You might recognize Jules Marino from the 2017 X Games Aspen podium where she won gold in slopestyle and bronze in big air.
It was a breakout season for this Burton team rider, a multisport athlete who wants to be defined by a lot more than her snowboarding career. 30 minutes with Jules is enough to feel inspired: Even in a casual chat, this 20-year-old is focused on making her point clear.
At the annual Burton Rider Round Table in May, we learned that Jules decided against a soccer career three years ago — including an NCAA Division 1 offer — to pursue snowboarding. Naturally, we wanted to know why. But first, a little catching up.
What’s up in the offseason for you, Jules?
As the season was coming to an end, I was looking at the calendar thinking I need to go here, and I need to go there, and finally I thought, just do nothing. I just want to stay at home, hang out with my family, go to the gym, get in shape, and maybe do a couple of beach trips. I'll definitely do some snowboard trips, too. Thinking of heading down to either New Zealand or Australia to get back on my board and try some new stuff with more of a mindset of having fun instead of training-based like usual. Also trying to get some fun trips with friends for this season, like pow riding and filming.
I have more freedom and creativity with snowboarding, which is always what I look for in my life.
Sounds smart. The 2018 season was a big one for you — what were the highlights?
X Games is always a goal, so getting in and doing well there once again was really big for me. It was also the first time that I did well at the Burton U·S·Open, so I was stoked for that.
I didn’t have the Olympics that I was hoping for, but in general, just being there was a memorable experience. Especially watching my friends and teammates do well, like Red – that was really cool. Hanging out with my family there was super fun, too.
Congrats, so why the breakout season?
I’m getting used to competitions. My first big one was the Burton High Fives in New Zealand, and I was freaking out the whole time. I didn’t know how to control my nerves: I was shaking, it was really bad. Since then, I’ve come a long way. The nerves are still there, because the courses that we’re hitting are pretty intense. It’s more about understanding those nerves and pressures and knowing how to deal with them, trusting myself, the muscle memory, and knowing that I can do these tricks.
How’d you end up here, as a professional snowboarder? You had a Division 1 college offer for soccer… why snowboarding?
Yeah, soccer was my main sport until I was 13 or 14, when it started to split half and half with snowboarding. The two sports are so different: I think what really attracted me to snowboarding was the freedom of having the whole mountain to play around on, whereas a soccer field always has the same dimensions. I have more space to be creative, which I always look for in my life. Not to mention, the views are spectacular!
I think it’s really cool that we have gender equality dialed in snowboarding. Most other sports don’t have that.
There were other factors, too. I think the thing that confused me the most about soccer was how underrated the women were. If you watch some of these women playing at the professional level, they work so hard. They really charge after the ball and get into some pretty heavy slams with other players, but they keep pushing and I think they deserve a lot more recognition for their strength and skills. In snowboarding, the girls and guys are always riding and hanging together, whereas we’re always separated in soccer — I never played soccer with the guys. I think it’s important to play together. When I was little, hanging out with my cousins — who were all boys and older than me — learning from them helped build me into the person and snowboarder that I am now.
Then there’s the fact that women are paid significantly less than men in soccer — it’s crazy — and people don’t watch women’s soccer as much as they watch men’s soccer. Having events like the Burton U·S·Open where the prize money is equal, and the broadcasting is equal? I think it’s really cool that we have gender equality dialed in snowboarding. Most other sports don’t have that.
What about the team vibe — is that missing in snowboarding since you compete individually?
I find that individuality among each rider in snowboarding is what brings us together more. I think it's cool that we always appreciate and learn from each other, in terms of style and different tricks. That aspect in itself almost brings together more of a team vibe than actual team sports do, which I find pretty special since we're all competing against each other. Plus, with snowboarding, I’m always in touch with my friends even when I’m not seeing them. We’re always helping each other through the ups and downs. ∆