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​Santiago Vega Makes First Disabled Descent of Grand Teton

Earlier this month, Santiago Vega completed the first-known disabled ski descent of the Grand Teton with IFMGA guide Mark Smiley via the Ford-Stettner Couloir, one of the 50 Classic Ski Descents on North America. Vega was born with Fibular Hemimelia on his right leg and Poly-syndactyly on right hand. At 5 months old, Santi and his family began traveling from Santiago, Chile to Salt Lake City once a year medical treatment at Shiners Hospital. In Utah, Vega started ski racing at age 14 and competed in the Olympics at age 16 for Chile. Soon after the Sochi Games, Vega fell in love with backcountry skiing and developed a custom prosthetic for ski mountaineering.

Like many skiers, Vega has been enthralled with the idea of skiing the Grand Teton. When he was 7, he became obsessed with the mountain for the first time on a winter road trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. In 2017, Vega climbed the Grand in the summer via the Owen-Spalding route. While climbing, he says all he could think about was that it would be way easier to do it on skis and eventually “slid into Mark’s Instagram DM’s” and asked him to take him.

Shortly after test run down another Teton-area testpiece - the infamous Apocalypse Couloir - early this month (also a first-known disabled descent), Smiley and Vega set out to climb the Grand and made it happen with perfect conditions.

This accomplishment is huge in reframing what being disabled means. As Disabled or Adaptive Athletes we are always questioned about our ability when compared to non-disabled Athletes; always needing to prove ourselves. Sharing narratives like the First Disabled Descent of the Grand can help break down those stigmas with our world and empower the Disability community to gain more visibility in being human especially when we are provided access to resources and opportunities to finding our own summits in life.

– Vasu Sojitra

Having a chance to be part of an accomplishment like this does not come around very often. I was super impressed with Santi's drive, performance and humility throughout the entire journey. Before going for the Grand, we skied another steep technical couloir in the Tetons, Apocalypse Couloir, together to get to know each other a little better. He did great on that, despite pretty tough snow conditions, so that made me stoked to try the Grand. On the Grand, both up and down, there were a few times I had to remind myself he was missing his lower leg.

– Mark Smiley

I currently work with a team in Bendigo and we have a very diverse range of people with special needs. Many have been skiing and snowboarding and said it really helped them to feel alive again and like they could enjoy life to the fullest. No disability can stop you from achieving your goals. Thanks for the article and writing it.

Tony

What an inspiring story! This truly makes you believe that anything is possible with dedication and hard work. Thanks for sharing his story! Kudos! Septic Replacement

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Why Wild Barn Coffee Hosted an All-female Nude Ski Event
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Why Wild Barn Coffee Hosted an All-female Nude Ski Event

Why Wild Barn Coffee Hosted an All-female Nude Ski Event

This week in 'Women in the Mountains' we sat down with Wild Barn Coffee’s Jenny Verrochi who masterminded an underground women’s naked ski event. Sounds cheeky and chilly! Will Beihoffer photo. On March 20th, you could see a full moon on top of Bluebird Backcountry’s West Bowl. Well, 22 full moons to be exact. It was all part of a women's event focused on one beautiful, singular goal: skiing butt naked in the backcountry. The cheeky idea came from Jenny Verrochi, who’s based in Boulder,

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Listen to John Collinson on The Powell Movement
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Listen to John Collinson on The Powell Movement

Listen to John Collinson on The Powell Movement

John Collinson’s upbringing was a little different than most pro skiers. He grew up in a closet in Snowbird employee housing with his older sister Angel, and didn’t do many things that most kids do. However, what he did experience was unfathomable, like summiting Rainier at 4 years old, summiting Everest at 17, and so much more. On the podcast, Mike Powell and Collinson talk about how he went from the closet to his sister's shadow, to pro skier, to social media influencer known for his

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​Listen Now: Tim Petrick on the Powell Movement Podcast
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​Listen Now: Tim Petrick on the Powell Movement Podcast

​Listen Now: Tim Petrick on the Powell Movement Podcast

Tim Petrick has had a pretty epic ski career so far. From ski instruction, to the PSIA Demo Team, to Powder Magazine, to Aspen, to K2, to Booth Creek, to K2, to Rossignol, to K2, to Silverton… You get the idea, Tim has done it just about all and most of it at the corporate executive level. But Petrick is not your typical industry exec, he's a ski bum at heart and this podcast is a testament to how much this dude loves to ski. Want more Powell Movement? Check out all the episodes here. Tim