Interview | Freeride Queen, Michaela Davis-Meehan

We catch up with the female freeride rider and North Face Team rider to chat life, backcountry, competing and more...

Michaela Davis-Meehan is a rarity in the snowboarding world. She was not only the only Australian on the Freeride World Tour (FWT) last year, but also the only Australian to take gold at a FWT event. Male or female, skier or snowboarder, Michaela is the only one. That makes her a queen in our eyes.

Born in Newcastle, Michaela grew up making trips to the snow with her family. As a teen she joined the Perisher Winter Sports Club, focusing most of her energy on Slopestyle snowboarding before making the switch to freeride, and as they say, the rest is history.

She is hosting soon a three-day ‘Ladies Discover Freeride Weekend’, in collaboration with Mountainwatch and The North Face up at Thredbo Resort and in the backcountry from 14-16 August. “This weekend is really for anyone that’s keen to push their riding, gain more courage and ultimately send it!” she says. 

We managed to drag Michaela off the Perisher slopes to give us some knowledge on backcountry preparedness, The North Face, the upcoming freeride weekend, and life on the FWT.

Transfer: Hey Michaela! Were you out boarding today?

Michaela: I sure was! Getting some turns in at Brumby T-Bar at Perisher!

Oh shit, that sounds amazing. Conditions still primo?

It’s warmed up, but still fun.

As long as it’s still fun!

That’s it! haha

Does riding down here help prepare you for the Freeride World Tour, or is it a little too mellow to really help for your preparation?

It’s a bit tough as the terrain is a lot more mellow compared to the FWT. But any time on snow helps for sure! And there’s still some fun features around the place to jump off.

True. How was this last seasons tour? Was it tough, considering you didn’t get as much chance to ride thanks to our lockdowns and subpar winter last year?

I didn’t do as well as I know I can this past FWT. Thanks to good old lockdown, I missed our Aussie winter. So 10 months off snow and then straight back into the comp scene was a bit challenging, as it took a bit of extra time to get my legs back.

I bet, pretty impressive to finish 6th overall when you take all that into account! So is it now all guns blazing coming into the 2022 season?

That’s the plan! I’m getting a bunch of riding in and ready to send it!

Let’s see it! Outside of training for next season, have you got any plans for your Aussie winter?

I’m hoping to get in a few backcountry trips, including some overnighters. I’ll be doing my Level 2 Avalanche Safety Training with Snow Safety Australia coming up next week, and I’m running my Discover Freeride Camps in collaboration with Mountain Watch and The North Face in Thredbo next week.

Rad! Could you go a bit deeper in your Discover Freeride Camps? What does it involve, and who is it open to?

Yeah, so I’ve had this idea brewing for the past few years to get more Aussies into freeriding and competing on the Freeride Qualifying Tour. It’s been a super fun journey for me, getting to the FWT, but there’s no real pathway for people who want to get into it. So I thought it would be a great idea to start a camp for intermediate-advanced riders. To come along and learn the in’s and outs of freeriding, whether it’s just for fun or to get into the competition scene. Travelling around on the FWT is an amazing experience and is like travelling with one big family. So I hope to bring that vibe to the camp as it’s open to skiers and snowboarders.

That sounds phenomenal! Is there anyone of the FWT you especially vibe with or enjoy competing against?

Actually, all the snowboard girls get along really well! I’ve made some really good friends and love travelling and riding with them. We all still want to win, but we all party together afterwards! haha

The question we really want to know the answer to is; who parties the hardest on tour?

What happens on tour, stays on tour! Haha, the parties are always a good vibe. Everyone’s adrenalin is up after riding a big face and dropping off big cliffs! The stoke is high!

Sounds dangerous. You mentioned you’re planning on doing some backcountry this season, and there’s a lot of crew just getting into it here in Oz. What are some of the must-have equipment you’re taking out there with you?

No. 1 is knowledge! You can have all the gear and no idea. Go out with people that know what they’re doing before you trek it alone. There is a bunch of backcountry Facebook groups these days, so it’s easy to meet others that are going out. Go and do your avalanche training, the level 1 is only a 2-day course where you’ll also learn the essential equipment of transceiver, shovel and probe and how to use them.

Wise words. Lastly, I just wanted to chat about The North Face. Last week we saw Tess Coady being named to the team, and you’ve been with them since 2019. What is it like riding for a top of the line company like North Face?

So stoked to have a shredder like Tess join the team! It’s such a great team to be a part of. Their support has been fantastic! The gear is top quality, they support a diverse range of athletes, and the opportunities are amazing! Being able to make films like Western Faces with people like Anna Segal and Tim McCartney Snape is just awesome. I was hoping to find some unridden cornices in NZ with Sam Smoothy and Janina Kuzma for another film project – but NZ seems out of reach atm. Looking forward to more adventures in our own backyard this winter!

Rad. We can’t wait to see some clips of you getting after it in your backyard! Thanks fore the chat.

Cheers! Cya out there!


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