Radical Recreation: Boards and bats

Arielle Neithercoat performs an FS boardslide at a terrain park in Alaska. Photo credit: Arielle Neithercoat

Once winter hits, many can’t wait to hit the slopes on their skis or snowboard. Freeriding down the mountain can give a feeling unlike any other, but for Arielle Neithercoat, biology major, locking into a rail on her snowboard gives her the ultimate bliss. Neithercoat has been snowboarding for 18 years and around the age of 12 she gained the courage to hit her first box at Hilltop Ski Area and has been hooked ever since.

“I just love how it makes me feel, I love that I don’t have to think about anything else when I’m snowboarding and when I get on a feature and lock in and it feels amazing,” Neithercoat said.

After carving down the mountain repetitively, Neithercoat grew bored with the idea of snowboarding the same lines, which influenced her to experiment.

“At some point, I guess I just got bored of groomers and wanted to try something more,” Neithercoat said. “I’m not sure really, maybe I was just trying to scare the crap out of my parents. My mom still hates the idea of me throwing myself at metal objects.”

Although Neithercoat has jibbed many terrain parks and street spots, she appreciates originality when it comes to snowboard features and tricks.

“Favorite obstacle? I’m a simple girl really, there’s nothing like a nice long mellow down bar to get me all giddy,” Neithercoat said. “Favorite trick hands down will always be a solid between the feet front board. I will do those all day, every day on every hit in the park, and be happy as a clam.”

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Neithercoat’s love for snowboarding is not the only thing that has grown over the years, but her love for the people it has exposed her to. While gaining meaningful relationships, snowboarding has also been a stress reliever.

“I love the people it’s [snowboarding] introduced me to over the years, I’ve met a lot of really interesting people, and made some top notch friends,” Neithercoat said. “I met my boyfriend of seven and a half years from snowboarding at hilltop when we were tweens. I love the direction it took me in life, I think it helped me gain confidence, and it’s a good outlet for stress because when I’m snowboarding, that’s all I’m thinking about.”

Hitting the terrain park can be nerve-racking, Neithercoat encourages girls wanting to experiment with snowboard obstacles to go for it and embrace and learn from falling.

“For girls wanting to learn to jib, you have to just be prepared to fall and fall a lot, it’s inevitable. You’re not going to get good unless you just keep on getting back up. Learning to jib is scary as hell, I know, it still scares me, but it’s totally worth it,” Neithercoat said.”

Besides work, school and snowboarding, Neithercoat is working on exciting research that will allow her to present her findings and travel in the near future.

“I do bat research here at UAA, so I go out in the summer and catch bats and we take data on them. I left some data loggers over in the Copper River area and I just picked those up and right now I’m doing the data analysis on them,” Neithercoat said. “I head to Madagascar in a couple months to work on lemur research in the jungle over there.”

Neithercoat is looking forward to her trip to Madagascar doing lemur research, which is similar to her plans after college.

“I plan on being a primatologist and living in the jungle with lemurs once I’m finally done with school. In the meantime, I’m probably just going to keep on snowboarding, and see where it goes,” Neithercoat said.

Like many snowboarders, Neithercoat plans on snowboarding until her body gives out. Look out for any snowboard video parts and research conducted on bats by Neithercoat in the near future.