Tignes Spirit rider Katie Blundell loves swapping marmots for kangaroos each year and is currently shredding the last slush of the season down under.
Based in Perisher, she’s been an avid competitor in the Ozzy comps this year, racking up the all-star TTR points and representing for British ladies on the pro circuit world wide.
We caught up with her to find out about life on the O’Neill team, getting psyched out in comps and backpacking in India…
Hey Katie! Where are you and what are you up to right now?
I’m in sunny Perisher, Australia! This is my third season in Perisher, but my fourth one in OZ. There has been way more snow this season, which has been great for riding powder but not so good for the park! It’s been snowing on and off for the whole of August. The park here in Perisher just gets better every year too. I remember my first season here it was pretty much just boxes (…and variations of boxes) but now they are getting a lot more creative and have some really good jibs and jumps. I guess we know a lot more people here too now so its fun to ride with a massive crew.
You’ve been doing a few of the more prestigious TTR comps this past year. How did you get on with them & are you happy with your results?
Yeah I started to try some of the bigger TTR comps this year, the first of which was the six star O’Neill Evolution in Davos. I definitely went straight in at the deep end! My only goals were to come out alive, to not come last and to enjoy the experience so it was a success. I did a couple more comps in America, while I was based in Tahoe, and managed to place in the top ten in one of them. I’ve also just competed in the four star Mile High comp here in OZ, where I came third, so it’s a nice feeling to finish the end of the season on a high.
How do you cope with the pressure of a more prestigious comp?
I don’t! I always get such bad nerves, no matter what kind of comp it is. I just get so worried about what people think of me and I guess I don’t want to look stupid. I know that even if I put my best run down it would still not be enough to podium in the more prestigious competitions, so that takes the pressure off. All I can do is just do the best I can for me. I’ve decided to take a more positive approach instead of standing at the top of the course telling myself that I’m out of my league and shouldn’t be there. Positive mental attitude!
I cant figure out if I enjoy comps or not. I worry so much about them that I often think “is this worth it?”, but then as soon as its over I decide that I actually really enjoy them. It’s when I’m on this high that I sign up for the next one and the process starts all over again! I still believe that the best part of competitions is the opportunity to hang out with the other girls. It a good way to make friends and I the love camaraderie.
What training techniques do you use to prepare for each comp or continue to progress between comps?
Whether I’m training for a comp or just snowboarding, my riding doesn’t really change. I just enjoy lapping the park. If I’m feeling jumps then I’ll jump, and if i’m feeling jibs, then I’ll jib! I always have tricks in my head that I want to learn, so I assess how features are running and how I’m snowboarding, and then figure out a plan for that day. I think its good to be spontaneous at times too so if you feel like just trying something, then go for it! I try to train more specifically when there is a slopestyle competition coming up by practising jumps more and linking a run together. If there is a rail jam coming up, then I will jib more. Easy!
The Brits took over at the comp in North Star last winter, which you also competed in. Do you feel that the British girls are pushing the Americans nowadays?
More and more Brits are venturing to America. Their parks are just amazing so they have a massive appeal. The Americans have always had an advantage with mountains being in their own country but now the standard of girls in the UK is just getting better and better so the future could be very exciting!
The domes are making snowboarding more accessible to everyone in the UK and the internet definitely has a big part to play in widening the appeal of snowboarding across Britain. With all the edits popping up, it provides massive inspiration to riders and drives them to push their snowboarding.
Do you think Britain stands a good chance in Sochi?
Yeah for sure! With the likes of Aimee Fuller and her double back flips, Katie Omerod (grom superstar), Billy Morgan’s triple and all the other talent coming out of the UK now, I think we have a very good chance. It will be good exposure for the slopestyle discipline to be included in the Olympics. My friends at home wouldn’t have a clue what “slopestyle” is, but now they will!
What set up are you riding at the moment and do you like it?
I’m riding a Ride Compact 139 with Fame bindings. I love this board. It’s the perfect stiffness/softness for me and I can use it for everything (pow, jumps, rails). The bindings are stiff, which I like… and they’re pink!!
You were hooked up with a few different sponsors last year – what do you like about their collections?
The mighty O’Neill added me to their team last year, which I feel so privileged and happy to be a part of. They are really generous and have given me a lot of support. I love their street wear collection. They have some lush stuff! Rocket Dog have also been sponsoring me this year, which is great as I’ve been obsessed with their shoes for ages. Mega happy that they wanted to give me some for free! Dragon give me goggles and sunnies now, so I’m obviously really stoked with that. Butta Wax is a new company in the UK, who help me to go uber fast on the snow.
What have you got planned for the rest of this year?
We are going backpacking around India for a month before heading back to the UK to work and catch up with friends and family. My plans for next season are still a little vague, but it will most likely be split between America and Europe. Maybe early season in Breck/Keystone to get some good pre-season riding in, and then who knows, maybe I’ll be at home for Christmas for the first time in seven years.
What are your goals for next season?
I’d like to ride as much as possible and try to get some new tricks down. I’ve been doing lots of filming in previous seasons but I’d actually just like to ride for a bit first and focus on learning new things instead of filming old tricks over and over again! I’m up for pushing myself at more TTR comps, ride some urban jibs, get some nice pictures and generally have fun. Yoga is also on the cards too as I reckon this would be great for my nerves!
I’ve been busy filming for the Gonzilla movie, which is why there is no edit from Perisher yet this season. It will be a great showcase of UK riding, so watch out for that when it drops at the end of September. Thank you to everyone that is helping me out… O’Neill, Ride, Dragon, Bern, Rocket Dog, Dalikfodda, Butta, Skullcandy and of course Tignes Spirit!!
Thanks for the chat Katie and best of luck with your upcoming winter season!
Keep up to date with Katie’s snowy antics via her website.
Interview by Corinne Mayhew at Tignes Spirit.