Profile – Cheryl Maas

Name: Cheryl Maas
Date of birth: 28/09/1984
Born: Uden, The Netherlands
Snowboarding since: 1993
Hobbies: Skateboarding and surfing.

Cheryl Maas cemented her place in snowboard history in April of this year, when she won the women’s division of the first ever Ticket To Ride [TTR] World Ranking system. In effect, she is the first ever ‘peoples’ world champion. What is remarkable is that Cheryl is far from a competition rider, and few would have predicted her to have done so well in both the Olympics and the independent girl’s circuit of jams and events. Yet now she’s capped it all off with first place in the overall points system.

This is no slight on her riding talents – Cheryl is one of the most attacking riders out there – but her attitude to competition is so blasé that she’s been known to try tricks she hasn’t done before. Some call it progression, some call it pushing too hard. Either way, it’s not what you’d call a winning formula. While her riding style (along with peer Jenny Jones) is undeniably exciting to watch, it’s one that takes too many chances to consistently win competitions. So good on Cheryl for having the last word in it all! With her win, the thought that snowboarding is homogenizing into a bland, routine-filled sport has taken a hefty hit. With that in mind, we caught up with Cheryl to see what a natural born big hitter does on her time off.

WL: Hi Cheryl, where are you right now?
I’m in Biarritz, surfing. Well I’m here to surf but right now I’m just hanging out, talking to you guys.

What are the waves like?
Well, they were fun yesterday, but I haven’t been down to the sea today. Hopefully there will be some waves, some small ones (laughs).

How long have you been surfing?
Not that long. I tried for the first time last year and have come back down here this summer. I’m going to spend the whole summer here, have a proper summer break, so hopefully I will get better.

So no snowboarding eh? When was the last time you did that?
Well it’s been a while, maybe like four weeks or something. I’m not sure.

Do you have a base for your seasons now, or are you constantly travelling?
Well I don’t really have a base. Last year I was always moving and competing, so I didn’t really have somewhere to stay for long.

If you were to choose a base where do you think it would be?
Well I might try this year to base myself around here, in Biarritz. I mean it’s really close to the Pyrenees, which has some really cool parks, and then I could come back down here after. So that could work out.

So if you’re always travelling, do you travel with a group of friends or fly solo?
Well I think it’s best to travel with a group of friends, but last year I was mainly traveling from Holland and not many other people were travelling from there, so I was usually traveling on my own. I’d just meet all the people and my friends when I’d get to the mountain or the competition.

Speaking of Holland, you probably have a lot in common with the UK crew in that the flatlanders have to do a bit more work to get to the mountains, and to generally keep riding at the top level. Do you agree?
Well I think we appreciate it more. Because we don’t have the mountains, we get way more stoked when we’re boarding. There’s probably a lot more work travelling and moving around, but it’s so worth it. I think us flatlanders, as you call it, all have that in common.

Where’s your favourite place to ride? Where would you recommend our readers to head to?
Well in Europe I think it is Meribel – although you have to watch out for the party scene! It’s hard to leave. And in The States I still think Mammoth is just really nice with incredible weather and the best parks.

If you only had one week to ride, where do you think you’d go and what kind of riding would you get up to? Would you want to ride powder all week, or would you head somewhere with a good funpark?
I’d probably go to one of those resorts I just mentioned. But I’d hit the street rails and the parks. I love the powder, but if I had a week I’d be looking for the rails and the best parks. I love that style of riding.

Who do you like to ride with?
Well there are a lot of people. I don’t really know, it doesn’t really matter that much to me. I like to snowboard with people that are better than me, they are the ones that inspire me to just get better and go harder.

You’ve been filming a lot recently. Is there one special project you’ve been involved with, or a whole range of stuff?
Well since the Olympics I’ve spent most of my time doing the Volcom movie, which comes out in August. I might have, like, one shot in a couple of other ones (laughs) but the Volcom movie is what I’ve really been in to.

Have you been involved with the Chunkyknit crew? Will you get a section in that film?
No, I’ve not really been filming with those guys because I’ve been on the tour so much, and I’ve been putting everything into the Volcom movie.

Is that a separate Volcom girl’s film or is it…
– No it’s not just girls it’s the whole team. All the boys. Just the whole snowboard crew.

Have seen your section or any shots from the film yet?
No. You know what, I’m just waiting to watch the whole thing at the premiere. I don’t want to ruin the surprise at all. I didn’t get to choose the music or my shots or anything, but those guys know what they’re doing and I totally trust that it’s going to be good. I mean it’s Volcom! And it’s been going for like two years, so it’s a big project and everyone has been involved so I’m sure it’s going to be good. I didn’t have too much time to film this year because I was doing the tour so I don’t know what they’ve used, but I hope I get some good shots.

So when is the premiere?
There are a few premieres around the world but I’m going to see it in Munich on the 26th of August (I think?!).

If we can just go back to the Olympics, how was that whole experience?
Well, in one way it was really cool to experience the whole big scene with all the other athletes and everything. And the contest was really cool, but after that it was still quite hard. I mean, you had to live by their rules. You couldn’t do anything you wanted to do, like it was really strict. I had a little trouble with that.

Even in terms of the snowboarders there you seemed to be taking a different approach. Did you find the competition a little restrictive too?
Well not really. It was more to do with the hang-ups of the Olympic Federation and all that. With the riding it was cool. Like all the riders were really mellow and I didn’t expect that really, so that side of it was really cool.

Did you just hang out with the snowboarders or did you meet any of the other athletes from any other sports?
Yeah, I met some of the Dutch ice skaters who were there in the Heineken bar. That was pretty strange. I mean kind of cool. You see them on TV before the event but they knew who I was. They thought I was the punk girl who was against the federation! They were like – “Oh, you’re that little rebel.” It was pretty funny.

Did you get to see them in action? Could you go to other events other than the snowboarding?
Well they give you a pass. It’s like this big card so you can watch events that your own country does. We only had lots of ice skaters though! I went to one and that was it. Some people went to the ice hockey but I only did one event – then I just stayed with the other snowboarders.

What was the feedback like in Holland? Did you have to do any TV shows? Do you get recognized in the street now?
Before I went I was getting kind of famous with the build up to the Olympics. All the newspapers wanted to do interviews and TV and stuff, But when I got back I tried not to get involved too much. I don’t want to be that famous. The whole Dutch team went back from the Olympics together – there was like thousands of people waiting back to meet us. They had bands playing, people yelling at you, pointing and going “Oh there’s that snowboarder!” and getting autographs and stuff. It was just crowds of people everywhere, but I don’t want to do that too much. I’m not really into being that famous so I didn’t do many things after the games, like TV shows.

Was there one moment or memory from the games that really stands out?
Yeah, the first run I did. The first time I dropped in and I just had a really clean, good run and it just felt so good! It all came together and I was at The Olympics you know? So that felt pretty special.

How about the frontside 7 you pulled over the kicker gap at the St Moritz Chicken Jam – to win the TTR series? Was that a similar buzz?
Yeah, exactly. When I landed that cleanly I knew I’d won, and that I’d also won the TTR. So it just hit me the moment I stuck it – it was pretty special, really cool.

How do you feel being the first person to win the TTR points system?
Well that’s’ kind of funny – everyone now says I won it and that I should be stoked. And I am, but because it’s the first one nobody knows much about it, and it’s hard to understand what it means. Everyone says I’m the world champion, but I don’t feel like a world champion.

I can see what you mean. Do you think it’ll hit you later on then? Maybe after a few years and there have been more people’s names on the trophy?
I don’t know – if it gets really big then maybe it’ll be kind of cool. I kind of only just got it, so at the moment it’s weird. But it’s a good thing.

Was it something you were aiming at?
Yeah, kind of. I heard about the whole points system when the season started, but back then I wasn’t focused on doing too many contests. I was filming with Volcom and it was a pretty hectic time so I wasn’t sure how many contests I was going to do. Then I did OK at the European Open – I got second I think – and then I went to the Roxy Jam in America and got second or third. You’ll have to look that up, I can’t remember which one it was! Anyway those scores were pretty high so I knew I had a chance to do well in the points series. When I went to the Chicken Jam in Switzerland I was really focused on trying to win. I really wanted to get them both.

Will you be going to comps next year trying to defend your title?
Yeah for sure, it’s fun. You have something to battle with. But also I’m kind of focused on filming. And then I’ll just ride what I was planning, which is the main comps, so I’m not changing my plans too much. But yeah, I definitely want to keep the TTR title.

Who do you think is going to be the hardest person to beat?
I think Natasza [Zurek] has always been the strongest one. She’s a good contest rider and is always the one to beat.

That’s funny you say that because I’d say you were the opposite kind of rider to her. You seem to really go for it in contests and Natasza is the kind of rider who plays to her strengths and goes for a calculated win?
It’s like she’s a smarter rider. She goes out and knows what she has to do to win the contests. I sometimes do something new. Not just to do well in the contest but to step it up in snowboarding. I don’t know – I just want to keep pushing it, you know?

What direction do you want to take your riding in this coming winter? More rails? Bigger kickers? Backcountry stuff?
Well, I’ve just got to step it up basically. Like heaps more street rails and bigger kickers. And I’m going to be doing a lot more filming this winter, concentrating on that and just doing the bigger competitions.

Do you feel like you’re spearheading the girls’ movement?
Well I hear from the other girls that I’m really stepping it up and inspiring them, so that feels really good to hear! I’m so stoked to be able to do that, but it’s also kind of weird. I don’t really go out to “spearhead the girls’ movement”, but if that happens then that’s cool.

The girls’ scene at the moment is fantastic. Do you try now to always hang out with the girls, or do you ride with a group of guys too?
Well for the last two seasons I’ve been riding with the girls, which has been great, but before that I was mainly riding with the boys. I think next winter I might try and ride with the boys more. I mean it’s so much fun with the girls, but the boys are better so for my progression I think I should do that more.

My friend has a bit of a crush on you. He’s got a girlfriend and he’s pretty ugly and you’re way out of his league, but he wants to know how he would go about approaching you.
Uhm, well (nervous laugh)… I don’t know. I don’t have a boyfriend, but I don’t really have a type, like a snowboarder or a surfer or whatever. I just talk to whoever come along, there’s no set ‘approach’.

What inside news can you tell us? Have you made any sponsor changes? Got any new boards to ride?
No, it’s too early for that. At the end of August I’ll see if there’s any changes. I’m really happy though. From Volcom I got a big bonus for winning the TTR.

What was that?
I went on a boat trip with all the team – Terje and everyone – to the Maldives for ten days. Just surfing and hanging out with the team.

Wow! That’s a cool thing to do.
Yeah. That was in June.

Did you send a postcard to all your other sponsors saying, ‘Hi, Cheryl here. Just on my boat trip bonus in the Maldives – that I got from Volcom for winning the TTR. Nudge nudge.’
(Laughs) No! I should have done that. They know about the trip though. I made sure they know! (Laughs)

Very last question: when are you next going to be in the UK? Will you be here for the Chunky Knit film premier? If so, we owe you a beer.
Well, uhm, I don’t know. Maybe I will be there. It’s a party, so you never know!

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