A snowboarder from Hawaii competes on the national stage
Olympian Elena Hight attributes her love for snowboarding to an unlikely source: Hawaii’s sun and surf.
The Kauai native told Being808 her passion for board sports and being outside “stems from growing up in the islands and always being outside and in the surf as a kid.”
Being808 caught up with Hight earlier this month, as she prepared to compete for a spot in the Winter Olympics. She didn’t make it, but she is participating in the X Games this week in Aspen, Colo.
Hight competed in the Olympics in 2006 and 2010. And last year, Hight took home two silver medals at the X Games. She also made history by performing a double backside alley-oop rodeo in a halfpipe competition.
Hight, 24, was born in Kauai, and spent her early childhood in the islands before moving to Lake Tahoe, Calif. She tries to return to Hawaii as often as she can, and still has family here.
“I love being connected to the islands,” she said. “It’s not something that most winter athletes have, but it is such a big part of my life and who I am.”
Hight: I have been doing everything I can to prepare for this season. I spent two months this summer on snow in Mount Hood (in Oregon) and in New Zealand to get extra time on my snowboard. I also did a ton of dry land training to make sure that I am as strong as possible going into the contest season. For my mental and emotional preparation, I have been doing a lot of yoga and meditation. It definitely helps keep me centered and focused on and off the hill.
Being808: You are originally from Hawaii and I understand you come back here to center yourself and relax. Can you tell me a little bit about that … why is Hawaii special to you? Where’s your favorite spot on Kauai?
Hight: I still have family that lives in Kauai so I am lucky enough to be able to come back to the islands at least once or twice a year. There is nowhere in the world like Kauai; it is just so magical. I feel like I can just go to the island for a few days and come back with a completely rejuvenated mind, body, and soul. My favorite spot on Kauai is Tunnels beach. I grew up just down the street from there so I just have this connection with being there. It always brings me back to my childhood when I go there.
Hight: I was in Kauai last April. While I was on the island I hiked to Hanakapiai Falls, surfed, did yoga, ran the bay, ate a ton of papayas and mangoes, hung out with my sister and nephews, and of course spent a lot of time just laying on the beach soaking up the sun.
Being808: What advice would you give budding Hawaii athletes? What does it take to get to the Olympics?
Hight: My advice to any up-and-coming athlete is to just truly enjoy the journey. It is easy to get fixated on the goal or destination, but once you look back on all the hard work that it took to get there, you want to know that you enjoyed it along the way!
Being808: Planning a Hawaii vacation later this year?
Hight: Yes! I am planning on escaping for a few weeks in Hawaii this spring. I cannot wait to get back to the islands!
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Hight was headed to the Winter Olympics. However, she failed to qualify for a spot in an event over the weekend. Being808 regrets the error.
All photos Courtesy: Elena Hight