DAUGHTER OF A SKI PATROLLER, THE BIG MOUNTAIN SKIER HAS JUST EMBARKED ON A NEW CHAPTER, RELOCATING FROM UTAH TO ALASKA. HERE SHE TALKS ABOUT A TYPICAL DAY IN THE LAST FRONTIER.
MY ALARM GOES OFF
It doesn’t get light so early up here in Girdwood, Alaska, so I wake between 8 and 9am on a typical day, as the lifts don’t open before 11. It fluctuates, depending on whether I’ve been partying the night before. Either way, I now make sure I drink a litre of water every morning to get myself hydrated. I’m trying to cut down on coffee too, so I’ll make some breakfast or if I’m running late I’ll pick up a breakfast burrito at Spoonline Market in town. Usually I’ll get the shuttle to Alyeska resort, or I’ll take the pickup, but it’s only a three-minute drive.
I GOT MY JOB…
In 2012 when I was competing on the Freeride World Tour while at college, mainly to get out of classes, but it was going well and The North Face said they wanted me to join their team of athletes. I looked at how things would be financially in the coming years – I was on a full scholarship studying environmental law at the University of Utah – and realised it could really work out for me as a professional skier. At that moment I decided not to sign up for classes. I have to say that my parents supporting that decision made it much easier. I can always go back to college and finish my degree, which I really want to do.
MY JOB IN A NUTSHELL
To film big mountain ski lines, be available to sponsors and spend more time on my computer than I’d like. But that said, when you’re self-employed all the marketing and administration goes with the territory.
I NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT…
Music and a good attitude! If I wake up feeling bummed out about something I can usually turn that around by the time I hit the mountain.
MY TYPICAL DAY
Day to day I don’t have a set routine, but as I spend most of my winter filming, when I’m here in Girdwood I like to spend time free-shredding either with my boyfriend on his day off, or with whoever’s at the bottom of the mountain. I like to ski alone sometimes too, just with my music or a podcast. One thing that is set though is that before we head out we feed the dogs. It’s so tough saying goodbye to them but they’re getting a little too old to go touring with us these days.
Alyeska is so small that everyone knows each other, and on a powder day the local posse is always there before the lift opens. The snow here is pretty wet and heavy, but it means it sticks nicely to the steeper features. If it’s been skied out it’s not as fun as Utah snow, so a powder day sees everyone competing to get the first runs in.
Locals say the impact of climate change in recent years is becoming really noticeable. The temperatures are warmer and the weather generally less stable. Last year, the North Face run wasn’t open that often, but when it is, you can lap it and get really strong as it has a ton of features to jump and ride down.
I don’t usually like to stop for lunch as it can undermine my motivation. So I usually stuff my pockets with snacks. If I do stop it’s usually at the Sitzmark Bar & Grill or the deli at the top of the lift. I may finish the day’s riding back in the Sitzmark, maybe having one of their iconic Fizz cocktails – but never more than two!
I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT WHEN…
I won Powder magazine’s Line of the Year in 2016. Or actually maybe it was when TGR invited me to film in AK in 2012 with heavy hitters Seth Morrison, Dana Flahr and Sage Cattabriga Alosa. I’d heard Seth wasn’t too tolerant of BS so I tried my bring my ‘A’ game, but they were all so nice to be with.
THE HARDEST PART OF MY JOB
Most of our time when filming is spent chipping away in bad conditions – or grinding, we also call it. It’s not all sunshine and powder, that’s actually more like 7% of the time but that’s all you see in the films. Which brings up another hard part of my job – seeing the effects of climate change. Living in Alaska I’ve seen pictures of glaciers 20 years ago that have drastically retreated. It really affects me as I’ve always cared about the environment – I was studying it in college – and I feel there’s a certain hypocrisy to what I do now, jetting around the world to ski. But I also feel this life picked me, and my job now is to provide visual narratives for people about the importance of fighting climate change.
WHAT I LOVE THE MOST ABOUT MY JOB
Is getting to see people feeling the pure joy that skiing gives them, whatever their skiing ability; or just the joy they get from watching a powder segment and the inspiration it can give them.
I take the dogs for a walk in the forest behind my house. I’m trying to manage my life to spend less time doing computer work and more time doing things like reading and drawing. I find social media hard, but as a pro skier I have to do it. I don’t like BS and right now I’m working out what my voice should be. The most important thing is that it’s authentic. Socially, Girdwood has a drinking culture, partly because of the weather I guess, so places like the Girdwood Brewing Company are a popular hangout.
MY PLAN B
I’d be an environmental advocate involved in policy making. I’ve been thinking about how to offset pro athletes with big carbon footprints and in fact TNF is just about to launch a new 100% recycled fabric from a sustainable factory. This in part came from TNF’s pro athletes saying how important sustainability is to them, so maybe we’re already making a positive difference!
MORE ABOUT ANGEL:
Angel Collinson on 1000ft falls, knee injuries and ski-mad families