Zoe Jaboor, Doin’ it for the Chicks

Zoe Jaboor, co-founder of Chicks with Stix, is passionate about skiing and helping people, whether it’s coaching on snow or in her profession as an Occupational Therapist.  She spends most of her spare time making sure young Aussie girls have access to some of Australia’s top level skiers and boarders through grass roots skiing and snowboarding program, Chicks with Stix.

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Zoe and some of the Chicks with Stix coaches at Mt Hotham

Skiing at Mt Buller

Growing up in Benalla, Zoe’s parents were members of the Benalla Ski Club at nearby Mt Buller where she started skiing at the age of two.  “It was a family sport for us until were was about 14, going one weekend and one week every year” Zoe tells me.  But when Zoe and her sister quit swimming there was a lot more spare time, so her parents agreed to ski squad for one year, and one year only.  With a bad season for the first year, that one year rolled into three.

Mogal skiing

Getting into competitive mogul skiing through Team Buller Riders. For a long time Zoe was passionate about mogul skiing, competing at a national level in Australia and also Canada and the US.  Getting to a point where she had to make a decision to either go to uni or pursue mogul skiing, a back injury at the time helped her make the decision.  She didn’t want to put everything into skiing.  “I thought I should go to uni so I studied Occupational Therapy in Albury to be close to the mountains” she says.

Having made her decision, she started thinking about different aspects of skiing, and started competing in park events; slopestyle and half pipe.  ‘It was a nice transition from mogul skiing because you’ve built up that gutsiness in terms of air.  It was a lot more low key and there was less pressure, so I fell in love with park skiing” she tells me.  Taking her to other resorts in Australia, she also decided to go overseas and compete in the US Open and Queens Cup.

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Zoe competing at the Rip Curl Freeride at Thredbo in 2009

Starting Chicks with Stix

In Australia there was always the same small group of girls competing.  At one event, the prize money was halved at the last minute because they said there weren’t enough girls.  “I was really devastated that they would do that because you’re never going to attract more girls by taking an action like that.  So I sat down with some of my good friends from Buller and said, ‘I think we should do something about it’.  So we started Chicks with Stix.  We were all freestyle or freeride skiers Anna and  Nat Segal, Katya Crema, Kate Blamey, Nicole Lewis, myself and Lorraine Loch from a marketing perspective.  It was a really good team” she explains.

In the first year, 2010, it was just a couple of sessions at Mt Buller.  A couple of years later they were across five resorts and this year going international for the first time, across the ditch in New Zealand.

The idea behind the program is to get more girls involved in snowboarding and skiing, giving them accessibility to role models in the sport and an insight on how to create a lifestyle out of these sports.  It also keeps girls involved, the coaches all come from different backgrounds bringing their own passions.  With fashion designers, athletes, girls passionate about freeriding and getting out on the hills and getting lost in the mountains.  “I like that whole dynamic.  Its a free program and I like the fact it makes Australia’s top riders accessible to really passionate young girls that otherwise might not be able to be involved in the ski program” she tells me.

Coaching and judging

Zoe is still also involved in moguls, as a judge. ” When I got out of moguls I wanted to stay involved so I was coaching for a while, then one day I filled in as a judge, judging with an A licence judge who judges for Australia at the Olympics.  He made a comment at the end of the competition saying that I had a good eye and did I want to keep going, I thought, yes.  So I went with it and started judging at a world cup level in 2010.  Then I got into judging park which is nice for me because I’m really passionate about that area of skiing, but it’s really tough to judge” she says.

This year Zoe judged at the Sochi Olympics. ” It was amazing to be part of the event, but also to be able to go and see some of my friends that I had grown up with compete.  An awesome, awesome experience” she beams.

Living in Jan Juc

Living in Jan Juc where she works as an Occupational Therapist, Zoe and her husband are expecting their first child at the end of this year.  “The lifestyle down there really suits us.  We just love being close to the ocean and have a connection to the land.  I don’t think we could ever live in the city.  I love being able to see the water everyday and go for a surf.  When I don’t have the snow I’ve got the ocean.  It’s just a little bit far away from the mountains, making winter a bit harder” Zoe tells me.

“I love my job as an OT but I really love the mix of OT and skiing.  When OT really gets a bit too much and you feel like you could get burnt out, I love that you can just come up to these amazing places and escape.  When skiing feels like it’s just a bit too fake, like it’s not real enough, it’s good to go back and work with the community and work to help people achieve their goals around life, I really like the mix of them both.  But I don’t think that I could do one really without the other.  So I think I’ll always have to have skiing in my life in some way” she explains.

Excited about the future

Zoe is really excited about the future of CwS.  “Just when you think you don’t know if you can keep going, you come to an event like this, you see how stoked people are and you work with the coaches and try and get a gauge of how they’re feeling with it.  When they’re all happy and stoked you just think, I’ll just keep going.  And yeah it’s in NZ and maybe we could take it to Japan and do this and do that.  We’ve had such great support from companies in Australia who are really interested in getting behind women’s skiing and snowboarding, it’s hard to walk away.

It wouldn’t happen without our sponsors and it wouldn’t happen without the support of the coaches and personally without the support of my family,” she tells me.  It’s great to see so many sponsors on board supporting women’s skiing.  Armada and Dragon have been with CwS from the start and the many other sponsors make the program possible, Elly Lucas, Anakie, Marker, Dalbello, Soderstrom Creative, OmRyder and Body Ice.

Working out early on that she didn’t want to be the best, Zoe gets a kick out of coaching people.  She loves being involved in the industry at a level and being able to ski.  “That’s why I’m happy where I am now because I still get to be involved with moguls, free riding, freestyle and program management.  I love going to all the different resorts, but I don’t have to make the lifetime commitment to skiing” she tells me.

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 http://chickswithstix.com.au/

Some of the Chicks with Stix coaches having fun at Mt Hotham

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