Elyse Saugstad

Achievements/ movies / comp results / other proud moments

- 2008 Freeride World Tour Champion, 2009 FWT ‘Female Line of the Year’, nominated for ‘Female Best Performance’ at the 2011 Powder Video Awards. I have filmed with Salomon Freeski TV, Rage Films, the Levitation Project, Garchois Productions, and Red Bull’s ‘Say My Name’ Project.

Favorite areas or descents

Alyeska Resort, heli-skiing with Chugach Powder Guides out of Girdwood, Alaska, Squaw Valley, sled-skiing in BC, and Verbier.

Describe your skiing background

- I grew up in Girdwood, Alaska and started skiing by the age of three with my ski bum parents, Mark and Kathy at the helm. Alyeska Resort, situated right in the heart of the Chugach Mountains, is the best place to grow up skiing and hone your skills because it’s super steep and deep. I ski raced throughout my youth and did very well. When I was a teen I garnered such awards as Junior Olympic Downhill and Overall Champion. I loved the speed events! I quit racing when I went to college and that was the best decision I could have made because I believe I would have been really burnt out on skiing if I had continued to race. Instead of racing, I re-found my passion for skiing through freeriding when I switched schools from the University of New Mexico to the University of Nevada Reno. I became infatuated with the new freeski movement when I saw the likes of Jamie Burge in the movie Butter and Ingrid Backstrom in MSP’s Yearbook. Two years after I graduated college I moved back to the Tahoe area, Squaw Valley more specifically, and eventually began to pursue a professional career in big mountain skiing. Now here I am today, doing what I love for a job!

Describe a skiing experience when things got out of hand:

- Like crash? I NEVER crash! Ever. Or get scared or anything like that because I’m a really good skier. Oh, once a ski popped off in the air (obvious gear malfunction, not the driver) and I thought, “oh, this is what it feels like to have something go wrong?” But then I still landed the jump so I guess that’s not a good example.

What are you up to when you’re not skiing?

- There are a lot of fun things to do when the ski season is over. I love to surf, mountain bike, fish, camp, hike… basically just be in the outdoors. I really love spending time at the ocean and since my husband is from Santa Cruz we luckily spend a lot of time surfing and hanging there. I also really enjoy cooking good meals (well, actually I help my talented chef of a husband cook that is) and drinking wine with our friends. Getting in some good booty shaking on the dance floor from time to time is nice as well.

Any training advice or suggestions?

- Everything is important: strength, agility, stretching, aerobic exercise, eating healthy, and sleeping well. So, it’s best to do all kinds of sports and activities in the off-season and try to do as much as you can during the winter, however hard that may be. It’s like fine-tuning a race horse.

Who or what inspires you?

- Right now it’s Cody Townsend, Rachael Burks, Kaj Zackrisson, the all-female Nike 6.0 surf flick ‘Leave a Message’, and women that are pushing the boundaries in sport and business. A lot of people inspire me really, I like to take positive qualities that I see in others and try to apply them to myself.

How do you see skiing evolving in the next five years?

- Big mountain skiing and females becomes more important within the ski industry. At least that’s what I believe should be paid attention to if the industry wants to prosper.

Do you have any vices that you would like to share?

- Like being too perfect for my own good? Yep, that’s a vice, too dang perfect The nice thing about doing a Q & A like this is I’m able to make a comment and no one can refute what I’m saying. Like not only am I perfect but I’m also one of the smartest and best looking and strongest and coolest people on the planet! And I can fly.

What are your future plans or goals in skiing?

- To inspire not only little girls but also grown women to jump cliffs, ski faster, take a steeper run, or do whatever it is that would be pushing their boundaries in skiing. With a smile, of course.

Elyse Saugstad's favorite kask setup.

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