Monday, November 18, 2013

I've Joined Forces with Moment Skis!

I can officially say I am happy to be the newest member of Moment Skis! I couldn't be more stoked to join such a rad company.

Here is the official press release:


Company Makes First Venture into Genetic Athlete Engineering

11/18/13 SPARKS, NV – Moment Skis officially announced today the addition of professional skier Elyse Saugstad to the Moment Ski Team. Elyse is an accomplished athlete and an influential personality not only in women’s freeskiing, but across the entire freeskiing industry.
“Elyse's passion for and involvement in the ski industry transcends the gender gap. She is one of the best skiers out there, with the ability and experience to rip big mountain lines anywhere with anyone. Equally as important, the addition of Elyse to the team gives Moment a chance to procure the talent of Elyse and Cody Townsend's super-being offspring. Like in horse racing, it's time for skiing to start investing in its future athletes.” –Casey Hakansson, Founder & CEO of Moment Skis. 

Elyse’s accomplishments include winning 4 out of 5 international freeride competitions to become the 2008 Freeride World Champion, 3 nominations (2011, 2012, and 2013) for POWDER Magazine’s “Best Female Performance” award, 5th place in the 2013 POWDER Reader’s Poll, and a Top 5 placement (and the only female in the Top 12) in the 2013 Teton Gravity Research Co-Lab Video Contest.

Elyse has been featured multiple times in print, film, and online publications, both inside and outside the ski industry. She recently delivered a TED Conference talk on the subject of fear and its positive role in goal achievement, and last winter co-founded SAFE AS, a women’s-specific introductory clinic on avalanche and snow safety. She will be featured in the November 2013 issue of POWDER in a piece titled Montanafest Destiny, and is currently starring in the latest Warren Miller film, Ticket to Ride.

"I am thrilled to be joining the Moment team, as Moment is not only one of the most progressive ski companies but also one of the few who still build their skis here in the US. I'm especially looking forward to designing skis with them for the women's line; it's an opportunity that doesn't always happen with the larger, corporate ski companies. I consider it an honor to become a part of the Moment family." –Elyse Saugstad

Monday, May 13, 2013

April Skiing in Girdwood, AK

Standing atop my line in the Velvet Curtain. photo cred: Lynsey Dyer
As the Lower 48's temps seemed to be warming up substantially at the beginning of April, I found myself looking for a ticket up to AK- Girdwood was getting pounded by snow and the weather forecast indicated that blue, sunny skies were right around the corner. The anticipation of making a trip to Alaska in the spring is electrifying, just about every ski bum-enthusiast-pow seeker-mountain lover in the universe hopes to have the experience at least once in their life. And once that experience happens you're hooked. If you grow up in Alaska the experience is truly no different. I consider myself a lucky person to have grown up in the Chugach Mountains calling Alyeska my home resort. As I have grown older with a catalogue of travels around the world seeking out new adventures in the mountains under my belt, I have only grown more enamored with a heightened sense of respect and awe for the mountains in AK, especially the ones that in my youth I fondly called my backyard.

Racing down a line in West Crystal photo cred: JGS Concepts
The weather did indeed produce sunny skies with fresh snow. Unfortunately I was a day late in my arrival to Girdwood to get in on the preeminent 1-day only opening of Headwall. Bummer! Skiers understandably shredded the resort to pieces, leaving me in search of fresh snow in the backcountry. My purpose in Alaska this go around was more than to just enjoy my time at Alyeska, I came to town with the intentions of meeting up with Lynsey Dyer and JGS Concepts to film for the all-female ski movie, Pretty Faces. The blue skies held as well as the cold temperatures and thus good snow, making it possible to ski and film day after day. On one occasion we were able to get in the heli with CPG to work with Outside TV. What a glorious afternoon for Lynsey and I that was! Ten days later, the weather finally turned, and I made my way back to Tahoe. This April trip will be fondly remembered. Thanks Girdwood for the great times! I'll see you next winter.

Spring skiing at Alyeska with the posse.
Sled skiing to check out new zones... pretty awesome you can sled right up to this glacier. photo cred: JGS Concepts

Sledded right up to this, it is now on the top of my hit list when I come back to AK.
Lynsey Dyer getting ready to drop in on West Crystal.
Best part of visiting Girdwood is spending time with my family. Making some laps at Alyeska with Mom is the best!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Warren Miller in Montana

Keely Kelleher taking in the views of Big Sky Mtn.
 In February, I had the exciting opportunity to film with Warren Miller for the first time in my career. Well, maybe not the first possible opportunity. Back in the day at about the age of 15 Warren Miller showed up to a Junior Olympics race series that I competed in at Mt. Bachelor, but alas, I didn't get any shots in that segment. So, when Warren Miller called me up to see if I wanted to join in on a trip to Montana for their upcoming movie "Ticket to Ride" I could hardly pass it up, I'd finally be fulfilling a childhood dream of mine. Like countless others whose grew up with skiing as a part of their lives, my family made the annual pilgrimage to the Warren Miller premiere every fall and it was always the first indicator and stokage that winter was right around the corner. I still remember telling one of my best childhood girlfriends that one day I'd be in a Warren Miller movie. And here I am!
Tram to the peak of Big Sky. Feels a lot like Europe.
I met up with Crystal Wright and Keely Kelleher in Bozeman, MT to check out and shred the surrounding mountains. The two main resorts near Bozeman are Big Sky and Bridger Bowl. Delightfully, there is a plethora of backcountry to ski as well. Keely grew up skiing Big Sky, and after skiing that mountain with her I found we have very similar skiing styles as Big Sky is reminiscent of Alyeska Resort. In addition to Big Sky's infamous couloirs, the terrain off the peak of the mountain is above treeline with huge, open steep faces you can bomb huge, fast turns down- similar to what Alyeska finely has to offer.
Crystal Wright using the fresh pow as her canvas to write a beautiful ski poem.
We did a bit of touring in the nearby Beehive Basin area, which turned out to be a lot of fun as it can be protected from the wind thereby allowing the snow to pile up. Crystal, Keely and myself shared plenty of smiles and laughs as we skied deep pow.
Finding myself choked up with powder.
Filming with Warren Miller and the girls turned out to be nothing but an enjoyable experience. On top of taking advantage of the great skiing Montana has to offer, we shot a sort of music video for the intro to our segment. Take after take we lip synched our hearts out to country music (I'm not exactly the biggest fan of country music so a bit of performing had to come into play) as we drove along in an old-pickup with the cameras rolling all around us. It was entertaining to say the least and I hope it turns out as fun for the audience as it was for us to make.
Logan, one of the filmers, getting the truck dialed for our shoot.
The 10 days or so working with Warren Miller was a blast with the girls and crew.  This upcoming fall I look forward to morphing back into a little girl who's brimming with anticipation for Warren Miller's upcoming movie "Ticket to Ride" and winter.
Keely taking directions for the music video shoot.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Powder Award Nominations

The 2013 Powder Video Awards were announced last week and I made the cut! I'm honored and completely thrilled to be nominated alongside a field of such bad ass female skiers. The PVAs are skiing's Oscars, it's just about every skier's dream to be nominated and have a chance to win an award. The awards will be happening on January 17th at Park City, UT. Click HERE if you would like to purchase tickets and join in on the fun evening.

Here is the Official 2013 Powder Award list of nominees: 

Best Female Performance
Michelle Parker – Superheroes of Stoke – MSP Films
Angel Collinson – The Dream Factory – Teton Gravity Research
Elyse Saugstad – Kill Your Boredom – Voleurz
Ingrid Backstrom – Superheroes of Stoke – MSP Films

Best Male Performance
Eric Hjorleifson – Superheroes of Stoke – MSP Films
Candide Thovex – Few Words – Process Films
Sean Pettit – WE – Poor Boyz Productions
Dash Longe – The Dream Factory – Teton Gravity Research

Best Line
Pep Fujas – WE – Poor Boyz Productions
Parker White – Sunny – Level 1 Productions
Corey Felton and Topher Plimpton - Because – Two Plank Productions
Erik Hjorleifson – Superheroes of Stoke – MSP Films

Best Powder
Chatter Creek - Superheroes of Stoke – MSP Films
Griffin Post and Todd Ligare – The Dream Factory – Teton Gravity Research
Jay Peak - No Matter What – Meathead Films
Erik Roner – The Dream Factory – Teton Gravity Research

Best Natural Air
Sean Pettit – WE – Poor Boyz Productions
Tim Durtschi – The Dream Factory – Teton Gravity Research
Parker White – Sunny – Level 1 Productions
Max Hammer – The Dream Factory – Teton Gravity Research

Best Manmade Air
Russ Henshaw – Superheroes of Stoke – MSP Films
Henrik Harlaut – The Education of Style – Inspired Media Concepts
Karl Fostvedt – WE – Poor Boyz Productions
Dana Flahr – The Dream Factory – Teton Gravity Research

Best Jib
Clatyon Vila – The Eighty Six – Stept Productions
Tom Wallisch - Sunny – Level 1 Productions
Will Wesson – No Matter What – Meathead Films
Leigh Powis – WE – Poor Boyz Productions

Best P.O.V.
Dana Flahr – The Dream Factory – Teton Gravity Research
Corey Felton and Topher Plimpton – Because – Two Plank Productions
Mike Henituk – WE - Poor Boyz Productions
Russ Henshaw – Superheroes of Stoke – MSP Films

Best Cinematography Presented by GoPro
The Eighty Six – Stept Productions
Few Words – Process Films
Sunny – Level 1 Productions
The Dream Factory – Teton Gravity Research

Best Editing
Act Natural – Toy Soldier Productions
Superheroes of Stoke – MSP Films
Sunny – Level 1 Productions
The Eighty Six – Stept Productions

Best Documentary
Tempting Fear – Switchback Entertainment
Choose Your Own Adventure – Powderwhore Productions
Few Words – Process Films

Movie of the Year
The Dream Factory – Teton Gravity Research
The Eighty Six – Stept Productions
Few Words – Process Films
Sunny – Level 1 Productions

Having fun at the 2011 Powder Video Awards in Aspen with Cody Townsend and Rachael Burks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This is a 15L Powder Line pack, the one I use 90% of the time

This backpack saved my life last winter when I was in a 2700' avalanche in the backcountry off Stevens Pass. There were three others caught in the avalanche who did not survive. I was the only one wearing this backpack and was the only survivor. My ABS pack saved my life and I hope they will continue to help save lives in the future. For me, the ABS brand pack is the standard for avalanche airbags and here is why I think so.

To begin, the dual airbag system ensures that if one inflation fails or one bag is damaged by trees, etc. you will still have at least one airbag fully inflated. Additionally, ABS is using new technology with their bag materials which creates a much lighter and much stronger bag. The airbag material is the same material used on zodiac boats which means that it is nearly impossible to shred if punctured. The trigger mechanism is a nearly fail safe pneumatic system that only takes approximately 18 pounds of force over 2 cm's to trigger inflation. Non-pnuematic systems can take up to 45 pounds of pressure over 6 inches in length trigger inflation. From my experience, once you're caught in an avalanche things happens so fast that the easier a trigger is to pull the better.
Skiing at Mt. Baker Photo: Grant Gunderson
I also love the fact that the ABS is constructed of a base system that has the airbag safety system in it, and the actual backpack is zipped on allowing for different size packs to be attached. This, I believe, makes buying this pack a worthy investment because you are able to have different sized packs for different types of days. 90% of the time I use the Powder 15L, which fits my shovel, probe, some food, water, an extra pair of gloves, a thin layer, a few other small things, and my skins (at that point it's starting to get pretty tight). If I need more gear than this I would use the Vario 25L (or 40L). Please note that the Powder Line and the Vario Line are not interchangeable. I prefer the Powder Line because it is a little less bulky that the Vario system, but it is more limiting with only having the 5L and 15L as the two sizes. So, if you need that larger 40L the Vario would be the way to go.
These ABS backpacks are very durable (and I'm talking about the base system). My backpack went through some heavy forces in the avalanche so ABS did an integrity check on my pack. The pack was found to be completely intact and in perfect working condition, so I am still using the same base system.

The pack includes straps and an exterior helmet holder, so you can dangle stuff off if need be. The ski carry system is just okay (using the straps that are included), but it works and the pack is so awesome it is not the biggest deal to me. The waist buckle is strong and easy to use, I don't have to take my mittens off to lock and unlock the steel buckle.

ABS uses a nitrogen cartridge which makes it lighter and smaller than other brands. While some may scoff at the additional weight of an avy bag, the ABS pack does not feel heavy, it fits very snug on the body and I have never felt that my pack has extra weight to it when it's on my back.

Any kind of avalanche safety backpack is not the end all be all device that usurps the necessary knowledge to be in the backcountry, your sound judgement, and the other mandatory backcountry tools such as a transceiver, shovel, and probe. Rather, these backpacks are a last ditch effort if you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of being caught in an avalanche. Accidents can happen and these packs can help save your life. It saved mine.

If you would like to purchase this ABS backpack, or any of the other styles or colors of ABS packs, carries them... Just click on the backpack below:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Women's S.A.F.E. A.S. Workshop

Are you SAFE AS...

Lel Tone researching the avy forecast in the morning...
Michelle Parker checking beacons prior to departure...
Elyse Saugstad practicing proper travel techniques...
Ingrid Backstrom assessing the snow pack in the field...
Jackie Paaso knowing how to due a proper beacon search...
Sherry McConkey continuing to refresh her knowledge over time...

Do you know how to be as S.A.F.E.  A.S. us?
Skiers Advocating and Fostering Education for Avalanche and Snow Safety.....

Lel, Michelle, Ingrid, Jackie, Sherry, and myself are proud to present with Squaw Valley, Wildflour Bakery, and the High Fives Foundation a S.A.F.E. A.S. Women's Introductory Clinic on Avalanche and Snow Safety as a FUNdraiser for High Fives...

WHAT: Women's Intro to Avalanche Safety and FUNdraiser Day with classroom and on-snow training, morning yoga, delicious and healthy Wildflour Lunch, and apres party and raffle at Rocker.

WHERE: Squaw Valley

WHEN: The main event is December 8, 7am-5pm with an informal, optional Wine Social at Uncorked at 6pm Dec. 7

WHO FOR: Women, ages 14 and older who are interested in snow and avalanche safety in and out of bounds and who enjoy a good time for a good cause.  Participants are asked to provide their own avalanche beacon, shovel, probe, and backpack.  Maximum of 30 participants.

WHO BY: Taught by Squaw Valley's own avalanche forecaster, Alaska heli-ski guide, and AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) Avalanche Instructor Lel Tone, hosted by ski professionals Elyse Saugstad, Michelle Parker, Jackie Paaso, and Ingrid Backstrom, with yoga by certified instructor Sherry McConkey.

WHY: We hope this event will:
                --Heighten community snow safety and avalanche awareness
                --Foster an open, welcoming environment by which to encourage participation and communication
                --Provide a really fun experience for everyone
                --Raise money and awareness for High Fives BASICS, an amazing cause bringing snow       safety into schools

HOW MUCH: $80 - Includes yoga, classroom and small group on-snow instruction and skiing/snowboarding plus lunch and light apres. Tickets will be included for those who do not have Squaw season passes. All proceeds go to charity.

Additional support provided by Uncorked, The McConkey Foundation, Rocker, Women of Winter. Sponsored by Salomon, Helly Hansen, Arcade, Mountain Hardwear, The North Face, First Ascent, Scott, Anon, Kask, and


Upper left: Lel Tone, Ingrid Backstrom, Elyse Saugstad Lower left: Jackie Paaso, Michelle Parker, Sherry McConkey

Lead Instructor Lel Tone has been a member of the Squaw Valley Ski Patrol since 1994 and the Assistant Avalanche Forecaster since 2004. Lel has been a helicopter ski guide in Alaska for Chugach Powder Guides and Tordrillo Mountain Lodge for the last 14 years. She is a licensed Avalanche Blaster in the state of California and an Avalanche control route leader at Squaw. She is an AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) Level 1 and 2 Avalanche Instructor. Lel has been teaching avalanche courses in our local community and around the West for the last 10 plus years.

Ingrid Backstrom is considered to be one of the most influential professional big mountain skiers in the world. She has appeared in 9 Matchstick Productions movies, three Warren Miller Entertainment Films, ‘All.I.Can.’ by the Rocky Mountain Sherpas, the documentary Steep, and has won Powder Magazine’s ‘Best Female Performance’ five times. She considers herself extremely fortunate that skiing has taken her all around the globe, including Pakistan, Antarctica, Greenland, and first descents in Baffin Island and on 20,000ft. Reddomaine Peak in China.  She has AIARE Level 1 certification.

Elyse Saugstad was raised in Girdwood, Alaska and since that time became passionately involved with freeride and backcountry skiing as a professional skier. Between 2007 and 2009 Elyse won many International Freeride Competitions she entered and in 2008 was crowned the Freeride World Tour Champion. For the past few years she has worked with many noteworthy ski film companies  such as Salomon Freeski TV and graced the pages of ski magazines around the globe. Elyse has worked with Chugach Powder Guides as a guest athlete. She has AIARE Level 1 certification.

Jackie Paaso has been a professional skier and a member of the Squaw Valley Freeride Team since 2009. She spends the majority of her winters competing on the Freeride World Tour and has many notable results like winning the 2010 Squaw Tram Face event and the 2012 Chamonix event. This past spring she filmed with Warren Miller Entertainment for their 2012 movie “Flow State” exploring the Norwegian Arctic. Jackie has been expanding her knowledge of big mountains and avalanche terrain all over the world. She has AIARE Level 1 certification.

Michelle Parker is a 25 year old professional skier who was born and raised in Squaw Valley and has been a member of the Squaw Valley Freeride Team since 2006. She films with Matchstick Productions and is featured in the latest film ‘Superheroes of Stoke’, whereupon this past fall she was awarded IF3’s ‘Best Female Performance’. Michelle is addicted to chasing winter in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and spends most of her time in the mountains skiing, climbing, hiking, and biking. Michelle has AIARE Level 1 certification.

Sherry McConkey is an outdoor enthusiast who has been teaching yoga for seven years. She is a certified Anusara teacher, a form of yoga that focuses on alignment. Anusara is great for athletes to help with restorative stretching/yoga whereupon your body can heal, gain strength, clear the mind, and ultimately enhance your athletic performance. Sherry is also the founder of the Shane McConkey Foundation, a Tahoe non-profit organization. Sherry is in the process of being AIARE Level 1 certified.

Let's stay safe in the mountains so we can have as much FUN as possible!