The Cheryl Maas Interview

Photo: Matt Georges.

Read our full interview with Cheryl Maas from last season, beefed up with some of her killer footage over the years.

We think Cheryl’s the bomb – no bullshit; all bangers – so here’s the interview we did with her in the mag last September.


[Words: Uli Köhler]

From the Netherlands to Mayrhofen to Biarritz. From the tough school of dryslopes to the biggest contests to memorable movie parts. From nobody to sponsored rider to inaugural TTR champion. Dutch rider Cheryl Maas is an unusual snowboard pro, constantly on the move, with an insatiable hunger for progressing her riding. To make a formidable comeback after two difficult seasons hampered by injuries she has worked an entire season for her web series Open Air. The series of webisodes will give more insights into her life and is planned to launch in September [2011 – you can re-watch all the Open Air episodes here]. We called her to learn more about the show, her past season, and what keeps her pushing the envelope of female riding time and again…

In September your own web show ‘Open Air’ will be launched. Can you tell us a little more about it?

I wanted to go back to filming, but it is hard to just find a regular film crew. It’s hard to go with a film crew with all the guys, you know? So me and my friend, the filmer John Roderick, came up with the idea to do this webisode series. We just made a plan and everyone was backing it, and we went from there.

How did you decide on where to go and what to do over an entire season?

I wanted to show where I came from, like my personal story, how I got into winter sports, which is pretty unique. We were also looking for good locations for all kinds of different snowboarding. I wanted to go more into the backcountry this year, just to try that out. John knew good spots, so we just picked some good locations. We had to show Mayrhofen, kind of where it all started… the season where I learnt most of my snowboarding. So yeah, show a little bit more about me!


Why didn’t you just film a video part with one of the established film crews?

It’s always hard schedule-wise, you know? If you go with a proper film crew you’ve got to dedicate your whole season just to do that with them, and go to the spots they have in mind. I wanted to be quite flexible, and I knew I wanted to do some of the competitions, like TTR and X Games. It’s kind of hard to go with a proper film crew… It was just nice to plan it all myself and focus on the riding I wanted to put down… that kind of worked out.

It is sometimes surprising to see you still have quite a few contest appearances, such as this year’s X Games or the Arctic Challenge, when you have obviously shifted your focus onto filming. Why are you still competing in so many contests? Do the sponsors force you?

No, it’s really fun. You know, a lot of people go there. So you get to meet everybody. The big contests also always have a big park that is fun to ride. And it is always nice to try to get one or two results in during a season, just for fun. I don’t know. I really love filming a lot more, but it is still a lot of fun to see everybody…

You have always been a rider who pushes the level of female snowboarding – just take the back 9 at this year’s Euro X Games. How do you keep yourself motivated to push your limits?

I don’t know. I just want to grow as a rider myself, and learn all the new tricks. The riding I’ve done before… I’ve never really got to do that in a contest. I always wanted to do well in a contest, but a lot of times I had screwed up my contest runs. I did not have the mindset to pace it and say ‘If I do this I will win the contest’. I was more like ‘Oh, this is what I want to try and do my best! I want to progress my riding!’ You know, if I fall on my first run I have to do a second good run. That’s kind of hard. But now I just want to do it: Put down the run I want to put down. I was happy to do it with my knee that was already kind of torn… I don’t think it was the nicest 9, so I’m a little humble there (laughs). I am happy anyway I got it and landed it.

Do you think it comes down to you being a mentally stronger person, are you nowadays better with the whole psychological side of competing?

I’m not sure… stronger? I do a lot of good tricks when I enjoy riding. As soon as I take the pressure off me that I have to win gold or second place I ride actually really good. That’s what I’ve been doing this past season. The last two years I got injured, and now I wanted to have a good season again and not put too much pressure on myself and try to do well on the TTR and all that. I just wanted to have fun and film and do what I wanted to do. That’s how I found myself again, that’s what I used to do, and that’s how I progressed. I got some good tricks for my web show coming out.


What do you think about the development of female snowboarding? Do you think it is still similar to make it as a pro today as it was 7 or 8 years ago?

It’s definitely tougher now. The girls riding are getting a lot younger, because younger girls are getting into the sport. And they have a lot more help than we had eight years ago. They get proper coaching, training, like that new training center that opened at Woodward. That really helps for snowboarding and progressing with the tricks. I think the level has gone up a lot, and the girls are pushing it. Some of us have no fear about them; they just go and try it again and again.

Do you think it is easier for those young girls to make it as a pro? As you said there are all those training facilities, coaching, the support they get?

It is hard to say. I don’t know. They do have to be better now. If you have some talent you’ll get quicker helped out to progress to what you want to do, to reach your goals. I think that’s a lot easier now than before as a girl. You were doing it all on your own, rode with the guys, and tried to keep up. But now it’s a lot more focused on girls’ snowboarding.

What do you think what influence you had on snowboarding in the Netherlands? Or do you think you did not play a big role in helping the sport grow at home?

I think I did influence it when I went to the Olympics; to put snowboarding on the map. In normal people’s eyes snowboarding is not anymore just that crazy people’s sport where everyone parties hard. You know, that was the picture everyone had in their head – especially in the Netherlands, where we don’t have any mountains. But people who go on winter holidays had more respect after I made it to the Olympics, and it turned out to be the most watched Olympic program at home. That was really good that I could do something nice for snowboarding in Holland in that way – that more people understand the sport.

Do you sometimes go back and ride there – either in a fridge or on a dryslope?

Yes and no. My younger sister and my brother still ride on the dryslope. If I’m there and I have the time, I still like to go, it is so much fun to ride the indoor or the dryslopes and just have a laugh and do the things you really enjoy. But I don’t usually have that much time to do it, as much as I would like to. If I lived there I would probably go a lot.


You have been living in Biarritz, France for the last couple of years. Do you still feel as deeply connected to the snowboard scene as you were when you were living in Mayrhofen?

There’s a lot of industry in and around Biarritz and Hossegor, and it is easy to keep up with your sponsors and all that. I also got quite a bit into surfing, I like to do that as well. In Mayrhofen you see the snowboard scene, it is all around you, but you don’t get to see the global picture. For me it doesn’t really matter where I live, I just travel around and at the contests you meet all the people in your sport. It doesn’t really matter where you live.

And what does your perfect day of riding look like? Where would you go? Who would you take?

Hmmm… I always love to do fun sessions in the park, not too crazy big jumps, just something you can have fun on and try new tricks on. A slushy sunny day with some good rider friends… no particular names, just having fun together.

You don’t seem to embrace shameless self-promotion as much as, say, the Helgasons. Do you still believe a rider should let the riding speak for them – or does this get outdated in times of Facebook and Twitter?

I am not too loud a person. I guess that’s just my personality. I am kind of shy at the beginning. Only when I meet people I am different. And I do want to let my riding do the speaking, and not get attention in any other way and maybe take it away from snowboarding. And I’m not much of a computer fan. I’d rather have everyone to go out there and go skateboarding and snowboarding, because that’s what I want to do myself – and not getting stuck behind a computer. (laughs)

Yeah, that’s exactly what we have to do all day, and it is horrible! But speaking about loud people: You also don’t like to talk about your private life in public, do you?

I don’t think it’s necessary. I am open about everything. But to try and get attention by telling everybody how things are… I think everyone should do whatever they want to do in their private lives, and live the lives they want to live. You know, I’m good at snowboarding, and people like to see me snowboarding, and I’m happy to show that. But to draw your family life into that is a different thing. I don’t like to be in a Big Brother house where I have to show every day what I am doing (laughs).


That’s cool for us. Last question: What are your plans for the coming season? Will it be as busy as last winter or do you think about kicking it back a little and enjoy more of your private life?

No! I definitely want to go out there. There are a couple more new tricks I want to learn. This season I did a switch double underflip, and it was so easy. So I was like ‘Ok, it’s all about doubles and stuff now…’ You know, I have so many more tricks that I want to try and learn. As long as I’m hungry I want to get out there. I just have to make it work. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do next winter, if I will have my focus on filming. Slopestyle might come into Olympics, I don’t know if there is any news about that. I would want to train for that as well… I’m definitely not stepping back. Only forward, if anything! (laughs)

Good luck with that, and thanks a lot for taking your time! Is there anyone you want to thank?

I want to thank Volcom, Nitro, Electric, Vans, Nixon, Celtek and Rockstar. And a special thank you to my family and to Jeroen Bazuin.


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