Julia Marino doing a flip high in the air off a jump section on her snowboarding at the Dew Tour 2021 competition
(Photo/Blatt, Dew Tour)

2022 Olympic Bound: Q&A With US Pro Snowboarder Julia Marino

Ever wondered what it takes to train for riding big park features? How about the difference between slopestyle and big air competitions? How big of a deal exactly is that triple cork? U.S. snowboarder Julia Marino gives us an inside look at the sport.

Professional snowboarding has grown tenfold in the past few years — from competitions like X Games to the backcountry-based Natural Selection, all the way to the Olympics. But the newness of the sport means its pro athletes still skew young.

Twenty-four-year-old Julia Marino is one of the most progressive female snowboarders in the industry, winning titles at competitions including Dew Tour, X Games, U.S. Grand Prix, and more. Most notably, she was the first woman to land a Cab 900 double underflip in competition.

And, Marino represented the U.S. at the 2018 Winter Olympics, competing in Slopestyle and Big Air.

Ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, we decided to sit down with Marino to chat about snowboarding at the pro level, competition, Olympic goals, and more.

Q&A With Julia Marino

Julia Marino snowboarding on a rail at Dew Tour
(Photo/Blatt, Dew Tour)

GearJunkie: How is your mindset different approaching this year’s Olympic qualifiers compared to past competitions?

Julia Marino: I try not to think about it too much. As soon as you start thinking about it, you can get in your head. At Dew Tour, the conditions were just so tough. And the course really taught us — and me — how to put together a run under time pressure and difficulty pressure. It gets the brain working for sure.

GJ: You are a 7-time X Games medalist. What would you say your strengths are in competition?

JM: Competition is definitely stressful. The venue, waiting up top — you have all these nerves flowing. Especially with it being an Olympic qualifier. I always really try to bring something new to the table.

So this year, bringing something new to rails. Sometimes not as much importance is placed on rails, but it’s a big part of the slopestyle course. At Dew Tour, I just wanted to have a good, stylish, flowy run.

GJ: So, tell me about what got you really stoked on the slopestyle course at Dew Tour.

JM: I was definitely really hyped on the Cab 1 [a switch frontside 180] back 3 [360] on the gap jump. That was really cool. And every course has a different rail setup, so I’m also looking forward to other competitions’ rail setups: maybe some canons, some opportunities for flips.

Julia Marino snowboarding in the early morning at Copper Mountain before Dew Tour
(Photo/Justin Edmonds, Getty Images, Dew Tour)

GJ: Looking ahead to Mammoth Mountain (another Olympic qualifying event), do you have any specific goals for competition?

JM: Pretty much the same goals I had at Dew Tour — to try and put down my best run. Even though it was harder conditions, I wanted to put down a run I could be proud of, instead of an easier run. So the same thing for Mammoth, and hopefully having some better conditions to make it easier to do those things.

GJ: You’ve competed in both Slopestyle and Big Air. So going into competition, how do you approach those two styles?

JM: I definitely view myself as more of a slopestyle rider. I love it much more because it’s more creative, almost like a playground. Rails really prepare you to actually get into a jump. Whereas in Big Air, it’s one massive drop-in, and you are kind of hitting it cold turkey. I know that certain snowboarders definitely have a preference between slopestyle and big air.

GJ: How does it feel to be a pro athlete for the USA team?

JM: I love it. I’ve been on the U.S. team and with the same people for the past seven years. We are like a family. It’s a good vibe, and being with them at competitions is better and a lot more fun than being there alone.

It’s also cool being able to surround myself with these other riders who I look up to. Even before this competition, a bunch of us would get into hike sessions right here in the park. Challenge each other. It’s a progressive and fun environment, and that’s how we get better.

Julia Marino giving a thumbs up before practicing for the Slopestyle competition at Dew Tour

GJ: You competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics. What is something you are looking forward to doing or achieving between now and the 2022 Olympics?

JM: I’m looking forward to learning more about my snowboarding: how I feel on my board, and taking that feeling and using it to progress. In the past year, I think I’ve had a change of appreciation for snowboarding. Something that I’ve learned is to have more fun with it, to feel less pressure about things like the Olympics. And to just keep pushing myself to see what I can do.

GJ: Do you have a favorite place you like to ride/compete?

JM: I definitely like out West. There’s not much going on back on the East Coast in terms of good conditions or parks. And I really like Europe, because I feel like that’s where I can best ride and have the most fun. Places like Austria, Switzerland.

GJ: Can you talk about the progression of women in snowboarding?

JM: I think that women are coming up very strong in snowboarding. And we are doing close to what guys were doing a few years ago. Biologically we are built differently, but I think we take a lot of what guys do and we do that. Women are starting to throw triples, 12s, and that’s cool to see.

If you can break down a trick into the physics of what it is: it’s not necessarily hard, it’s just intimidating.

Something that was sad about the Dew Tour competition is that the level of riding for women is much higher than what it was that day, because of the difficult conditions. But, of course, the judges took that into consideration.

GJ: Where do you see snowboarding in 10 years?

JM: Honestly, I don’t know. I see young kids snowboarding now and I’m blown away by their talent. There’s a 9- or 10-year-old girl who is always riding here at Copper Mountain, and she’s doing tricks that I can’t even do — switch rodeos. And if she’s doing doubles next year, who knows what she’ll be doing in 10 years.

It’s limitless. I think we keep pushing the bar.

Julia Marino’s Bio

  • Hometown: Westport, Connecticut
  • Currently lives: Quebec, Canada
  • Age: 24 years
  • Competes in: Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle, Big Air
  • Achievements: 7-times X Games medalist, 2-time Dew Tour medalist, U.S. Grand Prix medalist 2017-2018
  • Current FIS World Cup ranking: 17th in Big Air*
  • Olympic Qualification ranking: 16th in Slopestyle/Big Air, coming in second in points for U.S. snowboarders just behind Jamie Anderson*

* Rankings subject to change as FIS WC events continue to run through April 2022.

Snowboarder Julia Marino in a white camo snow suit and goggles carrying her snowboard
Julia Marino walks on the mountain during Dew Tour 2021; (photo/Justin Edmonds, Getty Images, Dew Tour)
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Mary Murphy

Mary is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and is based in GearJunkie's Denver, Colo. office. She has a degree in English and journalism, and has a background in both newspaper and magazine writing. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.