Hailey Langland Competes in 2018 Olympic Games
Mar 01, 2019 02:20PM
By Rebecca Parsons
Hailey gets some air. photo by Ethan Stone Fortier
by Rebecca Parsons
Hailey Langland’s name may sound familiar … And for good reason. The San Clemente native competed in snowboarding at the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang when she was just 17-years-old. Although she didn’t take home the coveted gold, silver, or bronze medal, Langland did finish sixth in Slopestyle and 14th in Big Air. Not bad considering she was stacked up against the rest of the world.
Langland’s background isn’t what you’d expect from an Olympic snowboarder. She was born in Orange County and raised in sunny San Clemente. Daddy’s little girl, she was eager to jump on any sport her father suggested. When she was just five-years-old, her dad took her to Big Bear to try out snowboarding. Needless to say, she loved it.
Langland’s childhood consisted of weekend trips to the mountains, where she practiced her skills and boarded alongside her father. When she was eleven, she was ready to start competing seriously. She packed her bags and moved with her grandparents to Truckee, California to pursue her passion.
Entering the Competitive Scene
While most teenagers were attending sleepovers, obsessing over the latest fashion trends, and getting dolled up for school dances, Langland was on the slopes, perfecting her craft. She attended public school during the summer and fall but homeschooled during the winter and spring months so she could put in plenty of time on the sloops. By ninth grade, she was traveling and competing frequently, so she opted to homeschool full-time.
“I think the hardest part about moving away, and pursuing snowboarding, was knowing that I was walking away from having a ‘high school’ experience,” says Langland. “It was an easy, bitter-sweet decision.”
Despite the fact that Langland only recently entered adulthood, her snowboarding resume is pretty stacked. Her first year competing on the Dew Tour and X Games in Slopestyle she took home a third place finish. The following year, she brought home the gold for Big Air at the X Games in Aspen, Colorado. On top of that, she’s secured the title at the Drink Water Rat Race three years in a row.
“That contest is no joke,” Langland says of the Drink Water Rat Race. “It’s probably the one I look forward to the most.”
Langland does her best to make her style look smooth and comfortable. She works to mimic the male boarders but consciously adds her own feminine twist to each maneuver. Her favorite tricks are Frontside 360’s and a Method.
The Olympics were never something that was actively on Langland’s radar. Her disciplines of Slopestyle and Big Air are fairly new to the Games and the teen always assumed if she didn’t qualify she’d simply shrug it off. But when it came down to it she wanted to go … Badly.
“The qualifying process was a completely different monster than being at the Olympics,” says Langland. “I don't think I've ever been more stressed out in my entire life than when I was trying to make the team.”
Luckily, she qualified and joined team USA for the 23rd Winter Olympics.
Her first event: Slopestyle. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t in their favorite and the event was a slight let down. The women did their best but the high level of women’s snow boarding wasn’t accurately portrayed. Next up: the Big Air event. Conditions were favorable and the women brought their best level of competition making for a heated event. Langland recalls the event as one of the most intense female competitions she’s watched to date.
Langland currently lives with her family in Temecula, California. Home is a loose term as Langland is traveling the majority of ski season. Langland may not have had a typical high school experience but she’s made plenty of friends and memories through the snowboarding community.
“Even though we take our careers in snowboarding seriously, we still manage to make time to mess with one another,” says Langland. “I'm lucky I get to travel the world with them, making our own memories, so I never feel like I'm missing out on anything that people my age would consider ‘normal.’”
After the Olympics, Langland fell into a bit of a rut and lost some of her motivation. She underwent shoulder surgery over the summer and spent some time at home recovering. After a restorative couple of months, Langland is back and is making plans for the future. She wants to film more. And she wants to spend more time riding for fun.
“I'm more ready to get back on snow than I ever have,” says Langland.
With her drive and determination, you can expect great things to come from young Langland. Keep your eyes peeled for her in the 2022 Winter Games.