Raised by the ropes of Michigan...
Grace is leading the charge for the next generation of riders. Since bursting onto the scene with her full part in CORRUPT, she has gone on to have a cameo in The Uninvited III and won a silver medal at the Dew Tour. Through these accolades, Grace has grabbed the attention of veteran street riders and legendary names in snowboarding.
Grace’s love for snowboarding runs deep. Accompanied by her siblings, Grace spent every day after school strapped into her board. At her local hill, she laid the foundation to become the rider she is today: stylish, technical, and ready to step to any feature.
We sat down with Grace to formally welcome her to the Burton Team and learn how she got to where she is today.
Where did you grow up riding?
I grew up riding at Alpine Valley. It's 10 minutes away from my house. Every day after school, my parents would drop me and my siblings (Kyle, Drake & Ava) off. We'd spend every evening during the winter there. So, this dump basically raised me haha (Alpine Valley operates on an old landfill). It was our go-to after-school activity in the winter.
Did you all want to snowboard? Or was it just like another after-school activity?
It’s funny, we all played team sports. So, year-round we were kind of on the same program (straight to “sports” after school). In the winter, snowboarding was our after-school activity but there was a big difference between going to the hill and going to practice. I would dread going to practices but never dreaded going to the hill. It was something I always looked forward to. I know my siblings feel the same, so to answer your question: yes, we all wanted to snowboard.
How old were you when you started riding?
My dad got us all on a snowboard around the age of four. He would take us several times a week, teaching each of us. It worked out nicely, the four of us are three years apart so as soon as one started to learn how to carve, the next was ready to get on snow.
I think it's really important to start as young as possible, mainly because it’s much easier to fall when you’re only two feet tall haha. Also because I don’t really remember the struggles of learning how to get down the hill for the first time. So, I only remember loving being on board. You know?
Something about the way he introduced snowboarding to us made us all fall in love.
Seems like your dad is down with snowboarding. Did he always love it or did he get into it because of you and your siblings?
He has always loved snowboarding. There’s a photo of him holding me as a baby in an old Forum t-shirt, I’ll send it to you.
His passion for snowboarding started at a young age. He had a bunch of homies that were into snowboarding back in the day, specifically his good friend, Don. He would plan trips out west or to the east every year. My mom says he was always heading to the skate shop to buy the newest gear, which doesn’t surprise me because he’s still on the same tip. I don’t know anyone that enjoys going to the shop as much as he does.
However, as we fell more into snowboarding, he definitely did too. Nowadays he is constantly updated on snowboard news and watches Bomb Hole podcast episodes like it’s his job. I feel spoiled to have that connection with my dad. I feel like most boarders don’t have that. Honestly, I have that connection with my whole family. It’s pretty insane what snowboarding has done for us.
When you were younger, what inspired you to keep riding?
I feel like people are going to think this is crazy. But, when I was younger, the only thing I remember watching was backcountry videos. I mean we would tune into the Olympics, X Games, and Dew Tour but I was definitely more into the backcountry videos.
The thought of making a career out of snowboarding seemed so unattainable. Helicopter rides to crazy zones seemed like a fairy tale world. And contest boarding was of no interest to me. It wasn’t until later that I found out about street riding. I started watching it more and more and realized, “well, this is something I could do.” I felt like I found a part of snowboarding that was actually attainable and made sense, something I could attach to.
Do you remember what movies or riders you first saw riding in the streets?
I remember getting the Defenders of Awesome DVD and actually comprehending what was going on. I watched Jess Kimura’s part and was like “Holy shit! Girls can make badass video parts too!?” After that, I got way more into it. My brothers and I started watching Video Grass, Change that Tape, and 1817 movies. There were no helicopters and huge mountains. I realized that street snowboarding was something I could relate to, something I could do with a couple of homies in Michigan.
"Just getting a free board and not having to re-paint my brother's old one was the craziest feeling."
How did you first get connected with Burton?
First, I just have to say: Never in a million years did I think I would get hooked up, let alone by Burton. All of it came as a huge shock. When I grew up, no one was getting sponsored. Yeah, the USASA kids kind of had "sponsors," but that was it.
One day in 2018, I got a DM from Marcus Wilson (Global Athlete & Ambassador Assistant) on Instagram. He asked for my sizes and told me he wanted to start flowing me gear. I honestly couldn't wrap my head around it. Just getting a board and not having to re-paint my brother's old one was the craziest feeling.
Not too long after that, didn't you have a clip go up on Burton gram?
Yeah, I posted some clips from Trollhaugen and got a DM from Burton asking permission to repost. I was geeking. Once it got posted, my phone blew up. All my friends and family were reaching out to hype me up. I felt like a little celebrity (haha).
Last winter (2020-2021) you spent some time filming in Michigan for 'Corrupt' and the Uninvited III. How was your first year hitting spots?
It’s actually pretty weird how that all came about. At the beginning of the season, we weren’t planning on putting a video together we just thought it would be cool to set up some spots and learn what it’s all about. After filming a couple clips, I think we all got hooked and eventually realized that we could put together a little video. Everything about that winter felt right, we all worked and learned together so well. Couldn’t ask for a better crew to begin this new journey with.
Then, Jess (Kimura) hit me up for my clips after seeing some of my stuff on Instagram. It was surreal, I was so honored. My first year filming and Jess reaches out for my clips!? She’s the reason I started street riding. Of course, I sent them over as soon as possible and had a segment in The Uninvited III.
...and this winter you went on a trip with a new crew?
Yup, I worked on a project with Maria (Thompson), Ylfa (Runarsdottir), and Nora (Beck). I went to Europe for the first time to link and film with them. The whole experience of traveling to Europe by myself was absolutely insane. Not to mention, I didn’t know I was going until a couple days before. It was a lot to take in.
That crew has been hitting spots for years, and they’re so dialed. We had a plan every day and got after it all day long, not wasting a second of our time. I’m definitely going to bring that mentality into filming next winter.
You also competed in the Dew Tour this year. How did that opportunity come about?
I got a call from Desiree (Melancon) asking if I was interested in competing in the street jam. It was really hard for me to have the confidence to say yes. I am not a competitive snowboarder. But I knew that it was an insane opportunity and I’d be dumb not to take it.
What was the actual contest like?
My whole family drove out from Michigan to support and watch which was a huge highlight. I chose my dad as my athlete support, so he got to stand at the top of the course and be my “coach.” I think that made the entire event for both of us. It was nice to have him up there because I fed off his stoke.
I was super nervous though. I kept telling myself to stay on my feet so I just tried to focus on not falling.
Did you think you would land on the podium?
No. I was just stoked that it was over and I landed a couple tricks. It was my first real rail jam with a full field of women. When they called my name for second place I couldn’t believe it, I still don’t.
So, what are you stoked on these days?
I’ve been getting a lot of satisfaction from watching the next generation of riders come up. I think being from the midwest is special because since the hill is so small, there’s such a tight community here. I love seeing how fast these kids progress, it’s inspiring. Also, I’ve seen a lot more girls out there these last few seasons which warms my heart. Watching kids fall in love with snowboarding is what I’m most stoked on these days for sure.
Bonus Question: What’s cooler, Tony Hawk commenting on your first kick flip or Mark McMorris always commenting on your boarding clips?
That’s tough… Honestly, I’m gonna have to go with Tony Hawk. No disrespect to Mark but, Tony Hawk commenting on your first kick flip? Come on!
Well Grace, Welcome To The Team! Anyone you want to shout out before we cut this off?
My parents, my siblings (Kyle, Drake, and Ava), my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, Brent Behm, Cooper Vosburg, Marcus Wilson, Levi Ryerson, Pat Dodge, Zach Nigro, Chelsea Waddell, Ben Clark, Henning Family, Garris Family, Carlson Family, Gabe Felz, Chase Blakely, Derek Lemke, Jackson McNally, Desiree Melancon, Jess Kimura, Jack Harris, Justin Leville, Max Tokunaga, Slush Magazine, Torment Magazine, and anyone who has supported/inspired me up to this point.