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Britain's Top Snowboarder Lesley McKenna

1, When did you first think of becoming a pro snowboarder?
.I first thought of becoming a pro snowboarder in 1997 after only one year riding!
How did you get into Snowboarding?

I was on the British Ski Team for three years before I snowboarded and the Scottish Ski team for four years before that. The last few years I skied I went snowboarding now and again as a hobby, I really loved it and thought the people involved in the sport had a great outlook on life. Then I got hurt skiing and I could not put ski boots on and could only put on soft snowboard boots so I went riding for a month. At the end of the month (March 1996) I was hooked. I then met my good friend and traveling companion Melanie Leando.She really wanted to go and do snowboard world cups and I though ‘why not’. So, off we went! Definitely a case of right time right place and straight in at the deep end
2, Do you feel the girls are always taking a back seat to the men in this sport?
I think that the girls are now getting more recognition in snowboarding but that the men still call the shots
3, Is it easy to get sponsorship?
It is easier in Britain to get sponsored than in any other country as we have a really good home grown scene. You still have to be dedicated and have some talent though and to keep your sponsors you have to learn to work with them and be a professional. Being sponsored means a lot more than just wearing the gear!
4, How often do you have to train?
I have been training really hard in the last few months off of the snow and have been training 4 or 5 hours a day. I have been cycling for 2 or 3 hours then in the gym and doing physio for my ankle which I hurt in April for another 2 hours then I also do an hour of yoga each day too. It's pretty hardcore.
5, What Snowboarding events do you compete in?
I started as a racer and did giant slalom and slalom at World Cup. Then I started to ride more boarder X and was ranked 5th in the world in 1999, until I got hurt a bit and started to ride more pipe. I was lucky enough to Qualify for the 2002 Winter Olympics in half pipe, which was quite an achievement as there were only 20 spots. Last season I started to ride more big air and slopestyle which I really like so I think I will ride pipe, big air and slopestyle next season.
Check out Lesley's Website www.lesleymckenna.com
6, What are your thoughts on the Winter Olympics Next Year?
I was the only British snowboarder, male or female, to qualify for the last Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and this made it pretty nerve wracking. It is never easy being a team of one. I did enjoy the whole experience but was far too nervous to really make a good go of it. I am ready the second time round though. There are already two of us qualified, myself in half pipe and Zoe Gillings in boarder-X, and there is a good chance there will be more Brit's who make the qualification criteria so at least I will not be a team of one

Check out the latest Girls Snowboarding Film from Chunkyknit.com
Transfer is the follow-up to DropStitch, last year's highly successful all-girl snowboard film from ChunkyKnit Productions. The film features a cast of top international female snowboarders and was filmed all over the world from Japan to Europe to North America.
Scotland's best known snowboarder, British Champion and Britain's most successful Snowboard World Cup competitor ever. Lesley has been competing on the Snowboard World Cup Tour since 1998 and has notched up many top 5 results, including 6 podiums and 2 wins in women's half pipe. Lesley also rides slopestyle competitions and loves to free ride in her spare time. Her high energy approach to life makes her a well known face in the world of snowboarding and helps fuel her pioneering spirit. She is currently aiming for the Turin Olympics in February 2006 and will also ride the World Cup tour in the coming season. Having been the only British snowboarder selected for the Salt Lake City Olympics, she is looking forward to another Olympic experience and hopes to ride hard, go big and get noticed.
8, What do you do in your spare time?
I don't have much spare time but when I do I like to read or go surfing. I am really into alternative health and nutrition and maybe one day I will study something in that field. I think homeopathy is great.

Lesley during a training session in the gym

7, Did people take you seriously when you first started to Snowboard?
No , people did not take us seriously at first.We were pretty much last to be honest, but with a lot of perseverance we got
better and once people saw we were trying our hardest they were a lot of help. We did not have a coach then and the coaches from the other teams really helped us out - without that help we would not have made it to where we are now.
Turin 2006
The Winter Olympic Games in Turin in February 2006 are my main focus for the next season. Chunkyknit will still be making another film and I hope to do a bit of filming after the Olympics. I would really love to get in a bit more powder riding after the Games. I think I might be a bit burnt out on pipe by then.


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