By NAT HAWK
How many bones have you broken?
How many concussions have you had? How many ACLs have you blown? And how many surgeries have you had to have?
Imagine dealing with nine broken bones, six surgeries, four serious concussions and two blown ACLs.
That’s the injury track record of Hannah Trigger, a 27-year-old professional Australian snowboarder. She’s been on a snowboard since the age of six, and in that time, she’s had to deal with all of the above.
After that many injuries, most people would give up snowboarding and try something safer. Like lawn bowls. Or mini golf. Or pretty much anything that doesn’t involve launching yourself down a half-pipe that’s carved into the side of a mountain.
But giving up isn’t a phrase that exists in Hannah’s vocabulary. And she wasn’t going to stop until she got to the Olympics.
Happily, Hannah competed as part of the Australian team during the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. And that’s not the end of the snowboarding road for her – she has continued training throughout this year in order to dominate in as many competitions as possible.
In Australia, Hannah spends her time at Mount Hotham in Victoria; off-season, she heads to Breckenridge in Colorado.
Her average day looks a little like this: wake up, head up the mountain, and then spend the day hiking up the half-pipe to ride back down and practice her tricks.
I had a chat to Hannah to find out more about her life and about how she’s persisted through all those injuries to continue her snowboarding career. Here’s what she told me:
My dad’s really into surfing and he’s also really into the snow – so he got me into snowboarding as soon as we could find a board small enough. We went to Mount Hotham all the time. I actually skied first – I skied from when I was about three til six. And then I started boarding when I was six and there was no turning back!
When I started getting a bit older, Hotham ran all these competitions, every other weekend, and there were absolutely no girls competing – so I went in and won all the prizes! And that made me want to keep going even more. There were a few older girls that inspired me, such as Emily Thomas, who won every competition because she hit the massive jumps along with the guys.
I got onto the Australian development team when I was about 16 and a year after that, I got into the national team. I used to do a bit of a mix of everything – slopestyle, boarder cross – but now I just do the halfpipe. Some stuff is really scary, especially when you’re trying a big trick, and it is a dangerous sport. But if you want it bad enough, you’ll try it.
I really wanted to go to the Olympics. I couldn’t just sit and watch it on TV. After each injury, I just kept going because I knew that I could do it and I didn’t want to see other people take my sport. Even through all my injuries, I persisted with it.
The day I realised that I qualified for the Olympics, at the last World Cup qualifying event, was the best day of my life. Everything came together. I’d qualified without a team or a coach and I was unbelievably happy that day.
Everyone on the Australian Sochi team was so nice. Some of the other athletes are pretty famous and well-known but they were so nice to talk to. We’d all go out and watch the other people in competitions so that was cool – there was great camaraderie between athletes.
There are heaps of girls that have gotten into snowboarding now. So many young girls are coming through different programs. All the guys that I know are so encouraging – if they see you doing something cool, they’re stoked about it. I think media really helps with this – Torah Bright is all over the place now and she’s just signed with Thredbo.
If you want to do it, just keep persisting. Don’t give up. It’s not going to happen straight away. I’ve had so many years of injuries but I wanted it so much that I never gave up.
And I have nothing against skiers – some of my best friends are skiers! Once a year I even get on skis – I’ve got a ritual on Christmas Day where I swap with my friend in Colorado and she goes boarding and I go skiing.
It’s not all fun and games though! When I’m home, I work flat-out, six days a week at my dad’s surf shop, Trigger Brothers.
I also asked Hannah for her tips to those who are still finding time to head down to the Aussie or Kiwi snow in August and September…