Niki Kelly is a professional snowboarder who lives in rural Canada where she pursues her passions of nature, photography and of course snowboarding. Living in her van with her partner Mitch and dog Nelson, she explores new zones on her sled and on foot, as well as competing.
- North American Freeride Womens Champion 2018
- Wins at Revelstoke and Kirkwood
- Vegan since 2015
Niki’s been competing since 2016 and in 2018 achieved some eye-catching results with two second places as well as taking wins at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort and Kirkwood events.
She also won the North American Freeride Championship for Female Snowboard. “This was my greatest achievement, and it is what earned me a spot on the elite Freeride World Tour” Niki told us. Her place on the tour means she competed against the world’s best in four events in Japan, Canada and Europe. Each snowboarder got a chance to descend a mountain on their own. There’s no trail, so their choice of route down the mountain along with matters such as technique, control and style was scored. Read more about her World Tour here.
Niki is vegan, and has been since October 2015.
“My motivation started with my health” she explains. “I was so bored of eating chicken and obsessing over calories. But it was the environmental impact and animal suffering that solidified going vegan for me. It gave me hope that we can change so much just by choosing not to eat meat.”
Environment is something that is clearly prominent in her thoughts, which may be encouraged by her life in the great outdoors. Living from her van and travelling from it by sled and on foot minimises her impact on the natural system she loves so much.
She’s also very committed to a vegan lifestyle and doesn’t compromise on it.
“I always find a way to eat vegan” she told Great Vegan Athletes. “Most of the time while travelling I will go to a grocery store to be safe. When we do go out to eat at a restaurant, I find it relatively easy to find something that is vegan.”
“I eat a variety of foods. My idea is to eat every colour of the rainbow. But I try to make eating beans or lentils a staple; they are packed full with essential nutrients.”
Since making the transition, there have been no concerns from those around her. “I haven’t had anybody question me. My personal trainer/best friend asked me once if I had trouble getting enough protein. But she is knowledgeable enough about nutrition that when I told her what I eat (beans, lentils), she didn’t question further.
“In my sport as a whole, I haven’t had a lot of questions otherwise. Some people have just commented that they could ‘never do it because they like meat too much.’ Other than that I have actually met a few veggies or full vegans. It’s great.”
Training for the lifestyle
Most of Niki’s training is done outside. Her trainer has prescribed a training program based on strength, functional and cardio training. “When the snow hits I try to get out on the snow as much as I can. I go hiking up mountains with my splitboard before the resorts open. Or I go snowmobiling out to new mountain zones to look for new terrain to train on.”
Following her first World Tour in 2019, Niki is optimistic about the future. “I hope to continue competing on the Freeride World Tour and potentially get into filming projects. I love snowboarding because there is always a new way to progress.”
“I’m also excited and optimistic about people learning about how we can create impactful change as vegans, for the environment and animals primary, also but for our own health. I believe change will happen with compassion and positivity, not with hostility.”