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Header image via @hannahteter
Let’s be real: Most of us are out here just doing our best to get through the day—and there’s nothing wrong with that! But can you imagine being both a professional athlete and a humanitarian?
31-year-old pro snowboarder, Hannah Teter, lives that life each day. Below, we’re going to take a look back at how she got her start, figure out where she gets her drive, and seek to understand how the hell she manages to be such an inspiration. Let’s go!
Born in Belmont, VT on January 27, 1987, to Pat (a nurse) and Jeff (a foreman), Teter had ample reason to get into sports early—she was determined to keep up with the snowboarding antics of her three older brothers, Amen, Abe, and Elijah.
Teter didn’t allow them much of a head start. She grabbed a board and began shredding the slopes at the tender age of eight, grabbing her first lesson at Okemo, her home mountain. She turned to competition in 1998, carving out an early legacy at Vermont events such as the Junior Jam of the U.S. Open.
After cutting her teeth at local competitions, the ever-ambitious Teter turned to international events and, in 2002, she earned Junior World Champion honors in the halfpipe. Not long after that same year, she became the first woman to ever land a 900. (Damn, you go, girl.) Speaking with Sports Illustrated for Kids at the time, Teter said the following:
"I just kept progressing, going from small contests to amateur contests, then all of a sudden— boom!—I was attending the big dawg contest circuit and doing extremely well."
Later in 2002, she joined the FIS Snowboard World Cup and earned a fourth-place finish in Valle Nevado, Chile. This set up her move into the professional ranks in the 2002-03 season, which coincided with Teter being named to the U.S. national team in 2003 as their youngest member.
While national team honors were a defining moment in launching her career, there’s arguably been nothing more influential to Teter’s trajectory as a human being than her brother, Josh, who lives with a developmental disorder.
Following her inner compass and consistently inspired by the example set by her brother, Teter made a pact with herself that she would be someone that made a difference for others. She’s followed through on that pledge admirably, engaging in a variety of charitable endeavors including her own, Hannah’s Gold, which donates proceeds from the sale of Vermont maple syrup to benefit the village of Kirindon, Kenya. Initiatives include digging water wells, offering water filtration, and building schools in the village.
Teter has also protested the Canadian seal hunt with PETA, sponsored Honduran and Filipino children through Children International, acted as a breast cancer spokesperson, and more. And in 2014, she was named a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics.
What will she do now? That’s difficult to say… but it’s safe to assume she’ll find a way to ensure she’s not the only one to benefit from her next triumph. And that’s a beautiful thing.
You can keep up with Hannah via Insta, @hannahteter.
"There are so many things that lead an athlete to success. For some it's all about effort and commitment, for others it's all about having a drive to achieve, and I feel like for me it's all about living in the moment."
“Surfing waves of water or clouds of powder snow is the best feeling on earth.”
“Clean water is such a treasure that we take for granted in America.”
“I hope that as a professional snowboarder, Olympian, and now, a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics, I will be able to change perceptions about people with intellectual disabilities.”
“I feel like my role is to be one of those voices who reaches the youth.”
“I made a pact with myself when I was younger that if I were to ever grow up to be someone, I would be someone who would make a difference, instead of being just another person on the planet who doesn’t look into anything.”
“I snowboard because I love it. It’s just a cool way to be out there and doing something different instead of going to college.”
“Bodies are beautiful and should be appreciated.”
“The Special Olympics motto, ‘Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,’ really speaks to me because it embodies exactly what I have pursued in my life. Really, that’s all any of us can hope for - a chance to be brave and to pursue a dream.”