We asked the Swiss Olympic competitor about riding since ’94 and how far women have come in the snowboarding scene.
Sina Candrian is one of those people whose accomplishments and reputation are matched by an irresistible personality. The 27 year old Swiss snowboarder has made her mark with a snowboarding style that’s clean, stylish and playful – which recently let her win 4th place at the slopestyle competition in Sochi – but also with her positive outlook. She’s always the one smiling at people, genuinely asking about personal lives and keeping things honest and sincere in a time when the question “how are you” is more part of a convenient behaviour than a sign of sincerity.
Sina is the reason my publication Reverse Mag exists, and why I’m sitting today at my computer writing about great people living their dreams. In my eyes, Sina is one of them—so I decided to catch up with her about women in skateboarding, getting over injuries and the things she’s learned both as a snowboarder and 27 year old.
Hi Sina. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Sina Candrian. I’m 27 years old, born and living in Flims, Switzerland. I grew up in this village and still love to spend most of my time here. I’m a professional snowboarder, but between competitions and winter seasons I’m studying to be a teacher, which I will hopefully finish in spring 2017.
You were one of the first girls in the Flims & Laax snowboarding scene. Can you tell us how it started for you?
Was I really one of the first? I think there’s a lot of older girls who really killed it snowboarding. And I’m just an old snowboard girl now. I learned to snowboard when I was five years old; my dad had tried it out, and I got super stoked to see him riding a board, so I asked my mum if I could try it as well. Behind our little cottage – up in Foppa, an area of the Laax resort – I started to do my first curves and bails on a snowboard. It was really frustrating; I remember crying because I never could get up the whole way at the t-bar. It was a bummer in the beginning, but I never stopped. I think it was like this love-hate relationship, but in the end it turned out to be love-love!
Did it affect you, being one of the only girls in the squad?
In the beginning it was hard to be one of the only girls. When I was riding races I was the only chick, and the guys were three years older than me. But they helped me a lot, and we had an amazing crew; we weren’t good, but we were riding because we loved it! After a while I changed to freestyle and got in touch with many other guys who helped push me. The good thing is that you always get pushed by men. The hard thing is that guys normally don’t understand all the different kinds of problems girls can have. Anyway, I can say that I had a great time with the guys in the sport scene. I was lucky to be able to attend a normal school, so I had many girl-moments back at home! I had a really great childhood and I wouldn’t change anything!
Can we say that today more women have joined the scene, or is there still space for improvement?
Yes, I would say so! I’m really grateful that we can join almost every contest, and we have almost the same prize money. Maybe it’s harder to get a good sponsor deal as a girl—especially in Europe, it’s hard to find a sponsor who pays you well enough. But most guys have that same problem.
How can we balance men and women in snowboarding even more?
It’s really hard to say. There are a lot of sport schools which push both girls and guys. The Swiss Snowboard team has a female coach, and she is amazing and helps the girls improve a lot. I think every country should have at least one female coach! It would be good for the girls and sometimes for the guys as well. Women can explain things differently and from different angles, which could trigger a breakthrough in someone’s learning path. A mix between male and female coaches would be the best for teaching both guys and girls.
Now, about you again. You’ve traveled a lot; where is your favourite place in the world?
Yes, I’m so lucky I could travel around the world and experience so many different cultures. It’s taught me so much.
Asia is very interesting and sometimes hard to understand. As a vegan, I love the food over there! Last winter I was in China. At first I thought it was going to be a bad trip, but in the end it was really interesting and I would like to go back there and see more – it’s such a special country.
A long time ago we travelled to Japan for the Nippon Open and a World Cup. Between the contests we had a four-day gap, so we went to Kyoto to spend the days there. We went shopping and visited a bunch of temples; it was a great experience.
There are so many beautiful places I’ve visited. Last summer I traveled to Sri Lanka, which is also something totally different. I was also in Brazil and met so many wonderful people there… I think my list of destinations is too long for this interview. So, back to the question: I would pick my hometown. It sounds boring, but I was born here; I belong to these mountains, lakes, friends and my family.
Other than snowboarding, what other passions influenced you growing up?
I turned pro when I was a school kid, just fifteen years old. Since then, I’ve travelled around the world. When I was younger, my interests were fully focused on snowboarding, and in my free time I had to work on school stuff. Of course, life is not only about sports and medals. Getting older, I realized there are many other things life has to offer; I love to cook healthy food and would love to have my own garden. I like to do different sports in addition to board sports, like beach volleyball, biking and tennis.
One of my big passions is photography: I love to capture landscapes, it’s really satisfying to me. I’ve started to paint a bit with one of my school friends, too; it’s not a big deal, but it’s a really nice, chill activity.
You’re no longer a teenager, like a lot of the newbies in snowboarding are. What’s it like to still compete? How do you envision your future in competition?
This question is really hard to answer. Yes, I still compete; I still have fun standing on top of a nicely shaped course and always try to give it my best. And it’s always nice to see all my friends at competitions all around the world. On the other hand, I realize I am older: my body needs to rest longer and new tricks aren’t as easy to learn. I’m trying to attend the next Olympics in 2018, but after that, I don’t know. One of my career goals is to film a nice edit, which would mostly be based in the backcountry, with some special sunset shots on a nice jump and maybe some pipe-riding… Just to combine everything that I love about snowboarding.
You were just injured, and the older you get, the harder it is and longer it takes to get back from a bail. What happened and how did you deal with it?
I crashed while biking. It was wet and the visibility wasn’t great. I fell pretty hard and my knee landed on a stone, causing a bone bruise and something at the meniscus. I had to spend three weeks on crutches, three more weeks with some easy training and then two weeks of intense training to get back on snow.
For sure, it does take longer to heal, and I have to be more patient and wait longer before going back on the board ’til I can be 100% sure everything is ok! As I mentioned before, it isn’t as hard to be injured now than it was when I was a kid. Nowadays I just do other kinds of activities, which make me happy as well!
Why action sports instead of chilling on the beaches?
Because as an action sport athlete you can do both! Action sports in wintertime and some relaxing moments at the beach in the summer!