The Limelight: Summer Fenton
Summer Fenton is first to admit that she was once a weekend warrior.
For most of her life, the bubbly Cali native lived about a block away from Ocean Beach in San Francisco, where the nearest ski hill was three-and-a-half hours inland at North Lake Tahoe. She grew up surfing and dancing — “I wasn’t super into your regular school sports,” she says — and lived the life of a coastal kid, with sand castles and skateboarding and plenty of sunshine.
But distance couldn’t stand between Fenton and curiosity. Her dad was a mountain junkie — the sort of guy who regularly made a seven-hour drive from the Bay Area to Tahoe and back — and so, when she was about 4 years old, she begged him to take her for a snowboard lesson.
A single lesson later, and she was hooked for life — an epiphany at 4 years old.
“I knew it was love at first ride,” the 21-year-old says. “It is just so much fun. There is just something so freeing about riding. It literally puts the biggest smile on my face because every time I learn or land a new trick, it is so rewarding.”
Fenton has hardly looked back since her childhood epiphany in Tahoe. It’s when she met Scott Harris — a mentor who’s still a major part of her life on the snow — and when she converted from weekend warrior to pro-in-the-making.
“Snowboarding makes me so happy, and I can’t imagine what life would be without it,” she says. “I sometimes can’t go to sleep the night before because I have so much excitement and anticipation to go ride.”
Over the past few seasons, she has been turning her passion into a career. It began with a move from San Fran to Breckenridge, where she spends summer and fall with dozens of up-and-coming pros before traveling non-stop from December to March. Does the grueling schedule wear her down? Hardly.
“I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the most part… I’ve been traveling a lot and competing around the globe, which has been some amazing experiences and good times,” she says. “The adrenaline rush and feelings I get from competing, learning and landing new tricks makes me so stoked that there was no way I was stopping.”
It’s been a long, hard road, but she’s slowly finding her stride on the competition circuit, earning attention from sponsors Nikita, Zeal Optics, Nixon and Yea.Nice along the way. She’s a halfpipe specialist with several podium finishes under her belt, including second place at the Copper Revolution Tour in December and third at the Mammoth Mountain Rev Tour in January. She now sits at seventh overall on the World Snowboard Tour points list and is preparing for her biggest comp of the spring: the Burton U.S. Open in Vail, held Feb. 29 to March 5. She missed the cut for finals at Dew Tour (the other big-name event on her schedule this year), but it hardly put a damper on the season.
“My season has been going pretty good,” she says. “It’s had its ups and downs, but it’s been one heck of a ride. It has been filled with opportunities to grow, accept and learn.”
And now, with the USO just a few weeks away, learning is the name of the game. She already has a pitch-perfect Crippler 720 and backside 540 with a double tail-grab, and she’s working on more amplitude with her cab 720s. Her white whale: a 900 “because I’m scared to deck,” she says.
It’s a legitimate worry, especially in the days of back-to-back 900s and inverts, but it won’t scare her away from the pipe. The 2018 Winter Olympics are on her mind, and, to make the cut, she’ll need to finish this season strong, with clean runs at the USO and the World Championships of Snowboarding in China from March 9-16.
“Every time I am on a snowboard, I’m in an unreal state of euphoria, peace, presence and excitement that drives me to keep snowboarding, over and over again,” she says. “Can’t stop, won’t stop.”
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