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Svea Irving Wants You to Know That Halfpipe is Even Bigger Than it Looks on TV

The Colorado-raised competitive halfpipe skier and Flylow athlete talks Olympic qualification, homework, and big brothers.

Svea Irving

Svea Irving

When women’s ski halfpipe at the 2022 Beijing Olympics begins on February 17, there’s one name you won’t be seeing on the starting roster: American Svea Irving. The Flylow athlete and decorated halfpipe skier was on the cusp of making the U.S. Team, but a discretionary decision and last season out due to injury meant she didn’t quite make the cut.

“I knew this process was tough, but I am beyond excited to cheer on my teammates and Team USA,” Svea says. “I have nothing but happiness for everyone who was chosen for the Olympic team and I cannot wait to watch them kill it.”

It would have been the 19-year-old athlete’s first Olympic appearance. Coming back after ACL and MCL surgery, Svea was a top contender to make the U.S. halfpipe team. With six Olympic qualifiers leading up to this year’s Games, Svea placed well at all of them, ending up either the third or fourth American woman in international results, and U.S. Freeskiing takes four athletes to the Olympics in each discipline.

“I skied my absolute best this season and gave it my all. However, the last spot is discretionary, and it was chosen by an Olympic committee,” Svea says. “Due to my overall FIS ranking not being high enough due to being out for 12 months, I was not chosen.”

If you watch the halfpipe contest on TV, there’s something Svea wants you to know: That pipe is even bigger than it looks. “I think a lot of people who watch halfpipe on TV don’t understand how large a halfpipe really is,” she says. “A halfpipe is 22 feet tall—that’s as high as a two-story building, plus the additional 4 to 10 feet you catch out of the pipe.”

Svea grew up in Winter Park, Colorado, where she started skiing at age three and got into competitive mogul skiing around age 10. Her older brother, Birk Irving, is also a professional freeskier. Svea and Birk come from a family of skiers: Their mom was a competitive alpine skier turned coach and their dad is currently the director of ski patrol at Winter Park Resort. “I was essentially born into skiing,” Svea says. “I have lived only a four-minute walk away from Winter Park Resort my entire life. Winter Park was my backyard.”

When her brother started competing in slopestyle and halfpipe, she would watch those events. “After a while, I was tired of just watching and I switched disciplines and began to compete in slopestyle and halfpipe at the age of 12,” she says. “After years of competing in both and entering the World Cup circuit, I came to find out I enjoyed halfpipe skiing more.”

Svea says her brother has had a huge impact on her skiing. “Growing up and skiing with such a talented figure definitely rubbed off on me,” she says. “Birk has taught me how to ski with style and how to not always worry about the end result in competing. Competing so much and having a judging panel is very tough sometimes and can drive some people to dislike the sport, but Birk has taught me to worry less and to ski for the love of the sport.”

Svea has already had an action-packed winter this year, with Olympic qualifiers and a seventh-place finish at X Games earlier this season. “Now it’s just time for me to train and ski some powder before the next winter season rolls in,” she says. She’s headed to Mammoth Mountain this spring for a training camp and has plans for a backcountry trip to Montana.

Also on the to-do list: homework. She’s a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, studying strategic communications. “Most of the time, school is relatively easy to balance,” she says. “Due to COVID, I have been able to take most of my classes online. At training camps, I make time to do schoolwork or attend classes in the mornings and evenings. My teachers have also been very understanding with conflicting times and training, which has been very helpful.”

Svea’s favorite Flylow piece? “I love the Mia Jacket because I can wear it with anything,” Svea says. “It’s big enough to keep me warm, but also small enough to fit under the Lucy Jacket for a day of skiing.”

Mia Jacket

An insulating, hooded midlayer that you can wear under a shell or on its own.

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Pick up the Mia Jacket and it feels lightweight and packable. Put it on and you’ll realize just how toasty you are. Stuffed with 60 grams of PrimaLoft Silver Active, it has an incredible warmth-to-weight ratio and is designed to release heat and moisture for high-energy activities. You’ll wear the Mia under your shell as a lightweight insulator and on its own while digging into a pre-ski-tour plate of waffles. Two hand pockets keep your digits warm on a walk and store those leftover waffles to go.

Features

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Material(s):
• 60-gram PrimaLoft® Silver Active
• 100% Polyamide Pertex® Quantum
• 100% nylon

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Features:
• Wind and water-resistant
• High performance DWR (Durable Water Repellent)
• 2 hand pockets
• Baffled stitch-through construction
• YKK waterproof zippers
• Average weight: 260 grams
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Lucy Jacket

A long, comfy fit, high-end features, and a laid-back style make the Lucy Jacket a fast favorite.

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Slide on the Lucy Jacket and you won’t want to take it off: It’s that comfortable. Ready for a day in the backcountry or spinning the lifts at the resort, this jacket has the stretchy, buttery feel of softshell and the stormproof properties of a tough hardshell, a fabric known as Tactic 3L. Better yet, it has technical features and high-performance qualities, but it doesn’t look overly techy—because you don’t always want your kit to scream “I just climbed a mountain!” (Even if you just did.)

Features

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Material(s):
• Tactic 3-layer softshell fabric
• 20k/20k waterproof breathable membrane
• 100% Polyester

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Features:
• DWR (Durable Water Repellent)
• Fully seam taped
• Helmet-compatible hood
• 3 exterior pockets, 1 inner pocket w/ media port
• Removable powder skirt
• Sleeve pass pocket
• 12-inch pit zips
• No bulk cuffs
• Adjustable waist
• YKK waterproof zippers
• Average weight: 552 grams
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Nina Pant

At long last, a waterproof, hardshell ski pant that fits just the way you want it to.

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Once you try on the Nina Pant, you’ll wonder why you ever settled for ski pants that were too tight, or too loose, or not warm enough. These fit just right—relaxed, but not boxy or bulky. They have the perfect amount of stretch and slimness. Storm-ready 3-layer Surface hardshell fabric feels light and moves with you and Durable Water Repellent coating means your pants stay drier longer. The Nina Pant comes with cross flow venting, ample pockets for safely storing your phone and credit card, and custom waist-belt adjustments.

Features

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Material(s):
• Surface 3-layer hardshell fabric
• 20k/20k waterproof breathable membrane

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Features:
• Fully seam taped
• Reinforced cuffs
• Articulated knee box
• DWR (Durable Water Repellent)
• 4 pockets
• Adjustable waist tabs
• Powder cuffs
• 14-inch outer thigh vents
• Seamless cuff reinforcements
• YKK waterproof zippers
• Inner and outer thigh vents
• Average weight: 650 grams
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