Reaching for a new Hight |

Reaching for a new Hight

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Summit County, Colorado

In halfpipe snowboarding, age doesn’t exactly mean the same thing as in other sports. For instance, a rider could be 20 years old and already have made a seven-year impact on their sport.

That’s exactly the case with Elena Hight, who at the age of 13 became the first-ever female rider to land a 900 in competition.

Over the past seven years, Hight has helped take her sport to new heights.

“Really in the last five years, women’s snowboarding has made huge jump in terms of tricks, amplitude and the way we push our sport,” Hight said. “Now a 900 is standard (for women), and we need to push to 1080s and different things like that you see the guys doing.”

Hight has been a big part of that. As a 16-year-old, Hight qualified for the 2006 Olympics in Torino, where she finished in sixth place.

At 20, Hight is hoping another Olympic trip is in the cards.

“Going to Torino was an amazing experience,” she said. “It would be amazing to do that again.”

A plane ticket to Vancouver, though, certainly isn’t guaranteed for the Toyota Team member.

Only four American women will qualify for the 2010 Olympics based on country limits imposed by the Games. And with the vast majority of the world’s top riders being from the U.S., the competition to get on this year’s team is, to say the least, fierce.

“There are so many talented snowboarders, it’s crazy,” Hight said. “To be able to go for the U.S. team – that’s a feat in itself.”

And that’s Hight’s ultimate goal this season, although the Lake Tahoe resident isn’t narrowing her sights on just one thing.

“For me going into this season, I’m going to compete in a lot of events,” she said. “And the majority of those are all before the Olympics. I just want to make sure that I stay healthy and have fun doing it.”

Apart for the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix series, which holds the official qualifying for the Olympic team, Hight will compete in the Dew Tour stops and the X Games.

Although Hight said the Dew Tour won’t have the same significance of the Grand Prix or the Olympics, she said the event has proven to be one of the best on the competitive schedule.

“The Dew Tour is definitely a big contest,” she said. “As far as where they all rank, it’s definitely proven itself. It brings out a lot of awesome riders.”

More importantly, though, Hight sees the Dew Tour as one of the best ways her sport can grow.

“It’s a progressive competition,” she said. “That helps the sport, because we’re a progressive sport. Events like this give us the exposure and help other people see what it’s all about.”

Being progressive is certainly something that Hight knows a lot about.

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