Take a moment to be completely honest with yourself, and then answer these two questions: How do you define commitment? And how old were you when you first realized what true commitment was?
Megan Farrell didn’t know what commitment was at the age of two when her parents first put skis on her and introduced her to the slopes of HoliMont in Ellicottville, NY. And it’s safe to say she didn’t know what commitment was two years later when the self proclaimed “speed demon” pestered her parents into allowing her to follow in the footsteps of her older siblings and cousins, who were participating on HoliMont’s snowboard race team, and trade her skis in for a snowboard.
As Megan aged however, and her love for snow and speed blossomed, she found herself in a position that very few people ever find themselves. It was in grade 10 where, with her Ontario Snowboard Club, she began competing in United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) events. And she wasn’t just competing. Megan was succeeding in the world of alpine snowboard racing.
“I was always competitive with snowboarding and trained all day, every weekend my whole life but up until this point, I didn’t have an understanding of what went on in the race world in Canada,” stated Farrell. “By grade 11, I was on the team and racing in NorAms (North American races). The point where I wanted to commit myself to the sport was when I was in grade 12.”
It was at that point that she was chosen to be a forerunner for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. And it was there where she got to watch fellow Canadian Jasey-Jay Anderson win a gold medal in the parallel giant slalom for Team Canada. It was then that Farrell knew she wanted to commit herself to the same level of excellence as Anderson. She wanted to dedicate herself towards chasing her own Olympic dream. And now, as the only female athlete in her discipline on the Canadian National Team, that dream is now potentially just two short years away.
Just twenty-three years old, an age where most young people are just a couple years into the job force or pursuing higher education, Megan’s Olympic dreams currently consume her everyday life. A graduate of Queen’s University with a degree in Environmental Science, Megan has put typical career aspirations on hold in order to work out, train, travel, and hone her snowboarding skills. It’s not an easy lifestyle by any means. But true commitment is rarely easy.
Megan knows that her pursuit is not a typical one. But she also knows that greatness is not accomplished by being typical. This season will be instrumental in Megan’s life and if it is a successful one, it could fundamentally alter her future. To follow and help support Megan in her quest, check out https://pursu.it/campaigns/144.
ONE-ON-ONE WITH MEGAN FARRELL
HEGEMAN: HoliMont, per capita, seems to have more people on racing boards than any other ski area in the region. Was being around that many like-minded racers one of the primary reasons you developed a love for hard boot racing? Do you think you'd be where you are today without that HoliMont upbringing?
FARRELL: The HoliMont race team always had a great reputation going into USASA Nationals. We had a very talented bunch of riders who pushed one another to do better. I believe that being on the team taught me great discipline and drive. As of right now, two of the four riders on the Canadian National team are from HoliMont so I think that speaks for itself.
HEGEMAN: What's your favorite thing about racing?
FARRELL: I often get asked what my favorite thing about racing is and I’m always left with mixed feelings about my answer. There’s so much that I love about racing, it’s hard to pinpoint one thing exactly. I love the speed, the adrenaline, the focus, the sound you hear hitting the gate, and that feeling you get when you complete a clean, smooth turn where you pull all of the energy and force and drive it into your next move so that you are constantly moving forward and down the hill - no time to stop or think.
HEGEMAN: Do you have any pre-race rituals that you go through?
FARRELL: I wouldn’t say I have any rituals that are race specific. I go through a checklist to make sure I have all of my equipment and make sure I get a good night’s sleep the night before. I try to make race day as much like a training day so I don’t think (or am not aware!) of any pre-race rituals that I still do.
HEGEMAN: It sounds like last season you really started to come into your own on the competitive circuit. What are a few of your favorite moments from last year?
FARRELL: My favorite moment from last year had to have been when I won Canadian Nationals for slalom. My parents were both there cheering me on at the bottom and it was a night race so there was more excitement than ever. The race was also near Quebec city so I got to celebrate in one of my favorite places. Some of my other moments that I really loved from last season was just the training. I arranged my schedule to have no Friday classes so I could go to HoliMont every weekend and got to enjoy snowboarding again. I was also lucky enough to go to Sierra Nevada in Spain with my dad to compete in University Games which was another great memory.
HEGEMAN: Describe your feeling when you found out that you were selected to the Canadian National Snowboard Team?
FARRELL: I had a feeling that I would be selected for the team now that I had finished school and won the NorAm title that season, but until it is confirmed you always worry. I was entirely relieved and happy when I found out. I had been running my snowboard schedule for the past 4 years and knew that I would need help to take it to the next level when doing it full time.
HEGEMAN: In what way has being on the National Team most impacted your snowboarding?
FARRELL: The National Team is huge. I have a new coach, Pat Gaudet, and he has helped make me 110% faster than I have ever been.
HEGEMAN: In some ways, two years seems like a fairly long time but when your single focus is making it to the Olympics; I would imagine that 2018 must feel right around the corner for you. What one thing do you feel you need to improve on the most in order to make it to the Olympics?
FARRELL: 2018 is soon. I think right now I just need some mileage in gates. Since being in school for 4 years, I missed training in gates. Any chance I had to be on snow was freeriding so I need to work on my timing and control in the course.
HEGEMAN: You are now traveling the world and racing on some pretty big stages. What's it like going back to Ellicottville to race at HoliMont and Holiday Valley? Are you more "nervous" in Japan or back home in front of a lot of people you know?
FARRELL: I’ve been racing in events all over the world since I was in grade 11 so it’s not a new thing to be in World Cups. I’ve been going to some new places and training with different countries but it is more or less normal for me now. The things that would make me nervous are the people competing in the race, not the people watching it. That being said, I am more nervous in a World Cup format just because I know I have to be at the top of my game and can’t afford any slip-ups.
HEGEMAN: Who is your favorite snowboarder?
FARRELL: I don’t have one favorite snowboarder. I have a lot of aspects or techniques of riders that I like. Snowboarding is great in that every race is different - every hill, set, snow, etc. all changes the way to ride fast and so you have to be flexible and be able to adapt in all conditions.
HEGEMAN: It sounds like you're now leading quite the regimented lifestyle between work, diet, training ... what food have you given up that you miss the most now?
FARRELL: I’ve been an athlete my whole life so I have always tried to keep myself in check as part of my daily routine. Now that I am officially a national team athlete once again, I have not really given up any specific food but I have been more conscious about what I eat pre and post workouts to make sure I am optimizing gains.
HEGEMAN: Finish this sentence: When I am not engulfed with training or snowboarding, I most want to be …