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Marissa Sumwalt, Snowboard/Wakeboard/Surfer (SC)

by Joanna Brashear on May 26, 2017

Marissa Sumwalt - Snowboard/Wakeboard/Surfer - South Carolina, USA

Connect with Marissa:  Facebook: Marissa Sumwalt Instagram: Marissashreds

Your Age: 23 

Your Location (where do you ride mostly): Beech Mountain in Banner Elk, North Carolina and Appalachian Ski Mountain in Boone, North Carolina

Weapon(s) of choice:  Burton Social 142, Burton Local Lexa Pro Bindings, and Burton Boa boots.



What’s an average day for you like? My average day consists of being woken up by my 55 pound shelter rescue pup and my best friend! Then we eat breakfast, I prefer scrambled eggs and toast, and he prefers dogfood. Then we exercise, whether it’s throwing the ball in the back yard or going on a run, I always try to start off my day in a physically healthy way, and having my dog by my side definitely encourages me to do that.  Most days consist of working at a ski, snowboard, and wakeboard shop and tired, relaxing nights.  During the summer I try to spend as much time as I can with my friends out on the lake or at the wake park or cruising around my neighborhood on my skateboard. In the winter I’m out on the mountain every single chance I get!!! My average days are pretty average to the “normal” person, but they are perfect for me! 

What is the most difficult part of your activity/sports for a beginner? The easiest?  The most difficult part in starting board sports for me was figuring out whether I had a regular or goofy stance.  I am extremely ambidextrous in other things, to the point it’s pretty weird.  I write right handed, but golf and bat left handed.  I shoot a basketball right handed, but my left foot is my dominant foot on the soccer field. So it was extremely difficult figuring out where I fit in as far as stance.  Once I figured out I was more comfortable goofy footed, toe-side turns were the most difficult (I’m still working on those!!)

The easiest part of starting board sports was honestly just progressing.  Even the smallest most minuet step of progression had me smiling for days! Just strapping your feet onto your board, or stepping onto it, and knowing that today, or this session, I might become a better rider brings me endless happiness.  Feeling happiness and feeling like I was meant to be on a board were definitely the easiest parts for me. (: 

 What is the best and worst thing about being female in your sport?  Growing up with an athletic older brother, I’ve always known healthy competition between males and females in all sports.  But as a female in a basically male dominant sport, girls can get a lot of criticism- even when they are really talented! The best thing for me being a female in park based snowboarding is the positivity and motivation within the community towards the females out there stomping tricks.  However, the worst thing for me is the criticism from others.  Being a new park rider, I fall A LOT because I’m out there trying to get better and how to work my body and my mind in order to stomp the trick that I’m trying to land.  I’ve gotten a lot of laughs or boo’s, but I’ve learned that I just have to shake it off, block out those putting me down, and keep trying. That attitude has made me the rider and the person that I am today! Keep trying, keep going, no mater what other people are saying about you!

What would you like to see change in your sport to make it better for you and other female athletes? MORE SLOPESTYLE COMPETITIONS FOR WOMEN!!! Also, I would like to see the snowboards specifically made for women be made better in terms of technology within the snowboard itself.  You look in a snowboarding magazine and there are 10-15 different Men’s boards, but only 4 or 5 women’s boards.  I just wish girls had as many opportunities that guys had and the fact that females are shredding as hard as they are despite all of that is absolutely amazing! 

Besides your ability and style factor as an athlete, how would you describe your personal style?  Hmm, I’ve never really thought about my personal style as a rider.  But I guess it’d be a determined, goofy, carefree, anxiety driven, try it until you stomp it kind of style. 

What are your favorite brands/designers for your sports apparel and for stepping out?  My favorite brands for snowboarding are Burton, Oakley, Anon Optics, Smith Optics, Roxy, and everything Gore-Tex (extreme waterproof), and of course my favorite is SheShreds!! My Burton bindings are a lovely bright blue and I can’t wait to shred down the mountain in those because I’ve only ever ridden with black bindings before so anything colorful and girly I love to step out to shred in. 

Let’s hear your thoughts on how important looking good is to feeling good. “Being” your personal best?  I believe that if you feel your best you are going to look your best.  If you’re uncomfortable in any situation, whether you look good or not, you’re not going to perform to your maximum ability level.  Feeling healthy physically and mentally is so much more important to me than looking stylish out there on the mountain, and just walking down the street on a regular day.   

How dangerous do u really think it is compared to what people do in their regular activities?  Well you can break your ankle just walking down the street and there are a ton of people with a lot of crazy hobbies, so I believe boarding can be dangerous in many ways as well.  Danny Davis said it best when he said “We look at the dudes that do motocross and think, man, that’s crazy. But I’m sure they look at us as snowboarders and think the same thing.”  

I bet in your experience you have seen some crazy crashes. Describe one.  Honestly, I’ve haven’t seen too many crashes in my short time riding, but my first time at the wake cable park, I was there from 10-7 and I didn’t get off the dock one time, I COULD NOT figure out that cable pull.  But my last run of the day I made it off the dock and ALL the way around the pool!! After seeing me crash all day, my friends, and even the people working the cable were clapping and cheering when I came back around and I forgot about the cable transition and faceplanted soooooo hard my helmet and my wakeboard came off and I stood up too quickly and threw up.. oops.  Let’s just say the next time I made it around I was hyper focused on every single cable transition… haha

What usually gets people hooked on your activity/sport?  I can’t really speak for anyone but myself, but for me, just the pure joy and excitement I get out of riding got me hooked.  The adrenaline rush and really the bond riders have with each other are definitely top reasons I became hooked on board sports. 

What is your favorite trick?  On a box: A steeeeeezy leaned out backboard with any unusual grab, but my personal fav is a stalefish. (it may sound weird on a box, but it’s awesome) Off a jump or kicker: For me a simple nose grab, method, or a 180 seat belt grab depending on the air time. 

Do you own any other toys?  I own some pretty sweet roller blades, I take them out for a spin every once in a while! 

 What gets you pumped up for the day?  FRESH POW!! Or a sunny day off work! 

What are three things you could not live without?  snowboarding 2. Family 3. Potatoes… all shapes and forms, my friends! 

What are your expectations for this activity/sport?  Have as much fun as possible and do the most I possibly can with the little that I have. 

Who have been your biggest supporters in getting you to where you are now?  I would say my parents in the beginning, just because they took me on my first big snowboarding trip and have always been supportive of me in whatever sport I’ve wanted to do. But now that I’m older and more independent, I would have to say myself honestly.  I can be really self doubting, but I want to be a prosnowboarder more than I’ve wanted anything before, because it’s MY dream.  I’ve always played team sports but with snowboarding, I put in my time and I get results.  I push myself and my fellow riders push me to be better.  But I am a firm believer in ‘if you want it bad enough and work hard enough, you can do whatever you want’ and I really, really want this. 

Who’s your favorite rider/shooter (photo/video)?  Oh wow. There are so many! My favorite snowboarders are Jamie Anderson and Mark McMorris because they go bigger and stomp harder than anyone I’ve ever seen and are still the most down to earth people ever.  My favorite photographer is definitely Gabe L’Heureux, he works with a lot of the main pro snowboarders and has some incredible work. 

What do you do in your spare time when you’re not riding/shooting/competing?  Working, working, working, and training! Someone has to pay for the gas up to the mountain! (:

  How about in the off season to stay in shape?  There is no off season for me!! (; I go straight from snowboarding to wakeboarding and skateboard in between.  But I love yoga because it really engages my whole body and helps with my mental clarity as well as my balance, all of which are KEY to progressing in any sport that you do. But also running, cross training such as jumping and different lunges are also important too. 

What is your biggest goal to accomplish this/next season?  Honestly, the biggest goal I have is to just have as much fun as I possibly can, every single time I get the chance to ride, whatever I’m riding.  Every time I go out, I have a mental checklist of things I’d like to accomplish during my session, and as long as I progress, have fun, and don’t get hurt, my goal has been accomplished! I would also like to WIN (or place) in my first competition! 

What do you do to prep for a competition?  With snowboarding being scarce around my area, I’ve never competed in a competition yet, but I plan to compete in my first slopestyle comp at some point in the season!  I’ve played team sports my whole life- so based on those experiences, I think that stretching, keeping calm, listening my favorite pump up music, and focusing on my run and having fun is what my prep will be!

What competitions and other awards have you won? Include your non sports accomplishments also. In high school I was an SC All-State, All-Region, national ranked in goals scored soccer player.  My favorite award was probably when I made ESPN’s national stats for goals scored and assists made my 2010 year, which you can still find today (if you search hard enough) I thought that was pretty cool.

I was also in the SATB All-State choir for two years, Student Body President, a homecoming representative for my grade 3 years, and Miss. Freshman and Miss. Junior in our school pageant.  I laugh so hard at that now thinking that I ever did a pageant!

I attended Clemson University, where I was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, a Welcome Leader for Orientation, and an active member of the Psychology club.  

What’s your favorite “way” to ride( wake sport- specific, cable, boat, winch)(Snowsport specific- park, freeride/backcountry, urban)? Wakeboarding: While riding behind a boat is about 20X more convenient than riding cable- cable is definitely my favorite.  It’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever come across in board sports because you have to get used to the cable transitions before you can learn to hit features.  I just think it’s much more satisfying than any wakeboarding I’ve done before because there are so many different factors that you personally have to control to stomp a run.

Snowboarding: Park. Park. And more Park. It was the first thing that clicked with me in snowboarding.  I’ve never had the amazing opportunity to ride backcountry, which I think would be terrifying for some reason.  I like being in control when I’m riding, which you have complete control in the park.  Plus I seem to feel a more sense of progression when it comes to park riding.  Tricks vary so infinitively that ever little jib I learn is satisfying, I think that’s why I like it so much. 

Favorite conditions? If I’m wakeboarding at the cable park I it to be 75 and cloudy with a chance of high winds and rain…. Why? Because there are no lines!! Haha it’s crude, but I fall a lot on cable because I’m brand new to it AND because I’m out there trying to hit features I’ve never hit before and tricks I’ve never tried before and stepping out of my comfort zone.  When it’s sunny and 85 and the park is PACKED and I fall my first lap around… I have to wait in line for 30 minutes to try it again and by then I’ve forgotten what I did wrong to make me wait in the first place!

When I’m snowboarding, a light dusting or a complete downpour, really any true snow is perfect for me. I just love when the park or the mountain isn’t busy so I can get the most out of my time there and progress as much as possible instead of standing around.

Where would be your biggest dream place to ride and why? Oh wow I have so many places I want to go! But my first choices for snowboarding would be Whistler Blackcomb because I’ve never been out of the country before and I’ve always wanted to go snowboarding in Canada, Keystone in Colorado because I’ve heard it has the greatest park in North America, and Mt. Bueller in Australia because who wouldn’t want to snowboard in one of the most beautiful countries in the world IN THE SUMMER! (seasons are reversed here and there)

What song(s) do you listen to while riding that puts you in the zone? Anything from the Art of Flight sound track will get me super stoked, but in addition to that: Gold- Adventure Club (feat. Yuna), Heartbreaker- MSTRKRFT (feat. John Legend). Loud Pipes- Ratatat. Heads Will Roll- Yeah Yeah Yeahs (A-Trak Radio Edit), Opposite of Adults- Chiddy Bang 

What turned you on to your sport? One of my best guy friends (who also rips) suggested we watch the snowboarding movie Art of Flight and after I saw it… I wanted to get on a snowboard immediately. I just remember thinking “I may never bomb a mountain in the Andes or drop from a helicopter, but I want that stoke and that joy they have every time they snowboard,” and I do, every time I board. (:

My family never owned a boat personally, but every time I would go out on the lake with friends I would waterski and wakeboard, but it wasn’t until a friend took me to Terminus Wake Park in Atlanta that I discovered cable wakeboarding.  I’m not going to lie- the first day sucked.  I couldn’t even get off of the platform! But the second day we went it clicked immediately and I even hit and stomped my first feature that day. 

I picked up skateboarding because snowboarding and wakeboarding are about two solid hours of driving from where I live and I was getting real bored so I got into skateboard for the troubled times in between.

Any new tricks you’re working on?  I’m really going to focus on my personal style on my grabs and turns this season.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done in your sport? I was given the opportunity to help coach the Beech Mountain Snowboard Academy Girl’s team this season and I know it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever been a part of. The community and family and the riders on the team make me stoked to ride every single chance I get. I feel like my main goal is to encourage the kids and keep them excited and stoked every single run. So far, riding with my girls has best the most fun I’ve ever had on my snowboard! I can’t wait to see how they progress throughout the season! 

What other extreme/action sports are you into?  Hmm, other than wakeboarding, skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding I’m not really into too many action sports.

If extreme/action sports didn’t exist, what would you be doing with all the free time you’d have?  I’d probably be working or further pursuing a degree in psychology. 

What’s your favorite board/bike/sled to ride and why?  While I haven’t technically ridden my 2015 Burton Social yet, I know it’s going to be my favorite board EVER. 

What’s the trick to riding features and not killing yourself?  Be smart, know your abilities, know park rules and park etiquette and once you’re confident-  BE FEARLESS!   "SEND IT!” 

How would you describe your riding style?  Just like my stance, I would describe it as GOOFY! I just try to not take it too seriously while having as much fun as I can, yet being focused and determined enough to progress and add a little style at the same time.

What would you say is your signature trick?  I love up/down boxes, probably 50/50 to air, then either a tail tap or quick mute grab and a big STOMP. Gotta stomp the trick, no matter how small.

Favorite drink of choice to refresh yourself after a long day of riding/shooting?  An ice cold beer is a lovely choice, but if not ice cold water is just as nice!

What do you want to be when you grow up?  I want to be happy, healthy, and humble.

Currently injured- broken right collarbone January 8th, 2016 training for a rail jam.
Surgery January 14th, 2016.

Marissa will be healthy and ready to go for Snowflex Camp at Liberty University in July!  



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