An Interview with a Halfpipe Hero: Jen Hudak

One of the strongest female halfpipe skiers of this generation, Jen Hudak shares her thoughts on the state of women’s freeskiing.

How long have you been skiing professionally and what has changed during that time?
Jen Hudak: I have been skiing professionally for five years. Women’s skiing has had a lot of ups and downs, like two steps forward one step back. X Games has come a long way. We are getting equal prize money, but still no TV time, which is frustrating. This year, there is a World Cup in Deer Valley which is hugely popular for moguls and aerials and this year they added halfpipe and it will be showing on NBC so that will be the most televised event for women this year.

What do you think about the DEW Tour format?
JH: It’s the only tour event and you get invited to the first round, but you still have to qualify for the next round. The way its set up for the women, the level (of competition) really drops off after the first event.

How do you feel about the women’s ski event only being an exhibition and the prize money discrepancy? ($3k for women’s first place vs. $15k for men)
JH: The price money is nice but we (women skiers) are at a stage in the sport where in order for it to continue to grow, we need more participation and the only way to get more participation is to get more publicity. I would rather have the DEW Tour give us airtime, than prize money if they had to choose.

What do you think about the formation of the AFP (Association of Freeskiing Professionals)?
JH: I don’t think it will change anything for this year because they are still trying to organize it. Basically, the concept behind it is to standardize the judging criteria and event rankings. I think that it will be a good thing. It’s just a matter of working out the kinks.

What are your big plans or goals for this winter?
JH: There are a lot of events this year, but the number one competition on my radar is still X Games. So my goal and focus is to keep myself strong and healthy and get my skiing as good as I can through X Games. After that, I just want to go out and have fun competing through the rest of the season. For now that’s my priority. I learned an Ally-Oop 5 last season which made a huge difference with my results. So I would like to keep progressing and learning new tricks. I just want to keep getting better.

Also, I was a little disappointed in the coverage of women’s skiing last year, so I am going to try to do some write ups after each event because I don’t think people have a good understanding of the growth of women’s skiing. There is a lot more depth than there has been in the past few years. People need to know that.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
JH: I got hit by a snowmobile at a ski resort when I was seven. I flipped over the windshield and landed 20 feet down the hill, but I didn’t get hurt. It was my first front flip!

 If you could go anywhere at this moment, where would you go?
JH: Las Vegas!