Freestyle Snowboarder – Rachida Aoulad
Words: Good Sport
Images: Ben Clement
Rachida Aoulad is a freestyle snowboarder from The Netherlands. Her go-with-the-flow style reaches out to all aspects of her life and even more evident when she’s hitting rail-jams or out filming with friends. Good Sport was lucky enough to catch Rachida compete at Rock A Rail in The Hague. We caught up with her further via email to get hear her about her journey and current thoughts on snowboarding.
Are you training for anything at the moment? What are your current goals?
I’ve never considered what I do with snowboarding “training” I snowboard whenever I feel like it. And when I don’t, I never force myself. Snowboarding for me is all about having a good time, and flowing with whatever comes into my path – whether It’s a contest, a trip or just a fun session in the domes with friends. I believe snowboarding cannot be forced, so I never train specifically. As for goals everyone has them. I’ve just come back from a two year knee injury, and for this and next season I just wanna stay on my board, go on trips, film with my friends and compete in rail-jams.
What Is a childhood moment that put you where you are now?
I wouldn’t say there is a specific childhood memory. But from a young age I was always fascinated with action sports and pushing my body to its limits. From climbing on everything right from the moment I could walk, to being in the national soccer team when I was a teen. I started skating when I was eight years old, and that progressed into snowboarding at the age of 13. From the moment I strapped into a snowboard, I’ve never strapped out again. And don’t plan to ever.
From the moment I strapped into a snowboard, I’ve never strapped out again. And don’t plan to ever.
What are you thinking about before an event or comp.
Before my injury I never thought about anything before a contest. I was never nervous or had any kind of anxiety. But nowadays, with coming back from an injury, something changed in me. I started feeling all these emotions. A lot of people around me expect me to win. And that adds a lot of pressure that I have to deal with. But luckily with each contest this Is slowly becoming better and I’m starting to become my not so nervous self again. At the end of the day It’s all about having a good time together with the girls and putting on a good show. And to push Women’s snowboarding further.
What is your coach or mentor continuously telling you.
Snowboarding has mainly always been a thing I do for myself and by myself. There are friends involved but no coaches. My voice of reason is my amazing girlfriend Anna, she’s been my support system to turn to when things get tough. When I get anxious or nervous she always knows the right things to say to get my head into place again.
What is something you believe needs to change within Snowboarding?
Back in the day when I started snowboarding, as cliche as it sounds, it used to be a lifestyle. For me snowboarding isn’t something you go on; like you would go on other sporting trips. It’s something you just love and breathe. What I see with most the kids (in the Netherlands) nowadays is that snowboarding for them is something they do once or twice a week. They go to their training and then forget about it until the next training. They have no idea who some of the old and current legends of snowboarding are. They don’t sit behind their computers searching for snowboard clips. Or walk the streets with that “oh if it would snow I could hit that rail” attitude. It’s something that I miss. And feel truly saddened when I look at this aspect of the new generation here.
How do you find support within the Snowboarding community?
Within the section of snowboarding I navigate myself in (rail-jams and filming parts) we are basically just one big crazy family. We are stoked for one another regardless of who wins. For instance when I’m riding a contest and I see that another girl lands an amazing trick I’m truly stoked and happy about it. It’s not the “oh god I hope she fails so I can win” attitude. Or when someone breaks their board, almost everyone Is willing to give that person their own. So we all support and help each other. Because at the end of the day, we are all passionate about the same thing. So why not help instead of hate.
Watching you at Rock A Rail in The Hague, you seem really focussed, with your headphones in, locked into getting tricks. Do you follow any certain rituals and is there a way you like to be at competitions
There aren’t any rituals I really follow before contests. The music just helps me zone out so I don’t get distracted while I’m about to jump on a rail and end up breaking my face. I ride contests like I would ride in the dome or on a mountain. I don’t plan things out, I just feel in the moment what I’m gonna do, and most of the times this works really well for me. I don’t think you can plan on how to board in a competition… at least I wouldn’t be able to. Any factor can change things and your plans along with it. For the rest I don’t have a lot of superstitions. The only thing that I always need to wear are the friendship rings I wear on my thumb. They belonged to my parents. But that’s something that also applies outside of snowboarding.
Can you tell us what it’s like during your peak season. Things like travel, eating, training.
I’m not training for the olympics, I don’t train specifically, I’m basically just a crazy person having fun on a wooden board sliding down snow while jumping on pieces of metal. I don’t really plan out my seasons. There are always things that come in my path or contests that I get invited to. So for me it’s all about going with the flow. And see where my snowboard takes me next. And if I’m not traveling i’m working my ass off to sustain my lifestyle.
What would you want to share with other Female riders out there who are pushing to get more recognition and change the way snowboarding is for them.
Stick to what you’re doing. And don’t change yourself for anyone. Don’t go around posing in bikini’s on social media for followers unless this is something you truly feel comfortable with. People should be hyped on you because of what you do on your snowboard. Not for the way you look. And if this results in less recognition, the hell with it. Stay true to yourself and things will work out.
Do you think companies like sponsors or media companies have more of a role to play in how Female riders are perceived. What things could be done to make it more equal out there?
Sponsors and companies have a huge effect on how female riders are perceived. I feel like the female athletes are always used in a more sexual context than the male athletes. Because women on boards are hot right? Well I’m pretty sure none of them are riding down the hill with layers and layers of make up on or in their bikini’s.
For a long time budgets and resources were limited for women. But luckily this is something that’s slowly but surely changing. We see equal prize money on some contests now. And Women athletes that are fully provided for and able to live off snowboarding. It’s going slow but thankfully the stigma that Women aren’t as good as men is coming to an end.
2019 has kicked off, what does the next year look like for you?
I have some contests on my calendar that I wanna enter in. And for the rest do some trips and try and film a bit with my friends. Nothing set in stone yet. As by now you must know me a little better. “I’ll see what comes my way”