Mother-Daughter Snowboard Powerhouse Duo | Marguerite Cossettini & Freya Interview

Words: Tegan White

Half decent sponsorship deals, equal prize money (sometimes), the mere existence of Torah Bright and Tess Coady, there’s no denying women’s snowboarding down under has come a damn long way; and whilst there’s more to do, you can’t truly recognise the progression without perspective.

When you look back at the origins of our Aussie snowboard scene, Marguerite Cossettini is one of the OG’s. We all know ski resorts globally weren’t too keen on letting the snowboarding riff raff on their slopes in the late 70’s (think Burton and Sims origin eras), so when Thredbo did us a solid and gave the green light to snowboarders in 1982, it didn’t take long for the Khancoban local to get on a board.

From topping the Aussie ranks in 1992, taking out events like the MTV Boardercross, Vans Triple Crown and Swatch Tours, to competing in the first ever Winter X Games in 1997, Marguerite was getting it done well before snowboarding was even in the Olympics.

Fast forward almost three decades and Marguerite’s daughter, Freya, is coming up fast, and she is just as powerful a rider as mum. It’s a different world in women’s snowboarding these days; and there is a big ol’ gang of young female riders that I’m excited about. With the ultimate mother-daughter duo on my video call, we looked back at the scene that was, the state of our industry today and what’s next for Freya heading into Junior World Champs at the end of the month.  

Transfer: So, first things first, Marguerite, you grew up around Jindy, how did you get into snowboarding?

Marguerite: Yeah, I grew up in Khancoban. You could see the snow from my place but we were not a skiing family – by chance I got a job at Thredbo in the summer and stayed until winter.

I just remember these two guys would come in and they were just having the best time and I was learning to ski. I had this Salomon rear entry and I had the ski poles and I remember walking up to the Bistro pub up all those stairs and dropping everything. And I was like, this sucks. Maybe my first reason for snowboarding was it just made sense, carrying one board and comfy boots?

That started my journey on back-to-back Winters. Europe first then the USA where I now live. This all started in ‘88.

Being in Australia, and with snowboarding being so young, there wouldn’t have been a lot of people that came before. The ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ concept comes to mind. Who did you look up to, or what kept you frothing on riding?

Marguerite: What Kept me frothing to ride was just being outside in nature and the freedom it brings, still to this day it’s the same! There was no one person I looked up to in snowboarding. I think the whole community back in the day was inspirational, everyone played a part.

I love that you just did it because it was fun.

Marguerite: Yeah, it wasn’t the money. I wasn’t there trying to make money. I had no clue. I was just like, oh, this is a really good distraction. I get to travel. Oh, someone’s gonna give me a free board that how cool is that?

When you started competing, was there many other women entering?

Marguerite: Every resort probably had a few girls and then here, there was a small posse. But even the first event I went in, I think I was snowboarding for three weeks, two German girls came and were competing, and they won. I think they got first and second, I might have got third and it was probably a GS or something at Merritts.

Imagine just rolling into competitions now after three weeks.

Marguerite: Yeah, right! But that’s what you did. Everyone just would congregate because we were doing the same thing, so it had always had a pretty cool vibe. Everyone was super welcoming and yeah, it was cool.

It was pretty amazing when you think about it, because I think about my progression, I progressed with the sport as it was growing. Learning kind of as I was moving with the sport and that was pretty cool. You know, it felt like uncharted territory.

There is a ridiculous article from 2002 by an Australian newspaper that said “women were turned off skiing by promotions showing young men cutting loose on snowboards, which reinforced their concerns that the snowfields had become an intimidating place for casual skiers.“ Was snowboard culture as wild as it seemed back then?

Marguerite: I don’t know, was it really wild? Maybe it was maybe it wasn’t, but it sure was of a lot of fun. Great memories, good people, yeah, I’ve got some stories but I think I will keep them to myself.

I assume the world of competition is a bit different now. What’s changes have you seen between your days competing and now Freya’s time?

Marguerite: I guess the big difference I see between competing now and back in my time is there are more athletes, you [had] separate big mountain/park pipe/sbx events back in the beginning. Naturally we did it all because it was a smaller community. Another big difference is the cost. That teen from Khancoban would never make it on her own nowadays! I wish there was more scholarships funding for local kids, Jindy has become an amazing epicentre for snow sports.

It’s just, yeah, it’s a different world. Once the Olympics came in and FIS took over from the ISF. Everything really changed for sure.

A bit different to the MTV Boardercross, the Swatch series and the Berocca and VB Classics? It’s wild to me that MTV were running snowboard events.

Marguerite: The Swatch Tour for me was amazing because the riders were at the rider meetings.
We had a lot of input with courses and you know everything that went on with the event. They really listened, the ISF. They really listened to the athletes and FIS was completely different. It’s run by big corporation, big money and a lot of blokes.

I think with the MTV one, well that was pretty cool. I have a pretty cool trophy from one MTV event down in Snow Summit! The only event nowadays that somehow replicate what it was like back in the day would be the Baker Banked Slalom. It’s the longest running snowboard event in the world.

Back then, were you on Burton? Did you have a sponsor me VHS tape?

Marguerite: Yes, I rode with Burton. I think Solomon first had the rights for Burton in Australia.
I think there was a group called Bursill Snow Sports or something, and I remember it was myself and a couple of other guys, and they basically said to me, you could tell they hated snowboarders, but they were like, yeah, what’s your wish list you’ll be lucky to get anything kind of deal.
And then eventually, Burton kinda, obviously grew.
And then Wes took over.

I haven’t been sponsored for a long time! I do have my own winter accessory brand called Mountains Calling so you could say I sponsor myself and I never did have a VHS tape I wasn’t that tech savvy, still aren’t.

The fashion has sure made a comeback.

Marguerite: Well, you know, it’s so funny. Like early on, we had the fat pants right, and it was like wearing curtains. But they’re really fat, really wide at the bottom. Now the fat pants have come back in, but they’re gathered at the bottom, like they’re really ballooning.

Freya asked me to make her a pair of fat pants because I’m a sewer. So back in the states I was sewing and she goes, “Mom, they’re not fat enough”. And I was like, oh, my God, these are really fat. So I had to add in more fabric and more and it was just she wears them here. She wore them at Cattlemen’s. The purple pants.

They would sell like crazy on Front Valley. You’ll be getting requests for those soon.

Freya: We have!

These days, you’re back in Jindy, are many of the crew from the early Thredbo days still riding?

Marguerite: I’ve started coming back to do Winters in the Southern Hemisphere the last few years and I definitely see some of the old crew on the hill. And what’s super cool is seeing the friends that I used to compete with and travel with, their kids ripping on the snow and at comps. Pretty cool.

And this week, there’s gonna be a whole bunch because of the banked slalom coming up that I’m looking forward to catching up with.

So Freya, you’re competing for Aus these days, tell us a bit about when and where you started snowboarding?

Freya: Well, I grew up in South Lake Tahoe and my home mountain was originally Kirkwood because I used to be a skier. I did ski racing since I was like 12, I’d say.

I switched because I went up to Washington for the Baker Banked Slalom to watch my mom we do family trips up there. I watched my mom one year when I was a skier and I thought, like, I’m gonna learn snowboarding, this is what I wanna do when I grow up.

And so I told my mom, she put me on a snowboard, she got me this Unicorn rainbow snowboard and I started off on the baby hills. Learning, what was it, falling leaf or whatever.

I got into park around 12, started doing comps like USASA, and my home mountain was Sierra at Tahoe. I [was in] a snowboarding team there for about 2.5 years and then I started coming over here.

How does the women’s snowboard scene over there compare to here?

Freya: Ohh it’s pretty different. I mean, I was super young when I was doing the USASA comps. Like, all comps are fun, but USASA say is like mainly for the younger kids or newer snowboarders trying to get in. But Thredbo series, Perisher Series, like FIS comps are more pressure, whenever I’m competing, I get in my head a lot so, I don’t know, I’m working on it but snowboarding is pretty fun and I have a I have a lot of fun competing.

Now you’re navigating the world of brand sponsorship, do you ever talk about differences in how everything is run these days? Other than the rapid demise of sponsor me tapes.

Marguerite: Yeah, I think so. I feel like back in Tahoe, at least where we are, it’s harder. There’s no real trickle down. There’s a lot of talented kids there that don’t get anything. I think back in the day the shop was the starting point for a young athlete and the shop would tell the reps, there was that connection. I think Jindy has that like Australia, has that still.

I’m actually shattered that you didn’t have a sponsor me tape. But Freya, if you had a sponsor me tape, what song would it be to?

Freya: Bombtrack by Rage Against the Machine. Ohh, old school always.

You ditched Jindy for Mt Buller a few weeks back Burton’s Cattleman’s Cup. You were absolutely destroying the giant hip on the first day of the comp Freya and congrats on taking out the W for the day. You look super comfortable in the air, so rails v jumps, what’s your preference?

Freya: That’s a tough one. Normally I’d say whatever like I’m best at in the moment. But if I’m gonna be honest, I like being in the air. I like jumps. I don’t know, I like the feeling of just being what, like 50 something feet in the air, pretty good feeling. Just like a floaty back three, cab 5 or just a sick old school method. I couldn’t quite get a method cause like that side was so choppy, but it was pretty good.

Is that the same for you mum? Do you ever hit rails?

Marguerite: Who me? No, no!

Some of the girls these days are oozing style on rails and then we have cab 1440’s and swack 12’s coming out of Mia and Zoi. I know I get giddy watching the insane progression year on year, but I’ve heard plenty of the guys saying they love watching the women’s comps more these days for the same reason. Marguerite, what’s your thoughts on where women’s riding is at today – is this where you thought we would end up?

Marguerite: I haven’t even thought about it. Looking back like, it would have been cool, back in my day, to look at, even what the guys were doing and go hell yeah, a girl can do that. There’s no reason why they can’t, you know. But we didn’t have the trampoline sessions. We didn’t have all that. And the jumps, we were hitting big jumps, but they mightn’t have been right. You know, we were like test monkeys.

Imagine having a Charles Beckinsale, you know, back in those days. Would have been amazing.

Who inspires you the most, Freya?

Freya: Oh, I mean, there’s so many right now like Zoi, Tess Coady, Zeb, Dusty. My mom.
I don’t know, cause not to give her any shoutouts, but she put me on the snowboard. I don’t even know where I’d be at if I wasn’t snowboarding right now.

Marguerite: She’d be skiing
Freya: I definitely look up to mom.

Well, onto the future, Junior World Champs are coming up at the end of the month. You’ve been selected to compete, along with a solid crew of fellow Aussie girls. How are you feeling?

Freya: Yeah, I’m competing for Australia. Go to Junior Worlds New Zealand on the 21st of August.

There’s a pretty big crew of girls coming up in Aus at the moment isn’t there?

Freya: Yeah, stacked field. It’s gonna be good.

What’s next for you after world champs?

Freya: After World champs, well I have to see how I go. I have a lot of work to put in before junior worlds. There’s two spots for Australia after junior worlds for Youth Olympics in 2024. So basically, we’re competing for a spot there.

So after Junior worlds, come back here, finish up my season and then go back to Tahoe and begin my comp season over there.

Best of luck! Any shoutouts?

Freya: Shout out to Skindog, Volcom, all my sponsors. Mom for supporting me, my coaches, family.

With all that out of the way, here comes the most important question of this interview. You both crushed it in Transfer’s Banked Slalom in 2022, which half of the fastest mother-daughter duo in town is going to record the quickest time on Friday?

Freya: She used to beat me when I was younger and we’d make bets that if I beat her time, she’d take me out for dinner, give me 50 bucks, buy me a new snowboard and whatnot. And when was the first time I beat you? Was that at Rocker?

Marguerite: Yeah, maybe Rally for Rocker, there’s an amazing banked slalom hand built in Tahoe, in the backcountry, the side country and she kicked my ass.

Freya: Yeah, I finally beat her.

Once I started snowboarding, we would travel to banked slaloms around Tahoe and whatnot and those are probably some of the funnest moments of my life.

Younger self, my only goal was to beat my mom because she was faster than me. And when I finally did, it was an accomplishment.

Marguerite: It’ll be fun on Friday Freya: Yeah, me and Val, aiming for tallest spot on the podium. Fingers crossed.

It’s serious business.

Marguerite: It is. Everyone’s looking at everyone else’s board, seeing what’s going on. Last year, Brad George had some old skanky looking rub on wax. You know, we were looking at him like, you should throw it away, it’s so old and he had like…the fastest time in his category.

So ask Brad George for the fast wax.


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