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Elyse Saugstad
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Elyse Saugstad

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  • HOME: Tahoe City, CA
  • HOME RESORT: Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, AK
  • DISCIPLINES: Freeride Backcountry
  • CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:
    • Freeskier Magazine’s “2018 Female Skier of the Year”
    • 2 x Winner Powder Video Awards’ “Best Female Performance” 2013, 2018
    • 2 x Winner IF3 International Freesport Film Festival “Best Female Freeride Performance” 2014, 2018
    • Freeride World Tour Champion 2008
    • Winner of Powder Magazine “Photo of the Year” shot by Nic Alegre 2018

ABOUT ME

I was raised in Girdwood, Alaska and immediately fell in love with the mountains at a young age and have centered my life around them ever since. I ski raced intensely while growing up at Alyeska Resort, and since then I funneled my passion for skiing into becoming a professional freeride skier. I kicked off my career by competing in international freeride events like the Freeride World Tour, and as my career progressed I turned my attention to filming for ski movies. I have been fortunate to film with ski production companies such as Teton Gravity Research, Matchstick Productions, and Warren Miller. I co-founded and instruct SAFE AS, a women’s specific snow and avalanche safety clinic that is in its eighth year of operation. Additionally, I had the opportunity to give a TEDx Talk in San Francisco and engage in public speaking events around the US. 

WHAT MOMENT DO YOU SKI FOR?

The moment of pure bliss that comes from skiing a difficult line, stomping a big cliff, landing a trick, surging through deep powder, sharing laughs and high fives with buddies… there are so many different types of moments in skiing that achieve complete satisfaction and enjoyment that I can’t say one is better than another.

HOW DO YOU RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES FOR THE NEXT CHALLENGE?

I really enjoy the fact that skiing has an off-season so I am able to do a full reset mentally and physically for the following winter. Skiing can be really taxing mentally and physically because it takes 100% commitment and attention to detail to find success in freeride, backcountry skiing as well as staying safe in the mountains. So, taking a break and pursing other interests truly allows me to be as passionate about skiing as I was 15 years ago. 

HOW DO YOU CONQUER DIFFICULT SITUATIONS?

I conquer difficult situations by focusing on what needs to be done to achieve the goal. This usually means not viewing the situation as an insurmountable whole but rather a conglomeration of many, smaller parts. Once it’s broken down each part is a lot easier to deal with, and before you know it step by step you’ll find success.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU AREN’T SKIING?

When I’m not eating, breathing, and living skiing there are many things I love to do. I’m really into sports - playing them, watching them, discussing them with friends and family. I love surfing, mountain biking, fishing, yoga, hiking, tennis and I don’t mind time in the gym. I love attending San Francisco Giants baseball games and follow them religiously. I also love football (49ers are my team) and play Fantasy Football, and I’ve won my league multiple times, which I am proud of, ha. I enjoy reading about and debating politics with Cody Townsend. The two of us also love, love, love cooking. I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts like The New York Times Daily, Pod Save the World, Bill Simmons, and Radiolab to name a few. Last but not least I LOVE spending time with my little dog, Theo, who loves to hunt chipmunks, squirrels and lizards which is very entertaining because he's the same size as them.

WHAT STRATEGY DO YOU USE TO OVERCOME PRESSURE AND STRESS FOR OPTIMUM PERFORMANCE?

I focus on the positive things that I need to do to give my best performance and not let the negative things seep in. Also, I visualize my lines down to each turn. Once I actually ski my body is able to take over and do what it’s trained to do and not let my head get in the way.