Whether she’s surf spotting out in the Welsh line up or carving the fastest line down the snowboard cross track, GB Snowsport’s Maisie Potter is a dab hand at all things board sports. Who better to talk to about this International Surfing Day about how these sports complement one another and the benefits to be found in practicing them for professional athletes and recreational participants alike?
Happy international Surfing Day! Please can you tell us a bit about your relationship with surfing?
Coming from North Wales and being surrounded by beaches, it is only natural to spend some time in the ocean (quite a wild one, I may add!) and have a surfboard kicking around in the garage for the rare occasions when there are good waves. Then, a few years ago, Adventure Parc Snowdonia (wave pool) opened up down the road so I got a job there. I was surrounded by experienced surfers with a constant wave on tap to practise on, so I was in the best possible place to learn.
Which did you learn first, surfing, skateboarding or snowboarding? And how did you find practicing each helped your progression?
I first learnt to snowboard, which is how I discovered the love for all board sports. Skateboarding has helped create finesse in my snowboarding as small mistakes are more noticeable on a skateboard. Whereas snowboarding has helped my surfing more by recognising the feeling once stood up on the wave as it relates to riding powder or slush.
Can you tell us about some of the key similarities between surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding? And the key differences?
Doing one of the three really gets you started by feeling comfortable and balanced going sideways. The techniques start to differ more as you progress but the movements are more or less relatable.
Now that you’re a snowboard athlete what role does surfing play in your life?
I always chase winter so it’s great to go to the beach and completely escape the mountains and focus on my surfing instead (with no pressure). The learning curve of surfing is exciting and keeps me motivated. It has also widened my social circles, travel destinations and given me another passion on the side that I’m keen to dedicate more time to in the future.
Do you think that all of these board sports have taught you any life lessons, besides the obvious physical skills?
Thanks to snowboarding, I picked up surfing quickly enough to get me qualified as a surf instructor, which was an amazing job in the summer to support my snowboarding. Surrounded by like minded people in North Wales really helped keep my motivation for my snowboarding career during the summers. What I have learnt in board sports is that it’s not necessarily about the outcome, but about who you share it with, to push each other and positively better one another. I think the same goes for a lot of things in life.
If there were young person who enjoyed one of these sports and was interested in trying the others, what advice would you give them to get started?
I would say go for it and buy/rent yourself a board and start small, go with friends, no pressure. Apply for a job where you can do one of the sports, and with the connections you will find yourself doing all of them. It is all intertwined and a lifestyle more than anything. The skills will come by being surrounded and immersed in it.
How do you feel about Surfing being at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer?
I think it’s great to see more action sports on the worlds biggest stage in sports! Surfing is a hugely skilful and well respected sport (as it is so hard!) so why not give them a stage and promote surfing even more. I think it’ll only make surfing grow, and I’m not worried about it losing its roots.
Photos by Stewart Mackeller, James Owen and Gabriella Zagni (Adventure Parc Snowdonia)