Vallee clears her head for the halfpipe 

"The more energy you put into it, the more you got out of it."

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Profile: Dominique Vallée

Event: Halfpipe

Age at 2006 Olympics: 24

Years with National Team: 5

What’s your biggest trick?

My backflip Michalchuk, and I’m working on a backside 540 and maybe a frontside 900.

How do you get ready for a competition?

I try to make it like any other day, any other training day. I don’t like being rushed, so I try to get there early, but first I have a mellow breakfast, drink my coffee, all the normal things. I do a little stretching. I don’t have a special sock or anything.

(Mentally) I try to keep my head clear. If I’m relaxed and goofing around I feel I’m at my best. I can’t sit in a corner and be all serious. We all know our runs pretty well, so I’ll spend that time talking to whoever wants to talk to me.

Do you listen to music when riding, and what are you listening to?

I do listen. I have kind of a messed up mix right now, everything from French rap to Madonna, The Killers, Beck. I listen to a lot of Jean Leloup, who’s a super popular Quebecois artist – he’s a classic.

Do you remember your first snowboard?

It was a Burton Shannon Dunn 144. I idolized her. It was so cool to meet her and realize she was totally normal, and really nice.

What is your worst injury?

I’ve had a bunch, everything from ribs to my ankles. The longest was a badly broken collarbone, which is now an inch shorter on one side. It hurt for the longest time because all the muscles were out of place.

What do you like about halfpipe?

I’m from Tremblant originally, and the halfpipe was the most popular thing on the mountain when I learned to snowboard. The contests were so much fun. The more energy you put into it, the more you got out of it, and the crowds were amazing. It was more social and supportive compared to the other sports I’ve tried.

Any advice for kids starting out?

Always ride with people that are better than you, because they’ll push you. If you’re a girl, ride with the boys. There were probably 10 key guys in the Quebec scene I learned to ride with, like Benjie Ritchie, Alex Auchu. For the girls there was Annie Boulanger as well, and she’s still killing it.

Who were your role models growing up, and who do you look up to now?

I’ve always looked up to Nat (Natasza Zurek), as well as riders like Shannon Dunn. I also admire Brad Martin – he’ s so damn sexy. (Teammate Brad Martin was in hearing range of the interview)

What motivates you these days?

Everything. Being here, going to Torino, hanging out with the team, my family, my friends. Life’s pretty good.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

After 2010? I’ve been asking myself the same question a lot lately. Maybe a supermodel. Maybe I’ll still be in the snowboard industry. I’ve always liked the fashion side of things.

I’ve been taking university courses by correspondence this summer, and I’ll take a couple more in the spring. Maybe one day I’ll go to school in the fall instead of snowboarding, which would be a real reality check. I don’t know – five years is a long time.

Sponsors: Elan Snowboards, Powder Room, Phiten, Oakley, Universal Boots

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