This ballerina turned snowboarder is turning heads as she slays Freeride World Qualifiers, and shows the world what dreams are made of. Erika Vikander is putting in the work and dedication required of those who find themselves on the Freeride World Tour, but that’s not all she is putting her heart and soul into. This lady is passionate about helping others achieve their dreams, as well. Snowbunny Mag had the privilege of talking with Vikander this month, and we were delighted to see the passion and heart she has to further advance women’s snowboarding.
SBM: Let’s start with some rapid fire questions. What is your Astrological sign?
SBM: What is the top item on your bucket list?
EV: A trip to the Himalayas via India.
SBM: What is one of your guilty pleasures?
EV: Eating out.
SBM: Favorite yoga practice?
EV: Vinyasa flow!
SBM: Now, some more important questions. Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee?
EV: Jackie Chan is the MAN!
SBM: Finally, we are dying to know, Beyoncé or Adele?
EV: Neither/both. I think they are both talented but unlike every other woman seemingly on the planet I’m not obsessed with Bey.
SBM: Now that we know you so well, through those deep, probing questions, let’s talk about snowboarding. We see you have placed in several Freeride World Qualifiers (congrats), where are you now with the tour?
EV: I am currently sitting 2nd place overall for the Americas after my
recent win at Crested Butte just 30 points behind the leader for the World Tour spot next year. Hoping to get a couple more solid results, and make the tour next year. Considering this is only my second year doing these big mountain events, and actually going for the World Tour spot, I am thrilled at my season so far.
SBM: How old were you when you started snowboarding? When and how did you enter into the competitive scene?
EV: I was about 12 when I first started snowboarding. I skied when I was a kid, but when my older brother switched to snowboarding, I was right on his heels wanting to learn. My cousin also visited us in Montana around the same time and spent a whole day showing me the ropes on my snowboard. After that I was hooked! After spending a couple seasons snowboarding, weekend warrior style in Montana, I entered a local contest at Big Sky and ended up winning. From there, I did a few more local contests before moving to Park City, UT where I joined the snowboard team and started traveling to USASA contests. From there, I went to Nationals and then moved to Breckenridge and started participating in the Dew Tour, US Open, Grand Prix, and even the Sochi Olympic qualifiers.
SBM: Tell us about the first snowboard competition you ever entered. Where was it, how was your performance, and how did you feel when it was over?
EV: The first contest I entered I must have been about 12 or 13. It was at Big Sky Ski Resort and I’m pretty sure it was a slalom event. I remember being so nervous and truly having no idea what I was doing other than trying to have fun. That is still my mentality. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong. I ended up winning that event and the rest, as they say, is history.
SBM: What other competitions do you regularly participate in? Have you competed in any other sports?
EV: Aside from the big mountain events, the contest I am doing every day is with myself, since I tore my ACL. I try to push myself to be a little better every day, push myself a little harder, scare myself a little more, and explore the boundaries I’ve set for myself in my mind as an athlete. I played soccer competitively through my youth and even had college scholarships lined up, but snowboarding has my heart and soul.
SBM: What other passion-projects do you have going on?
EV: I have been working closely with the Shred Betties non-profit for the past few years. We promote women in the snowboard industry and try to help give women a platform to share their stories and create some longevity within the sport.
SBM: How did you first get connected with Shred Betties and what has been your role in working with this awesome organization? What goals do you have on the horizon and what do you think is the most exciting aspect of being connected with this group?
EV: I have been working with Shred Betties for almost a decade now. They are some of my biggest supporters and have given me a platform to voice my opinion and share my story with a larger audience. We hope to continue to build the brand and, through fundraising efforts, provide more opportunities for upcoming women in the sport through scholarships, travel budgets, and even injury funds. It’s exciting to see how much the brand is growing, and continues to grow, and how much of an influence it has on women snowboarders, wakeboarders, and even skiers! I hope to start to cross promote skiing along with board sports in the future because women skiers don’t get enough opportunities to showcase how hardworking and talented they are in their own industry.
SBM: What do you think is the most important message to get across about women’s snowboarding?
EV: If you can think it, you can do it. Women have been shattering the barriers that were set for us by mostly men, and ourselves, for years. It’s exciting to see what the youth of the sport have accomplished. This year, especially, was incredibly empowering. There are quite a few girls throwing doubles in contests, and charging just as hard as their male counterparts in the backcountry. I hope the industry takes notice and gives these girls an even larger platform to inspire other women and little girls to be whatever they want to be.
SBM: It appears that you have a high sense of altruism and a strong desire to give back to the women’s snowboard community and beyond. Word is that you had opportunity to work with the Make-a-Wish Foundation while living in Breckenridge. Tell us a little bit about that experience.
EV: Working with the Make A Wish Foundation was an amazing experience. I was able to “grant” a wish with a family whose son, Bryce, wanted to go snowboarding with me for a day. It was a truly touching experience and one that will keep me grounded in this insane world of professional snowboarding I have chosen to be a part of. I was also invited to be a “Celebrity Waiter” at their annual Sporting Affair fundraiser in Denver three years in a row. Giving back is just as important as being a good athlete and pushing yourself. After all, we are all put on this planet to love and help each other, and I cherish every opportunity to be able to give back in any way possible.
SBM: Now that you are making a name for yourself in the world of snowboarding, do you feel that you have a certain sense of responsibility as far as being a woman that little girls can look up to? What message would you like to send to the next generation snowboarders?
EV: I do feel a responsibility to be a good role model. I believe that being a powerful woman doesn’t mean you need to be one of the boys, but feel comfortable in your own skin. I don’t put on an act to try to impress people, or feel the need to act a certain way around certain people. Being a good role model is as simple as trying my hardest with a grateful attitude, a smile on my face, and having a set of moral principals and manners that were engrained in me from my family since I was young. I want little girls to know that they are powerful and don’t need anyone’s approval but their own. If they believe in themselves and truly try their hardest at whatever they choose to pursue, they will surprise themselves with how much they can accomplish. The world is limitless. The only one who can limit you at the end of the day is you.
SBM: How do you get over the bad days when you feel like you aren’t progressing like you should and snowboarding becomes frustrating?
EV: I take days off! Days off snow are just as important as the days spent on snow. Yoga has also helped me center my chi and refocus my energy, whether on, or off, the snow.
SBM: In ballet, dancers are taught about posture, balance, body control, technique, transferring of weight-all things that would translate seamlessly into snowboarding. Do you attribute any of your success in snowboarding to your 12 years of ballet practice? …Please tell us you are working on a snowboard ballet vs. ski ballet parody video!
EV: Absolutely! Ballet has helped me in every single athletic endeavor I’ve ever pursued. It does translate seamlessly into snowboarding from balancing on rails, to spotting while I spin. It also taught me how to have discipline and to be a perfectionist, which sometimes works against me. I should do a snowboarding ballet video! I joke around while one footing, doing yoga poses, but why not throw a little ballerina into the mix?!
SBM: Big mountain riding isn’t the only thing you are awesome at. We know you have skills when it comes to dancing around the terrain park. What do you love best about park riding? Do you have a signature move, and what are you currently working on perfecting?
EV: I love the feeling of flying while hitting jumps. It’s as close as we, humans, will ever get to being a bird, which in my eyes has got to be the best animal to be in the world. The true freedom and creativity that you can express in the park is unparalleled, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. I like to think my method is a pretty signature move. A classic method is timeless- something you can do over and over and it never gets old, both as an athlete and a spectator. I’m not really working on stuff in the park so much anymore, now that I compete in big mountain contests. I’m working on bringing my tricks from the park to natural features on the mountain, which is a whole new challenge in itself.
EV: I was actually born in Malibu, CA. Moved to Montana when I was about 2 years old, and lived there until my freshman year of high school. My father and I moved to Park City, UT about half way through my freshman year of high school, and that’s when I really got into snowboarding competitively. From there, I moved to Salt Lake City for a couple of years, and then I moved to Breckenridge, CO for about fivw seasons. I am currently residing in the Mt. Hood, Oregon area, and loving the Pacific Northwest. However, I might be switching up my scene relatively soon.
SBM: What does the future hold for you? Can you tell us a little bit about the scene you are hoping to find yourself in soon?
EV: Right now, my focus is finishing my Freeride season strong in hopes of making the World Tour next season. I try to take things one day at a time, and right now I have tunnel vision towards that. In the Freeride world, that is essentially the “Olympics” of Freeride and the most prestigious tour you can make. I have a really solid shot at making that dream a reality and I hope to be talking to you next year from the Freeride World Tour circuit.
SBM: We hope so too! Thanks for inspiring us today. We wish you the best of luck as you continue on toward reaching your goals.
Connect with Erika on Instagram