on the Stubai glacier.
A first-year U.S. Snowboarding Pro Team slopestyle athlete, Hailey Langland started riding at age five when her snowboarding father put her on snow at Big Bear in Southern California. As she progressed, the family moved to the north shore of Lake Tahoe where she rode at Northstar and Boreal under Coach Scott Harris’s Tahoe Select program.
In her first big event appearance last February, a funny thing happened to the then 14-year-old Langland. She won. In a weather shortened U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, she put down a clean qualifying run, landing a cab 540 underflip to backside 180 combo that put her in the top spot just ahead of friend and fellow Burton rider Anna Gasser of Austria.
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Last August, at the opening World Cup in New Zealand — her first time out of America — she proved it was no fluke as she finished third behind Olympic champion Jamie Anderson.
"I was pretty blown away — those were my first pro events," she said. "To be able to finish top three was mind blowing. I mean, at Mammoth, all I wanted to do was to land a clean run — and I won! I was so thankful I had those opportunities."
What strikes you about Langland is that none of this is changing her or her approach to riding. As a teen, she’s soaking it in and having fun. Her smile is contagious. If she’s having a good time, the results are going to follow.
"With those results, I came to Stubai to learn more tricks I could use in contests," she said. "I’m not looking for big tricks that will put my name out there — I’m looking for tricks I can use every time I compete. When I’m having fun and doing things my way, I learn so much more than focusing on one trick and bringing it into one zone and blocking everyone out."
She just started spinning frontside and switch backside this year and used the Stubai camp to get those tricks more consistent.
Langland is part of a remarkable young generation of winter action sports athletes. Among her friends is 15-year-old Chloe Kim, the reigning X Games halfpipe champ.
"I’m a friendly person and love riding with my friends," said Langland.
In the recent series of Burton Girls videos, she and Kim are the youngsters of the group, riding side by side with the likes of veterans including Olympic champion Kelly Clark and World Championship medalist Gasser, plus 17-year-old rising star and world slopestyle champion Miyabi Onitsuka.
Langland is taking life as it comes right now with no grandeur in her eyes. She’s pretty proud to have a first Dew Tour invitation in her pocket. She’ll also return to Mammoth Mountain to defend her U.S. Grand Prix title. And she’s hoping she gets a ticket to X Games and the Big Air at Fenway.
"This is still kind of unreal for me," she said, with a sound approach to what it means to her future. "It’s crazy how much I’ve learned and progressed."
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