Aussie Freeride legend Michaela Davis-Meehan is smashing Revelstoke on Snow Action’s new 2023 Travel Special issue cover.
She has been smashing it on the super-competitive FWT Tour again, including an awesome victory at the Kicking Horse Golden BC Pro event in February
Maybe even more impressive, her outstanding career and talent has been recognised by her board sponsors with her own signature model!
We have been saying for years more Aussies should have had signature boards – like Russ Henshaw at Volkl for example.
Anyway it’s huge that Michaela has, and more reason for our Ed Owain Price to catch up with her for an update – she is not slowing down or toning down anytime soon.
When the shot of her at Revi lobbed in our inbox it screamed “COVER SHOT!” at me loud and clear. But by the time that was endorsed by management we actually had no space left to run anything on her in the issue itself. So let’s have a cover feature to go with our awesome cover shot & star! Better later than never..
There is actually no harder road than the FWT route. Anything in the Winter Olympics and there is funding and back up and support and official recognition all round. Plus if the planets align and you do well, especially medal, then you become flavour of the month with national TV exposure.
But FWT remains the orphan, so for athletes who choose FreeRide it’s up to them to achieve and get support from their sponsors as they can.
Which brings us to the first question – Michaela why did you choose FWT over other disciplines?
I did slopestyle for many years, then I discovered freeriding and knew this was for me! While I had a great time in the park and still love jumping, freeriding really took to me as I love that it’s different every run. No feature is the same, and you can be as creative as you want in choosing your line. And of course there’s no better feeling than riding powder!
It’s been a tough apprenticeship but by 2020 you were on fire, getting your first FWT main tour victory in Andorra and backing that up with two 2nds in Hakuba and Austria, and a 5th place to round out a great season – was that still your peak and with the covid-affected truncated seasons that follow did your level drop off?
Finishing 2nd overall that year was definitely my best competition results…so far. But not even close to my peak. While I didn’t get the comp results I was looking for this year, I had my most progressive season yet and riding better than ever! Covid made travelling difficult but hasn’t set me back.
As a fan it’s sometimes hard to follow the FWT systems. Like this year you had a win, but still have to go back to the Qualifying Tour. That must be tough?
It’s a pretty brutal cut for the tour. Even to qualify for the FWT as a female snowboarder you have to win the qualifying tour as they only take 1 through from each region every year. Once on the tour you have 3 events to finish in the top 3 out of 6 riders to continue onto the finals and re qualify for the tour next year. It’s tough to have only 3 runs to show what you can do. After my win I finished 4th overall, unfortunately just missing out on the finals. We are pushing for there to be a bigger field. While I love competing on the FWT I feel there is limited room for progression with such hard cuts and 3 in a final isn’t a true competition with a guaranteed podium. I would love to see this sport grow and for more young girls getting out there and having a crack!
Are you finding now in your 30s that maturity and mental strength can make up for youthful enthusiasm / fearlessness. Obviously you are riding as strong or stronger than ever?
I’m finding that I’m only getting better and continue to have as much fun as always! It could be from more experience, but this season I’ve found a new love for snowboarding. I’ve had the best shred crew and found myself a coach which has been a game changer.
If anything I have become more fearless and want to keep pushing my riding!
What are the plans for the southern winter – do you have to try Qualifiers in NZ or what?
I will head on over to NZ and I may do the qualifiers if they are on while I’m there. I still have goals to be World Champ one day, but I also want to try new things and put my focus into doing some filming.
Something else that interests me is being on the other side of the camera as I have my diploma in film and television. The North Face are supporting a program called “Ladies Behind The Lens” whose mission is to get more ladies behind the lens in the adventure, ski & snowboard filmaking industry. This is based in NZ and I will do a couple of trips with them.
That sounds awesome, good luck. Speaking of TNF, how good is that jacket in the picture – can we get a quick review, might be more than a few out there wanting to get into it too?
Besides loving rocking the purple, I’ve really liked the pullover Tanager jacket for resort/off piste riding. The material is super comfortable and plenty of room to fit extra layers underneath, with my favourite feature being the kangaroo pocket at the front! Would recommend!
Thanks for being such a cover star to make the new issue pop!