I had the chance to connect with Angelica Sykes, a young but hugely talented British Pro Freeride Snowboarder. With already lots of competition experience under your belt, she has tons of energy. When she is not competing with the best snowboarders of her category, she practises Yoga, reaches sponsors, works hard to develop her digital marketing startup and she even finds time to empower girls who want to follow her lead. I couldn’t let her leave the room without an interview. Read on and discover a passionate young athlete with plenty of ambitions.
1. Hi Angelica, can you tell us more about you, who’s the chick behind the goggles ?
Hey, I’m Angelica. I’m 24 and I am from the best city ever, Leeds. I am a deep lover of backcountry riding, fine wine and dogs. As a young girl, I was bullied badly through primary and high school and it is what pushed me to escape to the Alps. So, I grew up skiing from a young age in the Italian Alps; my mother is Italian. As I grew up, it gave me a sense of euphoria and freedom.
2. How did you get into the sport as a freeride snowboarder and how have you managed your life between competitions and work ?
It’s tough… throughout the Summer you literally have to “bust your balls” for what you want to a better term. I work like crazy in the summer which in itself makes me feel like a strong independent empowered women, I like my job in digital marketing, the private clients and it allows we to travel and expand my horizons while working remotely. So I don’t mind the 7 days, 11 hours a day grind but it does take its toll and sometimes. I have to stop and check in with a little self-care (which I get through training). But that means in the winters I can reduce my hours and focus on competing and filming. Which is why I work so hard.
I am also empowering more women to try freeriding at the helm of my “brand”. You won’t find me in a bikini on my IG but hopefully, you will get plenty of inspiration.
3. What is it to be a female snowboader and how do stand out of the crowd ?
That’s a tough one! (laughter). There is a paradoxical issue – there is not enough women promoting snowsports among young females and also too many girls just showing the same thing. Too much rehashed content over and over on social media like summer bikini shots, talking about how awesome life. Too little words about the hard work that goes in and the research and commitment it takes to be a conciseness big mountain rider. I have prioritised safe freeriding. I am also empowering more women to try freeriding at the helm of my “brand”. You won’t find me in a bikini on my IG but hopefully, you will get plenty of inspiration.
4. How do you handle the pressure of competitions ?
I don’t. I won’t lie and pretend it doesn’t affect me. It really does. I have truly never felt nerves like that of the start gate jitters. Particularly when I competed in Japan. I think that the fact I travelled so far for the competition there was so much more on it. But my sponsors are so supportive, I influencing more girls to try is enough. That is what helps soothe my nerves. At the end of the day, I think you should only really be riding to please yourself.
5. Do you have a “killer mindset” while competing? What’s happening in your head…
No, absolutely not. Many may be surprised to know, the environment doesn’t demand it either. Everyone is very supportive. A bit controversial to say, but I can feel the competitive edge among the men in the ski category. But for the snowboard women, we are just so stoked to be involved at all. I think it’s because our category is the smallest. Among the skier girls everyone has a somewhat similar feeling – “yayyyy, more girls doing badass things on the mountain and pushing themselves”. We cheer like crazy at the start gate and finish!
6. What advice would you give to young female athletes who want to get into the sport?
SAFETY FIRST! It’s my one bugbear when people just fly off the side of the hill with a sense of reckless abandon, no equipment and no idea where they are going. Grab your ski pass, get a transceiver, shovel and probe as a minimum and then do (at the very least) an online intro to avalanche rescue course. Ride with people more experienced, ride with people you trust and then go for it.
Girls should support other gals so pass on the knowledge as you go, make the industry more inclusive and supportive of talent and desire to improve.
7. Do you still dream about Alaska? What is your drive today?
YAS! I cannot wait for this winter as I will finally make it to the States. I will go from the West to East coast with my sponsors. I will also visit dream destinations like Whitefish MT, all the way to Colorado. Hopefully I could make it up to Alaska… but let’s see what the winter brings. I don’t have any firm plans. This is the first time I haven’t had a full plan. I am going with the flow. Seeing what awesome opportunities come my way!