Melissa Riitano has paid her dues in snowboarding—from breaking her knee cap in half, to poaching Ms. Superpark, to impressing year after year with solid season edits and a big bag of switch tricks. Recently, she released her first full urban part in the Outta’ the Kitchen film.
It’s about time you got to know her.
Nice part in the Outta’ the Kitchen film. Was this your first season putting in real time in the streets?
It was my first time really getting out there and trying to film a street part, it was so much damn fun but so much damn work! I think it was 70% shoveling, 10% having no idea what to do, 5% snowboarding, and 15% getting kicked out of spots.
Was it hard to put out a street part and full park edit? Would you like to add some backcountry into the mix?
Just having fun and filming with my friends in the park is the easy part, just some days of filming here and there and I got a part together out of that. It took a lot of trial and error outside of the park, just finding features that would work and setting them up. But I think just going out and trying something is just the biggest thing. I hope to get some backcountry in there as well, I really love that part of snowboarding and feel like it’s been missing from my life.
Should we look out for another urban part to go down this year? Is OTK planning on putting together another film?
I am definitely planning on getting another urban part together, would really like to log some time in the backcountry as well. I’m still trying to figure out if we are doing another OTK movie this year, we will see where the year leads. I would love to though, it was a super fun project with some awesome girls!
With more female crews out there filming last season, what unique element do you think Outta’ the Kitchen brought to the table?
First off, I think women’s snowboarding as a whole right now is just killing it! Every crew has been supportive of each other and that’s what we need to grow. Outta’ the Kitchen brings a little more lightheartedness and goofiness to the table with all the ‘hey, shouldn’t you be in the kitchen?!’ remarks. We may not be the most experienced crew out there but we are enjoying all the ups and downs and having so much fun!
We’ve seen a lot more rail footy from you recently than jumps. Do you still find time for some booters?
Yeah, I still really love jumping. I was riding most of the year with a partially torn ankle ligament, so staying a little closer to the ground felt a whole lot better then impact from bigger jumps.
Speaking of injuries, I had heard you had a pretty nasty knee injury. When did that happen?
About three years ago now I broke my kneecap completely in half. I don’t know why, but at first I didn’t think it was that bad. In my head I was like, yeah, it’s fine, probably just bruised and I’ll be riding in a few weeks. Not even, it was like a half inch separated and displaced. Not good, and worse I did it on November 2nd, so bye bye whole season. I had surgery and ended up with five screws and a plate.
How did you manage to split your knee in half? What did it take to come back from an entire year out and not let it stop your progression?
I was doing an early season rail jam. It was only my third day riding of the year and I think just pushed myself a bit too hard right off the bat. Then made a little miscalculation and smashed my knee into the rail support. It took so much to come back, a lot of pain trying to bend it, a lot of rehab just to get my quad muscle to fire again.
After about three months or so I was able to just cruise two laps on the baby run but it was just really painful, and I was at high risk of doing further damage. So I rode about 20 times that year but most of the time I was just posted up on the couch thinking about all of the tricks I wanted to do when I got back boarding. I think just thinking and visualizing what I wanted to do when I got back was the biggest help.
Tell us about poaching Ms. Superpark back when it was at Keystone?
Most exciting and terrifying day ever! The first day I got there to “sign up,” and didn’t realize it was not an open registration kind of a thing. Needless to say I didn’t get the pass to ride Ms. Superpark.
I saw a couple of my friends heading up to go ride that had passes to get in (and Avran the founder of Angry Snowboarder), I was telling them how bummed I was to not get in. They suggested, “Why not just ride it any ways?! The worst that will happen is you getting kicked out.” Thank god we are snowboarders and super rebellious. We got there super early so just cruised a few runs and checked things out. The day got going and it was on! All the girls were crushing it first day but the only thought in my head was to avoid Pat Bridges at all costs, but if you see him make sure you do something cool, haha. All day was just a bunch of close calls but made it through the day without getting booted. I’m not sure how but I got a pass the next day and I was “legal” to board.
Nearly ever year after I have attended Ms. Superpark and am so grateful for Pat, Mary, and all of Snowboarder Mag for having such an awesome all-girl event!
I’ve seen you out cruising the park with some heavy hitters, like Christy Prior. Has this affected your riding game?
Christy and the other girls I have been riding with have been such positive influences on me. Most days are just fucking around the whole way down to the park just seeing what kind of different butters or weird turn switch ollie whatever combos we can come up with. Really just having the most fun possible. Even when learning tricks in the park, we are trying things we a uncomfortable with but are having too much fun to be afraid or think twice about trying something. That is huge! Having too much fun and turning those negative thoughts like “I could eat shit” off. It’s made me a ton more confident trying scary things.
You had a pretty solid dose of switch tricks in your park edit. What has it taken to become so adept at switch maneuvers?
Eating a lot of shit, at first. I still remember the first day I tried switch front boards. I was starting to get them at first then got over confident, and was like, “oh yeah I’m the shit”…then back taco!
After years of releasing season edits, riding comps, and now filming an urban part, have you seen your presence grow in the snowboard industry?
I am honestly not sure where I stand in the industry, I’ve just been trying to follow what feels good to me and hope people like what I’m doing. I would just be super excited if I ever inspired younger girls to get out there and board!
How have your goals shifted throughout your snowboard career?
When I was first introduced to snowboarding I had “I want to be the backcountry Jeremy Jones” stuck in my head. Then I got a little older and introduced into park riding and thought, “I want to be in X Games!. Now I have gotten to this stage in my life where I still want to be Jeremy Jones, haha. But also have really fallen in love with the process of making a video part and would love to just come up with well-rounded parts for as long as I can with urban and backcountry elements.
Who has been your biggest support in snowboarding?
All of the companies I’ve linked up with in the past couple years have been extremely generous with giving gear, and I am so grateful for all of that! Its nice not to worry that if I break a board or something I won’t be screwed.