U.S. Paralympics Sno... Features Snowboarder Izy Hick...

Snowboarder Izy Hicks Is Ready To Conquer The Mountain This Winter

By Paul D. Bowker | Oct. 25, 2022, 1:27 p.m. (ET)

Izy Hicks prepares for a race. (Photo: @izybelle249)

Isabelle Hicks laughs now when she thinks about the spam folder in her emails.


That’s precisely where an invite to a U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding development camp wound up months ago. Luckily she found it in time.


“Uh-oh, this is for real,” she remembers saying to herself.


It certainly was for real. Izy, as she is known, joined four other up-and-coming snowboarders, along with three-time Paralympic gold medalist Brenna Huckaby and U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding coach Mike Jennings for a week-long camp in June at Timberline Lodge on the south side of Mount Hood, Oregon.


“We had a really awesome time,” Hicks said. “It was super fun to get to learn some newer ways of looking at snowboarding, especially trying to apply that on the type of terrain that most of us had not gotten to experience before was really cool.”


“Just getting to meet everybody was an awesome opportunity,” she added.


Hicks quickly made an impression on Jennings at camp.


“She was a treat,” Jennings said. “I hadn’t had the opportunity to work with her before. She is an upper-limb athlete that impressed me tremendously and definitely had a solid amount of progression throughout the camp.”


Hicks, who turned 20 years old in July and is a junior at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, was the youngest snowboarder at the camp. But she is learning fast. Hicks, a native of Syracuse, New York, who now lives in Kaysville, Utah, has been snowboarding since she was 10 and has already competed internationally.


That much experience has already given Hicks a personal snowboarding motto.


“If you don’t look like you’re about to fall over, you’re probably doing it wrong.”


Talk about snowboarding with Hicks, and you’ll hear the science.


“I learned a lot about the technical angulation and movements that you need to be doing for snowboarding,” Hicks said. “It was really important foundationally to implement the things into your riding to be able to notice a difference. It generally just made riding feeling a lot better.”


There are a lot of athletes who don’t learn about the existence of adaptive sports until later in life. That wasn’t the case for Hicks, as she was introduced to adaptive sports at an early age after being born without a right hand.


“Personally, people that I look up to for role models are everywhere,” Hicks said. “And I think I’ve been really lucky with that because my mom has always been trying to get me really involved in the disabled community. I met people in the skiing and snowboarding communities when I was around 11, 10 years old.”


She met three-time Paralympic snowboarder Keith Gabel when she was 12. She met Huckaby for the first time when she was 13. When she was just starting high school, she traveled to South Korea to teach skiing to kids with intellectual disabilities in an initiative coordinated by the National Ability Center.


“It was crazy. It was so green everywhere,” she said. “I couldn’t believe how cold it was.”


Her international snowboarding career began more than three years ago, when Hicks finished first in snowboardcross in a Continental Cup event in January 2019 at Big White Ski Resort in British Columbia. She added four wins in 2020: a pair at Sun Valley, Idaho, and a pair at Big White.


Hicks will jump back into competition this coming winter following an extended break of nearly two years during the pandemic in which she served as a nursing assistant in Utah.


Her main goal now is the Paralympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026.


“Yeah, that would be the dream,” Hicks said, “but I really do just love to snowboard. If I can get there, that would be super awesome. That is the dream.”


And the dream may have begun at that Mount Hood camp in June.


“I think that the movements that Mike taught us are going to be something that I’ll definitely need to focus on because they’re very important for the dynamic aspect of snowboarding,” Hicks said. “But also I think I have specific angles that are harder for me to meet sometimes just because of balance and what-not. So I think working on adding in modifications to that I’ve learned are going to be pretty important, too.”


Beyond the instruction, Hicks increased a circle of snowboarding friends she is likely to see on the Continental Cup and world cup tours on the way to possibly Milano and Cortina. They stay in touch now via social media. They’ll soon meet again either at the International Paralympic Committee’s classification sessions in late fall or a competition soon after that.


“Can’t wait to see them,” she said.


Paul D. Bowker

Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to USParaSnowboarding.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.