It didn’t take long for Cheryl to adjust, proven by her inaugural TTR World Tour Championship in 2005/06 and Olympic berth in the 2006 Torino Games. Since then she has consistently placed in the top five TTR rankings—the next year she finished at World No. 3, with a 2nd place podium finish at the 6Star Roxy Chicken Jam Slopestyle in Kaprun, followed by a first place win at the same event in 2007. After claiming World No. 4 during the 2008/09 season, Cheryl moved away from competition to focus more on filming, and spent some time filming with YEAH! Productions and the Nitro team working on a video part. This was followed up by last winter’s “Open Air” Web Series, which earned Cheryl a nomination at the 2012 Transworld Riders’ Poll Awards for Women’s Video Part Of The Year. We caught up with Cheryl to see what her plans for this winter are, and to remind you to enter the Rockstar Pink Cheryl Maas Giveaway for a chance to win free gear from all of her sponsors!
You had an unusual start at snowboarding – where exactly are you from?
I’m from Holland, from a small town called Uden. That’s where I grew up snowboarding, on a dry slope. It was really fun; it was kinda more like skateboarding. Slowly when I got older, I got to go to the snow. And I started riding a lot in Mayrhofen, Austria and that kind of became my home resort, even though it’s far away from where I live. Now I live in France at the moment, but every year I still go back to Austria to start my training.
What was the dry slope like to learn to ride on?
It’s pure plastic; it’s got the hard big brushes, it’s not like the new stuff. And we had some jumps in there and stuff. But I was skiing before – I had to learn to ski on the dry slope to go on holiday with my family when I was really young, I started there when I was like seven years old. So I started skiing on the winter holidays, and we discovered that there was snowboarding when we saw some other people do it. Then it kind of came to the dry slope as well, they started having rentals board there and when I tried it out, I really just loved the whole idea of it. How creative you could be snowboarding, like all the freestyle stuff that wasn’t there back in the day with skiing, it really made me want to do it.
So when did you get to actually spend some time on the snow?
When I was 17 and finished school that’s when I went for a full season to Austria. That’s where I started growing into the snowboard scene.
And you started competing pretty much right away...
Yeah I started competing already in Holland, when I was like 14 I did my first Dutch championships, and I got second. There were only two girls doing it, so I kinda got last, but then again it was still a second. So I thought, “I know I can make it one spot higher and be first!” So I was really wanted to get that first spot and start winning those, and then I got some interest from the Dutch snowboard reps. They helped me out.
The dry slope is popular in Holland?
It’s popular when you have one in your town, but it’s popular for people to come from all over. It became more of the indoor snowboard domes. That got really popular in Holland; everybody goes there. There are five or six of them. Dutch people love to go on winter holidays, and they all go practice there. It’s grown fast.
Do you get spend a lot of time back home?
No, not anymore. Maybe when I go home… I’ll have a go on the dry slope? It’s all good, just for fun! My sister still rides there and my brother still goes there sometimes.
What’s your favorite part about competing… is that still your main focus?
I always loved filming the most, but to wait to make it into the international scene it was easier for a girl to do some competitions. I’ve always been filming with Dutch crews and made Dutch snowboard videos, then I got to film in some international ones like Yeah Productions, and that was really fun. Did the contest on the side to stay in the media and stuff. Last year I did a full webisode series, which I’m really stoked on; I was pure focused on filming and had such a great season, I really enjoyed that. Hopefully this year I will film it again, that gives me the most joy.
But you do still compete quite a bit?
It’s just like, “Why not, if the contests are there, you know?” It’s fun, everybody goes there, and it’s always good jumps and parks built for the contest so it’s really fun to ride. And if you get a good result, it’s a really nice feeling.
And a nice check too. But you feel more progression happens…
For me it happens more when I’m filming or just riding with friends, rather than in the contest.
Who do you like to ride with?
Pretty much everybody. I really like to ride with guys and at the moment I’ve been riding a lot with Aimee Fuller, a young up-and-coming snowboarder from England. She’s so motivated and has so much energy, it’s really fun to go riding with her. I like it when people are really motivated about snowboarding.
So tell us about your web series, “Open Air”.
Everybody supported it: Volcom, Nitro, Vans, Nixon and Electric. I just got my own camera guy and we came up with this idea to film me where I started snowboarding from, so you can see how I ride on the dry slope. And then really wanted it good in the backcountry, because I never got to do a lot of jumps in the backcountry. It’s kind of new for me, so I just put it all out there and it was good fun. I was really stoked. Volcom made their own website for me for that part, and then I promoted it on my stuff and all my other sponsors put it out there as well. OnBoard specially put it out for me, and Snowboarder Magazine in the US.
Is that something you’re doing again?
Sadly, not. I didn’t want to do the exactly the same thing, it would have been possible, but I don’t think it would have been creative enough to just show the same. And then I thought about doing some other things, but somehow they fell through, didn’t happen. It’s quite a lot of effort to make it happen when you’re in charge yourself, so I’m just going to try to focus on a normal video part and go from there. Nitro is going to make a new team movie, so I’ll probably end up filming with them.
Where do you prefer to ride: in Europe or in The States?
In the US I love to go in the backcountry, because of the access with sleds. I love to go sledding around as well. It’s amazing! It’s a bit easier access in the US with backcountry, and the parks are always in better shape, but I love to be in Europe as well. The people and all the different cultures, I really like that.
What’s your favorite place in the US?
I had a great time in Jackson Hole, I think that was amazing! There are really good spots there. Silverton is really nice in Colorado. And for parks, Breckenridge is amazing. Keystone and Mammoth as well for parks. I really want to go back to Jackson Hole, I had the best time ever there. Just want to go sledding around. It’s so big, and someone showed the right spots, and that’s what you need.
There are so many people riding now… Do you think it’s easier for a girl to break into the scene now than it was for you, and what advice would you give to a young girl who wants to be a professional snowboarder?
Well I was from Holland anyway, so it was a bit hard for me to ride good parks and stuff, but you see now they are everywhere. Perfect parks with little jumps, medium jumps, big jumps… you can really build it up, so I think that’s great for the sport in general to progress. Because there are more girls riding now, it’s pushing everyone to ride more and better, so that’s great as well. In one way, it’s easier and there is more support, but you also have to step it up more to get known. You can’t just do 360s anymore, or 540, you’re going to have to do more than that.
My advice to anyone would be to train hard, in the gym as well… I’ve not done that so much, but I think it’s very important to keep your body strong and fit. And then really keep the fun in snowboarding. I think when you start to think too much of it as a job or you have too high goals… for me it never worked. The more fun I have, the better I progress, and I want to do things. You do it for yourself, so keep the fun in it and you’ll get there.
To see some photos and videos of Cheryl, go to her website www.cherylmaas.com, and check out the Rockstar Pink Gear Giveaway on facebook!