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A chat with Elyse Saugstad

Elyse Saugstad is one of the best big-mountain skiers out there male or female. Need proof? Last fall, she was the only female finalist in Teton Gravity Research s Co-Lab contest, thanks to a mind-blowing video edit she submitted of her slaying huge lines in Canada and Alaska. The edit ended up winning her the award for Best Female Performance in a ski movie at the 2014 Powder Video Awards, held earlier this year in Salt Lake, Utah. In December, Saugstad co-led a women s avalanche safety clinic she helped launch called S.A.F.E. A.S., which toured from Utah to Tahoe to Washington. We checked in with Saugstad, who signed with Flylow this fall, to see what else is new. First question. What s your spirit animal? I m going to stick with koala bear because I like to give hugs. Why did you decide to start S.A.F.E. A.S. and how did the tour this year go? Last year, the group of us decided to start S.A.F.E. A.S. because we wanted to get involved in avalanche awareness and putting on a clinic that made it super fun to learn about backcountry safety in a comfortable environment so people didn't feel intimidated by it. We added some flair by adding yoga and an apr s party. The tour went really well. It was our first year expanding and taking it on the road was an amazing learning experience. We are walking away from it feeling like it was a complete success and it s something that we will most definitely continue in the future.

IMG_5715BWWhy did you decide to enter TGR s Co-Lab contest? Toward the end of last winter, I realized I was getting some good footage and I felt like I had nothing to lose by entering the contest, even though at the beginning of the season, I wasn t even thinking about entering that contest. And then I thought, heck, maybe I should do this contest? I have nothing to lose.

Where was the footage for the edit shot? Most of it was shot in Whistler, Pemberton, and a little bit in Alaska over the course of the winter, but it really was only a couple of days of actual filming. That s just how it goes in big-mountain skiing you have to wait until conditions line up just right. The shots probably came from a total of five days of actual shooting. What were your intentions in putting this edit out? My intention was to put out an edit that would get any man or woman pumped up and excited to go skiing. You re at the Powder Awards, and Wendy Fisher announces your name as the winner of the Best Female Performance award. What s going through your head? First off, I was so nervous. It s an award that so many of us strive to achieve and to finally win that award just means that I ve reached one of my goals in skiing. It s not the end all be all. Putting an edit out that I was proud of was the most important thing to me -- that was the best feeling. At some point in my career, I knew I wanted to at least have an edit that I was really proud of. To win an award for that, to be recognized for that, it feels amazing. It was the icing on the cake. What s next for you? I ll be working with the all-female film project Pretty Faces and whatever else pops up. I ve got some things coming to fruition but you never know until things actually come together.