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8Aug

Chile Women’s Freeride Camp: these women are relentless!

Despite every condition you can imagine, the women who showed up for the 4th Annual Ingrid Backstrom Women’s Freeride camp in Chillan really meant it when they said they wanted to ski. From rain to snow to sun, we skied everyday from start to finish. We covered avalanche education, drills, we found powder, we found pisco–we found it all! More pictures to come soon.
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19May

4Frnt HOJI W: The Opposite of “pink it and shrink it”

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I’ve had the wonderful opportunity this year to ski on the 2015/16 4Frnt HOJIW ski. I initially took the ski to Taos for the New Mexico True project. The snow was so deep and weightless that the pure bliss of powder snow in an otherwise dry season had my mind about a million miles away from reviewing gear. However, on the second day I had the opportunity to let the skis touch a freshly groomed run and it was like I had downshifted from 4th to 2nd on the local ski hill road—-passing everyone in sight and getting that “revving into red” feeling.

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If you’re like me when I hear “fully rockered skis” you might roll your eyes. I’m a traditional-ski-kind-of-gal. I didn’t ski race while growing up and didn’t have a lot of money to try any different skis than what I could afford to rent. I never really even knew what camber was until I got to college. When I moved to Utah, I skied a pair of my friend’s K2 Hellbents and thought, “this is most awful ski ever.” No control, no style, no grace—just sliding around. On the HOJIW, it’s completely the opposite. When you lay the ski over, you’re on rails. Fast, smooth, and completely silky rails. Effortless carving, complete control, and not a water ski. The rockered tip, redesigned for this season with a more relaxed profile, planes instead of plowing the snow out of your way.

loving the powder in taos

So far in 2 months I had skied the HOJIW in deep, effortless, pow and was impressed, even after 2 p.m. when my legs were tired. It was still somewhat effortless and the ski didn’t overpower me. As consumer advice, looking back I wish I had tried them in a 187 instead of a 179 because of the rockered profile (I also usually prefer longer skis), but have since turned that around to my advantage by mounting a pair of Dynafit bindings on them. This spring I took the HOJIW skis touring in some absolutely heinous conditions and they performed terrifically. I had more confidence in zipper crust surfaces because of the rocker profile, and sticky, knee-bending snow also responded positively to the skis profile. Just wide-enough to float, but not obnoxiously fat when it doesn’t need to be (112 underfoot). When hauling-ass in the resort and looking for quick, responsive turns without noodles to drag along, they were stiff and yet full of luxury suspension.

don't try this at home.

I suppose when you look at Eric Hjorleifson (the part-engineer, part-skier, part Canadian demi-god) who is responsible for this design you can see the type of skiing he excels at and why this ski is so great for so many things. Number one, he does a lot of touring. He might not even own a pair of alpine bindings, so the skis are relatively light (2087 g at 179 cm). Number two—look at where he skis! He’s usually flashing tight turns atop narrow pillows, mathematically calculating micro adjustments within unforgiving terrain while hitting the gas pedal. (Thanks to Jonathan Ellsworth for pointing this out to me…)

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Let’s be honest here, no one wants to admit they want a ski that is “easy to ski.” At least at this point in the game, most of my old-school ski friends are still skiing Dynastar Legend Pros (you know, the kind with the orange top sheet that could double as a mighty sword in Game of Thrones). Those skis are BURLY. And although I consider myself a strong skier (and weigh probably 3 times more than a 10 year old gymnast, who it seems most women’s ski are designed for), I want a ski that can help me keep up, and will maximize my fun on the descent. With the HOJIW, I don’t think twice about skiing a tight line or going mach-10 through a field of crud. It’s like I’ve got HOJI on my side, and that’s all I need.

14May

Join me in Chile for the Ingrid Backstrom Women’s Ski Camp!

PowderQuest Tours Announces Claire Smallwood of SheJumps as New Instructor for Ingrid Backstrom’s Women’s Ski Camp in Chile

PowderQuest Tours, an internationally recognized company offering skiing in Chile, Argentina and Japan, has officially announced that Claire Smallwood will be added to the roster of ski coaches this year.

INgrid womens camp

Bend, Oregon, May 11, 2015 – PowderQuest Tours has officially announced that Claire Smallwood will join the company’s lineup of outstanding skiing coaches for this year’s Ingrid Backstrom Women’s Ski Camp in Nevados de Chillán, Chile. Claire joins professional skier Ingrid Backstrom and ACMG Ski Guide, Phil Gautier for the eight-day camp.

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“We are very excited Claire will be joining Ingrid this summer in Chile,” stated David Owen, owner of PowderQuest. “Her passion towards getting more women to participate in outdoor adventures along with her genuine love for skiing and the mountains will be a great addition to our camp.”

Ranked as one of the best ski camps for women by Teton Gravity Research and awarded the Top Summer Ski Camp in 2014 by Warren Miller Entertainment, the Women’s Ski Camp with Ingrid Backstrom lasts for eight days, and is an exclusive freeride ski camp for advanced intermediate to advanced female skiers. Attendees will learn about off-piste and backcountry exploring and safety while improving their skills and discovering how to ski the mountains in an all-mountain, freeride mentality, along with morning yoga.

“I’m thrilled that Claire Smallwood will be joining us to coach this year,” added Ingrid Backstrom. “I’ve always admired Claire as a skier and a person. She is always smiling, and is a hugely inspiring and multitalented human – I can’t wait to ski with her and learn more from her!”

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“Skiing in the summer is incredible enough, but skiing at Nevados de Chillán is next level. I’m so excited to be working with PowderQuest and Ingrid Backstrom to bring this experience to more women. It’s an unforgettable adventure on the other side of the planet!” said Claire.

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To learn more about the Women’s Ski Camp with Ingrid Backstrom or PowderQuest’s other ski adventures throughout the year, visit http://www.PowderQuest.com.

18Mar

New Mexico True: Behind the Scenes

It was so cool to be a part of the New Mexico True campaign in Taos this February with Ryan Heffernan, Grayson Schaffer, Elyse Saugstad, Ben Knight, Sven Brunso, Justin Bobb, and the rest of our crew: Gillian, Chris, Nick, and Ethan. Not only did all the conditions align for amazing powder skiing in Taos, but for me personally, it was a monumental experience of being “called upon” to represent the place where I come from. As a current transplant to Utah, I feel a bit detached sometimes from New Mexico. Like I’ve given up on it because it “doesn’t snow enough.” Well, our winter in Utah has been dismal and the best snow I skied all year was in Taos–something that is not entirely rare. I guess what it all boils down to is that New Mexico is a special place, and anytime you are lucky enough to be there, you are lucky enough. Here are some photos from the shoot.

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Day one: But first, let me take a selfie! Fresh goggles and helmet from Giro. Thanks Danielle for hooking it up! I love the polka dot goggles and that pink helmet–well, you just can’t make this #$#% up.

 

IMG_0031There’s Nick in the camo. What? You can’t see him? He’s there, just in camo. Nick was our drone operator. Check out the awesome FishPond boat bag he’s using–did you know that LilyPond (their sister-company) donates 5% annually to SheJumps? I knew I loved these guys!

 

IMG_0033We got to do a lot of this: skiing closed areas. Why? Because we were the damn luckiest people in the world and we had the amazing Justin Bobb to guide us around. Here are next year’s HOJI W skis from 4Frnt. Thank you 4Frnt for letting me test the product! An amazing ski that absolutely shreds in any condition, and gets on edge surprisingly well.

 

IMG_0034That moment–totally untracked fresh pow just yours for the taking. Here is Elyse Saugstad prepping to drop in and slay the shot.

 

IMG_0110Our filmer, Ben Knight, getting the shot. Well, me getting the shot of Ben—who just got the shot. Does that make any sense? Check out Ben’s amazing documentary released in 2014, DamNation. Available on Netflix. How amazing to get to meet him! See the film and you’ll understand why. Thanks Ben!

 

IMG_0145Sven Bruson. The man. The myth. The legend. If you are still killing it as hard as Sven is when you’re in your 40’s, you must be doing something right. The guy has been perfecting pow turns for years. Here he is just on his exit from the White Room.

 

IMG_0258Director Ryan Heffernan and myself in the back of a truck, cruising back to our amazing accommodation near the Bavarian at Taos Ski Valley after a great first day of shooting.

 

IMG_0260View from the road to the Bavarian of Taos Ski Valley. A lot of the shots seen in the video are from the looker’s left area of the main chairlift you can see.

 

IMG_0263Grayson Schaffer, “dyanamic-larger-than-life-cooler-than-you” human-at-large. Or is it, “Senior Editor at Outside Magazine.” Can’t remember. Anyways, he is an amazing skier. I kept wondering why we weren’t filming him? He’s called New Mexico home for over a decade and knows the mountains well. What a privilege to ski with him!

 

IMG_0266Camera batteries charging for the next day, ski boots drying.

 

IMG_0270Ahh, yes. And there’s me–the pink-headed @freelance_girafficorn experiencing the wave…

 

IMG_0273“Please sir, can I have some more?” Taos Ski Patrol shack.

 

IMG_0274Elyse and Sven, chillin’ out waiting for our directions.

 

IMG_0279Into the abyss–I loved being the heart of winter!!! Winter, please come back!!!!!!!

 

IMG_0336There is an experience of “nothing” when skiing powder. But the idea of nothingness in our culture is frightening, and we have no words for it. However, in Chinese Taosit thought, it’s called “the fullness of the void” out of which all things come. My experiences with powder snow gave me the first glimmerings of the further possibilities of mind. — Dolores LaChapelle

 

IMG_0347Our crew! Sven, Elise, and I at the top of West Basin.

 

IMG_0348The Director and crew with Justin Bobb (our fearless guide) looking towards the West Basin ridgeline.

 

IMG_0351Taos is pretty steep. No, really. It’s steep and there are a lot of trees. The best kind of skiing!! Getting ready to “GTS” (get the shot) on the new 4Frnt HOJI W skis.

 

IMG_0423Ran into so many amazing friends there. Here is my friend Manny Lopez and I on top of the ridge. Manny and I went to junior high and high school together. I love New Mexico!

 

IMG_0431Sven, showing us how it’s done.

 

IMG_0437Huge thanks to Jonathan Ellsworth of Blister Gear Review for helping us around the mountain and getting us to the goods. He is a visionary and wonderful person! Thanks Jonathan!

 

IMG_0466This is from our last run of the trip. Everyone said it looked like Japan. I’ll just have to take their word for it. Elyse is such a beautiful skier–I learned so much from being around her. She is also funny, smart, strong, focused, passionate—seriously, one of my favorite  skiers of all time. I met her in Taos in 2007–how great to be back hanging out with her.

 

IMG_0488It’s not just the Ludwig filter on Instagram–the sky there is really just that beautiful. Ok, yes I used the Ludwig filter. Damnit. And yes, NM is simply that beautiful and breathtaking.

 

IMG_0542Taos Avy Dog just takin’ it easy. Carpe mañana, bro.

 

IMG_0489One can never be bored by powder skiing because it is a special gift of the relationship between earth and sky. It only comes in sufficient amounts in particular places, at certain times on this earth; it lasts only a limited amount of time before sun or wind changes it. People devote their lives to it for the pleasure of being so purely played by gravity and snow. — Dolores LaChapelle, Earth Wisdom, 1978

11Mar

New Mexico True: Deep. South

I am so stoked with how this turned out! What an amazing experience!! I am so honored to be a New Mexican and be a part of this!

11Mar

Alta Ski Area on the new 4Frnt HOJI W Skis

We had an amazing good-for-the-soul powder day at Alta last week. I mean, we all REALLY needed it. And it was so good I had to document part of it. I love these new 4Frnt skis; they are next year’s HOJI W–Check out 4Frnt.com for more information!

2Mar

New Mexico True Campaign

Last week I was invited to film for a New Mexico Tourism campaign called “New Mexico True.” The shoot was at Taos Ski Valley. It was more than a dream come true–it was heaven on earth! Not only did it snow over 2 feet while we were there, but I was skiing with Elyse Saugstad who is one of my personal ski heroines. Also, Sven Brunso, who has been killing it as a skier for decades. The shot was coordinated with Talwé media and Ryan Heffernan was the Director. I feel so honored to have been chosen to represent New Mexico. I guess every now and then the casting call is for a “5th generation female New Mexican skier” and I get the call! Here is a shot from our first day filming (photo by Ryan Heffernan).

I can’t wait to see the final product! #NewMexicoTrue TAos_Claire NM True

15Feb

7th Annual SheJumps into the Canyon at Alta

I am extremely proud of how far a lot of things with SheJumps have progressed, but nothing gives me more cause to continue than our youth initiatives. There is something incredible about knowing you are sharing the single most special feeling in the world–sliding on snow–with someone new, and someone who might not have had that experience otherwise.
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To make an impact on a Utah teen’s life, please click here: http://bit.ly/1EmtslX

We are celebrating year number 7 this year for our Utah (Intermountain region) Youth Initiative at Alta called “(S)heJumps Into the Canyon”! Thank you to our gracious host Alta Ski Area for donating so much to make this happen annually. This year we need YOU to volunteer and share your love for the mountains. Impact a teen’s life by helping them learn how fun it is to slide on snow! Thank you also to the Deep Powder House for their rental donations–we cannot do this without you!

When: March 7, 14, 21, 28 from 9:15 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.*

What: Teaching local SLC Boys & Girls club teens how to ski at Alta
Lunch is included.

Why: It is incredibly rewarding to see someone fall in love with the mountains. Each time you volunteer you are automatically entered to win prizes from our volunteer-only raffle. You can enter as many times as you can volunteer!
Volunteer all 4 Saturdays and you get a free day pass to Alta for use whenever you want!

Thursday February 19th we are hosting a volunteer orientation at the house of SheJumps co-founder Vanessa Pierce (2249 E 2700 S) at 7 p.m.

To volunteer, please click this link: http://bit.ly/1EmtslX

*We also have lots of off-snow and off-site volunteer opportunities to make this event happen like dryland training at the Boys & Girls club, gear distribution, and logistics. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information! Email SheJumps Ambassador Marissa Schulruff intermountain@shejumps.org

We are also accepting lightly used outerwear in L, XL, and XXL sizes. You can drop this off at Skier Services at Alta or contact us for drop off information.

Click here for the Facebook event: tell your friends to join!

Did you know that it costs $50 a day to get these kids to the mountain? If you can’t volunteer your time, consider making a donation to SheJumps to help these programs continue. Thank you for your support!



5Feb

Maui in January = Not a bad idea

Maui was super awesome. Who would have thought? Went on an epic family vacation that was 4 years in the planning. The trip included surfing, snorkeling, a plethora of sea turtles, and no shortage of sandy beaches. My favorite part of the trip? The fact that in Hawaii, no matter where you are or what you are doing, you stop and watch….the sunset. No. Matter. What. I think it would be a good idea to get in the habit of that no matter where you live.

Mahalo Maui!! See you soon Utah!!

A photo posted by Claire Smallwood (@freelance_girafficorn) on

 

by claire 0 comments Category: Claires Ramblings
10Dec

Alpine Finishing School: 2015

Check out this sweet video about the Alpine Finishing School by Sierra Anderson (FoxCapeProductions.com) –an all-women’s ski mountaineering course taught on a glacier every April. I am so stoked I get to be a part of this–this year will be year 4!!

SheJumps Alpine Finishing School from SheJumps on Vimeo.