By T. Ghezzi
One early morning in Schweitzer’s lower parking lot, a group of mostly skiers circled up for an Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center Avalanche 1 course. Being one of the only snowboarders in the course, it was easy to spot the other soft-boot powder chasers, and that is where I met Emma Hall for the first time.
Over the next two days, Emma’s riding, attitude, and ability to learn and perform the recently acquired avalanche skills were incredible. In hindsight, I can’t image what it must have felt like for 15-year-old Emma (now 16) to take the course solo with a group of mostly male skiers twice her age.
A few weeks later, I spoke with Emma’s dad Adam Hall at Silver Mountain’s Doug E Fresh Banked Slalom event, and he talked about her passion for learning more about the backcountry and that Emma wasn’t the only teenage shredder in the family. It turned out younger sister Maddie Hall (14 years old) is just as passionate and driven to spend time up on the mountain.
The Halls’ home mountain is Schweitzer, and they are currently sponsored by the highly-respected 7B Skate Shop in Sandpoint. The past year both sisters have been working closely with a couple different snowboard manufactures to get partnerships started.
After competing in regional banked slalom races and getting multiple podium finishes, the two were invited to this year’s highly exclusive Dirksen Derby at Mt. Bachelor, Ore.
Meet Emma Hall (Age 16)
Emma’s relaxed and confident demeanor makes her seem in control of her snowboard destiny. Her love is big mountain riding, chasing powder, hitting cliff drops, and exploring the backcountry.
Attending online public school through the Connections Academy, Emma is stoked to take advantage of being home schooled this year so that she can go up to the mountain every day. I asked her if she has thought about college, and her reply said it all: “I am living in the moment. College, I am not for sure.”
The goal she does have in mind, she added, is to become a backcountry snowboard guide, and she has her sights on being a certified American Mountain Guide Association guide.
Meet Maddie Hall (Age 14)
Chatting with Maddie you’ll sense right away the fire inside her to be the best snowboarder she can. No doubt this will help her out as she continues to enter contests and hitting rails and jumps in the park.
“Park laps are fun,” she says, “but it depends on the day.” If there is new snow, she says, you can bet she’ll be out riding powder.
The sisters agreed their snowboard idol is Elena Hight, because of what she has accomplished in her career.
To my surprise, their second most inspirational rider was Jeremy Jones. Emma and Maddie said they respect his backcountry riding and say he is a “Rad Dad” just like theirs, which led the sisters to add that the most influential snowboarder to them is their dad.
They treasure their dad’s love for snowboarding and for passing it on to them and point to his supportive and motivating approach to sharing the sport with them in a way that also gave them room to grow on their own.
The Hall sisters’ energy, passion, and drive is the core of what it means to be a snowboarder, and their energy and love for riding snow is contagious and exactly what the Inland Northwest snowboard culture needs.
T. Ghezzi is Pacific Northwest raised and believes we should respect the land, spend time in nature, explore, adventure, hike, and never stop the pursuit to ride powder.
Editor’s update: At the Dirksen Derby, December 17-18, 2021, Maddie ranked 3rd in the Grom Girls division (age 10-14), and Emma ranked 5th in the Teen women’s division (age 15-19). Event results available online.
This story originally appeared in the November-December 2021 print issue.