By Oliver Lazenby
An open house at a home decor boutique is a strange place to meet a pro snowboarder – especially in Bellingham’s Barkley Village, a hub of wealth advisors, bankers and mortgage loan officers. The Urban Collective office specializes in home decor and real estate staging. Professionals in slim-fitting suits and ties congregate in the spaces between minimalist, vaguely Scandinavian furniture and decor.
The style is about as formal as it gets in Bellingham, but Hana Beaman – a pro snowboarder with a resume spanning two decades and includes some of the sport’s top awards – seems to fit in with a denim dress and yellow hair.
It’s not Beaman’s first time at the combined office and storefront; she even has desk space here. Most of the people mingling and sampling charcuterie don’t know Beaman for her snowboard resume and wouldn’t recognize her spinning a 720 over the Mt. Baker road gap. They know the outgoing 36-year-old for her ambition in the world of homes.
“She’s a go-getter, she’s super social. Getting out and being social is a big part of the job,” said Marissa Noppe. Noppe, a real estate agent with the Muljat Group, does know Beaman from her snowboard life. Noppe has mentored Beaman over the past couple years as she became a licensed real estate agent and signed with the Muljat Group in Bellingham.
Though Beaman is broadening her horizons, it’s not retirement. She’s been a pro snowboarder for almost 20 years and she’s still riding big lines and starring in films. She’s featured in a new Vans snowboard video out this fall, and she has ambitions and goals for her future snowboarding ranging from Alaska trips to mellower splitboard missions in the Cascades.
In fact, Beaman hopes a career in real estate will allow her to not only keep snowboarding professionally, but to do it on her terms.
“I don’t want to rely on snowboarding for my livelihood as much as I have, and I want to continue to snowboard the way I want,” she said. The other options, as she sees them, are chasing paychecks or moving behind the scenes for a job in the industry.
Beaman’s father built houses in Big Bear, California, when she was a kid. She has bought and sold several houses since buying her first at age 20. She’s always been intrigued by architecture, and her habit of decorating with thrift stores finds has been the subject of an ESPN article. In short, she has a passion for “all things home.”
Becoming a real estate agent seemed like a good starting point to do something related to homes. “Maybe because of all the traveling I’ve gotten to do – I’ve been able to see so many different places and how people live and that’s ’s just interesting to me,” she said. “Do I think I want to be a real estate agent for the rest of my life? Probably not, but maybe I find my groove and I really like it.”
Plus, with busier summers and slower winters, a real estate agent schedule works well with snowboarding. Still, telling her sponsors wasn’t easy.
“They’re super down, but it was a little nerve wracking telling them. They understand that if I do this, I’ll be able to continue snowboarding the way I want to,” Beaman said.
Beaman’s always ridden her snowboard the way she wants, rather than chasing sponsorship deals. Her segment in the 2016 film “Full Moon Saloon” starts with pillow lines in B. C. She bounces and slices through layers of snow, spilling from one mound to the next, emerging from a cloud of coastal powder to make a turn, spray more snow, and take flight.
That segment progresses through more backcountry lines, cliffs and jumps to even bigger, steeper terrain, ending in massive spines, exposed faces and rock-lined couloirs. She makes it look fun rather than death-defying.
“I would like someone who watches me snowboard to just be like, yeah, let’s go ride some pow, let’s go out and be in these beautiful areas and just have fun and play in the mountains,” Beaman said. “I just think it’s really amazing what snowboarding can give you. There are so many great places it can bring you and great people it can bring into your life and lessons it teaches you. My mom always instilled in me that the best snowboarder is the one having the most fun, and I’ve always taken that with me.”
Beaman grew up in Big Bear and started snowboarding when she was six. In southern California, the terrain park offered the biggest dose of fun.
“I was a park rat,” Beaman said. “That’s what created my love for snowboarding.”
She famously got a big break at Snowboarder Magazine’s 2001 Superpark contest at Mammoth Mountain, where she was the only girl hitting the biggest jumps, and left community college behind to turn pro. She moved from Big Bear to Mammoth and eventually Salt Lake City and spent much of the 2000s competing and collecting medals at the X Games and other slopestyle contests.
Through those years, she spent more and more time outside the terrain park and in the backcountry. She started a web series called “P.S.,” highlighting road trips riding powder from Utah to Alaska. In 2012, the year she spun a 720 over the Mt. Baker road gap, Snowboarder Magazine named her Rider of the Year for the second time (she first won the award in 2007). She also started riding more at Mt. Baker and Whistler and moved to Bellingham in 2011.
Moving to the northwest made sense for Beaman as her snowboarding progressed to big mountains and etching lines in natural terrain.
“I’d be sledding and riding and filming with the girls in Whistler, and I’d come down here and hang out with friends and I ended up just really liking it,” Beaman said. “It’s not the easiest place to be centered, but it’s also really convenient in other ways because just riding Baker will make you such a strong rider.”
If the snowboard industry thinks it’s time for Beaman to move on, it doesn’t show. She’s had her core sponsors for a decade or more and she’s starring in one of the year’s most anticipated films, an all-women’s Vans project called “Listen to the Eyes,” which will likely be “one of the strongest women’s projects of the year,” said Patrick McCarthy, a former pro snowboarder and friend of Beaman’s.
McCarthy, current team manager for outerwear brand 686, is also a Bellingham resident. He and Beaman met through mutual friends almost 20 years ago. Now, they ride together at Baker and hang out off the mountain (“Hana is always the person to show up to your birthday party with an amazing gift, or awesome food and drinks. She never shows up empty handed,” he said).
McCarthy has seen firsthand that Beaman is still one of the most exciting snowboarders to watch and that she isn’t stepping away from her snowboard career.
“The main thing that stands out about Hana Beaman is the consistency of domination over all the years,” he said. “As she’s progressed from earlier stages of winning contests to going huge over massive jumps, she’s always found a way to push herself. This isn’t a transition out, but more of an opportunity to grow as a person, and become a more multi-dimensional human being.”