Darrah Reid-McLean is now a professional snowboarder. Growing up a young girl in Winnipeg, the dream of being a pro boarder would have seemed unlikely to anyone. She has undoubtedly persevered and bashed her way through every obstacle that stood in her way. Her no-quit-grit, matched with her love of snowboarding comes through every time she puts a board on her feet.
This past Saturday, July 4th, a strong showing of friends hiked up Mt. Seymour to a small snow patch for a little summer snowboarding. Darrah was hyped to see so many friends make it out and maybe got a little suspicious that something was up. That something was Darrah being surprised with her first signature pro model snowboard by Dinosaurs Will Die owners Jeff Keenan and Sean Genovese.
Having stashed her board in the woods the night before, Geno grabbed it to let it ghost-ride down to Darrah in a perfect surprise. The video says it all. She was completely overwhelmed and couldn’t stop smiling. She had no words. Jeff had a couple of bottles of champagne so everyone could toast. Jess Kimura brought her a very special bouquet of flowers. E-man, Derek, and Keenan picked her up. All eyes were on her and her new board. Congrats Darrah! Thank you for being such a genuine gem of a human being.
By Rob Lemay | @_lemay
I’m sitting here with the newest pro snowboarder Darrah Reid-McLean, who still looks like she’s blushing every time someone brings it up. Congratulations! How does it feel?
It still feels crazy, and unreal.
I bet. It must still be sinking in.
Yeah. The last two days or so, the response has been so overwhelming and nice. I’m feeling very loved.
Have you read all the comments and replied to them all yet?
When it first happened on Saturday I had to just put my phone away because it was blowing up and I was already really overwhelmed. Later on, I was trying to reply to them all, but I’ve resorted to using happy face emojis. I really appreciate the kind words though, it's been amazing
Did you have any idea this was happening or any clues that might of given it away?
It started off totally normal. Geno (Sean Genovese) said he had a meeting in Burnaby and asked if I wanted to go snowboarding up Seymour, which didn't seem unusual. Nic (Heringa) and I have been trying to go up for a few weeks, so talking to him about hiking up wasn't weird. But when I found out Derek (Molinski) was coming up without me having to beg and persuade him, plus he showed with E-man, I started to get suspicious.
Haha, yeah E-man was a pretty big tell something was up.
Yeah! And then Jake (Kuzyk) and Kennedi (Deck) were there too.
And they weren’t even snowboarding.
Yeah, and there was a couple other little hints leading up to Saturday, but it wasn’t like..
Not like you were thinking you were getting a board.
I was thinking something weird was going on, but getting my name on a board was not something I let myself get my hopes up for, or even would have thought I was worthy of.
I heard Jon Martin almost blew it.
Jon Martin! A few months ago, we were just talking about next year’s graphics and he said there was a surprise board. I was obviously curious, but if it were a surprise board for me, there's no way someone would mention it to me you'd think? Then he started going off about how good Keenan is and how he should get a pro model. I didn't think much of it, and again, I wasn't really thinking a pro model for me was a possiblity.
Who was the first person you wanted to tell that wasn’t there?
My mom. I sent her a picture, and she was like: “What is that?” She didn’t really understand at first, but I called her later and she was really excited.
What did she say?
“Oh, that’s so great honey. I’m so happy for you.” She knows. She has seen all the hard times and struggles, so she’s really happy for me.
How did you celebrate, or have you even been able to yet?
Saturday was an awesome celebration. That was enough.
Yeah, and getting picked up by Derek and E-man is always a fun way to celebrate.
That was the best.
So what’s next for Darrah Reid-McLean? Are we talking about a Darrah documentary?
[Laughs] I don’t’ know about that. Jess has some wild ideas. Up next I want to keep filming another video part. I started this year, but of all things to get in the way, a global pandemic unexpectedly cut filming short. There's some footage but I think the plan is to hold on to it and keep filming next winter, to release everything next-next fall.
Yeah, the pandemic has definitely affected us all. What has it been like for you?
The pandemic has been crazy. When it first started happening, I was terrified I was going to spiral into a deep depression. I was planning on moving back into my truck and camper, but I couldn’t really do that anymore. Everything seemed like it was taken away; all the tools and resources that I use to keep myself happy and sane. Snowboarding was gone. Yoga classes were gone. The gym was gone. Friends were gone. I was in Vancouver away from everyone, but it ended up being a really good time. Now, a few months into it, I feel like I more setup and grounded than ever. I took a bunch of online courses and used the time to do a lot of things I had been putting off. It was good.
I don’t think too many people could really foresee the benefits that would come with a few months of downtime. Putting our work-life on pause, we can reflect on what we've been doing, we can take stock of what’s really important, and we can reorganize.
Yeah, it’s a forced, much needed reset for your mind and body, I think a lot of people needed this more than we knew.
So when did you first move to Whistler?
2006 for the first time. I went back to Winnipeg at least five times for injuries, to rehab, and I lived in SLC for a year a long time ago. I think Whistler is home now for sure. Well, the Sea to Sky anyways.
Who would you like to thank for helping you get to this point?
There's too many, I won't be able to list them all but obviously Sean and Jeff at DWD, Andrew Geeves, you (Lemay), Derek, Kody, Heringa, Jess, Biel, Dave Walcer, Madison Blackley, everyone at 686, everyone who's let me crash on their couch/filmed me/encouraged me/snowboarded with me/shoveled for me...Thank you.
“This pro model is a result of Darrah’s entire snowboarding timeline; every peak and valley she’s been through to get to where she is now. Her addiction to snowboarding is why she continues to get better each and every season, and it also kept her committed through thick and thin. All of this is what makes her interesting and so deserving of her own pro model board; her dedication is inspiring.” -Sean Genovese
"From the day I met her at COC many years ago to this day of her pro model release, Darrah has stood her own ground. We couldn’t be happier to have a strong-willed woman like Darrah represent our brand in all the right ways. She’s our party planner, our sister, and a leader within the team. With multiple parts under her belt, you never know what to expect when Darrah’s around. Her passion for snowboarding shines so bright that you can find her riding at any time of the year. From the streets to the backcountry her creative riding is unique and powerful. We respect Darrah for everything she has given to this culture and we are proud to honour her contribution to snowboarding through the 1st woman’s pro model for DWD. We know you are paving the way for more to come. We can’t wait to see what comes out from Darrah next, but we can assure that she’ll leave her boots somewhere along the road and she can sure as hell count on us having her back to pick them up." -Jeff Keenan
"Big congrats to one of the hardest working boarders I know. It’s been a treat watching her get it year after year. Much deserved." -Derek Molinski
"Yaaass queen!" -E-man Anderson
"Congrats Darrah! You're the best vegan snowboarder I know! Can’t wait to see what you do on your board in the future!" -Jeff Holce
"Darrah! CONGRATS you did 'something' ;) can't wait to see what the future holds.❤️" -Nic Heringa
"It was so rad to see Darrah get this kind of recognition. The road she's traveled hasn't been easy and there have been hundreds of opportunities for her to just give up and call it quits. She's been left out, laughed at, and overlooked for years but she kept going anyway. I guess the upside to flying under the radar for so long is that she just got better and better at snowboarding, and now she can't be stopped. Today Darrah is hands-down the most well rounded female rider out there and it's about time the industry sees her for what she is, what she has done, and what she's about to do." - Jess Kimura
"It would be cool if the snowboard industry stopped looking past Darrah and included her as one of the most hard-working and dedicated snowboarders of the last decade because she's about to keep on going through the 2020s." -Ben Bilocq