In celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day, today we share the story of our next Badass Mom: Isabel Derungs. Isabel is a Swiss Slopestyle national team athlete, with an impressive career and a really powerful and solid style, if you ask me. I met her on a photo shoot with our common friend a photographer, Niqi Antognini. We instantly got along and started chatting. Suddenly, a voice from the back goes “have you told her your little secret yet?”. Then she started giggling and told me she was 5-month pregnant! This was last month.
Of course, I knew she was or have been part of the Swiss national team, and she was a crazy good slopestyler. But on that day, 5-month-pregnant, I could witness her riding rails, hitting jumps and doing super cool tricks. I was amazed and needed to ask a ton of questions which she was very happy to share with all of you, so here it goes!
Hello, Isa, how are you?
A bit tired and my butt hurts but otherwise I am very good, thank you!
For those who do not know you, tell us a bit about yourself and your snowboarding career.
I live in Zürich and started to do snowboard competitions in 2011 when I was 23 years old. Back then, Slopestyle was a very young sport and the progression was just at its beginnings. I Have always loved snowboarding and spent all my holidays and a lot of weekends in the mountains – gladly my dad grew up in Siat, a 20 minutes ride from Laax, so we always had a place to stay near the snow. After my first couple of competitions and good results I could join the Swiss Slopestyle national team and only 3 years later slopestyle was at the Olympic Games for the first time. It really was a good timing for my “late career”. During 10 years of travelling to world cups and 2 times Olympic games, I experienced so many things which I am very grateful for! I became a mom 2 years ago and came back for another world cup last spring after which I quit the national team, knowing it would not be the end of my snowboard story. I took some wins I took some fails and a lot of bails. I still love snowboarding loads!
Are you competing at the moment? Why? Tell us your little secret!
I was thinking of entering the Big Air in Chur this fall but unfortunately I had too much going on at work. If I had known by then that I won’t be able to hit big jumps for a looong time – I probably would have cancelled all my appointments and ran straight to that ramp 😊 Soon after the big air, I got pregnant, which is of course a great thing. Still I would have loved to postpone the pregnancy to after the snowboard season – but as often life has other plans.
CONGRATS on the second baby! What truly blew my mind when I saw you is how passionate you are and the commitment to stay active regardless of what other people may think. Do you feel judged when you, a pregnant woman, starts riding rails, jumping and doing crazy handstands? Has anybody ever said anything to you for doing it?
There are some haters yes. But most of the people, especially my friends and family, they support this mindset a lot. They might be worried sometimes – but that’s ok, I’m worried too sometimes 😊
Is it dangerous? How is it from the medical point of view? At what point or points do you actually need to take a break?
Doctors of course do not recommend stuff like this. But I learned a lot during my first pregnancy. The baby is very well protected in your womb. The thing I am mostly careful about is not getting injured myself since during pregnancy you cannot take painkillers nor go for surgery with narcosis. Dealing with the risk of injuries is probably the one thing you learn the most during a sports career. Of course there is always a risk, I am aware of that, but having a well-trained feeling for your body and your abilities allows you to do many things you love for a long time during pregnancy.
Did you also stay this active when you were pregnant the first time?
Yes, I did. The first pregnancy just started after a snowboard season, which made things a bit easier for me. I still went Skateboarding or did other sports, like running, soccer, tennis etc. until far in pregnancy. Doing Sports (beyond yoga and swimming – that’s what they tell you to do – I actually hate swimming 😊) is very important for me – for my wellbeing. As long as I can do it, I’ll always go for it!
Do you have any funny story? or funny bail you shouldn’t talk about for all the haters (haha)?
As I said, you always take risks doing sports, especially action sports. During my first pregnancy I knocked myself out while skateboarding once, which was the first knock-out of my life actually. To be honest it was not so funny – I was really worried since it was something I had never experienced before. Being pregnant you try (even more than regularly) to always have full control of your actions – suddenly you get reminded that there is no full control, never! – that’s scary but also part of the game. It’s good to be reminded of that once in a while. Nothing happened, I felt just fine in no time and Teo is a very tough boy today 😉
I also had a (not so) funny bail on a rail a few weeks ago – catching my edge on a front board (now you also know why my butt is hurting). Things like that for sure tell me to step back and I always listen to that voice. It doesn’t make me stop completely though.
I am not proud of stories like that but I also don’t want to conceal them since they are part of my chosen path. It’s important to recognize that.
So what’s your secret to stay so healthy and motivated during pregnancy, because I guess not all women experience it the same way as you.
It’s actually not easy or probably not even possible to always stay motivated. It really takes a lot of fighting against the tiredness, dealing with a changing body and the morning sickness and much more. The key for me is to never stop believing that what made you happy before pregnancy will also do the same job during pregnancy or as a mother. So even if it gets harder and so much more exhausting to do what you love because of physical reasons or even just less available time, it’s always worth it to fight for those moments of passion – in my case for snowboarding and other fun sports.
How would you encourage other women to not stop doing what they are truly passionate about regardless of the public opinion?
Public and doctor’s opinions set limits, and that’s good! Those limits are very justified, they ensure that with a high probability all women out there will have a safe pregnancy. It’s a good point to start from and from there go and look for your own limits. Don’t ever push yourself for something that doesn’t feel right!
Are you planning on coming back into the competitive side of the sport in the future? Or maybe any filming plans?
My snowboard life is at a turning point right now at which I try to find new navigation. I am very open for a lot of ways. I love the competitive side of sports – mostly for pushing and challenging yourself to do things you’re stoked about. Fortunately there are many options to find challenges like that. Do more filming is definitely one of them. I am curious where snowboarding brings me next.
It’s so great to hear someone as positive as you are. So, thanks for this chat, congratulations once more and please, never stop spreading these good vibes. I think we need more role-models like you in this sport! Would you like to add anything else?
Just the other day this very simple sentence came to my mind which I really like: “Support each (m)other!” Supporting each other is the best thing in the world. To still be able to do what you love as a mother needs even more support. Family, friends, strangers, other mothers and fathers – help out and be encouraging, it’s so damn worth it!