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Thursday, August 28, 2008
Updated: August 29, 2:57 PM ET
Jen Hudak

Jen Hudak has been a contender in women's halfpipe for years now. You can't really call last winter a "breakout season" for Jen, because she went into it with a few heavy medals already hanging in her trophy case. Nevertheless, with bronze medals at Winter X and the European Open, silvers at two World Cup events and 48 Straight, and wins at the World Cup Finals and the Nippon Freeskiing Open, last winter was dynamite for Jen. I went out to dinner last week and Jen happened to be my waitress — because she was working at the restaurant. Wait, what?

Jen Hudak Interview

Jen Hudak

Considering your success last winter, what are you doing working right now?
Well, in April I was doing a photo shoot with Bollé at Monarch Ski Resort in Colorado. I was feeling good all day and was ready to step things up a little bit. I dropped a cliff about 25-30 feet and when I landed I wasn't pointed quite down the fall line. I sank through the six new inches of snow and found myself in a crust layer underneath. I knew I wouldn't be able to ski out of it, so I tried to just tumble, but my right ski didn't release and I ended up partially tearing my ACL. I had surgery about 10 days later and then found out that my insurance wasn't going to cover any procedure done on my right knee. So I have a bill for about $20,000 that I need to pay and even though I made good money last year I will be pretty much flat broke after paying for the surgery. Since I had some time on my hands while my knee was healing I figured I'd get a job. Why I chose a job where I have to work my ass off? Not sure!

Besides lifting trays and scrubbing tables, what have you been doing this summer to get prepared for the upcoming winter?
I've been spending a ton of time on my mountain bike this year, it's amazing how much muscle comes back just from spending time on a bike. The knee is coming along well, but I still have about 15 percent more improvement to go. I've been granted some access to the US Ski Team gym as a "trial run" for what a program might look if they decide to add a US Halfipipe Team as preparation for future Olympic Games. I'll begin a pretty solid regimen there as soon as I'm cleared by a PT to begin training.

Jen Hudak

Any plans to go far away in an airplane to find a place with enough ice to build a halfpipe this fall?
I don't have any plans to travel anywhere to train this fall. I won't be able to ski until the middle of October and there was snow on the ground in Colorado by that time last year. I'll probably head over there in the early season to get back on my skis, but I won't be in a pipe until around Thanksgiving, or whenever Copper opens their pipe.

Women's pipe took a pretty big step up last winter. To what, besides more girls getting out there and going for it, do you attribute that?
There're definitely more girls out there now. And as numbers increase, competition increases, so that is certainly one aspect. But I also think that the top girls were sick of getting crap about how much more progressive the guy's side of things was. I know that I'm tired of it. I have a lot more that I want to do with my skiing, but I need to go at my pace, not the pace at which everyone else thinks I/we [women] should be progressing. But it's very exciting to see so many girls out there now who are really stepping their games up.

I assume that you plan to compete, compete, compete next year. Whom do you have your eye on as "girls to beat"?
Of course I'll keep my eye on Sarah — I hope she will take that as a compliment. But there are a number of girls now who have all the skills in the world to stand on top of the podium. Roz G has the most technical run I've seen out of any girl. Jess Cumming has been working on unnatural 5s, so that could be a threat. Then there's Angeli VanLaanen, who has this ability to go absolutely huge with seemingly no effort. Davina Williams was doing some sick 9s at X Games last year, so when she starts landing them that will be a threat. In any case, there's a number of girls out there with skills, but contests take more than that. They take mental tenacity and a lot of strategy — some people don't like that, but I personally do.

Jen Hudak

Do you think you'll soon go the cool route of being "over competitions" and focusing instead on sweepin' sweet jibs in the cherry pow pow? Or are you hot on the contest trail until 2014, 2018, 2022, whenever the first Olympic halfpipe competition happens?
It would be nice to take a step back from competing to do some filming, but if all the top girls did that the sport would die. Until there is a more solid competition scene with stronger participation in place for women, I have no plans to take time out of competing. If I can fit filming into my schedule without sacrificing any important contests then I would be more than happy to do so. As for the Olympics, I do want to go, I think that it is any competitive athlete's dream. I say "competitive" because there are a number of amazingly talented athletes in our sport who don't enjoy competing. If you don't enjoy competing, then don't do it. I love competition, so I certainly would like to compete at the highest level. My fingers are still crossed for 2010. But if that doesn't happen, I'll stick around for 2014.

Your Under Armour sponsorship put you in a Super Bowl ad with superstar athletes from many sports. Did you meet anybody on that shoot that made you think, "Holy shit! I just met [blank]!"?
Filming that commercial was one of the coolest things I've ever gotten to do. The entire filming process took about 3 weeks, and each scene was shot independently. So although Ray Lewis or Vernon Davis, for example, were in the commercial, they were never actually on the set at the same time as I was. Kimmie Misner (Olympic figure skater) was there the day before me and Ray Lewis two days after. And I filmed with Lindsey Jacobellis. But HOLY SHIT! I GOT TO MEET DASH LONGE!

People like to use the media they consume to define themselves to other people. What are your three favorite books, movies, CD's, paintings, and talk radio programs?
Books: Kurt Vonnegut, Sirens of Titan; Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game; William Golding, Lord of the Flies.
Movies: Harold and Maude; Whaτ the ΒLεεΡ Dθ ωΣ (κ)πow!?; and The Fountain.
Compact Discs: The Beatles, White Album; Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik; Nirvana, MTV Unplugged In New York.
Paintings: Salvador Dali, The Dream; Vladimir Kusch, Metaphorical Journey; Pablo Picasso, La Vie.
Talk Radio Programs: Really? Um, NPR, I guess.

Jen Hudak does what she can to further develop the women's contest scene with the help of her sponsors, Under Armour, and Bollé.