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Snowboarder Elena Hight Defies Gravity

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What you need to know about the double back-side alley-oop rodeo, a truly vertiginous halfpipe trick (google it), is that Elena Hight, 26, was the first to stick it. The former gymnast has been one of snowboarding's most mesmerizing aerialists since age 13. As this two-time Olympian preps to take on the laws of physics yet again at the X Games in January, we learn what makes her tick. (Ever wondered if The X Games Aspen Predict Olympic Champions?)

Shape: How did a girl from Hawaii end up on the slopes?
Elena Hight (EH): My family relocated from the beach to the mountains when I was 6, so the first thing my surfer dad did was teach us to snowboard. Still, I hate the cold.

Shape: What's your training like?
EH: Usually I'm on the mountain for two to five hours a day. The rest of the time is recovery. I'll do light Spinning to get the lactic acid out of my legs and yoga for a good stretch.

Shape: Butt or legs?
EH: Snowboarding is all about your butt. I do lots of squats and lots of lunges. (Use these 3 Strength Exercises from Snowboarder Elena Hight to get slope-ready.)

Shape: First thing you do in the morning?
EH: I drink 16 ounces of lemon water to ensure that I start off my day hydrated. Then I make an egg-white scramble with spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes and have it with a side of fruit—pineapple is my favorite.

Shape: Coffee, tea, or cocoa?
EH: I'm really addicted to coffee. Especially almond milk lattes.

Shape: Comfort food: Do you go nuts or stay healthy?
EH: I love to cook homemade veggie curry using light coconut milk instead of dairy and to eat it with brown rice. I add tons of fresh spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric, and yellow or red curry paste.

Shape: Travel must-have?
EH: I always bring a mat, and I'll tap into a yoga podcast.

Shape: Snow angels or snowballs?
EH: A snowball fight—that's way more fun!

Shape: What's your winter face-saving strategy?
EH: I use 100% Pure's moisturizer with açai berry and then put Sweat sunscreen on top, because it's mineral-based and stays on. There's nothing worse than a goggle tan. (We've got even more Winter Beauty Tips from X Games Stars.)

Shape: What goes through your head when you're soaring upside down?
EH: The best part is, when you've practiced something again and again, you don't have to think. It all just comes together. You've prepared and you know exactly how to do it, so your body simply takes over.

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