Elena Hight has pulled off plenty of bold tricks throughout her impressive snowboarding career, and now she can add riding naked to that long list.
The Olympic snowboarding medalist, who hails from Zephyr Cove, Nev., recently shucked her usual body-hiding winter wear for a nude photo session with ESPN The Magazine Body Issue. This year’s Body Issue celebrates the bodies of athletes like quarterback Colin Kaepernick, volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings along with Hight to name a few.
“It’s okay to stare. That’s what The Body Issue is here for. Each year, we stop to admire the vast potential of the human form. To unapologetically stand in awe of the athletes who’ve pushed their physiques to profound frontiers. To imagine how it would feel to inhabit those bodies, to leap and punch and throw like a god. To ... well, gawk. So go ahead; join us,” ESPN wrote on its Body Issue website.
The issue hit stands Friday, but before taking a peek, find out what Hight had to say about the revealing experience. The Tahoe Daily Tribune recently caught up with her for a Q-and-A about baring it all in the halfpipe.
How did the idea of posing nude all come about?
I have seen the Body Issue the last few years and I think that it is a really cool piece that ESPN does to honor the athletic body. We all work so hard to be able to do what we do, and I think that they have done a great job of creating a tasteful platform to show that off.
I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision to make. What were some of the things that you took into consideration?
Well I definitely considered how it would portray me as an athlete and person, and if it would be a positive message that I was putting out. I know that I am a role model to some and I decided that this was a good opportunity for me to hopefully show that you don’t have to be a model type to love and appreciate your body.
Ultimately, what was the biggest reason behind agreeing to the nude photo session?
I was honored to be picked my ESPN to be featured with this group of elite athletes. I think that the photos are more about celebrating athletes and athleticism more than anything else, so that made we want to be apart of it.
Once you agreed to do the photo session, how long did you have to prepare? And what did you do to get ready?
I had one month to prepare for the photo shoot. I basically amped up what I already do to train. I did a lot of running, strength training, and yoga. I was also still snowboarding so I was on hill a lot as well. As far as my diet, I am generally a healthy eater but I cut out all sweets and simple carbs for the month.
When the big moment came, what was going through your mind?
There was so much anticipation going into this shoot that once the day came I was excited and relieved that it was finally here. I had a good support group for the day so that made the situation a lot more fun.
Was the actual photo shoot as scary as we all might imagine?
Well I told myself that if I was going to do this, that I had to just go for it. So that is what I did, I tried not to think about it too much. My photographer Martin Schoeller made me very comfortable so that helped a lot. I have to say the thing I was most afraid of was falling and getting ice burn all over.
What was more intimidating for you… the moments leading up to the photo shoot or the moments leading up to the ground-breaking trick you landed in the X Games?
It is a totally different kind of intimidation. For this shoot, I knew that I had done everything that I could to be prepared. I worked out and ate healthy and felt really good about myself going into it. We had a plan for the shoot so I knew exactly what I was getting into. I think that was the biggest part of the battle, once the day came the intimidation was lower than it was when I first found out about it.
At XGames there is so much that you don’t control on the day of, so that is what is intimidating, the unknown of what is going to happen right then and there.
Speaking of riding, snowboarding naked seems incredibly risky. Were you afraid to fall, or were there any naked mishaps out there?
Yes I was super scared to fall. Ice burn all over my body did not sound fun. Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any mishaps.
Where was the photo session done? And was it successfully kept private?
We shot it up at Northstar. The mountain was already closed and we had a closed set so besides the people working on the shoot it was private.
Whose idea was it to do the barbecue shot? And is that your dog in the background?
The BBQ was Martin, the photographer’s idea. The guy who cuts the halfpipe up at Northstar was camping out at the bottom of the pipe during the spring time so that he could take care of it better. He had the BBQ all set up and let us use his dog in the shot which was fun.
After it was all said and done, what do you think you gained from this experience?
Growing up I didn’t have the best self confidence. Over the past few years I am finally feeling comfortable in my own skin and this experience definitely has made me realize that the body is something that should be celebrated.
I imagine you’ve received feedback. What have people said, and what would you want to say to them?
Almost all the feedback has been positive. I am so grateful for all the support and love.
There are a lot of women out there who don’t have the confidence to do something like this. What advice would you give them or what do you tell yourself to boost your self-esteem?
I think that all women struggle with self confidence at some point or another, it’s hard not to. My advice is to find the one thing that you do love about yourself and focus on that. Once you start giving yourself love, it grows and you begin to find other things about yourself that you love as well.