Cover Photo: Micah Emily Photography
Editors Note: ‘Powder Room’ is not just a fancy name for a restroom or a play on the white room, but a series highlighting the many badass females of our industry- whether they shred pow, slay the park, or dominate the media.
Born and raised in the flatlands of The Netherlands, Isabelle Hanssen has called them home her entire life. At age 12 (and yearly thereafter), she took a ski holiday with her family to Val Thorens in France, “That’s when I fell in love with skiing, it just felt natural to me, something with sliding on snow made me feel whole,” she told us. She began riding in snow domes back home with her sister where she was introduced to someone who told her about the Armada Freeski Project. It was there where she first dabbled in park skiing.
Now a halfpipe competitor, she wasn’t always drawn to the pipe, “I was really focused on rails for a long time, jumps never really were my thing,” Isabelle said. “In 2011 my friend Jenna and I decided to enter a Halfpipe contest as a joke, it seemed fun to mess around and try it out, without ever having been in a halfpipe.”
Years later, she's now an Olympic hopeful competing around the world to make a name for herself. We caught up last week to catch up on where she's at.
You tore your ACL last year- what was your rehab schedule like? What were some lessons you learned from the experience?
I’ve been through a lot of injuries and rehabs already, and it’s always the same lesson, everything happens for a reason but you are the one that has to make the reason, something good can come out of everything as long as you make that happen. I worked my ass off every day in the gym to get back as soon and as strong as possible. In the beginning, a lot of people were saying “You will come back stronger” and that made me very upset, how was I going to come back stronger? I tore my ACL for the 2nd time, but they were right, but I was the one in charge of that, I had to make that happen, and I did come back stronger because I worked for it.
What do you do when you’re not skiing? Any other secret talents or hobbies most people don’t know about?
Over the last few years, I’ve grown a passion for working out, fitness. It can be quite addicting to improve the weight you are lifting or to see your body change for the better. So I spend most of my days off snow in the gym. I’m also a very big BMX enthusiast, but no hidden talent there, I’d love to ride more and get better but as of right now It’s too risky for me and I don’t want to get injured doing anything outside of skiing, so, for now, I will admire from the sidelines. I’m also addicted to watching tv series... But who isn’t these days? Haha, nothing more relaxing than sitting in bed with a cup of tea after a day of skiing and gym.
What is your favorite part about competition skiing? Do you get nerves? How do you get over them?
I definitely get nerves! But I don’t get over them, I enjoy them, it’s the kind of excitement you never experience outside of competing. Standing in that start gate with your heart pumping and your run in your mind, then dropping in, landing your run, now that feeling is indescribable I have NEVER experienced any feeling that comes close to how amazing that feels.
The female ski scene gets a lot of controversial attention, what are your feelings on the state of women’s skiing? What can we do better to push women in skiing?
I have the honors to be out there every day with a lot of the amazing ladies in our sport. I see them work extremely hard, push themselves, hike all day to perfect that one thing on that one trick. I see these ladies sit on the couch in the evenings with their legs on a pillow, swollen knees, bruises everywhere, and they just get up the next day and do it all over again. People that have any comments about the ladies not pushing themselves hard enough to progress our sport should come and actually take a look at what we do to be out there every day. What I’ve learned over the last year while living with a lot of these amazing ladies is that the support for women in skiing is near to nothing. All of us have jobs, sell gear or do whatever we have to do to be able to go out and ski. To make it to all the important competitions. It’s like having 3 jobs just to be able to afford the competitive skiing lifestyle. So what needs to be improved within our community, is support for all hard working women. More budget for urban trips and filming projects. More support for individual athletes without a team, And more spots for ladies in big contests. If anyone has any comments about women's skiing, just think about what you can do to make it better. Instead of spreading negativity, offer support.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? What are your aspirations?
My main goal is to ski as much as possible, to reach my full potential and become the best skier I can be. One of my dreams is to compete at the Olympics, so I’m aiming for 2018, and I would love to also compete in 2022. Besides that, I really want to promote freestyle skiing in The Netherlands, to help the community grow and create more support for the skiers here. I hope to one day manage the Dutch Freeski team, and support them in a way that all they have to focus on is skiing.
Any thank you’s/ shoutouts?!
Obvious first shoutout to my family for supporting me in living this ridiculous lifestyle. A thank you to all the amazing companies that believe in me and support me, OVYO, Yuki Threads, POC, Liberty Skis, Daleboot, and Soundies. Thank you to everyone who sent me encouraging messages or comments during my rehab period, that meant the world to me. And last but not least a shout out to all the hard working ladies out there, keep killing it!
In case you missed last week's with Taylor Lundquist, check it out here!