Hey Isa, it’s been awhile since we had a chance to last speak. What have you been up to over the last month? How is the rehab coming along?
Hey! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me again! Rehab is going great! My knee is feeling strong, stable and the pain is minimum. Never thought I would be able to do the things I’m doing after only 3 months since surgery. I’ve been keeping myself busy, mainly with training every day and doing fun things with friends. Two weeks ago I went to Heerlen (A city in the Netherlands) for an extreme sports event called Pro Freestyle, it’s an event with sports like BMX, Skateboarding, inline skating and all sorts of sports, this was extremely fun and so motivating to work even harder to get back out there shredding.
What kind of feedback did you get regarding the first Q&A we did? [Editor’s note — In case you missed it, here is our last interview with Isabelle]
I got really positive feedback, specially for maintaining a positive attitude while recovering from my injury, or about the depth of the questions and answers, that they weren’t like most interviews.
Let’s talk about what you make as a professional skier. Would you mind breaking down all your sponsors and what they provide to you? Both in product and financial support?
I doesn’t feel right discussing this in detail. I appreciate everything my sponsors do for me as little as some product sponsoring to actual travel budget. I get almost all of my gear that I need for skiing sponsored. Let’s just say that the financial support isn’t anywhere near as close to how much it costs to be able to ski, compete and travel everywhere.
Why don’t skiers openly discuss their contracts?
Just like any other contract I feel like it’s something confidential. I don’t want to risk losing what I have by making it public. And neither do I feel the need to hear people’s opinions on it, and that is what happens when you openly discuss something.
How much per year do you estimate spending on skiing? From travel to training.
I actually just made an estimate of how much this winter season and next year NZ season will approx cost. It’s around 20,000 euros. And this is while trying to do everything as cheap as possible. But having World Cups all around the world doesn’t make it easier. This budget does not include a coach and is based on individual traveling.
Where does one draw the line between amateur and professional?
In my opinion the definition of a professional is a bit different within our sport. It’s extremely hard to get good financial support even if you are close to the best in the world, or are one of the best in the world. I think professionals within our sports should be measured by their level of skiing and the level they compete at.
What is your biggest fear?
To not be taken seriously. This fear grew in the first 15 years of my life of always having the feeling that people (adults) never took me seriously because I was ‘just a kid’ and I didn’t know what was best for me, it felt like they never believed me or listened to what I had to say. This is not an easy fear to live with. It definitely is a big motivation behind my dreams and goals and keeps me disciplined. But it also makes it hard for me to be silly or do silly/dumb things in fear of not to be taken serious, being afraid to lose credibility by doing something silly takes the fun out of a lot of things.
Is it safe to say then that a large part of your life is dedicated to how you are perceived?
It isn’t about their opinion about me, but you need people to take you serious in order to get anywhere in life.
If everyone thinks you are a joke life will be a lot harder when you have serious goals, so unless you are a comedian it’s important people view you in a certain way. When people realise you are serious about the things you are doing and they see that you work hard they actually value your opinion and are often a lot more helpful.
What would be your worst “nightmare” scenario?
An incredibly impractical and slow person is put in charge of all of my major life decisions. I’d have to do whatever they say and I’m powerless to argue or reason with them.
How do you judge others in your life? Do they begin with respect, or have to earn it? How can one lose respect in your books?
I’d like to think I give everyone a fair chance and they start with having my full respect. I do value first impressions a lot, and if someone makes a bad one it’s hard to come back from that.
To be completely honest I judge the people in my life pretty harshly, but that’s only because I want the absolute best for them, I want them to live up to their full potential. Because I care about them. It’s hard to see when someone is doing things that in my opinion are bad for them, or they aren’t doing what they (in my opinion) should be doing. What I often fail to realize is that what I deem as important is not what the next person deems as important, and if there is something that I would never do doesn’t mean it’s wrong. This is a part I’m trying to work on.
Reliability is incredibly important to me, I want to know that my friends are people I can count on for support and company, and I dislike any semblance of flakiness. It’s important to me that people take their commitments seriously and show up when they say they will. If they fail to do this they will lose my respect every time little by little bits.
Do you have a favourite memory from skiing? What about from competing?
Oh man, there are sooo many favourite memories from skiing. Basically every time I learned a new trick, from the day that I did my first box slide and 180, to riding my first real rail, my first time in the Halfpipe, first time doing back to back 540’s in the pipe, skiing is constantly creating new best memories, that is why I love it so much.
One of my favourite memories from competing was at the Grand Prix in mammoth in 2015, the weather was crazy, and I remember being so scared to drop in because the wind had blown me out of the sky 3 times during training. And somehow I managed to land probably one of my best runs up until that point in life. Also standing at the top of the pipe during Dew Tour Qualifiers this year was one of the best memories, to be a part of that was amazing.
Have you ever had a “what am I doing” moment? Talk to us about it, and what kept you going.
All the time, I’ve had a lot of bad luck with injuries, and especially during those times you can get pretty negative about things. You begin to question everything, like if this is what I’m supposed to be doing then why do I keep getting hurt? But I love skiing so much, I get so much out of just one good day of skiing I could take on a whole other year of injuries. That is what keeps me going, my passion for the sport. I don’t ski because I love the feeling of skiing. I ski because it makes me love the feeling of living.
Any words of advice for creatives or athletes trying to make it in the industry?
Never be afraid to choose yourself, If you really want to reach your full potential you have to do whatever is best for you, and that is not always easy, but it’s worth it. Even though timing and luck play an enormous part, unrelenting dedication is the key to making things happen. Human potential is infinite, but our commitment and belief in ourselves is not. Reaching a destination isn’t as much about the difficulty of the path you’ve chosen to take, but instead the passion and persistence you walk it with.
Has social media changed skiing?
Definitely, but I think in a positive way, it’s creating a whole other way for athletes to increase attention for skiing, and other important parts of our sport. To make more people known with it. It also creates a great opportunity for athletes to represent their sponsors better and get more support.
What’s it like having such a dedicated, growing fanbase?
It’s kinda crazy, and my follower amount isn’t even that big. But getting messages like ‘What you are doing is so inspiring’ ‘You really made me push through and work harder’ is extremely motivating. People sending me messages and sharing their stories with me and how my posts and my words have affected them, that’s just so crazy to me.
Who are three ladies crushing it? And three ladies who are doing their part to get more girls skiing?
Emma Dahlstrom, she must be the most down to earth rockstar that I know, pushing the limits of woman skiing, performing at her absolute best when it matters and keeping an amazing attitude through all of it, now that’s what impresses me.
Britt Hawes, this girl is the definition of crushing it if you ask me, hands down the hardest worker in the entire ski industry. Besides training and competing on the highest level she maintains two jobs to be able to afford it all. She also spends every free moment training trampoline or working out in the gym. Still kicking ass after having two knee surgeries on two different knees. She always has your back and is ready to give you the pep talk that you need.
Anais Caradeux, after competing for 10 years she still remains one of the most underrated skiers. She works her ass off, and will hike all day everyday for that one trick, or to perfect that one little thing. I was always a little intimidated by Anais haha, but once I got to know her I realized quickly she is one the most funny, nice, and outgoing people!
I think it’s really hard to pick out ladies who are ‘getting more girls skiing’ because how do you measure that? I think by being a good role model, an amazing athlete, a great person and good marketing is how you get more girls skiing, attracting mainstream audience to our sport, showing them what our lifestyles are like and motivate them. Three ladies who are on top of doing this are Roz Groenewoud, Devin Logan and Anna Wilcox. Respect to these badass ladies!
Do you have any advice for those scared to stand up for themselves and speak their mind?
What goes on in your mind is who you are, If you want to live the life you were meant to live, you have to own who you are, strengths, weakness, vulnerabilities, and all. You have to choose to be you every single day instead of letting other people’s opinions or ideas dictate the choices you make. So speak up for what you believe in.
Do you have any regrets in life?
Not starting skiing sooner haha, but I guess living in a flat country didn’t help.
Of course, if I could go back and change some things I probably would, like not dropping in the run that I blew my knee. But I think having any real regrets is kind of silly, because everything that has happened in my life has made me into the person I am today, it has gotten me where I am and taught me everything I needed to know to do whatever I am supposed to do in life. Like Apoorve Dubey wrote “Every event that happens adds meaning to your existence as if all this happened by a conscious endeavor without your knowledge. You may not be able to appreciate things as they are happening but at the end when you reflect back and look at the bigger picture, everything makes sense”
You’re single, correct? Are you currently dating?
Yes, that is correct. I am not! Normally I’m really focused on skiing and it’s extremely hard to build a relationship with someone when you travel as much as we [competitive skiers] do. When I injured my knee I wanted to give it a shot to keep myself distracted from my injury, so installed Tinder and tried dating for a little bit, but I quickly realized it wasn’t working and maybe this just wasn’t for me. When you haven’t felt anything real in a long time, you can make yourself really believe you like someone when you actually don’t because it’s been so long you start thinking ‘maybe this is it’, but it never works out.
I had been finding it difficult to form any kind of real connection. I felt distant and detached. Nobody quite mattered enough to lead me to feel much of anything. But then I met someone, and after months of not feeling anything and ending everything that got close to a relationship, one conversation with him was a direct hit to the walls I believed to be so indestructible. Sadly he is taken but I will be forever grateful for his appearance in my life, for making me feel again. It put everything back into perspective, it was a real eye opener not to settle for anything less, especially not to keep myself ‘distracted’.
What are your favourite channels to consume ski media?
For ski media probably Newschoolers when I’m looking for something specific. Otherwise, my Facebook and Instagram are filled with skiing related things. And SBC Skier, of course, haha.
Do you contribute to the forums on Newschoolers, or just lurk? Why / why not?
I used to be really active on Newschoolers, nowadays not so much anymore. I get my dose of skiing related things on other media if there is a really awesome video or interesting article it will pop up on one of my newsfeeds.
What about non-ski media?
I spend wayyyyyy too much time on Instagram while watching a tv series on Netflix, and reading articles on Thought Catalog all at the same time.
Sliding into your DM’s like.. ⛷ 📷 @kirsten_buchanan #slidingintoyourdmslike #misterstealyogirl #girlsgottadowhatagirlsgottado #justdoingme #skiing #bestdays #breckenridge #colorado #workhard #staypositive #itsworthit #fun #snow #skiingislife #rehablife #radgirlslife #freeski #winter #thestruggleisreal #ijustwanttogoskiing
A photo posted by Isabelle Hanssen (@isabellehanssen) on
What are some small things that make you happy?
Coffee and M&M’s, so basically food haha. When I see or hear about a friend achieving a goal that I know they worked really hard to achieve. All the stupid things me and my sister laugh at, that nobody else thinks is funny. When I get in the car and one of my favorite songs is on the radio. And last but not least looking at Billy Mann his snapchats every morning, there is no better way to start the day (snap: mannbilly).
What about pet peeves?
Pet peeves are easy ones haha, when people are late, are indecisive or when they break a promise. When I have to drive or walk behind incredibly slow people. When my mom eats all my m&m’s. And long lift lines at Breck are the absolute worst.
Give us a quick breakdown of a few of your playlists.
I thought you were giving me a hard time with these other questions but this one is by far the hardest one to answer haha. I listen to so many different kinds of music, it all depends on what I’m in the mood for. Sometimes I will listen an entire day to mainstream music that’s on the radio and other days I will listen to that one rock band that no one knows. When I find a good song I can have it on replay for my entire ski day or workout sesh.
How old were you when you realized you were bisexual? What was it like telling your family and close friends?
I had my first real girl crush when I was 13, that’s when I knew I had a real interest in girls as well. I never really had “coming out” moment, I just always spoke my mind about everything so everyone realised at some point that I was into girls too.
Is this something you’d say your fellow skiers are aware of? What about your fans?
I think everyone that knows me personally is aware of it, but to me, it’s not a big deal so if it comes up in conversation (which at some point it always does) then people know, but it’s not like I ever have an “I need to tell you something” moment.
There are a lot of people out there still in the closet, or still insecure about talking about their sexual preferences openly. What can the action sports community do to help create a safe environment?
In my opinion the skiing and snowboarding community is one of the most accepting community ever. Seriously look around at everyone, no offense but everyone is a little weird, a little different. Because to be able to do a sport like freestyle skiing it takes a bit of a ‘different’ kind of person. I feel like we already created a very safe environment for people to be themselves.
What advice would you have for someone in a less accepting atmosphere?
The right people will accept you for who you are, and if they don’t they don’t deserve to be in your life. You want to be surrounded by people who have a positive influence. If you don’t feel comfortable to tell the people in your life, maybe they shouldn’t be a part of it. Not saying this is easy, but you can’t deny who you are as a person, neither can you change it or should you want to hide it.