Filming for Tight Loose in Jackson. TGR photo.
I’m constantly drawing a lot of energy and inspiration from the humans around me.
I’ve been nurtured by people like my first grade teacher Mrs. Grant. I’ve been inspired by my ski heroes—Ingrid Backstrom and Candide Thovex. I’ve been pushed to find my limits by my brothers. (Who thought putting me through the childhood ringer would make me stronger. I think they were right).
Most recently, I’ve been mentored by pro skier and guide Jess Baker. For me, a great mentor is someone you emulate. But a great mentor is also someone who will give you the tools and advice you need to succeed. Someone who will walk (or in this case, ski) the path with you and help you take on those larger hurdles. When I decided I wanted to give skiing everything I could, Jess became my professor of all things snow. (As did her husband Brenton who deserves equal praise here as well.)
Jess and I touring in BC. Rachael Burks photo.
Jess taught me how to train like a professional at Mountain Athlete. She spent days on the ski hill with me helping me refine my technique and hone in on particular competition tactics. She helped me navigate the scary world of sponsorship and shared her connections. She let me crash on her floor in Alaska so I could afford to ski my first big lines. She taught me everything about glacier travel and crevasse rescue on a trip to Svalbard, Norway. And she’s showed me how to approach snow safety in a way that lets me move through the mountains with a greater sense of ease and assurance.
But beyond learning all these hard skills from Jess, what I value most in our mentorship is how she showed me a way to become the person I wanted to be.
Jess and I in Svalbard.
Jess is the type of person who can’t be categorized into one box. These are my favorite types of people—the ones who are a complex dichotomy of personality traits. Jess is a guide with a high track level of safety, but has also been there with me when we choose to push the limits.
She’s a kind mother to a beautiful girl and the first to go on an epic adventure. She’s focused when she needs to make decisions in snow safety and travel but you can also find her twerking to the latest Rihanna hit. She’ll drink you under the table, but then be the first one to the tram line the next morning. She can’t be defined by just one of her many labels—pro skier, job, mother, friend—but rather is a beautiful combination of them all.
I can’t thank her enough for not only taking me under her wing, but forcing me to fly off cliffs when she thought I was ready to.
From The Column: Mentors
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