Bryn Valaika is earning marks on the mountain and in school.-By Somer Flaherty
There aren’t many young professional athletes who enjoy such a balanced lifestyle as snowboarder Bryn Valaika. At only 20 years old, the Laguna Beach local has already carved a name for herself in the sport while sticking in school and getting some pretty noteworthy sponsorships along the way. Bryn started out as a skier when her parents rented their home out during the Laguna fires in the early 1990s, and decided to spend two years skiing in Telluride, Colo. “I had ski physical education class in my preschool,” Bryn says. “From there my entire family developed an obsession for the snow and all that [came] along with it.
” When her brother started snowboarding, Bryn followed him and transitioned from skis to a board and has spent the last decade honing her skills. Most fans recognize Bryn from her role in the movie “Peepshow: Winter Wars,” which recognized an all-female crew of shredders, but the Oakley- and Volcom-sponsored rider has also placed in her share of competitions, including the Burton AM Series Slopestyle and the Volcom Peanut Butter and Rail Jam. Off the mountain, Bryn keeps a balanced life—she just completed her third marathon and is currently on an academic scholarship at the University of Colorado-Boulder, studying abroad on a ship with Semester at Sea.
LBM: What is your specialty in the sport?
BV: I like park stuff. I’ve been trying to get more into the backcountry riding since I just got a snowmobile last season, which I’m itching to take out again soon. I’m trying to make my riding well-rounded.
LBM: Where are your favorite mountains to board locally?
BV: Mammoth Mountain.
LBM: You travel a lot for work, so we’re sure you can give us tips on the best mountains outside of California to board.
BV: Check out Breckenridge, Colo.; Revelstoke in Canada and Austria.
LBM: Who are your favorite boarders?
BV: My favorite snowboarders are mostly my friends, as well as my brother [professional snowboarder] Keegan Valaika. I love how all the guys in the Givin movies are about snowboarding for the passion of the sport, not for the checks and medals. Anyone that is about the creativity of the art of snowboarding is someone who is on my list of favorites.
LBM: Any tips for people new to the sport?
BV: Keep with it. The first few days are always discouraging, but once you make it through those, you will have the most amazing time and a new obsession.
LBM: What advice do you have for riders looking to advance their skills?
BV: Venture outside your comfort zone but stay within the realm of what is reasonable to try for your ability level. Start small and work your way up.
LBM: What is your favorite thing about snowboarding?
BV: The creativity of the sport. You can make snowboarding whatever you want to make of it and show your passion for the sport in your own way but still be a part of the culture as a whole.
Grab the Gear
Pick up these products to take on any mountain.-By Somer Flaherty
Snowboarding isn’t a sport without gear. The equipment—like bindings and a board—the layers of insulated clothing and, if you’re smart, the protection like a good helmet and even wrist guards all add up to a big expense to get started in the sport. If you’re new to snowboarding, rent gear from a local snowboard shop to figure out what works best for your size and ride style. LBM