Lady Ripper: Melissa O’Keefe
SW: Who introduced you to Snowmobiling?
Melissa: Growing up I only really had experience riding on the back of a snowmobile. Although I do have one memory of my Aunt letting me drive across Benton Pond when I was a child and I loved it! In 2015 my husband (Kevin O’Keefe) and I bought a sled to get back and forth to the cabin that winter. The enjoyment of riding on back soon faded and I began dreaming of having my own! The following summer, I purchased my first Dirt Bike and discovered I had quite the adventurous side, riding was becoming my new favorite hobby. Having my husband Kevin, work at Adventure Sales in Gander allowed me to try out sleds that I’d never been on before. It wasn’t long before I purchased my Switchback Assault and didn’t look back.
SW: Why did you become attracted to backcountry riding?
Melissa: I’m lucky enough to have friends and family who had experience riding in the backcountry. Once I purchased my sled in December 2017, I was on a trip to the West Coast of Newfoundland in January to see what it was all about! My husband’s family also has a cabin in Gallants which quickly became one of my favorite getaways to take the sleds and ride right from the cabin into the hills (Lewis Hills).
SW: How do you think more ladies could be introduced to backcountry riding?
Melissa: The 2018 Sledcore clinic was such a huge success! I think it’s only a matter of time before more and more female riders join in after seeing what an encouraging and fun environment is offered. I would suggest taking the clinic to any female rider looking to learn new skills, meet new friends, and experience a day in the backcountry. The Sledcore clinic was a turning point for me as a female rider. It was a place where I was encouraged to try new things surrounded by a group of supportive instructors and women. I could learn without fear of any judgement. We were taken to some of the most beautiful backcountry trails I’ve ever seen. By the end of the day I was already much more confident in controlling my sled and attempting things I had never done before! I couldn’t wait to get back out to practice my new skills.
SW: What were some of your 2019 Riding Goals?
Melissa: At the 2018 clinic I was taught how to side hill and am now able get my sled into position. My 2019 goal is to work on holding that edge!
SW: Tell us about your sled?
Melissa: I ride a 2013 Switchback Assault 800 with a 2” track.
SW: Where do you presently live and what are you presently working at?
Melissa: I’m currently living in Gander (NL) working as a Licensed Practical Nurse and Online Personal Trainer.