How did it all begin for one of the UK's finest freeskiers? Hannah Engelkamp continues her chat with Beanie De Le Rue by looking back to the early days and competing all around the world.So now we've been introduced to Beanie (in case you missed it here is the link), how did it all start for one of the UK's best freeskiers?
How did it all begin for one of the UK's finest freeskiers? Hannah Engelkamp continues her chat with Beanie De Le Rue by looking back to the early days and competing all around the world.
So now we've been introduced to Beanie (in case you missed it here is the link), how did it all start for one of the UK's best freeskiers?
(HE) That time in Laax - didn't it turn out that you'd broken your tibia?
(BDLR) Ha. No, they thought I might have fractured my femur but in the end it was totally fine. It was good prize money - I wasn't going to miss the chance with my one trick wonder... the 180! I blew my ACL at the Brits another time; I rarely left Laax not on crutches!
How did you get started as a skier? Was it on the windy hills of Scotland?
It sure was, I grew up skiing in Scotland, mainly at Glenshee, where I spent my first winter instructing after I left school. I loved it at the time but I'm not sure I would be able to hack it now - way too much wind and ice!
So you used to compete as a freeskier. Can you give us a little run-down of your biggest wins and favourite moments?
I did a bit of everything really. It was a small community then, so you would give everything a go, from slopestyle to freeride. My highlights are the NZ Freeski Open finals as they were heli-accessed and I knew the other three girls in the finals with me so we just got to have a pretty amazing day on the back of the Remarkables. I ended up second to the excellent (Kiwi) Janina Kuzma. One of the first competitions I ever did was "It's a Girl Thing" by the magazine Dark Summer. I had no idea about the UK scene but went to see what this comp was like, and was stoked to end up going to Switzerland with skiers Becky Hammond and Lorna Carmichael. We had such a funny trip and they introduced me to the whole "scene" and they are still friends today. I have to say that trip kind of ruined me though, as we were totally looked after and all expenses paid. It gave me a very warped idea of what the ski industry was like - I never got so well looked after again.
Any particular lows? Injuries, missed opportunities, bad snow seasons etc?
I did pretty well to avoid injuries for the first few years but then I had a run of them with a surgery every year, two ACLs and a hip. That kind of put an end to it all, but no regrets as I had a lot of fun, got to travel and met great people.
Big mountain or park - what's your preference, then and now? Do you still compete?
I don't compete any more and am very happy to just enjoy skiing for fun – I love having no pressure to succeed or improve. In regards to a preference, I loved it all really and both help each other, but I definitely prefer big mountain. I am pretty terrible in the park now, but it is fun to go in and scare myself a couple of times a season. And I still love riding halfpipe.
How important was it to you to pit yourself against your peers? Did it get in the way of or enhance a love of the mountains?
In regards to competitions, they were a great excuse to go skiing, travel the world and meet loads of great people. I am more competitive against myself than others I think and I just liked being part of it all. When I started to put pressure on myself to do well it stopped being fun and then I stopped improving.
It's a not-very-snowy-or-mountainous country, so what is so good about the British ski scene?
The people. Everyone is united by their love of skiing even though everyone has grown up skiing pretty rubbish stuff. We all consider ourselves very lucky to find a way of living in the "real" mountains and that binds us together; it is a great community.
Were the naughties the decade of freeskiing?
That is when it really took off in the UK, when all the Sheffield groms were old enough to travel and go to the mountains and make an impact beyond the UK scene. I was just part of something that was evolving at that time.
Were you living the dream, travelling the world, skiing all over the place? Or was it hard, poor, rootless, competitive?
I was definitely living the dream. I would go winter to winter - which I can't say is my idea of a dream now having discovered summer! But I travelled to so many places, met so many good people and competition was my excuse to do it all. I moved between Verbier or Whistler (in the northern hemisphere winter) and Wanaka, New Zealand (in the southern hemisphere winter). Now I live in Verbier full-time, although I spend a good portion of my summers by the beach in Capbreton, the southwest of France. I lived in some pretty basic places - I have called two garages home! - but I wouldn't change it as I have some funny stories from life at that time.
What else did you get up to?
Originally I was an instructor, but after I finished university I was able to stop that and work doing sports massage and teaching pilates in the evening after skiing, which helped me to pay my way. I also did the chalet girl thing, kind of. Camilla (Rutherford, the ski photographer) and I looked after the British army for six weeks in Verbier in exchange for our garage for the winter. All the squaddies were really lovely. Not very keen on vegetables though... Instructing, massage, pilates, working in cafes, random odd jobs: it paid for the winters but only just. But then that is all I needed.
Read on by clicking here to find out what Beanie is up to now.