Elyse Saugstad is Paving the Way

This year’s Winter Speaker Series continues to be something special after another unforgettable evening with big mountain, full send, skier Elyse Saugstad! Whether you were in person or watching online, it became quickly apparent why Elyse has created such a successful career for herself. 

Awards and MORE

Outside of the awards Elyse has won - winning the Freeride World Tour, being named Freeskiing Magazine’s Skier of the Year, and Powder Video Awards Best Female Performance (x2) - the mark she is making on the ski industry is much more everlasting. Elyse is at the forefront of helping evolve the sport by making sure that there continues to be room for women in it, and in doing so, she has paved the way for the next generation of badass female skiers and boarders. 

Ski Like a Girl

Of course massive airs, stunning terrain, and beautiful turns elicited whoops and uncontainable stoke from the audience, but, as has been the theme of this year, her show took us so much deeper. Women being demoted to a different qualifying competition and venue in the Freeride World Tour — “No way”. Women not having the same opportunities as men for filming — “In what world?”. Women being sidelined for having kids — “There is room for both”. Elyse has met numerous obstacles in her career, but has approached them as opportunities to grow and keep pushing herself, as well as her peers, and the industry as a collective. 

“Here, Hold My Kid”

Her most recent example of this came soon after having her son. While she, like many other female athletes across a variety of sports, feared what would happen to her career as an athlete after becoming pregnant, she took the leap with her partner. She deeply believed that having a family didn’t mean she would have to hang up her skis, and to that end, she didn’t leave fate in the hands of anyone, but herself. She teamed up with friend and professional skier AND mom, Jackie Paaso, to create a ski movie about what it was to ski rad lines and also be a parent. 

Roadmap to Success

How did she get there? There were two key takeaways on that front. She absolutely never takes no for an answer, and she is laser focused in the pursuit of her goals. And, she made sure to thank her biggest supporter and “Couldn’t Do This Without You” partner, Cody Townsend. The themes can be applied to any life experience and left the crowd collectively inspired to achieve their own dreams. 

Next in Line

The night ended with Elyse facing a long line of people moved by her persistence, and breathtaking skiing. Seeing young girls and boys getting posters signed by their hero brought it back to what these shows have always been about, the power of community. These interactions matter and have the power to transform the trajectory of any single person in that room. Thank you SO much Elyse, for taking the time to share your story and connect. 

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Jim Morrison skis a coluoir on Denali
Ingrid Backstrom presents at the Winter Speaker Series

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