Although her parents found it difficult to support her future snowboarding career, Michelle Locke stuck with it and has been carving slopes for 27 years. Her love for competition keeps her focused and with a sixth place finish at the Freeride World tour, she feels motivated to win the tournament in 2019.
Locke started snowboarding when she was 12 years old after seeing her skateboarder friends try it out.
“I dabbled in [skateboarding] but I wasn’t good so maybe that’s why snowboarding was like, a great escape for me because it was a little bit more forgiving than skateboarding,” she said.
Daily practice was held on the nearby hill in St. John’s, N.L., Locke’s hometown.
“There was a hill coming down by City Hall and she and her friends were going out for the evening,” Olivera Mac Isaac, Locke’s mother, explained. “It wasn’t that far from where we were living.”
Despite Locke’s commitment to the sport, her parents did not understand why she had such a passion for it.
“The toughest thing was probably getting my mom and my dad to buy me equipment,” Locke said. “No one really knew what snowboarding was, so to invest $600, $700 into the gear and everything was kind of a big commitment.”
The investment caused a rift in the family, especially between Locke and her mother.
“Yeah, it was expensive, and even today it [is] still expensive,” Locke’s mother explained. “So basically, what she did she was borrowing boards from other people. I don’t recall ever buying an actual board for her.”
Locke went to Banff, Alta., when she was 18 to further pursue her snowboarding career regardless of her parents disapproval.
“My dad didn’t really quite get the whole thing why I had to leave Newfoundland to go to Banff to become a snowboarder,” Locke said when asked about her transition from East to West coast. “I was 18, fresh off the rock.”
Locke knew she wanted to share her passion for the sport when she got into Banff and began living the winter lifestyle.
“I think I probably just wanted to be able to spread the stoke and didn’t really have, you know, a vision set in plans when I was young.”
This changed when she turned 20.
“I wanted to be the world’s best. It took a few years to progress to that but I knew that if I was just doing this every day that I was going to be able to be the world’s best someday, so I just stuck with it.”
Through passion and determination, Locke received the ticket to qualify for the Freeride World Tour 2016. Located in multiple countries, this high-profile snowboarding competition represents the best snowboarders competing for individual and overall wins in a series of events.
“If you choose to put any freestyle into it like a 360 or a grab or anything you’ll get points based onto that,” explained fellow snowboarder Nicole Kelly. “And how well you actually look going down that mountain.”
Locke edged out competitor, Audrey Hebert at the final qualifying competition in Kicking Horse, B.C.
“I dabbled in [skateboarding] but I wasn’t good so maybe that’s why snowboarding was like, a great escape for me because it was a little bit more forgiving than skateboarding,” Michelle Locke says.
“We were head-to-head… only 50 points out on a 4,000 point basis.”
After a series of competitions, Locke rallied up the most points, placing her first overall and being the only woman to qualify for the Freeride World Tour.
“I remember just standing there just realizing ‘oh my goodness I’m going to go to the Freeride World Tour after this event,’ my heart was pounding.”
Even though it was challenging being a rookie on tour, she still found the experience rewarding and humbling as an upcoming athlete.
“I learned a lot, I scared myself, I met so many amazing athletes. It’s so great to be crowded with all that amazing energy.”
Placing top 10 in 2016 is giving her more motivation than ever to win in 2019.
“In terms of free riding, I want to win the Freeride World Tour,” explained Locke. “I’ll be travelling this winter to New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, California, Revelstoke, and Kicking Horse in order to take the top position and qualify for the 2019 Freeride World Tour.”
Prideful in her accomplishments, Locke will continue to do what makes her happy.
“You know when you follow something through and you get to that point where you’re realizing you’re actually doing some bigger things and it kind of all pays off.”
Editor: Abby LaRocque | firstname.lastname@example.org