Behind The Slam: Maca Taiz Valle

The horror slam from the US Open.

Do you remember a time when every snowboard video had a slam section? That trend eventually died out and you often just see the makes instead of the countless bails and attempts. Once ever so often you see a video of a bail that is so heavy that your first reaction is to wince in sympathetic understanding, quickly followed by sending that video to your mates so they can shudder too.
Maca Taiz Valle was the recent participant in a bail that has been seen and shared across the snowboarding community. The slam is not only one of the heaviest ever captured but is accompanied by a monstrous soundtrack of body striking metal and face hitting snow. Miraculously, Macca only sustained a broken nose from this horrific event and because she is not more seriously injured we reached out to her to find out more.

Before the crash

Firstly, it’s good to see you are okay after that crash. How are you feeling now and are you already out of the hospital?
Hi there! I’m mega stoked to be alive and walking out of it, I was one day in the hospital and now after checking my nose with the surgeon, I need surgery to put it back in place so I don’t have trouble breathing now and in the future, so I get surgery this weekend, its ambulatory so i’ll be home at night.

After the crash

Tell us what lead up to that bail was it during women’s practise and had you hit that rail before?
It was during semi finals practice -25 degrees, 8.50 am and yes, I had hit that rail before, it was a mental failure 🙁

US Open is a big event and one of the biggest you had ridden at, were you nervous on the day of the crash or were you feeling confident with your riding?
I was an alternate in the contest, the first EVER south American, so I knew the night before I was able to compete, which of course got me nervous because it was definitely the biggest event I was part of in my life and I hadn’t competed for two years before it. The training days before where super hard wind wise and I knew I needed more training in the course because I was and still am a contest rookie, but I also knew I could do it and if landed my run maybe make it through to finals. After 3 training runs, I was unlucky enough to witness Silje Norendal crash on the jump and that got me extra nervous before my training 4th run and later the worst snowboarding bail I ever witnessed and was part of. My mind definitely tricked me on that one 🙁 

Maca riding laax Photo: Dominic Zimmerman

Looking at the video, it seems crazy to walk away with a broken nose, did the doctors give you any insight into how much worse it could have been?
Everybody was scared that I could never walk again in my life because it looked like the typical crash that can break your neck and or back. Which made me super aware of how lucky I was! Hasi (Burton EU team manager) was the whole time with me in the hospital and also couldn’t believe I was walking out the same day! Just with a broken nose, concussion and laceration in my right eye, he helped me be aware of how big this was and for me there was an angel taking care of me, thank you Jake.

How long were you unconscious for and do you remember anything about the crash?
I was out apparently around 5 minutes until they got me back again, but I remember from the hospital on and from the run I remember hitting the first rail gap section good and I remember thinking I have to go fast to the next rail cause it was big and long so I could make it to the transition jump.

In action sports we love a funny bail and pages like Jerry of the day and Get Sendy, being so popular are a good indication of that but when a bail is as gnarly as yours everyone sends their love and best wishes. Were you surprised about how many people reached out to you with messages of support?
I was really surprised about how many beautiful and nice messages I received! Even though I fucked up, it reminds you how amazing the snowboarding community is and how much I wanted to keep being part of it and get back and better! I even got messages asking how mentally we were able to do those big features; i’m still not so sure what to answer to that haha.

Protect your brain- Maca’s dented helmet.

How many more followers did you gain after your crash?
I don’t even know, it was insane how viral it got! I wasn’t even going to post it, cause I thought it was way to sensible, but after talking and watching it together with some homies in the athlete lounge and everybody was shocked but in a good way of how was I still there, so I realised it was maybe a motivation for everyone! That you can fall and you have to keep going for the things and moments you love 🙂 snowboarding is fun, at least most of the times hehe 

You don’t usually ride a helmet when you are riding away from a contest, would this crash encourage you to wear one more?
Well I was always part of the team that thought helmets don’t really help much and most of the times are uncomfortable to wear, which makes maybe the trick harder haha, I actually did my first runs on the course during trainings on my first day without a helmet but definitely I’m glad I had it then and definitely more aware to use it when I’m doing harder stuff or new tricks, it’s a good resource and its important to make everybody and younger generations aware about it. In this case it gave me a second life chance, I don’t know if i’d be alive without it.

Maca with the Burton family #Rideonjake

We hope this doesn’t put you off riding, when do you think you will be riding again? 
That’s the only thing I keep asking doctors, which they can’t completely understand haha. I love snowboarding with all my heart and I will give everything to it, because it gave me all. So as soon as I’m healthy and i’ve got the ok from my surgeon i’ll be back on the slopes 🙂 hopefully end of march / beginning April with a facial protector, it will probably look weird but you know weird is always good!

You can follow Maca on her Instagram here.