32 Degrees: PROspective with Brenna Huckaby
View this article, by AASI Snowboard Team member Brennan Metzler, in the Fall 2020 issue of 32 Degrees on page 24.
PROspective asks professional athletes about skiing, snowboarding, learning, and their careers to give instructors insight into different aspects of the snowsports industry.
Brenna Huckaby – a multiple world champion and Paralympic Gold Medalist snowboarder and the first amputee featured in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue – says “My body is the least interesting thing about me.”
An avid gymnast, Brenna was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 14, resulting in the amputation of her right leg. In the decade that has followed, she’s developed into the world’s top Paralympic banked slalom and boardercross athlete, became a mother of two, received an ESPY Award in the Best Female with a Disability category, posed for SI’s Swimsuit Issue, and emerged as a strong vocal advocate for the adaptive sports community.
Here, AASI Snowboard Team Member Brennan Metzler talks with Brenna about her history and relationship with snowboarding, how she balances motherhood and a full-time snowsports career, and what it’s like to be coached by legend and former AASI Team coach Lane Clegg (who happens to be her father-in-law).
Tell me about the first time you went snowboarding.
The year that I lost my leg (2010), my hospital took a ski trip to Park City, Utah. I went out with an instructor at the National Ability Center, Tera Adams [who was profiled in the Fall 19 issue of 32 Degrees]. She made snowboarding so fun, and I loved it. Tera treated me as a whole person 100% of the time. Snowboarding was the first post-amputation activity I found that provided me with the mental and physical challenge that I craved.
Your love for snowboarding motivated a move from Louisiana to Utah in high school. How have you managed this love for snowboarding as it evolved into a full-time career?
The last few years, riding has been harder. I felt burnt out. My most recent maternity leave reminded me that snowboarding is fun. I mean, I’m riding a piece of wood down a mountain! It’s not easy to stay in love with snowboarding, but I have to remember that, no matter what, snowboarding is so fun.
You’ve credited coaches for having a major impact on your progression and evolution as an athlete. What did your coaches do for you and your training?
I’m pretty body aware from my years of gymnastics, but I need my coaches to tell me what my snowboard is doing and connect me to what it should be doing. Having them tell me, “Look, this is what you need to do,” allows me to go out, train, and progress.