Hi, I'm Jacky


Theoretically, I could have heard any of those greetings when I met Jacquelina or Jacky, a young participant in the World Rookie Tour, at the Kitzsteinhorn last week. She is 12 years old and is fluent in 5 languages. How come? Even though she is still young, Jacky has already lived in 7 countries. Her father is an online business entrepreneur and can work from anywhere in the world - and this is what he does. Although languages are her forte, Jacky is also damn good in snowboarding and that for longer than some of the much older snowboard talents.


The young world elite of snowboard sports met again at the Kitzsteinhorn in mid-April 2018 for the 13th time already and competed for the coveted World Rookie Champion title in the finals of the World Rookie Tour. One of them was Jacky, a 12-year old from the Netherlands, who greeted me in cool boarder style, with standard goggle line and a big smile on her face. We had a chat on the gondola to the glacier ski resort and I felt even older by the time we arrived at the snow park at the Kitzsteinhorn. A group of young, younger and young at heart snowboard pros showed off their halfpipe and slope-style park skills. I don’t even claim to know the name of the various airs, flips or rotations, not to mention how they work - my snowboard time is a long time ago – but I did really feel my intervertebral discs just by watching various tricks.


I had one question to which I needed an answer, and I asked Jacky: “As someone from the Netherlands, how do you become a snowboard pro?” I mean, this is like one of us mountain people wanting to become a surf pro. And now it became very interesting: Jacky is Dutch but, in the 12 years of her young life, she has spent very little time in the Netherlands. “FAR TOO FLAT and no mountains!” She was born in France but grew up in Switzerland where she got the snowboarding bug. Together with her father, she lived in Indonesia for a year and learned how to serve there. During the two years in Oslo (NOR), she was unhappy, “the mountains were too far away there.” Now she and her father live in Innsbruck, she attends an academic high school and is on her snowboard every minute of her spare time. In summer, she is mainly out and about skating. I was sure about one thing from the start, Jacky is a real mountain fan and a snowboarder through and through.


… after all, our meeting was on a practicing day and there was nothing stopping her. I do have to mention here that the weather on this day could have been better. During our meeting, an exceptional foehn storm swept across the summits of the Hohe Tauern and turned the halfpipe into a real wind tunnel. And it was absolutely freezing cold. But Jacky didn’t care and she just went ahead, leaving me in absolute amazement. “Halfpipe is my favourite discipline, I can really go for it. The superpipe at the Kitzsteinhorn is one of the best halfpipes I have ever been on. Just mega. The walls are fantastically steep and fierce. You get real fat air time without flying off the pipe …!” She just smiled and went off again. And this at a wind force which threatened to sweep Jacky off the mountain with every air. After all, she only weighs 45 kg. But cool Jacques was just standing at the pipe edge smiling with great pride at his daughter who calmly turned one heat after another in the superpipe.

Jacky has of course a plan; she wants to become a pro and it looks like that nothing will stop her. Sounds like a cool ambitious story for a 12-year old who has already travelled the entire planet in the first decade of her life and knows exactly what she wants. It is her love for the mountains that pushes her every day to do her best. Her father, Jacques, is quite cool about it because the most important thing to him is that she enjoys herself. He doesn’t push her or makes any decisions for her. If she loses interest in snowboarding one day, so be it and she can do something else. This is why he feels that good education is far more important. Smart Jacky attends a high school in Innsbruck and is in almost all subjects, not just languages, as good as in the halfpipe.


I ask Jacky about role models and she comes up with Nicola Thost, a former German snowboarder who won gold in the halfpipe at the Winter Olympics in Nagano in 1998. Nicola initiated a springboard for young snowboard talents where groups of kids are out and about with pros. Jacky was only 5 years old when she went for her first ride together with Nicola. Back then she already proved that she has got great talent. Jacky also names Terje Håkonsen, a former Norwegian pro and acquaintance of Jacques. Terje got Jacky interested in freeriding. Of course, Jacky also loves powder snow, so I am not surprised that she also competed in the Freeride Rookie Tour in Fieberbrunn. Sorry, she didn’t compete – she won!

The World Rookie Tour 2018 was fantastic for Jacky. She came 39th in the overall ranking of her age group with a total of 171 participants. As mentioned already, I have only the slightest idea about snowboard sports but I believe that Jacky has a great career ahead of her. I was fascinated about the ease and the great passion with which this young lady chases through the metres-high walls of the halfpipe. It is simply amazing when kids enjoy sports and love to be active in the mountains. Taking a look at the event weekend of the World Rookie Tour at the Kitzsteinhorn, we don’t have to worry about young winter sport talents.

But enough now, I really sound like an old man and I am far from that. Maybe Jacky can give me some of her time again and shows me a few snowboarding tips and tricks. Who knows, it could be like cycling – you never forget how to ride a bike. Then I might still have a chance to go on that legendary superpipe at the Kitzsteinhorn, which is apparently the best in the world!

See you soon at the mountain