By Tetsuhiko Endo; Photograph courtesy of Stan Evans
This week, Adventure got a chance to chat with one of the best women’s freeskiers of the last decade, Grete Eliassen. What’s that? You’ve never heard of freeskiing? Sure you have, you just didn’t realize it. Think massive snow-park jumps. Think rail sliding. Think back flips off back-country cliffs. Think half pipes, and quarter pipes, and three sixties, and baggy snow pants, and loud music and all those other things that used to attract young people to snowboarding, but think of them on a pair of wide, double tipped skis.
Also known as “freestyle” or “new school” skiing, the sport was developed by the frustrated racers and mogul riders of the late 90s who gradually moved away from their well-established disciplines and into the then snowboard only snow-parks. Among them was a young girl of Norwegian and American parents called Grete Eliassen (pronounced “Gretta”). Growing up between Minnesota and Lilihammer, Norway, Eliassen became a decorated junior ski racer (what else would you do with those two hometowns?). She threw herself into freeskiing full time not long after her father escorted her into her first snow park. Since then, she has gone on to become one of the most decorated women in her sport with four U.S. Open wins, and numerous gold and silver medals in both the half pipe and slope-style X events of the Winter X games. As she has gotten older, she’s pushed into the back country while simultaneously pursuing a degree in Business Management at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
At the ripe old age of 24, Eliassen is probably staring down the barrel of the latter half of her professional skiing career. But as Adventure found out, that doesn’t mean she’s lost a step. After watching her aptly titled movie, Say My Name at the New York City Snow Film Festival this past weekend, we got her on the phone to get the scoop on sexism, business, core strength workout, gangsta rap, and the future of women’s skiing. Luckily, she had just stepped out of class.