Darian Haynes competes during the FIS Para Snowboard World Cup event on Dec. 15-21, 2022 in Kelowna, British Columbia.
Darian Haynes openly admits she hates the cold. As a world-class adapted surfer who grew up and trained with the best in Hawaii, Haynes always did her best to limit even her exposure to cold water.
This of course makes her latest endeavor, becoming a Paralympic hopeful competing on snow, all the more surprising.
“I learned I am OK with being around snow because I am dressed up right,” the burgeoning Para snowboarder said, adding a laugh. “You can be warm while being cold. So I am showing I can change, right? But warm will always be better.”
For a long time, Haynes had dreamed of competing in the Paralympics as a surfer, even though that sport isn’t part of the Games. However, after five years of globetrotting as a competitive surfer, she was starting to feel burned out. Then the pandemic hit, and Hawaii’s restrictive COVID-19 lockdown forced people to mostly stay inside.
This led her to search for new athletic challenges that would expand her world.
Haynes went big. In addition to swapping out her longboard for a surfboard, she’s also taken up skateboarding. And, oh yeah, she moved to the mainland, too.
“This all just feels really right for me right now: skateboarding and snowboarding,” Haynes, 22, said. “I want to push myself and see how far this can go. I have a lot to learn in both sports because I am starting from the beginning.”
In the winter she’s training in Colorado, thanks to the mentoring and help of three-time Paralympic snowboard medalist Amy Purdy. The goal is progression: learning techniques, building up her body and learning from the adaptive boarders around her. She was invited to compete in the Dew Tour snowboard events last year, letting her gain experience.
Purdy and her husband Daniel Gale let Haynes crash for a month at their house while she was getting settled in Copper Mountain. She views Purdy as a shining star in many ways.
“I cannot imagine anybody better than Amy, she has done it all,” Haynes said. “She has lived through a ton of crap in her life, stayed strong, found her way, and made it to the top because of her determination.
“She has inspired so many people around the world with who she is and what she does. I want to do that too; I want to be somebody people can look up to.”
Haynes’ snowboard development is ahead of the skateboard side. She is working on being able to drop in, a tough skateboard skill. It took her nearly six years to master getting up on the surfboard, so she knows her patience can be rewarded.