W hen Martina Nemcova was 15, she made the decision to leave her home in Prague, Czech Republic, to attend a prestigious international boarding school near Lake Tahoe called Squaw Valley Academy. She's spent the last three and a half years in Boulder studying human resource management at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
We caught up with Nemcova to chat about her life, being finance director for CU Snowboarding and her thoughts on female snowboarders.
When did you start snowboarding?
I started snowboarding when I was about 11 or 12, because our friend owned a snowboard school and my parents were avid skiers so I was always in the mountains. I tried snowboarding and loved it.
And so what made you decide to go to school in the United States? It was kind of a quick decision. This opportunity came up from people around snowboarding back home and it just sounded like a great school. (At school) we went riding every day. We had school from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., I believe, and then we had all afternoon to snowboard because we were only about five minutes from the lift. We had all afternoon. When it snowed a lot, we would have a powder day, which means we didn't have school and just rode.
What are your duties as finance director for CU Snowboarding (besides shredding)? I'm responsible for paying our coaches, accepting dues from students and just all the expenses we have.
How often do you try to ride each week? Where do you like to go? I try to make my schedule so that I have classes on Tuesday and Thursdays, so I try to ride five days a week. There are weeks when I'm really busy, but always at least three days. My favorite, I would say probably Breckenridge here in Colorado. I've always ridden the half pipe the most, and Breckenridge has one of the best pipes in the world... I'm not too much of a rail rider, I like jumps and the half pipe.
What are your plans for after graduation in May?
I'm going to move back to Europe, which I'm really excited about because I haven't lived there since I was 15. I'm excited to be close to family and friends again. I'm looking into jobs. I don't know quite yet, I'll probably take the summer off, travel around, but when I get back I'll have to get a big-girl job and start being responsible.
I'm trying to use all the contacts I have in the snowboard world to get a job within it, but after living in Squaw Valley and living in Colorado, I've gotten too spoiled and used to the fact that I can go snowboarding anytime I want. I'll definitely try to do something in the industry so I can stay around the sport.
Tell us about some of your gnarliest crashes or injuries.
I've had three knee surgeries so far and I'm 22, so we'll see where that goes. I just actually kind of hurt myself last week but hopefully I'll be OK. I took some gnarly falls when I was younger when I still wasn't scared. I had some back injuries and once I caught a really gnarly edge and cracked my helmet and everything. The worst has been my knees because you can't ride.
Do you feel like the perception of female snowboarders and skiers is changing? Are women catching up to men?
I just got back from the X Games, actually, and Elena Hight just did a double cork. Snowboarding for girls is moving really fast. Girls are doing bigger tricks on the same jumps the guys are using, which is kind of incredible because they're huge. It's really big -- they're keeping up with the men. Even though it might not be thought of as exciting for spectators I think women's snowboarding is going the right way. Girls are pushing it really hard.
I hope I've helped some girls on the team to get into more snowboarding. I feel like just being up there, just riding and loving it and living the lifestyle, I think just doing that is a part of it.
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.