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Discovering Parallels: The Journey of a pro Snowboarder & the Core Values of SOs

As a competitive halfpipe rider for 16 years, Elena Hight ventured from her local mountains in Lake Tahoe to places around the world and ultimately to the top stage of the Olympics. She overcame fear and self-doubt to break through comfort zones and learned what outdoor exploration can teach you about yourself. In her upcoming presentation for the Alpenglow Sports Winter Speaker Series, titled “Breaking Through Comfort Zones: Pipes, Powder, and Post Holes,” Elena takes audiences on her 19-year long journey as a professional snowboarder and how her love for the outdoors led her to realize that she wanted to leave the half-pipe for the unknown of the surrounding natural terrain, even if that meant potential failure. She made the choice to leave everything she knew behind for a new chapter. It was a risk, but one that she knew was worth taking. A risk that paid off in launching a new career and a passion for discovering endless possibilities.

Elena Hight in her element

Elena’s message of exploration, resiliency, and pushing past comfort zones resonates deeply with the core values of SOS Outreach – Courage, Discipline, Integrity, Humility, Compassion, & Wisdom. Her story shares commonality with the stories of so many youth who have been a part of SOS.

At SOS, we bridge opportunity and cultivate belonging in the outdoors for youth who have been told directly or indirectly that they do not belong. In the same way, it took courage for Elena to step into a new realm of snowboarding, our kids embrace courage as they step into bindings for their very first time. By pushing past their own comfort zones, our kids learn that they are capable of so much more than they had initially thought. This unearthing of confidence serves as a powerful tool both on and off the mountain. Whether it’s progressing to learn a new trick or applying for schools as a 1st generation college student, SOS encourages its participants to be courageous and pursue their passions, just as Elena did.

Year 1 SOS Participants embracing courage and acquiring skills for life

“SOS is so much more than just developing snowboarding skills,” shares SOS Alumni, Valeria. “Those skills build confidence for everything else in your life. When you’re new to snowboarding, it can be scary. No one else in my family did snowsports, I was the only one. So, it felt really great to overcome those challenges. But what I was able to overcome off the mountain was the most empowering. You learn and use skills that you’ll use for the rest of your life. It may be hard to realize at that moment, but SOS is an investment in your future.”

Just as Elena shares through her personal narrative, the mountains facilitate so many important life lessons. Through our programs, we use the mountain as our classroom and powerful outdoor experiences to teach leadership, build community, and empower resiliency in our youth. These lessons learned on the slopes or trail soon transpire into applicable skills for life.

Ultimately, it’s inspiring that the story of a professional big-mountain snowboarder, while so different, is also so similar to the stories we see every day at SOS. Elena’s journey embodies so much of what SOS is all about. It’s about having the wisdom to realize a change of path is needed; the courage to take the leap and pursue that passion; the humility and compassion towards oneself to accept the possibility of failure, and the integrity and discipline to persevere towards success.

We are thrilled to hear more from Elena as she shares her story on Thursday, December 16 at 7 pm for the Alpenglow Sports Winter Speaker Series– North America’s premiere storytelling event to educate and inspire a love and knowledge of the great outdoors right here in Tahoe. Furthermore, we are pleased to announce that through a rigorous selection process, SOS was chosen as 1 of 5 local nonprofits to be the beneficiary of the event. All proceeds from the event on the Dec. 16 will be donated directly to SOS Outreach.

We invite you to attend either in-person at the Olympic Lodge in Palisades Tahoe or to attend virtually! Please use the link below to learn more, purchase raffle tickets, and register. We can’t wait to see you there!

Join us for the Winter Speaker Series. Click here for details