While on a family ski trip in Breckenridge, Colorado, as a youngster, Hayley Houston remembers spotting a sign for snowboard lessons. However, she wasn’t yet age 7, which is how old kids needed to be to partake in the sport.
Two years later, she got her wish: snowboard lessons as her seventh birthday present.
“And more comfortable boots,” Houston, now a 15-year-old Inglemoor High freshman, said with a laugh.
Since she was already a good skier, snowboarding “just kind of came pretty easy to me,” she added.
When she hit the competition circuit, victories soon came pouring in for Houston, who won the age 12-14 female event at the 2018 North American Junior Freeride Championship that took place April 11-14 at Snowbird, Utah. In the invitation-only competition, she notched the overall North American championship in her division.
Houston — who also won the 12-14 North American title in 2016 — was stoked to finish 9-0 this season in International Freeskiers & Snowboard Association events. She is sponsored by Stevens Pass Mountain Resort and Sisters in Action Sports and is a member of the youth Olympic Freeride Team.
On her recent victory, Houston noted: “That was pretty exciting. I took the pretty technical lines and that’s what set me apart from the other competitors. It was a pretty fluid run.”
Freeride courses feature those lines that Houston noted and a couple of drops, and competitors are judged on their performances. The athletes boarded in foggy conditions at Snowbird and there were points when they couldn’t see more than five feet in front of themselves, said Houston, noting that it snowed the night before and that made the course easier to handle.
Houston, who is the only snowboarder in her family, said the sport can be tough and she’s always focused on improving her skills and riding her best.
“The sport is super awesome and everyone involved with it is great,” said Houston, who enjoys watching pros like Travis Rice and Jeremy Jones do their thing. Someday, she’d like to represent the United States on the Freeride World Tour.
When she’s not snowboarding, Houston plays soccer and is currently a member of the Inglemoor track and field team. She’s ranked 18th in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles in 4A KingCo with personal bests of 18.62 and 54.87, respectively.