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Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Memento: Hana Beaman

By Colin Whyte/RedCard

The pro athletes covered on regularly travel the globe chasing waves, powder, contests and more. But we wanted to know what kind of souvenirs they smuggle home in their board bags. (Tiny spoons? Misspelled T-shirts? Obscure energy drinks from Oman?) "Memento" is a semi-regular column on Scene that chronicles these cultural anthropologists of action, good and bad.

Anything to declare? We sure hope so ...

Some snowboarders collect souvenir shot glasses or T-shirts as they tramp the globe searching out powder, but Hana Beaman's favorite memento is a tad more eccentric: a melted chunk of glass from war-torn Bosnia. The four-time X Games medalist (which includes her recent bronze in the first-ever Real Women contest), Mt. Baker road-gapper and co-star of the P.S. series has seen shredding take her to most corners of the Earth, including Japan, where she picked up a plush horse head, and China, where she borrowed a piece of the Great Wall.

Beaman (L) and her crew were never short on structures to jib. Another blasted building, still upright but full of holes.

This small reminder of large-scale ruin from the former Yugoslavia, however, remains her most prized possession.

Bosnia's not the first place that comes to mind when you're thinking about your next snow holiday, yet Sarajevo was host to the 1984 Winter Olympics and the area boasts legit mountains. Beaman, now 30, knew she couldn't say no: "Who gets to go to Bosnia to go snowboarding, right?"

Her Vans crew didn't get the best snow in 2004-'05, shooting for "Lucid Dream," but this trip was about more than just snowboarding. They went to Bosnia thanks to snow legend Tina Basich making contact with a kids' camp in Sarajevo. The charity took traumatized children out of the city and into the mountains as a form of therapy. All the pros on the trip were female and included Beaman, Erin Comstock and Chanelle Sladics.

"We were just jibbing around this old blown-up, bullet-ridden, holey, burnt-down structure," Beaman says of the glass chunk's genesis. "I imagine it was a hotel at one point, but it was basically just a skeleton and we thought we'd find some cool features ... I don't know why this piece of glass kind of stuck out to me, but it has pieces of concrete in it and broken, chunky bits of metal and stuff ...

"To me, it kind of summed up a lot of what we saw in Bosnia -- a lot of destroyed structures. Something that probably was really beautiful and modern at the time got f---ed up and melted. Blown up."

The Siege of Sarajevo, from April 1992 to February 1996, was the longest siege of a capital city in the annals of modern warfare. Estimates put more than 11,000 people killed or missing. More than 1,500 children died and another 15,000 were wounded. The mountain areas Beaman's group explored, Igman and Bjelasnica, were key strategic zones and became a battleground. The Olympic ski-jumping platform at Igman is riddled with bullet holes and the site was actually used for executions during the Bosnian War. Heavy.

Leftover landmines are one way to keep shredders out of the trees ...

"It was crazy," Beaman says. "You could see the old structure of the ski jump, but it had, like, cannonball holes in it. Bullets everywhere. Half of the mountain that used to have chairlifts on it, they were taken down. Random lift towers. You could tell it hadn't been used; it was pretty much a war zone. Our guide at one point [said], 'Don't go off the runs! They used to use the runs as a battle line.' He told us that there were still land mines in the trees ... "

"[The trip] opened my eyes to a lot of things," she adds. "You hear about [nuclear-plant disaster at] Chernobyl and you hear about all these wars going on, but it really hit home how real it was when we were there. To actually see the buildings that had bullet holes all through them ... A tank driving through town ... It was definitely kind of a reality check. To see all these kids who were affected by that and to see just how much they really love to get out of the city and go snowboarding was pretty cool."

The glass chunk normally resides on Beaman's desk in a trinket box with a scattering of foreign coins and other tchotchkes. She lives in both Utah and Washington and packs the strange souvenir with her snowboarding trophies when moving.

"It's a weird reminder," she says. "It definitely has some big significance to me. Other people will be like, 'What's with that weird piece of glass?' but, to me, I know where that came from. I saw how it came to be this melted chunk of glass with a bunch of stuff in it ... "