Summer Fenton Interview

Born and raised in San Francisco, Summer Fenton grew up as the ultimate weekend warrior, making trips up to Tahoe as much as she could from the time she was four years old. Love at first turn, she started competing two years later at the age of six and worked her way up the ranks in halfpipe competing in Olympic Qualifiers, Dew Tour, Grand Prix & World Cups. Most recently, she’s been coaching for the women’s snowboarding camp, Beyond the Boundaries, and filming video parts. 

You may recognize her by her Instagram handle @Badgirlsumsum but Summer’s been on the Nikita team for almost five years. An easygoing soul always armed with a positive energy and willingness to try anything and everything, Summer travels around the world chasing her passion for snowboarding. We had the opportunity to sit down with her (in between trips!) and chat with her about her history with Nikita, her thoughts on diversity in the industry, and how her parents kept her motivated.

Do you have a nickname or does everyone call you Summer?Everyone calls me Summer but I got a little secret for you… my full name is BrianaSummer Fenton. My parents made a bet before I was born. If I was born before the first day of summer my dad would win and my name would be Briana and if I was born after my mom would win and my name would be Summer. Well my dad won by a couple days but when I was 5 my mom asked if I wanted to be name Summer and I said sure and I've been going by it ever since.

How long have you been snowboarding?
I’ve been snowboarding for 20-21 years. I started when I was four and I’m 25 now.

Did your whole family ride?
Yup, the whole fam bam!

Do you remember who your first ever sponsor was?
SFO Snowboard shop on Haight St. in San Francisco. It was the only local shop in SF.

How did you go about finding sponsors?
I was so young like 6 so my dad would send “Sponsor Me” tapes in the mail to brands and then i rode for Burton and Roxy.

Did your dad film them?
Haha oh yea, dad cam all the way! And then my mom would pick the music and then their friend would edit the video

For up and coming young snowboarders looking to make it in the industry, do you have any advice for them?
I think the best advice is to just keep having fun. Do what’s best for you. There’s no rules in snowboarding so you can do whatever you want, be creative as you can be, and just don’t give up. Keep trying.

How long have you been riding for Nikita?
I’ve been riding for Nikita for about 4-5 years.

How did you end up riding for Nikita?
I was riding for Bonfire for about a year and then Jenna became the Team Manager of both Bonfire and Nikita and I called her up one day and said “ Hey, I feel like I’m more of a fit for Nikita” and she said “yea i think so too” and I was just like awesome while internally having a celebratory dance party. And the rest was history.

What kind of changes have you seen from Nikita since you started riding for us?
Growing up Nikita was that “it” company filled with badass females (still is) and then it kind of disappeared for a little bit. And ever-since I’ve been on the team, its been only moving in one direction which is up. It’s only been getting better from fit wise to outerwear that is functional and super cute to the overall brand growing while still staying true to their values. They listen to their rider’s feedback and ideas which just makes all the outerwear #forgirlswhoride which is rad! I’m so excited for the future with Nikita.

Do you have a favorite piece in the 19/20 line?
I like everything! It’s so hard to choose… why does everything have to fit so well and look so cute. If i could switch kits everyday I would so that I could wear the whole collection haha. It’s a hard choice but my favorite is the Sycamore Jacket

You recently modeled for us in our 2020/21 winter catalog. What was that like for you?
It was super fun and honestly I was just so excited to see all the new putter and try everything on. I think everyone is going to be really stoked about it!

Being in the industry so long, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry as a whole?
I’ve noticed the industry goes through waves. Like right now I feel that the women snowboard community is growing yet, there are not many new younger girls getting into it. I’ve also noticed that they aren't as many contest anymore especially that include open qualifiers or free registration. I remember that those open qualifiers and free registration contests like Gatorade Free Flow or Burton Ams or Burton U.S. Open Qualifiers are the contest that got my foot in the door and gave me the opportunity to get where I wanted to be. Because of winning those contests I was able to compete on the professional circuit for many many years which included Dew Tour, Burton U.S. Open, World Championships,Grand Prix and World Cups.

Are there any changes you’d still like to see?
I’d like to see more opportunities for new comers and females and more of those free registration, fun contests that makes it accessible for all. I feel like the level of riding for girls is getting insane. The ladies are going full throttle and we want to inspire more young shredders to strap in on a board and throw down, so we need to give females more resources/opportunities to shine and show off their passion and skill. I feel very fortunate that my sponsors are very inclusive and supportive especially Nikita. I feel grateful to be a part of the team and that they give women the opportunities to be apart of the industry. I think things are getting slightly better and moving in the right direction so just keep killing it ladies!

So you are apart of something called Soy Sauce Nation, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Soy Sauce Nation is a group of Asian Snowboarders and its pretty cool because I grew up never seeing people like me on the mountain, I’m half-Filipino, half-white. Being apart of Soy Sauce Nation just means that I’m apart of this community where people of Asian Heritage can connect, support, and be proud of one another all while shredding the slopes

Have you seen more diversity in action sports?
Yes and no. I still think snowboarding is a white cultures sport. For instance, I travel to A LOT of places mostly mountains and people will think I’m super tan or exotic looking but actually I'm not that tan or exotic looking back home because I live in an extremely diverse community. I’m seeing a teeny tiny bit more diversity but thats only in mountains near a city or if I’m at a big contest like a world cup or something where it brings in riders from other countries. But honestly most the time I can still count on my fingers how many people of color are on the mountain or in the park.

Do you think there are things that the industry, or big companies, could be doing better to help with diversity?
Snowboarding is a very expensive sport and not accessible to all which is why it would be amazing if more companies made little foundations or non profits to get more people of all backgrounds involved. I think its cool that Nikita puts on G.W.R. events that are free and accessible to all ladies of all ages and that the Nikita Team riders are involved and help teach and stoke out the ladies on snowboarding. Growing up and following my snowboarding dreams was a struggle.I didn't come from money so my family would make sacrifices for me. We would sleep in the car, couches, motels or sleeping bags on someones floor on the weekends. It was tough but it all worked out for the best in the end. It’s a hard sport to succeed in if you don't have money.

You also skate and surf. Do you think doing other board sports have affected your style or approach to snowboarding?
Definitely, I grew up surfing and skateboarding with my Dad and siblings. We live a block away from Ocean Beach and we always had skate ramps or halfpipes in our backyard so we were always on some type of board growing up. When I ride pow, I def get a little surf-y with it. You could see it in my arms lol. I love being able to do these sports in the off season. It just keeps me calm and in the zone because I feel very antsy when I’m not snowboarding.

It sounds like your dad has had a pretty influence on your sports.
My dad is the man-haha. He’s the person that showed me all these board sports. Him and my mom and my siblings really supported me, they drove me 3 1/2hrs to Tahoe every weekend. It’s a good feeling when your parents believe in you, believe in your dreams and want the best for you. Even when it was a struggle and a sacrifice for them they still made it happen somehow. I owe everything to their support and love

Did your parents have any sayings or anything that helped motivate you?
Their only saying was “get straight A’s in school or you aren’t going snowboarding” haha. So that was the deal. I had to do really well in school to snowboard.

If you weren’t a pro snowboarder, what sport would you like to be a pro in and why?
Surfer. Change it up a bit. Go to tropical places instead of really cold places haha.

Anything you’d like to add?
Shout out to my family, everyone in Nikita, Zeal Optics, Arbor, Medterra, Le Bent and to all the homies.

If you want to keep up with Summer on all her adventures this winter, make sure to follow her on Instagram

December 04, 2019 — CS Team