Resi Stiegler is fully entrenched in a career of World Cup Ski Racing. The daughter of Olympic champion, Pepi Stiegler, the Jackson native has followed a similar path as her father, finding purpose and glory best when she’s locked on edge of an icy slope. The pursuit has taken her to many parts of the world, yet her mountain town upbringing has kept her grounded, with a connection to home, and self-effacing experiences found in the outdoors. She’s ramping up for another arduous race regiment, but we were able to nab her for a quick chat between travel days and training sessions.
When did you first start skiing? Racing?
I started skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. My mom would take me Nordic skiing when I was 1 year old, and when I was two I was out on the mountain. I started racing at [Jackson Hole] with Nato Emerson when I was about six. As we got older and better we moved over to Jackson Hole Ski Club.
Growing up the daughter of an Austrian Olympic gold medalist and subsequent ski school director must’ve been interesting. Can you speak to that?
I was such a lucky kid. Skiing was a way of life; it was how we got to work, it was daycare, and all my baby sitters were skiers. I would go to work with my dad and mom, and then just ski all day. People would keep tabs on us little ones ripping around, and it was just so peaceful and simple. I think that’s why I have such a deep love for the outdoors. There was not a day I wasn’t outside exploring and playing.
Did you always want to race? Did you ever feel acute pressure as a result of who your dad is?
I actually had no idea how big a deal it was to have Pepi as a father. He was just my hero, my papa, and no one ever pressured me into skiing. I think sometimes he would have rather I went to school or do something less intense. He knows what it’s like to ski and to compete at such a high level, and to sometimes have your heart broken is not something I think every parent wants to see. But for me it was such a way of life and so natural I just fell in love with it.
What’s a typical ski season look like to a professional racer?
We actually begin skiing in June and train at Mt. Hood, Chile and New Zealand all summer. We have our first race in October in Austria, and so we have a training camp before that as well. From there it’s racing full on until March. We have very few days or weeks in between off but mostly we have to travel so much or prep for another event that it’s important to really utilize your time off.
You’ve had a couple serious injuries as a racer, how did that effect you mentally (as well as physically) as you got back into the game? What were the biggest hurdles?
Yes, I have had a lot of injuries. I have had such good luck with the surgeries, and my body always feels so good after I have worked to come back. So it was never a question of coming back. Mentally, I have had a much harder time. After having more than a couple traumatizing crashes, it’s hard to mentally push yourself to come back. When you actually get hurt there is no question you want to recover, work hard, and come back. When you get back on snow that is another matter. It can be a struggle but I have been very good at training my mind as well as my body.
Did you ever think you wouldn’t be able to race at the highest levels again? If so, what does something like that feel like?
I do have those questions. It’s not easy to [race at World Cup levels] without injuries. It’s very taxing and very demanding. But I am tough in that way, and have never allowed myself to give up if there is a chance that I could be the best. There are moments when I feel like just giving up and moving on, but in my heart I know I couldn’t do that. I still have at least 8 years to do what I want, and I do believe I will accomplish some of my dreams, and whenever I do well it gives me a little bit of hope. A lot of what has happened to me has just really given me inspiration, and it made me realize it’s the journey not the destination that builds you as a person, and prepares you beyond your years for life.
What other activities and pursuits do you have? How do you try and find balance with all that you’ve got going on?
I have a lot of energy so I am always trying new things. My boyfriend is an eight-time world champion in windsurfing and lives on Maui so that was new for me. Learning how to windsurf and improve on my surfing, and experiencing the more tropical places of the world has been refreshing. He also has a film and photography company as well and that was something I was always into.
My heart will always be in Wyoming though, and I can’t go too long without being homesick for the mountains. I’m very much a mountain girl.
In addition to being a daughter to Pepi, you grew up with Jackson Hole as your Town Hill. How do you feel it influenced your perceptions of community and the outdoors?
Being born and raised in Jackson is truly a gift—It’s the most amazing place. I think it is why I am the way I am. I feel like we really have a tight, loving community. When I am home I meet people [all the time] who are a constant reminder, teacher or inspiration for me, to be strong and very proud of where I am from.
You’ve been involved with Stio since their inception. How does their ethos to clothing style and function appeal to you?
I think we have the same beliefs. We want to be outside enjoying the world and having fun. It’s simple and it’s beautiful to have such an organic way of life and mindset. I am very honored to be a part of Stio and to adventure and inspire the world.
It’s just starting to snow in the Valley and winter is quickly approaching. What are your goals for the coming year, in racing and in other aspects of your life?
I have been racing on the US Ski Team for 10 years now. I’ve had a lot of injuries, and at the moment I am just coming back from another one. I had the opportunity to train at home and enjoy a long summer. I accomplished my goals to be back on snow in October, and be racing in November. Currently, I am just trying to get back into the swing of things and be ready to race. We have a couple major years coming up: the World Championship this year and then the Olympics in Russia. And the year after that we have the World Championship in the United States, so that is a very exciting thing. I am just trying to stay healthy and ski fast and enjoy the journey.