Sophia is a freeski athlete and ski mountaineer based in Jackson, WY. After spending three years on the U.S. Freestyle Mogul Team, in 2017 Sophia left competition to follow her love of storytelling in the mountains through big mountain skiing. She is a jack-of-all-trades, always striving to build her skier, jumper and mountaineer skills, and is known for her kind smile and nerdy science facts.
In competitive skiing, you travel a lot but don’t often get to engage beyond the competition venue. Now when I travel, I try to be present in the place I’m visiting and intentionally connect with the local community. I enjoy looking for meaning beyond just a ski objective and use writing, film and photos to dig deeper into the big and small moments that make a trip special.
The Tetons are one of the best big mountain training zones! What has made it special is access to mentorship and a community that has helped me grow a wide range of skills. My mentors have been big-name athletes, but also under-the-radar chargers and friends.
Jackson is also super intense, and people are always getting after it. It can make you feel that you are not doing enough, pushing enough or progressing. I love intensity, but have to keep an eye on my mental health. Working in healthcare keeps me grounded and reminds me there is much more to life than skiing.
Two pieces of advice:
First, think of a person who welcomed you in the outdoors. Often, they simply showed us kindness and interest in us as individuals. They asked about our stories and remembered our names. They didn’t need to be superstars but were regular people who offered an invitation or support. That “support” grows exponentially with consistency, and we develop deeper relationships over time. None of us get to where we are alone.
Second, be attuned to microaggressions. While often unintended, microaggressions subtly but powerfully create an unwelcoming environment. We can help be more inclusive by addressing them when they come up and by not committing them ourselves.