Get to Know Sara Hanstad: Former World-Champion Snowboarder Lands at UMB in Colorado
For 12 years, Sara Hanstad traveled the world as a professional snowboarder. After retiring, she found her way to UMB Bank in Denver, Colorado. Read on to learn about her whirlwind journey and why she hasn’t hit the slopes yet since moving to the Mile High City.
From a young age, Sara Hanstad did everything her older brother did. So, when he picked up a snowboard and hit the local hill near their hometown of Fergus Falls, Minn., she was right behind him. That was the day her love of snowboarding began. Fast forward almost 30 years later and Sara sat down to talk with us about her journey as a professional snowboarder, earning three college degrees after “retirement,” and how she landed at UMB Bank in Denver.
Q: You have a fascinating background. Tell us about your career as a professional snowboarder.
I always looked up to my older brother and picked up whatever new thing he was into. First, it was skateboarding and then it was snowboarding. I would go up to our local ski hill with him and his friends, and I just fell in love with the sport. Trying to keep up with all the guys, I didn’t realize until later that I was one of the only girls doing some of those tricks in the half pipe.
A friend suggested that I enter a local competition, which I did and won. That led to a series of competitions that took me around the region competing that year. I qualified for Nationals at Vail in 1992 and, much to my surprise, I ended up winning. That earned me a spot on the U.S. Junior Team and then I started picking up numerous sponsors as my career progressed (my longest-running sponsor being Burton). My love for the sport and the generosity of my sponsors took me around the world. I would spend my summers in Mt. Hood, Ore., the fall months in Switzerland, and winters training with my team at Okemo, Vt., all while traveling the pro tours and world cup tours. It was an incredible time doing what I loved, snowboarding more than 300 days a year.
Q: When did you retire from snowboarding and how did you decide what to do next?
I retired when I was 28 and immediately began college, working at the same pace that I’d become accustomed. I earned my undergrad degree in three years and then attended law school. After completing my JD, I chose not to become a practicing attorney and went on to earn my master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on international business and global markets. After graduating with my MBA, I worked at Wells Fargo and Bremer Bank in Fargo, N.D., and found that I really loved the banking industry.
My husband, Trevor, and I made the decision to leave Fargo in January 2019. It was the third straight day of -50 and we’d just had enough. We knew it was time to go. We looked at a map and decided Denver was where we would head next. I suppose that day began my journey here to UMB Bank.
Q: What was it that attracted you to UMB Bank?
From the first time I met with the team at UMB, I loved the energy, leadership and drive that I found in everyone I talked to. My first day was April 15 and my first days were at UMB’s annual sales and leadership conference in Kansas City. It was the most incredible way to start at UMB. I met dozens of associates and every single one talked about why they loved working for UMB and how I was going to love it, too. They were 100 percent right!
My job as vice president of commercial banking is the most rewarding and enjoyable position I’ve ever had. There isn’t a typical day in the office, and in fact, I am usually not in the office. My job is to network in the community, introduce UMB Bank to those who may not know about us and find opportunities for our bank to help businesses meet their goals. I could not be happier being here in Denver and with an organization like UMB.
Q: How are you liking Denver so far? And have you been to the mountains since moving here?
My husband and I purchased our home in Bennett, Colo., about 20 miles east of Denver. We love this city, love the area, and so do our three dogs. We’ve been exploring since we arrived, and we love everything about the state of Colorado. I haven’t been snowboarding since I retired nearly 15 years ago, primarily due to being in Fargo, N.D., where the landscape is completely flat. I have a feeling that’s going to change soon, having the beautiful mountains of Colorado in our backyard.
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