Sporting her signature red lipstick, Roz Groenewoud had another stellar season on the slopes, maintaining her status as the top female halfpipe skier in the world. This past season she was named AFP Women’s Halfpipe World Champion after taking home gold at both X Games and X Games Europe.
“A lot of people still haven’t heard of halfpipe skiing. I tell people I do what Shaun White does but on skies.”
Like White, she is best known for flying higher than everyone else, with massive amplitude and a large bag of tricks. The new competitive season will begin soon and this year Roz has her sights set on the upcoming Winter Games. Her goal is to win a gold medal for Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where halfpipe skiing will be included as an Olympic event for the first time.
In addition to her success on the slopes, Roz is going to school at Quest University Canada, majoring in math and physics, to lay the groundwork for a career after her skiing days are finished. To add to her long list of accomplishments, Groenewoud recently joined eight other elite action sports athletes representing Target. She’s the first Canadian and first female skier to be sponsored by the brand.
A Glam Slam caught up with Roz to talk about balancing a career in skiing with her schoolwork, her unique training regimen, prepping for the Olympic Games and her sense of style. Check it out:
Can you talk about your new partnership with Target?
I’m the first Canadian athlete working with Target which is exciting. It’s a really small team in general, I’m only the ninth athlete, so I’m pretty lucky to be on an exclusive team of action sports athletes. I’m excited to meet some of the other athletes on board. They [Target] tailor their relationship with each athlete based on that athlete’s needs and their individual sport, so I’m definitely excited to get that process going of talking about ways that Target can support me to help with my sport goals and my goals outside of sports.
How did your career begin? Did you always want to be a professional skier?
I got into skiing when I was really little. My dad took me skiing when I was around two or three and then I took a big break from skiing when my family relocated to Quito, Ecuador. When I was 13, I pretty much had to re-learn how to ski. I watched the 2002 Olympics when I was living in Quito, the ones in Salt Lake, and I watched the mogul skiing and I was floored by it. I decided as soon as we moved back to Canada it was what I wanted to do. I liked the fact that it was fast, it was judged and it was technical and difficult and scary.
When we moved back to Canada my parents enrolled me in a recreational freestyle ski program and I quickly found out that moguls weren’t really my thing, they didn’t click with me. But I loved the jumps in between the moguls because I grew up in gymnastics and tumbling so it felt really natural for me. I slowly got into more terrain park skiing and halfpipe skiing. It was never my goal to be a professional skier. I don’t think I ever realized that that was an option. I found something I loved and worked on it and realized it was something I could do for a living and for the long term. Even moreso now because it just became an Olympic sport so the audience is bigger and it’s becoming a little bit more mainstream.
You’re also in school studying math and science. How are you able to balance school with your career?
As far as balancing school and skiing, it’s definitely a struggle. It has gotten a little bit harder since the Olympic announcement. There’s a more concrete goal to be working towards as opposed to just working to become a better skier every year. I go to a University in Squamish called Quest University. It works on a block program. You do one course at a time for three and half weeks so it’s more intensive. So I’ve been able to fit those chunks into my year where I’m focused more on dry land training, not so much on snow or travel time, so that’s how I’m balancing school and skiing.
My focus is definitely on skiing right now but I really love school and would never want to completely give it up so I fit it in. My hope is that by the time I’m done with my ski career, I’ll have a bachelor’s degree and it will be a good starting point to then figure out what i want to do next. I think a lot of athletes end their athletic career and think ‘what am I going to do?’ whereas having that bachelor’s degree lays a lot of groundwork and opens a lot of possibilities of what I can do next.
You have a unique training regimen which involves trampoline training. How does that help with your skiing?
I think it’s definitely a huge advantage. The trampoline is more about training air awareness and where your body is in space and how to land safely. Some of it is how to crash safely too. If you’re going to fall there are definitely better ways to protect yourself and being on a trampoline, it’s a lot lower consequence in general than being on the snow. The tricks aren’t exactly the same because you’re taking off perpendicular to the ground on a trampoline and with the halfpipe you’re taking off parallel to the ground, so it’s set a little differently. But just learning where your body is in space is really beneficial on a trampoline.
You’ve already achieved a great amount of success, this past season in particular. What is the next big thing you’d like to accomplish? What are some of your biggest goals for this competition season?
This year is a lot about laying the groundwork for the Olympics. We have our test event in Sochi this year so we’ll be over there in February. That’ll definitely be a focus, to get there and see what it’s going to be like, to see what the halfpipe is going to be like, and to really start visualizing what that Olympic experience is going to be like. But even before that, this year is our qualification process to get to the Olympics so I guess that’s the overarching goal. To ski really well every event and qualify easily.
This is the first time your sport will be in the Winter Olympics, but I’m sure you’ve watched past Winter Games. Are there any Winter Olympic sports in particular that you enjoy most?
I’ve always loved watching figure skating. Obviously it’s a really different culture from action sports but there are definitely a few things in common. Just the fact that it’s judged, there are tricks, the beauty is a component of it, and it’s an individual sport. I find the crazy costumes really entertaining. Mogul skiing and snowboard halfpipe have always definitely been favorites too.
Your top rivals on Tour are also your companions. What’s it like to compete head-to-head with your friends? Does that help to motivate you even more?
It’s an interesting dynamic. The two girls that I train with everyday on the Canadian team are considered to be some of my biggest competition. We’re really supportive of each other. In general all the three of us have the understanding that each of us wants to win, but all of us would like the others to get second and third to us. It’s not like the cutthroat I want you to fail. It’s the idea that I want you to ski well, I just want to ski a bit better than you. In halfpipe skiing there’s a close knit group of girls just because there’s not that many of us. There’s so few of us compared to the guys. It can be a tough community to grow up in just because it’s so male dominated, so we’re definitely really supportive of each other.
Snow fashions have come a long way and female competitors are no longer forced to wear shrunken men’s gear. Your apparel sponsor is Spyder. How important are your competitive clothes? Do you have any input in the design process?
I’ve been pretty involved the last few years. One of the designers that I work with at Spyder I get along really well with, I really like her designs. She has a really keen eye for fashion and keeps up with a lot of the current trends. I’m definitely really excited for some of the new colorways and designs that they have going on. Hopefully for 2014/2015, coming out in Fall 2014, there will be a Roz outfit. We’re going to start working on what that’s going to look like this year.
I also wear C9. I was just in New Zealand at a training camp. This was my first time wearing it [C9] as a base layer and I really liked it. I got some pieces that are matching and brightly patterned and I definitely got some compliments stretching in the lodge.
Can you talk about your personal style off-the-slopes?
I like wearing a lot of different eclectic brands and shopping in little boutique stores. I think for me my style has always been pretty feminine and I really like being a little adventurous with my style. I think in action sports there’s a trend for a lot of the girls to try to fit in with the boys to some extent, like the way to get by is to try to look as much like the boys as possible and I really don’t like that idea. I dislike the whole notion that to be a strong, powerful athlete you have to be somehow masculine. I really believe that femininity and being strong and powerful aren’t mutually exclusive, so I always wear red lipstick when I compete.
Any brand of lipstick in particular?
My current favorite is Makeup Forever. It’s a color called Moulin Rouge. It’s a color that works really well on a lot of people.
What would you like to do with your degree once you are finished with skiing?
I really like going to school so I think definitely I’d like to pursue education beyond a bachelor’s degree. I definitely change my mind quite a bit about what that’s going to be. Math and physics are definitely one of my passions but recently I’ve been on a biology thing.
My orthopedic surgeon has told me that I can come be in the OR at any time if I want. So at some point in time I think I’m going to try that out, to see if being an orthopedic surgeon is something I’d like to do because I obviously have a huge interest in the body because it’s so important. And something like surgery would have some of that same adrenaline rush as competing, which is something that I’ve been thinking physics might not have. I don’t have to decide what I want to do after skiing for quite awhile, so I’m slowing trekking away at this bachelor’s degree and I’ll make commitments later on.