Women's freeskiing will have more exposure this season with competitive events in both pipe and slope at two of the Dew Tour events, and a driving force behind the decision was freeskier Jen Hudak, along with the support of Paul Mitchell. Hudak met with Dew Tour management to help increase women's exposure on the Tour, and now she has a busy season ahead. It all begins next month with the Grand Prix at Copper followed by the Dew Tour's Nike 6.0 Open. She'll be in the park training before the contests, but right now she's in Connecticut spending time with her father who's fighting leukemia. She's home for three weeks and keeping in shape with dry land training. She said this season she's skiing with a purpose, staying true to herself and following her heart, all traits her father instilled in her.
What do you think about the decision to include women's freeski comps at the Dew Tour in Breck and Snowbasin this season?
I'm really excited, as are all the girls to be more involved in Dew Tour this year as compared to years past. Right now what our sport needs is a stage on which to perform, and the Dew Tour is offering that for us. So the world can start seeing what we're doing a little more. Hopefully it inspires more young girls to get involved in the sport, and as the sport grows then hopefully it will eventually be a full Dew Cup competition.
How do you think the addition of a 22-ft pipe will change things up this season?
I think that's going to do wonders for Dew Tour this year. The addition of the 22-ft. pipe this year is going to be amazing. They just allow us to go a lot bigger and perform a higher level of tricks. So really, everyone is just going to step their game up and it will be nice to be able to go consistently throughout the year in 22-ft halfpipes instead of having to readjust between an 18-footer and a 22-footer. I think it will be great.
You're going to be competing in both slope and pipe this season, do you focus on one over the other?
Pipe will be my main focus throughout the year. I've had a string of bad luck with injuries over the last few years, which has been the main reason that I haven't done slopestyle. It's not that I don't do it, it's just that I had to choose. It was about my body and pipe results were sustaining my career for a long time, so I focused on that. But I'm out there to be the best skier I can be, and that includes both pipe and slopestyle. I'm really excited to have an open event at the Dew Tour that will allow me to get my foot in the door in that world and start doing some slopestyle.
Paul Mitchell has been supporting action sports for a long time, how do you feel about them stepping up as a supporter of the women's freeski side of the Winter Dew Tour?
They've done amazing things for skiing over the years. They have supported a multitude of different events, from the ski tour to different Open events. And they really helped us last year with Dew Tour, and they're continuing that help again this year. Without them, the women's side of the sport especially, would be kind of in a tough spot right now. So we're really grateful to Paul Mitchell for being able to help us get out there and be able to ski and show the world what we do. We are finalizing a contact right now, but I will be signing with Paul Mitchell and they will be one of my sponsors. I'm really excited to be able to say that I'll be one of their athletes.
Since you grew up skiing in Vermont, what do you think of Killington as a new stop on the Tour this season?
I grew up skiing at three resorts, and Killington was one of them. The others were Okemo and Bromley. Okemo was where I spent most of my years, especially as I got older. I lived about 20 minutes away from Okemo so I would go up there every weekend to ski. And in high school I went up there and went to the academy at Okemo Mountain School. So Killington was actually sort of our rival because they were only 20 minutes down the road.
But I've done a number of events at Killington. I've done a couple U.S. national halfpipe contests there and back in the day I did a lot of mogul contests. They have a really great mogul run. So I think it will be cool to bring Dew Tour to Killington. It will definitely be a different vibe than Mount Snow, but I think that it will bring a lot of spectators and a very good energy to Killington.
There's been a lot of buzz around freeskiing being added to the Olympics. What are you thoughts on that?
I'm confidant that it will happen, and it's definitely something that I want to be a part of. But I've sort of maintained that our sport has existed this long without an Olympics, and it will continue to exist and thrive without the Olympics. Skateboarding's done it. So I'm not worried either way. Whatever happens was meant to happen, so we'll just wait and see.
Besides the X Games and the Dew Tour and other contests, what else do you have planned this winter?
One thing that I'm working on is a webisode project for this season. I'm going to be working with John Roderick to tell a story. It's the idea that the beauty in what all of us are doing is not so much in the skiing or snowboarding, but in the fact that we are following our hearts and pursuing our passions and achieving our goals. The skiing can be replaced with anything, but having the commitment and the focus and the drive to accomplish something is a really beautiful and powerful thing and I want to tell that story. So he's going to be working with me this winter to document a little of the behind-the-scenes emotions that go into preparing for contests and for learning new tricks and all that, and to accomplishing your goals. He's going to put that into a series of webisodes that will be released next winter.