NAME: Elyse Saugstad
BIRTHDAY: 16 September 1978
HOME: Tahoe City, CA (HOME RESORT: Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, AK)
DISCIPLINES: Freeride Backcountry
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.