Vegan snowboarder Niki Kelly announced her arrival in international competition with a place on the Freeride World Tour.
The tour took snowboarders to mountains in Austria, Japan, Kelly's native Canada, and Andorra where they encountered a variety of conditions.
"Every place I visited was so different," Kelly told Great Vegan Athletes. "I was so humbled to ride these amazing faces around the world. "Japan was the most different compared to where I normally train at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden BC Canada."
"The snow in Japan was quite dense which required you to adjust your technique when sending it off features. I absolutely loved it. The other stops on the tour were amazing as well, and exactly the style of mountains I enjoy riding and pushing myself on."
With a high standard, she has a difficult introduction she coped well with. "There were ups and downs as with any sport. But ultimately being on the Freeride World Tour challenged me and allowed me to travel the world, all while meeting new people. The experience was priceless."
A few issues remained with finding vegan food, although there was nothing too troubling. "Most of the difficulties were because being on the tour was a tight schedule with a lot of traveling in between stops," she said.
"Usually I'm very good at having packed snacks and food, or I can easily get myself to a grocery store and find what I need. Figuring out the logistics to do so was the hardest part.
"I found Japan one of the easiest places even though there was the biggest language barrier. Once you could explain that you wanted vegan they were very willing to accommodate."
'Growing from the experience'
The tour was a fantastic chance for the athlete to learn in different environments, and she has more events planned.
"I would like to compete on the Freeride World Qualifying events next year to try and gain a spot back on the Freeride World Tour for 2021. Now that I have learned so much I’d like to go back and apply what I have learned.
"I also recently competed in my first ever Boarderstyle event put on by Monster Energy. It is a circuit of events that take place in western Canada. The best way to describe the sport is like a hybrid of boardercross, slopestyle, and an obstacle course.
"I also plan on enjoying the rest of the snowboard season riding some spring conditions, which I find is great for park riding. Lastly, I'm going to continue with my blog over the summer. I'm even thinking of applying the lessons I've learned with traveling as a vegan into that blog."