[Ed's note: This story is the final installment in a series on some of freeskiing's most stand-out females. See below for ones you've missed.]
Keri Herman didn't start skiing until she started college at Denver University. Three years later, in 2007, she was already dominating contests. By 2010, Herman took silver medals in slopestyle at both the Winter X Games in Aspen and the European X Games in Tignes, France. Last season she also filmed for appearances in the Jiberish Clothing team video "Right Back Where We Started" and Grete Eliassen's recently completed two-year project "Say My Name." Accolades aside, Herman's resume is but a fraction of what makes her exceptional.
I hit my first rail in 2004 at Copper and ate sh*t. It was a down-rail and I bruised my back for a week. I skied freshman year at DU maybe five times. I remember skiing just enough to pay off my pass and being really scared skiing a blue run, because it was steep. Skiing was fun because I sucked at it. It was motivating getting better at something each day.
I had no idea what I was doing at the Aspen Open in 2007. It was the first contest I ever did. But I won slopestyle and placed fourth in pipe. I was on the podium with Ashley Battersby and Meg Olenick and didn't know what was going on. I didn't have a ski sponsor at the time and had no idea why they brought their skis up to the podium. All these team managers were trying to get me to wear their goggles, but I wasn't into any of that. I liked my old crappy stuff.
The thing I liked the most about competing was going to different places to party and meet new friends. I met Scott Hibbert at Bear Mountain and he was drinking out of his shoe every time beer spilled on the ground. Skiers were by far the most fun people to party with. I liked the actual competitions too. My run was left three, right three, five on the jumps and I would do an occasional 7. I spun both ways because I kept forgetting which way I was supposed to spin. Turns out the judges liked that.
After going to school in Australia for six months, I was sick of summer and wanted to keep skiing, so I headed to Snow Park, New Zealand. It was only their second or third year open and I went for four months. It was an easy transition after spending so much time in Australia, and I went directly to Breck after Snow Park ended and had a year-round season. It was so much fun I did that the next four years straight.
There is no downside to being a professional skier. Thanks to my sponsors, I can travel the world and ski. They give me amazing opportunities and I could not maintain this lifestyle without their support.
The best part of the last Winter X was meeting 50 Cent thanks to my silver medal. Kaya Turski and I saw him from afar and charged in like little groupies. We knew if we could use our medals for anything good it would be meeting 50. He was surrounded by his entourage, security and a huge group of other people also trying to meet him. 50 was stoked and invited us up.
I want to win Winter X. That's my next goal. Kaya, look out! Just kidding. I don't really set goals for myself because I do not like failure. Instead I just go do things and get stoked. It's a way to never let myself down. I don't want to claim, I just want to ski and do my thing.
Last summer, I went to Iraq with other X Games athletes on a 14-day tour. We met the soldiers, traveled to all the different bases, flew Black Hawks and cool planes and shot a bunch of big guns. The soldiers were really stoked that we were there to mix up their daily routine. One base we visited had not seen outside visitors in a year. It was on the Iranian border and we could look through the periscope and see the Iranians looking back at us. We flew 15 feet off the ground so they couldn't shoot us down.
In women's freeskiing, all the chicks are slaying everything and learning and progressing so much. This year, a chick did a double back, Grete made her own movie. Anna [Segal] did cork 7s the other day, Dania [Assaly] is doing cork 9s -- watching how far women have come is astounding.
Last summer I hit the biggest jump I've ever hit at the Sammy Carlson Invitational. It was 110 feet from lip to knuckle and it was sick. Sammy came up to us chicks and said, "If you girls feel like you want to hit the jump, you can do it." That's a big deal for us because we're often denied access to contests and photo shoots. I think Sammy is the man for giving us the opportunity to hit it. Everyone was so surprised that girls were hitting that jump. We would have hit other jumps before but we are never allowed to do so. It was sweet that we finally had the chance to hit something that big.
The scariest jump I've ever hit was transfer gap that I hit in 2008 at a Poor Boyz Productions film shoot in Schweitzer, Idaho. That was really scary. The first time I went over the transfer was the scariest thing I've ever done in my life. Sammy's jump actually felt like that jump, but without the transfer. It was because of the experience that I had hitting that jump that I knew I could hit Sammy's jump.
If I had to pick the words to end this article, they'd be What's up Mom and Dad? Thanks for being awesome!