From the ashes: Local snowboarder rises to the top of big mountain snowboard ranks months after losing family home in fire |

From the ashes: Local snowboarder rises to the top of big mountain snowboard ranks months after losing family home in fire

Tricia Hyon/Courtesy photo
Emma Hyon smiles for a photo while competing at Big Sky Ski Resort in Montana for a big mountain snowboarding competition. Despite losing her family's home in a house fire, Hyon has steadily risen up in the big mountain snowboard ranks throughout the 2022-23 season.
Tricia Hyon/Courtesy photo

Fifteen months ago, Emma Hyon stood at the base of her childhood home looking at the smoldering frame and foundation of a structure that used to resemble her family’s home in Breckenridge. 

Hyon had been out enjoying the conditions on the mountain with her snowboard when she received the stomach-dropping call from her mother, Tricia. 

“I was out on the mountain and my mom called me and told me what happened,” Hyon said. “I was pretty shocked at the time. I never really thought that would happen to my house.”

According to Tricia Hyon, even though the temperatures never reached above freezing on Jan. 5, 2022, strong wind gusts helped to feed the electrical house fire. The wind helped the fire burn for well over seven hours while Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District firefighters and fire chief Drew Hoehn tried to keep the blaze under control.

By the time the fire was completely put out, Emma’s room was painted in a thick layer of burnt ash, her bed was burned down to the metal frame and the Hyons’ house was completely lost.

Along with losing her childhood home, Emma Hyon also lost a good majority of her snowboarding gear, which she needed in order to continue to train as a big mountain snowboard athlete for Team Summit. 

She had learned how to snowboard a few years prior and developed a passion for it, so Emma Hyon began a mission to push past her family’s unfortunate circumstances and move to the top of her big mountain snowboarding competitions.

Tricia Hyon/Courtesy photo
A photo of the Hyon family house fire on Jan. 5, 2022.
Tricia Hyon/Courtesy photo

A skier turned snowboarder 

Unlike most competitive big mountain snowboarders, Emma Hyon started out as a skier. She says she learned how to ski when she was one year old from her father, who is a ski instructor.

“I was skiing at the age of 1,” Emma Hyon said. “I haven’t been snowboarding for too long. My dad is a ski instructor so he had me on skis from a very young age. He said I could try snowboarding when I could ski all the terrain on the mountain at Breckenridge.”

Emma Hyon continued to progress as a skier and was close to being able to ski all the terrain at Breckenridge Ski Resort when she had an a major knee injury while she was in sixth grade.

“I had a knee injury where a tendon pulled a chunk of bone off the back of my knee,” Emma Hyon said. “They said I couldn’t ski for the rest of that season, but I wanted to stay out on the mountain so I took that opportunity to switch to snowboarding.”

Tricia Hyon/Courtesy photo
Emma Hyon said she started learning to ski for the first time when she was around 1 year old. Hyon stuck with skiing for several years until a knee injury turned her towards snowboarding.
Tricia Hyon/Courtesy photo

After the knee injury, Emma Hyon did not look back once to the sport of skiing. She said she picked things up quickly because of her prior experience with skateboarding and surfing.

Only one season later, she made her debut in a big mountain snowboarding competition. After being a terrain park skier for Team Breckenridge Sports Club, Emma Hyon said felt drawn to big mountain snowboarding because of the extreme terrain and the feeling it gave her on the board.

“Once I got into snowboarding I realized it was a lot more fun (than park and pipe) on a snowboard for me,” Emma Hyon said. 

She spent her first few seasons on the big mountain snowboarding circuit adjusting to new techniques and a new competition circuit, but she morphed into a competitive big mountain snowboarder in a matter of a few seasons. 

Rising from the ashes 

After fire, Emma did not have the right gear to compete in big mountain snowboard competitions so she sought out local snowboard and ski shops to try to get back the gear she lost.  

“I didn’t have what I would normally have for certain conditions,” she said. “I went around town to shops trying to get my gear back together.”

Tricia Hyon/Courtesy photo
Emma Hyon’s room after an electrical fire started on January 5, 2022.
Tricia Hyon/Courtesy photo

Besides trying to recoup her lost gear, she also struggled to balance snowboarding and her course load at Snowy Peaks High School in Frisco as she went through a difficult period after the fire.

One thing that gave her solace from the stress was being out on the mountain — her home away from home.

“Snowboarding has always been a really big help to my mental health and physically and everything,” Emma Hyon said, “Being out on the mountain has always made me feel better, and it’s my second home pretty much.”

With the proper gear and the initial shock of the house fire slowly fading away, she began her fourth season as a big mountain snowboarder at the beginning of the 2022-23 winter season.

Despite the craziness surrounding the now 16-year-old snowboarder, Emma Hyon had a breakthrough season. She consistently finished high in her competitions and racked up 3,048 points throughout the course of the season.

Emma Hyon is currently be ranked first for her age and gender class (15- to 18-year-old female) in the Rocky Mountain Region by the International Freeride Skiers and Snowboarders Association. Additionally, she is ranked second in North America for 15- to 18-year-old female riders. She is even currently ranked above Lila Yeoman, the 2023 World Junior Champion.

“I was able to find great coaches and a great team,” Emma said while she talked about her success. “My team has had the biggest impact. My coaches and everyone who has helped me out. I never thought or realized how much of a help everyone has been with everything.”

Emma continued her breakthrough season by competing at the prestigious North American Junior Freeride Championships at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Canada over the weekend. 

She competed in qualifiers on Friday with the hopes of finishing in the top three in the final on Saturday. 

In the seasons to come, Emma hopes to finish on the podium at future competitions and will strive to receive an invite to the Freeride World Tour as a junior rider.

“I am hoping to place top three at comps and hopefully make it to the Junior Freeride World Tour,” she said. “I don’t know if that is going to happen this year, but I hope it does. It would be incredible.”

Results from the weekend were not available as of the time of publication, but when they are posted, Emma Hyon’s final result will be available at

The Hyon family hopes to be back in their repaired Breckenridge home in October.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.