Irelyn Flanagan, or Ire, is a big mountain snowboarder who rides for Team Gilson. She has been riding for upwards of 15 years and has ridden at 113 different ski areas. Born and raised in Absarokee, Montana, Ire is no stranger to mountain life and has found a love for traveling, exploring, and riding the snowcapped mountains of North America. I interviewed Ire via video chat to hear more about her story.
Absarokee, Montana, is just a short drive from Red Lodge Mountain, where Ire picked up her passion for snowboarding. At 12 years old, Ire took one lesson at Red Lodge, and she has since mastered her craft on both skis and a snowboard. Years later, Ire began working as a liftie at Red Lodge, and this is where things took off for her. At the time, the mountain offered all of their employees two day passes to every ski area in Montana, and Ire took advantage of this benefit. But riding at every ski area in the state was just the first accomplishment in her snowboarding journey.
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Outside of Montana, Ire’s favorite places to ride are Colorado, Utah, and British Columbia. Although early February in Montana is Ire’s favorite time and place to ride, the endless terrain, powder, and resorts found in Colorado, Utah, and Canada are why she travels so much. Like most skiers and snowboarders, Ire was unable to answer what her favorite mountain to ride was, but she responded that her favorite runs were Glory Hole at Whitefish, MT, and Three Wise Men at Silver Star in Canada, a “Double black diamond run that has a gnarly, deep trench in the middle of it,” and makes for a fantastic powder run.
At 6’1,” Ire is taller than most other riders on the mountain. This height has its advantages and disadvantages, whether it is taking longer steps while hiking or taking a longer fall to the ground, but her all-black kit compliments seamlessly. Her union bindings, leather pants, 686 gloves, and Gilson snowboard mesh well for the perfect on-mountain style. Regardless of if Ire is riding cliffs, chutes, couloirs, steeps, or (occasionally) the park, her technicality and style are easy to point out.
Gilson did not just give ire a sponsorship, and the 113 mountains that she has ridden did not happen overnight. Ire is a hardworking individual with a different type of work ethic and dedication to the mountains and traveling. Unfortunately, she has dealt with the consequences of a broken wrist, broken back, torn ACL, concussions, surgeries, and rehabilitation, even sitting out for seasons at a time. As many of us know, injuries are the kryptonite of skiing and snowboarding, but, at the same time, they also encourage a sense of resiliency and a stronger mindset upon recovery. Ire has used her injuries to really think about how she wants to ride and come back more determined.
Ire’s philosophy is that working on balance, endurance, and strength training throughout the summer months can significantly improve a rider’s ability and lower the likelihood of injury come wintertime. In terms of injury, Ire’s number one piece of advice is to focus heavily on the off-season:
“Taking preventative measures is better than waiting for an injury to happen,” Ire said.
The gritty and relentless mindset maintained by Ire is inspired by her older brother and cousins. Not only did they help teach her how to ride a snowboard, but they also familiarized her with mountain slang, useful gear, and what it means to ride. Travis Rice is another large influence on Ire. The diversity and elegance in the way he rides are unparalleled in the snowboarding world. He is a hardy and risky rider that Ire looks up to and shapes her style on.
Most of the time, Ire rides solo, but sometimes that is what it takes when riding at over 100 unique ski areas. As her snowboarding journey progresses, her primary goals are to snowboard at 200 resorts, including every resort in the Rockies, drop-in from a helicopter, and eventually snowboard outside of North America in places like Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Additionally, she said that she wants to see more women take the sport head-on. “If you love riding and it is your passion, then don’t let anything stand in the way—ride alone,” Ire said.
Instagram – @ire_flanagan
TikTok – @ire_flanagan
Main YouTube – Jade Flanagan
Vlog YouTube – Jade Flanagan’s Vlog