Dirty Girl pro snowboarder Megan Pischke can’t wait to roll in the mud at Copper (video)
At this point in her life, Megan Pischke thought she’d been through just about everything the outdoors had in store: early slopestyle courses at Winter X Games, bottomless powder stashes in British Columbia, mountaintop yoga at sunrise in Vail, 12-foot swells off the coast of California, trail running (and an ensuing quad injury) near her current home in Squamish, BC.
But wallowing in the mud at Copper Mountain with her sisters, cousin and hundreds of fellow breast cancer survivors? This one’s going to be brand-new territory.
“We’re totally thrilled,” said Pischke, a pro snowboarder of nearly 20 years who now works for the California-based nonprofit Boarding for Breast Cancer with fellow pros Torah Bright, Elena Hight, Hana Beaman and Shannon Dunn-Downing. “We don’t do stuff like this. We’re usually surf, skate, snowboard events — more action sports — but I’m really excited that this is something we’re doing now.”
On June 10, Pischke comes to Copper with a few family members for her very first Dirty Girl Mud Run, an annual 5K fun run held at the base of the mountain. The Colorado native learned to snowboard at Copper — she even ruptured her spleen there after running into a tree early in her pro career — but this will be her first experience running, crawling and laughing her way through a collection of a dozen obstacles, all slathered in a healthy coat of muck.
Well, sort of. Remember that trail-running quad injury? It happened in late May, less than a month before the Dirty Girl, and she was worried it would sideline her through the event. But, as luck would happen, her physical therapist gave her the thumbs up to walk the event — no obstacles, no muck running, but still plenty of laughter and inspiration. And, of course, dozens of photos for herself and Boarding for Breast Cancer, aka B4BC, which debuts this season as fundraising partner for the Copper Dirty Girl.
“Being outside and being with friends — having fun — is medicine to me,” Pischke said. “That’s one of our core beliefs: being outdoors in nature is medicine, and whether you’re out skiing or snowboarding, or even getting dirty, it’s so important. It totally made sense (to partner with Dirty Girl).”
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Back to CO
Now 44 years old, Pischke has traveled the world as a pro snowboarder, but she still claims Colorado as home. When she was growing up in the Vail area, she learned to ride at Copper and Arapahoe Basin while her dad was fire chief for the Lake Dillon Fire Rescue. She lived in the Vail area until her first child was born in 2006, when she moved with her husband, backcountry legend David Carrier Porcheron, to British Columbia.
In the late ‘90s, when her time on the competition circuit was peaking, she discovered B4BC through a few fellow pros. The nonprofit’s inaugural event was held in 1996, and ever since then Pischke and her peers have been hosting snowboard, skateboard and surf events for breast cancer survivors. These events range from intimate to massive — they’ve had performances by everyone from the Beastie Boys to the Foo Fighters — and Pischke loves the energy participants bring to such dire diagnoses.
“The best means for prevention are being active and healthy and living a sustainable lifestyle, and by being action athletes — we’re snowboarders and surfers — we can reach girls at a young age,” Pischke said. She often left B4BC retreats and events feeling energized and inspired, but she never quite understood the pain of living with cancer.
“I never pretended to know what they needed to heal — it was just information. I wanted to share that information and I wanted to learn at the same time, and through it I met so many women of all ages who survived traumatic, life-changing moments.
Until 2012. Soon after her second child was born at 40 years old, Pischke knew something felt… off. At first she chalked it up to childbirth, but when symptoms like fatigue and illness didn’t fade, she went to the doctor and was hit with a bombshell: early-stage breast cancer. Through a mixture of chemotherapy, outdoor rehab and seemingly odd choices like saying “no” to social media and other distractions, she recovered and is now in remission.
“I learned things about myself, about a lot of things, and I’m just so grateful I can be here and see through those eyes,” Pischke said. “I can now do more for these women at our retreats. Once you’re done with your treatment, there is a lot of unraveling that happens. People can be depressed or anxious, and there isn’t always a lot of support for the time after.”
That’s where an event like Dirty Girl comes in. It gives breast cancer survivors, friends and supporters a way to mingle, connect and do something other than worry about cancer, and Pischke can’t wait to get some second-hand mud for the cause.
“I’m right on the cusp of a big, fat ‘maybe’ to walk the course, so I can’t have any quick movements,” Pischke said. “I might just be the cheerleader and smear mud all over myself.”
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