Big Air Kitesurfer, Outdoor Lover, Jasmine Cho

Please introduce yourself to our community.
Hello! My name is Jasmine, and I am a pro kite surfer. I was born in South Korea and immigrated to the US aged two. I grew up in the Seattle area and this introduced me to the outdoors, which I love. I currently live in Cape Town for 5 months of the year and travel the remaining time chasing strong wind. I have a small Australian Shepherd pup that travels with my husband and I and she is our absolute pride and joy. 

You started kitesurfing at 26, which is quite late. How did you come to the sport?
For a competing athlete, I did find this sport quite late! But anyone can start kitesurfing at pretty much any age! We have seen 70-year-olds learning how to kite. It's a very different world to surfing. With kiting you can become relatively good in just a few weeks on the water, unlike surfing where it takes years to be competent. I was introduced to kitesurfing by a friend when I was living in New York City in 2018. I had grown up snowboarding and doing a bit of wakeboarding, so I was very familiar with board sports. It took me some time to get used to the wind aspect of it and understanding how to control the kite, but I was pretty much hooked instantly. It took me almost two years after I started kitesurfing to get fully immersed and now pretty much every aspect of my life revolves around kiting. My kitesurfing career really took off in March 2020 during Covid when my first career in the film and television industry came to a complete standstill, so I spent the rest of the year kiting. My level soared that year because I was able to truly focus all my energy on becoming a better kiter. 

Before kite surfing became your life you worked in a TV based job in NYC - How do these two life-chapters compare?
I absolutely loved my career in the entertainment industry as an art director and I have been fortunate that because its project based, I have chosen which jobs I give my time to. That has allowed me to be flexible and kite for much of the year. I spent most of 2021 working since 2020 was slow due to Covid. I realized during the time how much I missed training and focusing on kiting, so I decided to take a break from TV and since June of 2022 I have been fully focused on training and competing and I have been able to progress tremendously.

Can you share a little about the origins of big-air kitesurfing and why you found this niche of the sport right for you?
Big air is a relatively new discipline in kitesurfing but also the fastest growing over the last 5 years. It is the most relatable and most spectacular in my opinion. Everyone wants to jump high!  Kiteloops have been around for years, but the tricks were pretty much the same entry level big air tricks until Janek Grzegorzewski came and showed the world that multiple rotations with board-offs was possible. The level of the men’s competition right now is unreal! During my first two years of kiting, I naturally thought I would progress into freestyle which is a totally different discipline that requires you to unhook. Most of the pro riders were freestylers and that’s what dominated social media. I'm so thankful I found big air because it's much easier on your knees and I feel that it's a discipline that for someone slightly older, like myself, one can still progress into. I am now one of the top women in big air because I’ve really focused on it over the last few years.

How do you feel at take-off and landing!?
During a massive jump, I would say I feel a mixture of high stoke and freedom with a hint of "holy sh*t" once you realize how high you are. You feel like you are truly flying, it's an unbeatable sensation. 

How is the sport judged by height, distance, style, tricks?
It depends on the competition, and which league the event is under but it is about 70% height and 30% technicality. There might also be a variation score. Usually in a heat, two of your best scoring tricks count and they must be different tricks. I compete in big air competitions, so everything revolves around looping your kite. Style, power of the loop, distance traveled all count towards your score for the trick.

You spend hours every day in harsh sunlight with hot wind and salt water. That’s a very challenging environment for your skin, one of the harshest there is! What do you do to keep your skin looking and feeling great? What is your daily routine?
I have a morning and nighttime skincare routine that I am very strict about. It's thankfully not expensive but it is somewhat extensive. After washing my face both in the morning and at night, I use a toner. Once that dries, I apply Utu’s SPF30 SPF Moisturizer. I reapply sunscreen throughout the day if I am outside a lot. I also alternate my serums with a night cream, and I always use eye cream! I also remove any face products before applying the Utu SPF50 Sunscreen stick to my face before a kite session. 

You have been using Utu’s 50 Stick- can you share your experience, how are you finding it on and off the water?
I mainly use the Utu SPF50 Stick before I go kitesurfing, and I've found it to be super soft on my face and the only sunscreen that truly doesn't rinse/sweat-off during my session. I've used countless sunscreens throughout my time kitesurfing and genuinely speaking, most of them come off my face early in my session and I get burnt. The Utu stick remains, and I absolutely love it! I plan on using it when I go snowboarding and other excursions in the mountains. 

As an athlete who lives in the ocean how aware are you about the negative issues caused by chemical SPF’s?
I'm not aware of the extent to which chemical SPFs negatively affect the ocean! I have heard about it and have seen many products claim to be reef safe, but I have not educated myself in depth about the issue. I would love to learn more! 

(Editor’s note: ideally avoid chemical SPF filters - they are not as effective as non-nano zinc oxide, can sting the eyes and cause inflammation, are absorbed into the skin and bloodstream, and cause significant reef-damage)

What are your goals for 2024 and beyond?
I have a few trick goals, one of them being to land some sort of rotation board off loop. But mainly my goal is to stay healthy, not to get injured, and not put too much pressure on myself :

Liquid error (layout/theme line 325): Could not find asset snippets/custom-fonts.liquid