Jill Perkins

Jill Perkins

Jill Perkins found snowboarding during her senior year of high school and was hooked. A year later she moved to Utah and within a few seasons her talent was shining bright enough to go pro. Jill’s unique blend of creativity on a board mixed with a strong will to progress earned her the title of Rider of the Year for Slush mag in 2021. We caught up just as the snow season was kicking off in Utah, on the heels of her explosive new Ride video part. Turns out that if you ride on with Jill, she will leave you inspired. And who knows, maybe it’s not too late for you to make a push as a pro.

The Word with Jill Perkins

Good morning, Jill. How’s it going?

Hey Nate, it’s nice. Sunny and crisp. We got snow a week or two ago, but since then we've gotten nothing.

You're in Salt Lake City?

I am, yes.

How long have you been there?

11 years now. It flies by.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Moorpark, California.

How was that?

Small but good. I think growing up there I was itching to get out, but now I understand that it's a good place to raise a family. My family is still in the same house, which is nice. I go back there quite a bit.

What brought you to snowboarding from Moorpark?

I grew up skateboarding and I always enjoyed it. My senior year of high school one of my friends asked me if I wanted to go snowboarding and I just loved it from there. After that I started dating this guy who snowboarded and then I got really into it. I went to High Cascade when I was 17 or 18 and met a bunch of people who lived in Salt Lake City. I was playing basketball at the time, and my coach was like, “You can't do both conflicting seasons.” I resonate so much more with snowboarding, and I enjoy it so much more, so I went with riding.

You were riding the local mountains?
Yeah, I went to Mountain High for a season. It was my first year of college at the time, so I'd drive up two or three nights a week because I only had nighttime available. It was about an hour and a half from my house. I picked up snowboarding pretty quick, I understood it through skateboarding. Getting up was one thing, but once I was up, it was fine. And then I moved to Utah and I saw my first snowboard video and realized there's another avenue to go down that I resonated with so much more than the contest scene. But I never really thought I was good enough to do that, so I figured maybe I will just work in snowboarding. I started as a sales rep for a few brands at an agency called Four Horseman, and I was snowboarding a lot. I liked it so much that I was able to progress pretty fast.

At what point in that progression did you realize you wanted to try and go pro?

It was only my third year snowboarding and I became close with a lot of people who were filming and were really good. That's the lifestyle that I am attracted to and I'm driven by. I was on the Burton Girls program, and I asked to move forward as an athlete. At the time they were like, “No, there's nothing we can do.” Then I hit up Ride, and that started everything. I got on Ride as flow for a year, and then simultaneously Dakine had hit me up. And then after doing that for a year or two, I got my first real contract.

You were in your twenties at this point?

I was 22 when I signed my first paying contract.

And that was four years after you started?

Yeah. Three or four.


Explain the process of how you developed your riding in Utah.

I moved here and honestly it was right place at the right time. One of my first days here, I was sitting at a coffee shop wearing a Vans US Open surf sweatshirt and this girl, Isabella Borriello, was like, “Did you go to that?” across the coffee shop. I didn't know anybody. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I went to it. I wasn't in it.’ And then she's like, “Why'd you move here?” I was like, ‘I don't know. I want to go to school. I enjoy snowboarding.’ She saw my skateboard and she's like, “I'm going skateboarding with my friends later if you want to go.” I ended up going, and it happened to be the girls who were part of the Too Hard Group. Corinne Pasela, Alexa McCarty, Nirvana Ortanez. It just landed in my lap in a way where I was able to spend time with these people who introduced me to video parts and what that entails. I just fell in love with it because I found the creativity behind it was something I was more drawn to than being judged by a panel. And it was more attainable. Street snowboarding is just more available to go out and do, especially when it does snow in the city and lower than the mountaintops. It was easier to progress that way, and I was more inspired by seeing the riders be creative.

How was it taking your riding from the mountain to the street, hitting handrails?

I started going to Brighton when I first moved here. That's where all the girls went and were making Brighton edits. I spent every day going up from nine to four, going all day snowboarding, which is a wild thought nowadays. I was in the park with the filmer and then slowly I hit my first street spot. At the beginning I would bite off more than I could chew because I didn’t understand consequence. But you learn that pretty quick and it's a humbling experience. A lot of it comes down to the wisdom you gain throughout the years of doing it and understanding risk verses reward. How to set up a spot safely and correctly. Assessing the ROI on it. Is this worth it? I was eager so I pushed myself and I would do things that were way out of my league at the beginning and sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn't.

Talk me through an ideal day for you in the winter.

On a trip, the routine is wake up, make coffee and breakfast, sit down with the crew and assess the plan for the day. It all comes down to the teamwork, really. We go out, set up a spot, try to be as efficient as possible, and celebrate the wins and be there for each other's losses. And then we get home and pretty much just talk about it or watch a movie. We spend a lot of time watching other snowboard videos. It's good quality time and a part of it that I really love. It's just about being around like-minded people. I felt like back in the day it was a lot more party. And nowadays it's a lot more precision and going into things on your ones and twos. To know what has been done at a certain spot, what hasn't been done, finding new spots, new infrastructure, things like that. An ideal day to me is about being happy and surrounded by good people.

What goggles do you wear normally from Electric?

I was riding the Klevelands for a while, but now I ride the Hex. I like Hex because I really liked the EGs and the Hex was kind of a softer version of them. The Hex is the easiest, most plain one. And I am into plain sh-t.

What about sunglasses?

I just got these new ones, The Catania. I ride in the Tech one Sport, they fit well under a beanie or hat.

You have a Ride part coming out in Rated R. Did you travel a lot for that movie?

Yeah, we traveled quite a bit. It's funny, I've always kind of thrown shade on Minnesota, but we spent so much time in Minnesota and without doing that I wouldn't have a video part. I have a newfound love for Minnesota. We went to Toronto. We filmed a bit in Salt Lake City because we had a good year last year, and then we went to Norway in the spring.


Did you have a trick list in mind or were you just rolling into spots and figuring out on the go?

There's a list of tricks in my head that I would love to film, but if I don't find a spot that works, then it just won't happen. There are some staples that I want to get done, and I seek out spots based off that list. That's kind of how it works for me.

Do you have any goals for this season?

I'm excited for this season, I get to work with Justin Meyer who films the Video Grass videos, so that'll be fun. He's one of my good friends. I’m just settling back into the idea of having a big group of people again and filming another movie.

What do you see the future of snowboarding looking like in the next 10 years and beyond?

I would like to see more growth and support and from the brands. To understand and utilize athletes more sincerely. I think there's people who do so much for snowboarding and get the short stick. I understand at the end of the day that it is a business and not everybody can win all the time, but I would like to see brands put the correct people in the position of power to make things grow in a healthier way. I understand that it's difficult right now and everything's kind of shorting out. Even non-board sports, my friends who have normal jobs, everything's on hold for them as well. So just trusting the ebb and flow of it and having hopefully coming out on top as a community.

Do you think you will continue to ride the same way going forward or are you looking to do different things?

I’m looking to do different things. I mean, I love street snowboarding and I will always love it, but I do find joy out of riding powder. It is something that I don't know much about, and it just opens the door of learning something new, which Is ultimately why I got into snowboarding and why I get into things because I get addicted to the process of learning. I don't want to put a timestamp on it or anything like that. I would like to snowboard whatever I want to snowboard for that day