Extreme Dream Melissa Terhorst

By Doug Hartley
Updated: December 4, 2005

FAIRFAX, VIGINIA — I was able to catch up with Melissa Terhorst and get in a few words, to ask what its like to be a Black women getting paid to ride snowboards, skies and mountain boards. Aside from riding a snowboard, for Team G, and working as a professional sports model, she dances with the Harambee West African dance troupe. Living in Boulder, Colorado Melissa has created a lifestyle doing exactly what she loves to do. Her positive outlook on life and huge heart is why she is the athlete she is today.

BlackAthlete – So where did you grow up and when did you start skiing?

Melissa – Well I’m 32 years old and I started skiing when I was 10 in the Lake Tahoe area. I grew up in Los Altos, CA.

BlackAthlete – Why did you leave Cali?

Melissa – The winter scene wasn’t happening for me until I moved to Boulder, Co about 9 years ago.

BlackAthlete – How did you get into winter sports modeling?

Melissa – I had been doing runway modeling for about 8 years. I was working in the office of Warren Miller Productions (ski and snowboard Movie producer) when they needed some extras for a still movie cover. They asked me to do the shoot. After that I realized that there was a niche of black athletic models for winter sports.

BlackAthlete – So Warren Miller gave you your first break into the business?

Melissa – Warren Miller is a famous ski cinematographer, a pioneer in action ski movies. So I was working there when they needed a new look for a movie they were making. At that time there were basically no black women getting air in a half pipe on a snowboard, or telemarking, or any of that stuff. So I combined my previous modeling experience with my present ski/snowboard and telemark experience and now I am able to make a living being a sports fitness model.

BlackAthlete – So what the kind of advise would you give a kid trying to get into the scene of shredding for a living?

Melissa – It’s all about tapping your reserves. You have got to seek out those people who are doing those kind of things that you want to do, like snowboarding or skiing and stuff. Expand your horizons. You might have to look outside of your group of friends to find these people. But if you want to do it, you have to find a way and someone who will help you.

BlackAthlete – Why did you start snowboarding in the first place?

Melissa – It looked really fun and for me any new sport is an exciting challenge for me. Plus out here in Boulder, everyone was trying it, so I had to go for it.

BlackAthlete – What does your family think of you and all of this wild extreme sports stuff that you do?

Melissa – My family is totally supportive and positive about my lifestyle. In fact, my younger brother surfs, skies and snowboards.

BlackAthlete – Well thanks for talking to us you are an excellent example of what we can do when we focus on our dreams and goals, no matter what they are.


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