A professional in every sense of the word, Kimmy Fasani is a true Outlier. Not only one of the most talented female snowboarder of all time, but a stand up citizen and a role model for all. After a pretty bad injury a couple years ago, she could have easily hung up her hat and took it easy, but she rose to the challenge and rehabbed past what her doctors could have ever expected. In the process, she not only was able to snowboard again, but she discovered new passions like mountain biking and rock climbing and became a more well-rounded athlete. In addition to all of this, she is also one of the nicest and most genuine people you could ever hope to meet. She was generous enough to make some time during a trans-oceanic flight to catch up with us about her recovery, filming with her skier husband, Chris Benchetler, and her budding triathlon career.
[Outliers] Being an outlier is pretty important to taking on a career as a professional snowboarder, do you think it was in your DNA to be an outlier, or was it a conscious choice you made to be different?
[Kimmy] I grew up knowing I always wanted to do something unordinary. I loved pushing myself and I was pretty fearless, so it seemed natural to be an Outlier.
[O] You suffered through a couple years of injuries lately, but now you seem to be stronger than ever, that has to be brutal, both emotionally and physically. As someone who depends on their body for their paychecks, what goes through your mind and how do you stay motivated through recovery?
[K] I have gone through a lot of changes and growth in the past three years, and my injury was a big part of that. Just when I thought I had a good balance with my snowboarding, progressing my riding, and my sponsors, I had a major injury take place. The most important thing for me was to stay positive and focus on the day-to-day tasks of rehabilitation and healing. When my doctor said most athletes may not recovery 100% from what I had done to my body, I chose to be the small percentage that would recover beyond 100%.
I worked so hard to get back to full strength, both physically and mentally. I really had to detach from all the goals I had before I got hurt, and realign myself with things that were going to be realistic with my year off snow and a slow progression back into this sport that brought me so much happiness. I tried not to stress too much about my contracts and their longevity because those were elements I could not be in control of, all I could control was my rehab process.
[O] You spent some of your time away from the snow getting into biking and even ending up doing a triathlon, did you ever see yourself getting into that realm? Did your recovery time open those doors?
[K] I had always wanted to do a triathlon and decided it was a fun, very ambitious, but a great goal to check off while I had to be off the hill. Biking and this triathlon gave me a way to see growth and progression as I recovered. They helped me mentally realize I could do anything I put my mind to.
[O] What was it like to get involved with another sector of the active lifestyle industry? Did you notice any major cultural differences between the two sports?
[K] Getting the chance to work with Chris MacCormmick, a professional triathlete, was really cool and inspiring. There are so many ways to push our minds and bodies, and being able to test out my abilities in that arena was a great experience. We share a lot of similarities in how we all push through challenges. I would love to continue to do triathlons for this reason.
[O] In addition to snowboarding and cycling, you seem to be a very active rock climber and hiker, how do those activities help your snowboarding?
[K] Rock climbing and hiking have been really fun activities to keep me outside during the off-season. Both these sports help keep me mentally and physically challenged and strong. They help me stay in the moment and great ways to spend time in the mountains and in nature. Climbing was pretty intimidating to get into because there were a lot of elements I had to trust before I felt comfortable on the rock, and I had to learn to trust my gear (harness, ropes, and belayer). I love climbing because it forces me to be present and stay in the moment. It’s a very mental sport; if your mind isn’t in the right place you may not make it up the route.
Hiking and trail running are other hobbies because I love seeing the mountains by trail. It’s serene, peaceful, and also exhilarating and exhausting. I have a deep appreciation for being able to use my body to its fullest capacity since I got hurt. These two outlets are my favorite ways to stay in shape.
[O] Your health and healthy living seem to be a big aspect of your life, is that a byproduct of getting older, or is it pretty much mandatory to being a professional athlete these days?
[K] I think living a healthy and active life is something we all learn through experience. I have had a lot of people in my family struggle or pass away from cancer, and I want to do as much as possible to stay healthy in the hopes of avoiding it myself. I also find that living a healthy lifestyle makes me and my body feel good. I try to live life to the fullest and eat everything in moderation because of the things I have seen or have gone through personally. I think it’s important to be aware of what we are putting in our bodies, but I don’t think it’s mandatory to be “healthy" to be a snowboarder. However, being healthy and staying fit will probably give some riders more longevity in their careers. I especially noticed that being strong and having a healthy diet before I got hurt helped tremendously as I recovered.
[O] It must be hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle when you spend most of the year traveling around the world, what are some of the things you do that other people could work into their lives to stay healthy?
[K] Creating a routine while on the road has been really important to maintaining my lifestyle. I always have healthy snacks in my bag and I try to eat pure, unpackaged foods as much as possible. I try to eat mostly organic, and personally have chosen to limit my meat intake unless I know where the meat is from.
As for activity, I always have my running shoes in my bag. Since filming in the backcountry is pretty hard on my body with the hiking, sledding, falling, etc, I don’t stress too much about working out in a gym everyday during winter. If I have a have a handful of down days in a row while waiting for weather to clear, I will go bouldering or workout in a local gym.
[O] Last season, you filmed with your husband, pro skier Chris Benchetler, and the Nimbus Independent crew, how did that arrangement come about? Was that the first time you have had the chance to film with your husband?
[K] It was a really great experience being able to film with Chris and his crew last season. I was having a hard time finding a place on a backcountry crew and these guys were awesome to let me tag along with them. That was the first time Chris and I had spent continuous time in the backcountry together. There were times where we would look at each other standing at the top of a jump and we would just start laughing because we got to share our passions for the mountains and winter sports together.
[O] Did you notice any differences between filming with skiers and filming with snowboarders?
[K] Filming with snowboarders and skiers has a lot of similarities, like terrain and feature choices. However, skiers can generate speed more quickly on an in-run to a jump than a snowboarder because of their poles and being able to skate with their skis. Therefore, some of the jumps and lines skiers pick can have limitations for a snowboarder.
[O] A lot of women and girls look to you as an inspiration, which must be flattering, but who do you look up to and why? Have you had a chance to meet any of your role models the way people get to meet you and get inspired?
[K] I am always very humbled and flattered when others tell me I have inspired them. Some of my biggest role models have been men and women who step outside the norm and have overcome challenges, which have led them to success. I can’t say I have one specific role model, but I am constantly being inspired by others who live life with a positive and ambitious attitude.
[O] Burton released your full part from the 2014 season, which must have been a relief after being out of the action for so long, are you proud of what you were able to put out?
[K] I am so grateful to have something to show for last season and even though my segment wasn’t my best snowboarding or filled with new tricks, I am proud that I was able to get back on my board and push myself out of my comfort zone while staying healthy. My injury played a big toll on my mind, and more than anything I just wanted to know that I could come back and be comfortably scared again. I really struggled to land tricks last year and I think part of it was that my body wasn't ready or strong enough to be hitting the jumps I was hitting. Mentally I had to try, and falling made me realize I was going to be okay! I’m hoping that this season I can start trying new tricks and showcasing the type of riding I know I am capable of.
[O] Can you tell us what you have in store for this season?
[K] This season I will be building a video part for the Transworld Snowboarding movie, which is really exciting! I just arrived in Japan with the Nimbus Independent crew and will spend majority of my season with them again. I am just trying to wait to see what Mother Nature does with snow and let my travel plans be dictated by her weather patterns.
[O] If you could travel back in time and talk to 14-year old Kimmy, what do you think she would think of this woman standing before her? Is there anything you would want to tell her?
[K] 14-year old Kimmy would be astonished that all of her childhood dreams have been fulfilled and that she could accomplish so much in life and snowboarding. At 14-years old my dad had just passed away and I was a mess. I was pretty challenging for my mom and snowboarding was honestly what kept me out of a lot of trouble. At that point in my life I had two choices, one was to stay positive and chase sports as a way to stay sane. The other would have been a dark road that probably would not have ended too well. Having a mom who was so supportive of me and my passions helped me chose the first option.
Looking back I would tell my 14-year old self to stay encouraged, positive, patient, and trust that all the bad will be overshadowed by the good. All of the struggles will be worth it in the end and your life will be even more beautiful than you can imagine! The dark moments in life will only make you a stronger and enlightened person in the end.