The Nora Beck Interview

This interview was conducted in June 2021. Since then Nora has been stacking insane shots in the streets (many of which you’ll see in the next volume of Method Mag), but a few weeks ago things took a drastic turn, and she’s undergone a hell of a journey. Only 11 days out of a treatment program for heroin addiction and 46 days sober, Nora shattered her T12 vertebrae at It’s Tits. She underwent surgery and had to face the tough decision of taking painkillers to get herself through the intense recovery process, which was far from an easy thing to face. She smashed her early PT goals like the boss she is and is now back out in the world, but still has a long road ahead of her, both physically and mentally. Nora isn’t really the kind of person who’s comfortable asking others for help but is beloved by the snowboard community, and a gofundme was set up in her behalf by Laura Rogoski. The link is below if you’re able to contribute anything towards getting this rad human back onto her feet. We love you Nora!

Go Fund Nora HERE

Photos by Stephan Jende
Interview by Theo Acworth
Interview extracted from Method Mag Issue 22.3

“Anyone that has filmed in Minnesota late season will tell you the weather can go from single digits and snowing to 45F and sunny in just a single week. Nora caught that extreme shift in weather while she was in Minnesota. Nora being Nora, didn’t let that phase her. She stacked more heavy clips in a 2-3 week span than some do in an entire winter here, all while keeping things entertaining at the spot” - Stephan Jende


Hey Nora, where are you right now?
I’m in Bend, Oregon. It’s a nice place, Mt Bachelor is its own little world, and I love our little bubble that is this town.

I’ve heard it’s nice. I need to come and visit sometime. So besides these photos and your sick ender part in ‘Seven’ from Too Hard, I don’t actually know too much about you. So, who are you, Nora?
I’m Nora beck, I’m 24 years old, and I grew up on the East Coast just outside of Washington DC. I graduated high school moved out to Bend, and have just been trying to board. I’m kind of an idiot, and I’m just trying to have as much fun as I can.

Would other people describe you as an idiot, or is that just you?
No, that’s just the little self-deprecating side of myself.

Well, lots of people have told me they like you, so I’d say you’re doing something right. So outside of Washington DC means you grew up in Virginia, right?
Yeah, so Virginia kind of comes up into this point right next to DC.

I have an image in my mind of quiet backroads and woodlands, but I don’t know if that’s in any way accurate or if that’s just what movies have taught me.
No, that’s very accurate. There are lots of roads that are deemed too historic to pave because of Civil War stuff. So they have all these gravel roads everywhere that they can’t maintain because it will ruin its history or something.

 

 

How did you get into snowboarding there, is there much of a scene?
Not much of a scene, but there are a few hills close by. It would take about an hour to get out to them. Just little trash hills, maybe 600 vertical feet or so. I don’t know what that is in meters, 200 something maybe?

Something like that. But I guess it was enough to interest you in snowboarding if you’re doing it now and you’ve moved to a place where you can do it all the time?
Yeah, I think about that sometimes. Something must have just clicked. When I was a kid, my Great Uncle lived up in the mountains, and I remember when I was eight or so, I tried snowboarding up there in a resort near New York, and I was hooked from then on.


“I got a job at 14, even though I didn’t know anything about snowboarding, or instructing”


Yeah, I think everyone has the same story. You do it once, and then it’s got you.
So I did the once a year, or every other year kinda trip with my family. My dad wasn’t all that into it, and my mum had actually blown her knee out when she was skiing while in the Navy back in the day. She fucked her knee up and got discharged from the Navy, so she was never a big fan of skiing after that. I had some friends in high school, and one of their moms worked up at the ski resort, and I got a job there at fourteen. I was an assistant instructor, even though I didn’t know anything about snowboarding or instructing. That got me on the hill and got me a free pass from fourteen to eighteen.

That’s rad.
Even the instructors there didn’t really know what they were doing. It was a pretty loose show, to be honest.

All the best shows are. So how did you go from being a non-qualified instructor to filming street with Too Hard?
I’m not sure, really. I didn’t really have any plans or intentions of getting into the snowboard industry at that point. I was just not really making good life choices and running myself into the ground. So I just needed to get out of Virginia and go snowboard as much as possible. And then when I was nineteen I think, or twenty, I got in touch with Danyale Patterson. She invited me out to go and film that one year. And that’s how that Seven part ended up coming about. And I’ve just been on that constant loop ever since.

 

 

Most people will never have that spark or moment when they make themselves change their lifestyle, so well done for making a change happen.
Something just had to happen. I just felt that I didn’t really have much of a future left for me in Virginia. There’s nothing to really do over there. If you’re happy doing the same thing, sure. But you can get stuck doing it. It’s just farmland, pretty much.

So filming for Seven was just one winter?
Yeah, that was 2017/18 winter.

Had you ever filmed anything before that?
No, not really. I’d done some stuff at the resort. But I never really filmed anything in the street.

How was that as a jump for you?
I definitely got worked that year. I knocked myself out. I bit all the way through my lip and split it open and had to get like eight stitches. So that was definitely a wake-up call. Like, oh, you can’t just toss your body around like you do on the mountain. You’ve got to be a little more in control.

Well, it seems like it all came together pretty well because your shots in that were savage.
Thank you. I appreciate it.

What have you been filming for this year?
The Uninvited 3. So this year, I was only focused on that project. Or as much as I could with COVID, at least. It was definitely a challenging year. Understandably, no one wants to be travelling or putting themselves out there too much, and I hated every second of the travelling. But if I hadn’t, I think there would have been a part inside of me that would have said, ‚Yo, you’re not doing anything, you gotta get up and go’.

Where were you shooting for it?
I spent two weeks on the East Coast up in Vermont with Joey and Maggie Leon and the Spot Heads crew. Then I went out to the Midwest to Minnesota for a few weeks after that with Dan Tyler and Benny Milam. Those two have always been a big help to me when we’ve had to film stuff. And also filming a little bit around Bend. I tried to keep it simple.


“You want to feel content with what you did. But then you know, in the long run, that contentedness could bite you in the butt. It’s definitely a tough relationship. For your own mental health, I mean.”


You happy with the shots you got?
No, but you should never be happy, right? You should always want a little bit more. I think it’s a bad thing to be content with what you did. It’s definitely a tough relationship. For your own mental health, I mean. You want to feel content with what you did. But then you know, in the long run, that contentedness could bite you in the butt. So you should really keep pushing yourself.

What’s the process of shooting street like for you?
It’s a little bit of psyching myself up and a lot of pretending that nothing’s happening. Pretending I’m just standing there and I’m just watching, or I’m just in the park. And then, once I’m completely removed, I just go and drop in before I can start thinking about it because it is terrifying most of the time. Falling 40 times in a row down some stupid stairs and breaking yourself off? And then you’re just supposed to get up and do it again? So for me, it’s a big mental game of pulling myself out of the situation instead of trying to overcome it. Because if I don’t, then the anxiety and the adrenaline are just fighting each other in my stomach. And then I don’t want to do anything. You’re not gonna fight that fire with more fire. You’re just going to want to puke and do nothing.

Which probably isn’t the best end result for anyone. I know you’ve ridden the Dew Tour rail jams, and you were also at Red Bull Recharged. I was wondering how you feel in those competitive environments compared to street?
To be honest, I still don’t know how I feel about them. Every one of those competitions has such a different feeling to it. The Dew Tour ones I was kind of like, ok, when else am I going to actually get to ride at a Dew Tour? I didn’t necessarily want to, but I didn’t want to regret missing the opportunity. At the Recharge thing was I was a total fish out of water, so much so that I just didn’t feel any pressure at all. It was like, I know I don’t belong here, you guys have fun, and I’m just going to try my best to keep up and hit these massive jumps, and whatever happens, happens.


“I got my second vaccine shot in the morning, and then I had the flight in the afternoon.  So I walked into the airport feeling like I’d just eaten 10 edibles.”


How did you end up being invited?
It was really last minute. I was at It’s Tits in Hood, and I got a call that they wanted me to come down to Mammoth. They said they’d pay for a flight and hotel room, so I can’t say no to that. It was a total mess getting down there though. I got my second vaccine shot in the morning, and then I had the flight in the afternoon. So I walked into the airport feeling like I’d just eaten 10 edibles. I left my wallet on the seat next to me in the airport, and I showed up in Reno at 10pm, and they wouldn’t give me my rental car. Shout out to Steve the Red Bull guy. He Venmo’d me $300 for an Uber. The poor Uber guy just dropped me off at the Mammoth Mountain parking lot at 1.30 in the morning. It was a mess, but it was an amazing experience.

And a good story as well.
Yeah.

How was it riding that setup? Those features didn’t look too mellow.
No, they weren’t, and it was so long. I don’t know how these slopestyle people can do it. Jump jump, jump. Jump for like 3 minutes straight, going down a whole run. And then get back up and do it again. It makes sense when they all say that they only snowboard for like 4 laps a day, and then they just go home. An event like that was something I would never have done normally. And all of those contest kids are such insane snowboarders. I was just happy to be sitting on the sidelines. But I got 3rd place which is crazy, and I won a Traeger grill.

Oh nice, congrats.
Somehow I was on the podium next to Jamie Anderson and Hailey Langland, which is something. I would never have thought I’d do in my life. Usually, I’d be happy with a water bottle as a prize or a nice hat.

 

 

Same for me, or stickers. So you’ve ridden some pretty high profile events, but the contests you’ve really dominated are Skolf. I would say that they are the ultimate test of a snowboarder’s abilities more than any other event. Seems like they’re a pretty natural fit for you?
I would definitely say that I’m a much more natural Skolfer than anything. I talked to Pat Dodge at Burton after Dew Tour last year, and I said I’m way more of a Skolfer than a Dew Tourer. Some things just make more sense. I love Skolf though, everyone at Airblaster is amazing. I’m so grateful that they came up with Skolf and continue to put it on every year.

Absolutely. Do you get contest incentives from Burton for winning Skolf?
Not for Skolf, unfortunately.

I didn’t think so, but it was worth asking.
Most of the time, we just got a pat on the back.

I can’t imagine them ranking Skolf up there with high profile contests, despite the fact that Skolf has far more credibility within the snowboarding community than most other events.
Love to hear that side of it.

So as we’re talking about sponsors and how they feel about things, I know that you’re sponsored by Tokyo Starfish, which is a weed dispensary. I was wondering if there’s ever any clash between that and Burton?
Not ever. Burton has always been very supportive. Kevin Porterfield, one of the owners of Tokyo Starfish, was a Burton team manager back in the day. So the guys at Tokyo are all boarders, and they support snowboarding. And Burton doesn’t really mind, which is nice.

That’s cool to hear. I’ve read things about more mainstream athletes who like to partake but can’t do so publicly because they will be crucified by the companies that support them.
I try to walk a fine line. I’m not filming myself taking bong rips and tagging Tokyo and putting them on my story, you know?

So how does a sponsorship with a dispensary work? Do they give you free weed?
Legally, they can’t give away products. It all has to be inventoried, so we get a certain amount of store credit as part of our sponsorship. Those guys are great. They’re right down the street from me, too, only a block and a half away.

Very convenient. So is snowboarding something that you’re able to make a living from full time? Or are you still doing other stuff on the side?
It’s still a part-time thing. I still find myself out on the weed farm in the summer. But that’s just the state of the industry at this point.

Fair enough, better to have a few irons in the fire if possible. But it sounds like your sponsors are all pretty supportive of what you do and how you approach snowboarding?
Yeah. I’ve never been pushed to do anything other than what I’m doing, which is really nice. Maybe that’ll change one day. But I feel like, at this point, most people are getting support based on who they are and not to turn someone into something else. Because that just feels forced, and you can tell when it’s forced.

Watch Nora's killer full part in The Univited III Movie here: